Nowell breaks NCAA assist record, KSU advances to Elite 8

The Wildcats move within one win of their first Final 4 since 1964.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 4:48 PM CDT
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NEW YORK (KWCH) - Update: Markquis Nowell broke the NCAA Tournament record for assists in a game with 19, his last two on spectacular passes in the final minute of overtime, and Kansas State beat Michigan State 98-93 on Thursday night in a Sweet 16 thriller at Madison Square Garden.

Playing in his hometown and fighting through a second-half ankle injury, Nowell found Keyontae Johnson for a reverse alley-oop with 58 seconds left in OT to give the Wildcats (26-9) the lead for good in this back-and-forth East Region semifinal. He then threw an inbound pass to Ismael Massoud, who knocked down a jumper with 15 seconds left for a 96-93 lead.

With Michigan State needing a 3 to tie, Nowell stole the ball from the Spartans’ Tyson Walker and drove for a clinching layup at the buzzer. The 5-foot-8, Harlem-raised Nowell finished with 20 points and five steals in a signature performance at basketball’s most famous arena.

Johnson scored 22 points for the Wildcats. A.J. Hoggard led Michigan State (21-13) with 25 points.

Update: In what’s shaping up to be an instant classic, Kansas State and Michigan State are in overtime in their Sweet 16 battle in Madison Square Garden. A back-and-forth second half ended with K-State senior guard Markquis Nowell almost playing the hero. Nowell found a lane but couldn’t convert on a contested layup as time in regulation expired.

Update: Paced by senior forward Keyontae Johnson’s 14 points and senior guard Markquis Nowell’s 10 assists, Kansas State holds a narrow halftime lead, 43-38, over Michigan State in the Sweet 16 at Madison Square Garden.

The Wildcats are hot offensively, hitting 16 of 26 field goal attempts in the first 20 minutes, a 61.5% clip. This includes 7-12 from behind the arc, a substantial improvement from K-State’s deep-range struggles against Kentucky in the second round. K-State struggled with free throws in the first half, hitting four of eight. Michigan State is staying in it, largely due to a a solid percentage from three-point range, going 9-9 at the free throw line and outrebounding K-State, 18-12.

Another area of note for the Wildcats is that they only turned the ball over three times in the first half. This season, the turnover margin was an especially critical stat that often was the deciding factor for K-State.

Wildcats take on the Spartans at 5:30 p.m. at Madison Square Gardens.

At this point in the postseason, the Kansas State University men’s basketball team doesn’t look the part of a Cinderella team that so often captures the nation’s hearts in the NCAA Tournament. But when looking at preseason expectations compared with what the Wildcats have accomplished to this point, it’s one of the more remarkable stories in college basketball. Picked to finish last in the Big 12, K-State clawed to a third-place finish in arguably the nation’s toughest conference and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats fought off a pesky Montana State team and outfought Kentucky in a classic to get to the East Region semifinal round, the Sweet 16. From New York City’s historic Madison Square Garden, K-State and No. 7 seed Michigan State tip off at 5:30 p.m.