STILLWATER, Okla. – Consecutive 3-point field goals by senior Keyontae Johnson and junior Ismael Massoud late in the second half gave No. 14/16 Kansas State the lift it needed in a tight contest, as the Wildcats swept the season series from Oklahoma State with a 73-68 win on Saturday afternoon before 11,124 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
K-State (22-7, 10-6 Big 12) extended its winning streak to 3 games, while snapping a 5-game road losing streak in Big 12 play. It was the first road win since a 97-95 overtime win at Baylor on Jan. 7. The victory also gave the Wildcats’ double-digit wins in league play for the 10th time in the Big 12 era and the first time since 2018-19.
Trailing 60-59 with 6:23 remaining, K-State took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Johnson which was followed 50 seconds later by another triple from Massoud that gave the Wildcats a 65-60 lead with just over 5 minutes to play. After the Cowboys closed to within 65-63 with 2:44 remaining, the Wildcats got key plays down the stretch from their backcourt, including 4 free throws from senior Markquis Nowell, a layup from senior Desi Sills and 2 free throws from sophomore Cam Carter.
Nowell led three Wildcats in double figures with a game-high 22 points on 5-of-12 field goals, including 3-of-8 from 3-point range, and 9-of-10 free throws, while adding a game-high 8 assists and 4 steals and a team-high 5 rebounds in nearly 39 minutes. Johnson scored 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, while senior Desi Sills posted 10 points in his third consecutive start.
For the third straight game, K-State had to rally from a halftime deficit, as Oklahoma State (16-13, 7-9 Big 12) used an 11-0 run to take as much as a 6-point lead in the first half. Sills was able to pull the Wildcats to within 35-33 at the break on a pair of free throws and a layup and steal right before the buzzer.
K-State used a 7-0 run in the first 5 minutes of the second half to take a 40-39 lead, but OSU responded with its own 7-0 run to take its largest lead at 53-45 with just over 12 minutes to play. A key moment in the game came minutes later after the Wildcats closed the gap to 53-49, as head coach Jerome Tang was whistled for a technical with 10:49 remaining, allowing the Cowboys to take a 55-49 lead.
The technical seemed to spark K-State, as the Wildcats rattled off 6 straight points capped by a 3-pointer from Carter to tie the game at 55-all with 9:17 remaining. The teams traded the lead over the next few possessions before the pivotal stretch of 3-pointers from Johnson and Massoud.
Overall, K-State outscored OSU, 24-13, in the final 10:49 after the Tang technical.
The Wildcats hit on 49 percent (24-of-49) of their field goals, including 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from 3-point range, while connecting on 85 percent (17-of-20) from the free throw line. In the second half, the team shot 52 percent (13-of-25) from the field, including 45.5 percent (5-of-11) from 3, and made 9 of 10 free throws.
Four Cowboys scored in double figures led by junior Kalib Boone, who had 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Seniors Caleb Asberry and John-Michael Wright scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, while junior Bryce Thompson added 11 points. Senior Woody Newton led all players with 7 rebounds to go with 6 points.
The win helped K-State sweep the season series with OSU for the first time since 2019, as the Wildcats now lead the all-time series, 85-58.
IN THEIR WORDS
Head Coach Jerome Tang
On the game…
“I’m truly blessed to be around this team. They are just so much fun to be around. I thought that everyone who watched today saw their heart out there. They just didn’t quit. We told them there was going to be adversity and you had to look adversity in the face and smile, and then slap the crap out of it. And, and that was our quote. And they did. I was so proud of them. And it’s just like life, it just throws things at you that you don’t expect. You guys don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, you don’t know who’s sick, you don’t know whose family member passed away. You don’t you don’t know any of those things. And you just watch them on the floor and make a judgment about who played well or didn’t play well, and for all the stuff that they face, to be able to continually come out here and give that kind of effort and believe in each other. And we call it crazy faith, man to have that kind of crazy faith in each other. And in the staff. I’m just blessed beyond words. And secondly, I’d just like to thank our fans, there was a timeout there where our fans were so loud that they had to crank the music up. Otherwise, you’d have heard K-S-U throughout the arena. And so that was so cool. I’m super blessed. This is a dream come true. To be doing what I’m doing. The people I’m doing it with and couldn’t be more thankful.”
On having someone like Markquis Nowell at the end of games to make free throws…
“We are extremely fortunate to have Markquis. I mean he played nearly 40 minutes. I think he missed a minute and a half of game time, and we were trying to figure out a way to get him rest. But yeah, we’re fortunate to have him but we also have a good free throw shooter in Ish (Massoud) who shoot like 95 percent from the line, and Cam Carter makes big free throws. That’s just what he does.”
