LIVE BLOG: K-State falls 79-76 to FAU, season ends in Elite 8

Kansas State's Markquis Nowell (1) reacts after Florida Atlantic players celebrate after...
Kansas State's Markquis Nowell (1) reacts after Florida Atlantic players celebrate after defeating Kansas State in an Elite 8 college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament's East Region final, Saturday, March 25, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)(Frank Franklin II | AP)
Published: Mar. 25, 2023 at 3:15 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Note: This blog will be your one-stop shop for updates before, during and after the Elite 8 men’s basketball game between Kansas State and Florida Atlantic. The game tips off at 5:09 p.m. Saturday from Madison Square Garden in New York City and will air on TBS and the March Madness app.

The latest updates are at the top.

Postgame: A heartbreaking end for K-State. But any end in the Elite 8 is heartbreaking. The Wildcats believed they could go further, and they weren’t wrong. It just didn’t happen.

FAU dominated the glass, with a 44-22 rebounding edge. They made 18 of 22 free throws, while K-State made 12 of 18. Markquis Nowell scored 30 points and had 12 assists for K-State, but it wasn’t quite enough. He looked lost on the final possession.

Nae’Kwan Tomlin was K-State’s other double-figure scorer, with 14. Keyontae Johnson scored nine. His college career unfortunately ends with a whimper, as the star forward fouled out with 2:44 to go.

Four players scored in double figures for FAU. Vlad Goldin, the game’s x-factor, had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Alijah Martin scored 17, Bryan Greenlee 16 and Johnell Davis 13. Michael Forrest made 4 of 4 free throws down the stretch.

The Owls had 14 offensive rebounds to K-State’s five, but still somehow took four fewer shots than the Wildcats.

That’s because FAU had 22 turnovers, which short-circuited many possessions.

After K-State led 63-57, it went cold. FAU scored 15 of the next 16 points to lead 72-64. That was with 2:30 to go. K-State climbed back in it, getting to within one, 77-76, before Forrest made two more free throws to set up the final possession.

A forgettable final possession that will probably never be forgotten.

End of second half, FAU wins 79-76: What was that K-State final possession?

It’s a possession that will be rued in K-State circles for years to come, unless they avenge this loss and get to the Final Four soon.

Nowell, who was expected to take the final shot, passed to Ish Massoud, who was not in position to shoot .. or really to do anything. He got tied up, didn’t get a shot off, and the clock ran out on the game and on K-State’s season.

Not how anyone thought it would end. Surely, Nowell would take the shot with the season on the line. But it wasn’t to be. K-State’s miracle season ends in the Elite 8.

22.8 second half, FAU leads 75-74: Not even sure how to put this game into words. Hope you’ve been watching - that’s the only way to capture the emotion. The heartache.

Cam Carter just made a three for K-State. It’s a one-point game. FAU leads and has the ball. K-State will have to foul, hope FAU misses, and then come down and try to win it.

See you at the end of regulation.

4:00 second half, FAU leads 65-63: K-State hasn’t scored in about five minutes. Not the best timing for that.

This game seemed set up for Keyontae Johnson to control the final minutes. On the bench in foul trouble for much of the game, he’s probably the freshest of any player on the court. But Johnson just missed the front end of a 1 and 1 after missing two free throws earlier. He also has four fouls. Just not his night -- so far.

The events out of this timeout could go a long way to determining the outcome -- though there’s still a long way to go. Bryan Greenlee was fouled by Tomlin on a three-point attempt, so FAU gets three free throws for a chance to extend the lead.

Both teams have had this game at their fingertips throughout. It seems destined to come down to the final possession.

6:50 second half, KSU leads 63-62: The final minutes are shaping up to be a battle of attrition. Who can survive this frenetic, physical game.

That “minor risk” of Nowell trying to do too much became sort of egregious in that stretch, with Nowell going for some fancy passes and being unable to thread the needle. It kept K-State from pulling away because it appeared FAU was losing its legs.

That was not that case, however. After a Nowell banked three put KSU ahead by six, FAU got a basket from Goldin and a three from Brandon Weatherspoon to cut the deficit to one.

