Nowell’s big game leads Kansas State to Sweet 16

Kansas State guard Markquis Nowell (1) works against Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34)...
Kansas State guard Markquis Nowell (1) works against Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) during the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)(John Bazemore | AP)
Published: Mar. 19, 2023 at 4:14 PM CDT
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GREENSBORO, NC (WIBW) - In a Wildcat vs. Wildcat battle, Kansas State proves to be the top cat, winning 75-69, advancing them to the Sweet 16.

K-State’s defense contributed early, forcing five Kentucky turnovers in the first six minutes of the game, but their shooting started cold, hitting only one of their first eight shots.

After trailing 15-7 with 11 minutes left in the first half, K-State’s defense and transition offense lit up, eventually taking a 29-26 lead at halftime, despite going 0/12 on three-point shots. KSU forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin led the team at the break with eight points. Kentucky forward and 2022 national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe already had a double-double at the half, with 11 points and 11 rebounds. He finished with 25 points and 18 rebounds in the game.

A 13-4 run by Kentucky in the first four minutes of the second half gave them a 39-33 lead, forcing Kansas State to call timeout in the middle of the run. K-State immediately made an 8-2 run of their own, including Nowell hitting KSU’s first three-pointer to tie the game.

The two teams would go back and forth for the remainder of the game, with Kentucky clinging to a 60-59 lead at the under-4:00 timeout.

K-State would take a 67-62 lead with one minute left after KSU forwards Ismael Massoud and Keyontae Johnson made back-to-back three-pointers.

KSU guard Markquis Nowell would hit two clutch free throws with 37 seconds left. Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe subsequently made a dunk with 26 seconds left, making it a 69-64 KSU lead.

After being fouled, Nowell would drill two more free throws making it 71-64. Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves would hit two free throws of his own, followed by KSU’s Desi Sills hitting two more. KSU would lead 73-66 with 13 seconds remaining.

On the other end of the floor, Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves would hit a three-pointer with six seconds left, but Nowell would hit two free throws, sealing the win.

Nowell would lead K-State with 27 points. Johnson finished with 13 points. Tomlin and Sills each added 12.

Kansas State will face No. 7 seed Michigan State at Madison Square Garden in New York City Thursday, March 23 at 5:30 p.m.