On the technical…
“They (the officials) told me that I was just too demonstrative. That was it. I didn’t say anything. I made sure to tell the guys on the radio (in postgame), so my mom heard that I didn’t say anything (bad). But I was demonstrative. I was demonstrative on purpose. They felt like, there was some ticky-tac calls that went their way that resulted in and-ones and there were some physical plays that didn’t go our way. That didn’t result in what I wanted. And then from that point on, we outscored them 24-13. And so, I believe that it inspired our guys to play a little bit harder to fight a little harder. And I felt like it impacted the way the refs called the game.”
On the guys battling through adversity…
“I think the brotherhood, the fact that they get to be with each other and support each other and have a chance to be on the floor and not think about what’s going on and just play the game of basketball, that, that it’s real good. I’m so proud of my staff, for Anne (Weese) and Deja (James), who are our mental health and wellness coaches that pour into our guys and are there for them. And in all kinds of situations, we’re blessed to be able to provide that kind of service to our players and our staff and our team takes advantage of it. And so just constantly trying to make sure our guys are doing well away from basketball, because that’s more important to me than whether they’re putting the ball in the hole.”
On what you have done differently during the 3-game winning streak…
“I think when we lost four of five games, three of those were on the road. And I think there was a back-to-back road trip in there as well. It’s hard to win on the road in this league. I didn’t think that I did a very good job of resting our guys. And we could see that we were tired. And so, we’ve approached what we do differently. The last few games and I felt like our guys have had their legs and better energy, which has given us the opportunity to be in a position to win some of these close games.”
On how satisfying it is to win on the road…
“Anytime you win, it is satisfying. And I know that I’m fired up because we’re going to Marble Slab for ice cream because you get dessert for road wins. So, we are going to go enjoy this one.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- With the win, K-State pushes its record to 22-7 overall, including 10-6 in Big 12 play… It is the best start for the Wildcats since the 2018-19 season (22-7)… It marks the 10th time in the Big 12 era that the team has earned double-digit victories in league play and the first time since 2018-19 (12-4).
- K-State earned its third straight win, while snapping a 5-game road losing streak in Big 12 play… The Wildcats finished off February with a winning record (4-3) for the first time since going 2018-19 (6-2).
- The 22 wins are the third-most by a first-year head coach, trailing the school-record of 27 by Bruce Weber in 2012-13 and the 23 by Bob Huggins in 2006-07.
- K-State swept the season series from Oklahoma State for the first time since 2019, as the Wildcats moved to 85-58 all-time against the Cowboys, including 28-36 in Stillwater.
- K-State scored its 73 points on 49 percent (24-of-49) shooting, including 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from 3-point range, while connecting on 85 percent (17-of-20) from the free throw line… The team hit on 52 percent (13-of-25) in the second half, including 45.5 percent (5-of-11) from 3-point range.
- K-State had 14 assists on its 24 made field goals with 2 Wildcats dishing out at least 2 assists.
- K-State held a slight 33-30 advantage on the glass, including 7 offensive rebounds, which resulted in 7 second-chance points… The Wildcats are 12-2 when winning the rebounding battle.
- K-State won despite its 16 turnovers, which resulted in 19 points for OSU… The Wildcats was able to force 11 Cowboy turnovers, scoring 10 points off those miscues.
- Oklahoma State led 35-33 at half on the strength of a late 11-0 run… The Cowboys were able to force 8 turnovers, resulting in 9 points… Senior Markquis Nowell paced all scorers with 13 points in the first half.
- K-State is now 9-4 this season when trailing at the half.
- Three Wildcats scored in double figures, including a game-high 22 points from senior Markquis Nowell… It was his 29th career 20-point game, including his team-leading 10th as a Wildcat this season… He has now scored in double figures in 92 career games, including 45 at K-State and 26 of 29 games this season.
- Nowell went 5-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-8 from 3-point range, and 9-of-10 from the free throw line… He saw his streak of 32 consecutive makes from the free throw line end in the first half.
- Nowell added a game-high 8 assists, a team-leading 5 rebounds and 4 steals in nearly 39 minutes… He has now had at least 5 assists in 24 of 29 games… He registered at least 4 steals in a game for the fifth time this season… He continues to lead all active Division I players in steals with 259.
- Senior Keyontae Johnson scored 17 points on 7-of-13 field goals, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range… He has now scored in double figures in 28 of 29 games… He scored in double figures in 66 career games.
- Johnson became the 33rd player in school history to eclipse 500 points in a season with his dunk at the 9:05 mark of the first half… He now has 511 points on the season, which is the most since Barry Brown, Jr. (590) and Dean Wade (533) in 2018-19.
- Senior Desi Sills scored 10 points on 3-of-7 field goals to go with 4 rebounds… He has now scored in double figures in 12 games this season and 62 times in his career.
K-State concludes its home season on Wednesday, as the Wildcats welcome Oklahoma (14-15, 4-12 Big 12) at 7 p.m., CT on Big 12 Now. The Sooners won the first meeting, 79-65, at home on Feb. 14.