Buckle up.

11:36 second half, KSU leads 57-50: The basketball gods say this has to be another Markquis Nowell game. No one -- at least no one for K-State -- is going to steal that spotlight.

That’s because Keyontae Johnson, K-State’s other indispensable perimeter player, drew his fourth foul with 14:10 to play. That means he’ll be on the bench for a long time, and Nowell will carry K-State’s fate on his shoulders.

There are few drawbacks to that. One could be that Nowell plays so fast and has such great court vision that he catches his teammates off guard sometimes. That leads to turnovers.

That’s just a mild risk, though. Nowell is the ultimate floor general. He’ll rally his teammates and carry the Cats to the Final Four.

It can’t be jinxed.

15:30 second half, KSU leads 49-47: K-State seems close to firing on all cylinders.

Though he had two missed free throws and his third foul in the opening minutes of the second half, Keyontae Johnson made two quick baskets. He also stayed on the floor after his third foul, so as long as he doesn’t pick up his fourth anytime soon, he and the Cats have a chance to reach a different level offensively.

Markquis Nowell continues doing Markquis Nowell things. He made a three to put K-State ahead by two. He also had two more assists before the first timeout, giving him nine for the game.

K-State can wear down FAU over the final 15 minutes, but if the Owls limit turnovers they might be able to keep it close.

Halftime, FAU leads 42-38: FAU takes the lead into halftime, thanks in part to a little bit of a turning point.

Nowell made a steal near the sideline and fired a pass to Desi Sills, who got separation for the defense and looked to be going in for an easy dunk. Or a layup.

Sills couldn’t decide, and he missed an easy basket that would have tied the game. On the next possession, FAU made two free throws and went ahead by four.

It’s the little things.

K-State has made 14 of 30 shots and 4 of 10 threes; FAU is 15-28 and 4 for 11. Nowell leads all players with 15 points and seven assists. K-State’s other third-team All-American, Keyontae Johnson, has one basket and hasn’t been a factor because of foul trouble. If he finds it in the second half, this game could turn quickly.

Five players have at least four points for FAU, and nobody is in double figures. Alijah Martin leads the Owls with nine points. Vlad Goldin has eight points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two assists.

FAU has a 22-9 rebounding edge.

4:00 first half, tied 34-34: Here comes Mr. New York City.

That stretch of nearly four minutes was dominated by Nowell. He’s needed now more than ever with three Wildcats, including Keyontae Johnson, with two fouls. During that stretch, Nowell made a basket from the elbow, delivered an assist to Desi Sills, made 3 of 3 free throws after being fouled while shooting, hit a three from the top of the key, then made two more free throws.

That’s 10 points and another signature moment for Nowell, whose #heartoverheight motto is coming through soundly in this one. His brother, Marcus, is mic’d up and just about as animated as Markquis.

7:58 first half, FAU leads 26-22: Every time it looks like FAU is ready to take control of the game, the Owls make a mistake and are unable to begin to pull away. Every time K-State looks like it can erase FAU’s lead and maybe grab one of its own, the Wildcats make a mistake, too.

The problems for K-State have been fouls and turnovers. FAU was in the bonus -- shooting free throws after every foul -- at the 10:04 mark of the half. K-State is also trying to make some passes that just aren’t there. The pace may have something to do with that.

For FAU, it’s turnovers, too. When the Owls keep the ball, its possessions are pretty crisp. When they don’t, it has led to some easy K-State baskets. FAU has made 10 of 18 shots, K-State 9 of 19.

10:26 first half, FAU leads 22-18: Turnovers, man.

FAU wasn’t taking good care of the basketball out of the first TV timeout, and K-State built a 16-12 lead after a three-point play by Markquis Nowell, Mr. New York City if you haven’t heard. Then the Owls fixed that problem, at least temporarily, and flashed some pretty incredible and efficient offense. Since that Nowell three-point play, FAU hasn’t committed a turnover and is on a 10-2 run for its biggest lead of the game.

Nae’Kwan Tomlin is ready for the challenge of dealing with Goldin inside, but that’s a matchup the Owls can probably exploit. The FAU big man might just be too big for the Cats to effectively guard. This has been a fun game so far.

In an in-game interview, K-State coach Jerome Tang said he didn’t mind the pace of the game, but K-State’s rebounding and defense need to get better.

15:52 first half, tied 7-7: These teams came to play. It’s clear FAU is no typical No. 9 seed. It’s 7-foot-1 center, Vlad Goldin, is a monster on the glass, with four rebounds early. The Owls’ balanced approach is already showing itself, with three players making a basket each. Alijah Martin had a monster dunk.

K-State is loving the fast pace of the game, which suits the Wildcats perfectly. They’re shooting early in the shot clock and, despite missing their first four shots -- and having two of them blocked -- they’ve found a rhythm, Desi Sills hit a pretty left-handed three from the left wing.

If you’re tracking fouls, Nae’Kwan Tomlin and Cam Carter each have one for K-State. No trouble yet.

Pregame 5 p.m. Markquis Nowell looks good to go in Saturday’s game after suffering a minor ankle injury in Thursday’s game against Tennessee. Nowell is warming up with the Wildcats and there appear to be no limits on the K-State headliner.

Pregame 3:15 p.m. Jerome Tang doesn’t like to give away secrets.

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, the Kansas State basketball coach has declined to offer insight on specific plays, how the Wildcats operate within the transfer portal and on K-State’s plans to combat its opponent.

Tang was asked how he and K-State’s assistant coaches are scouting Florida Atlantic (34-3), their opponent in Saturday’s Elite 8 game, and Tang again played coy. After all, the Wildcats are trying to reach the Final Four for the first time since 1964. Any advantage must be protected.

“Well, I’m not going to talk to you about the scouting, but I will tell you I’ve watched several of their games,” Tang said. “But I will tell you that I’ve watched several of their games.”

Tang likely picked up on an intricate FAU weakness he can exploit, but even for those just looking at the numbers, the challenges the Owls present are clear.

FAU is 37th out of 363 Division I programs in scoring and 41st in scoring defense, outscoring opponents. Those rankings are even better when adjusted analytically for opponents and strength of schedule, as the Owls rate 26th in offensive efficiency and 29th in defensive efficiency according to

Florida Atlantic guard Nicholas Boyd reacts after a play during the second half of a Sweet 16...
Florida Atlantic guard Nicholas Boyd reacts after a play during the second half of a Sweet 16 game against Tennessee in the East Regional of the NCAA tournament at Madison Square Garden, Thursday, March 23, 2023, in New York.(Frank Franklin II | AP)

Despite being undersized -- outside of 7-foot-1 center Vladislav Goldin -- and having no player average more than 6.4 rebounds, FAU is outrebounding opponents by nearly six per game. Against a physical Tennessee team in the Sweet 16, the Owls had a 38-33 rebounding advantage.

“They’re obviously here for a reason,” K-State forward Ish Massoud said. “They won, what’ 34 games -- that doesn’t happen by accident. They’re obviously well-coached (by Dusty May), have a great team, great team chemistry. They shoot the ball really well. It’s going to be a 40-minute war. A matter of falling back on habits and worry about what we can control and what we can do, and just being the aggressors.”

From an individual standpoint, The Wildcats (26-9) will contend with Goldin, a conspicuous post presence who started his college career in the Big 12 with Texas Tech. As has been the case in many games, FAU used a balanced offense to defeat Tenneseee on Thursday, with three double-figure scorers.

Johnell Davis has emerged as the on-court, emotional leader of the Owls, He’s also produced, scoring 29 points in the second round against Fairleigh Dickinson and notching double-digit points in nine straight games.

“What a player,” Tang said of Davis. He’s got NBA feet. He’s got NBA balance. He’s a special athlete and with a great feel for their game.

“...All their guards are terrific. They can all shoot. They can all dribble and pass. They’re quick. They’re athletic. They defend. I mean, they’re just super impressive to watch.”