Kansas State’s star senior duo delivered their school their first March Madness victory in five years.
Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell combined for 35 points, and the latter handed out a game-high 14 assists, as the third-seeded Kansas State Wildcats defeated the number fourteen seed Montana State Bobcats 77-65 in first-round action in the East Regional in Greensboro, North Carolina on Friday night.
The last of Nowell’s 14 dimes led to a thunderous slam from Desi Sills that punctuated K-State’s first tournament win since they defeated Kentucky in the Sweet 16 in the 2018 tournament.
— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) March 18, 2023
The underdog Bobcats traded baskets with the Wildcats for the game’s first ten minutes, but K-State took the lead for good on a David N’Guessan layup that put them in front 18-16 just past the halfway mark of the first half. K-State led by as many as 34-25 before Montana State closed the gap to six at 34-28 at the intermission.
The lead was trimmed to four early in the second half before the Wildcats started to create some distance. A hoop by Nae’Qwan Tomlin gave K-State their first double-digit lead at 42-32 with 16:39 to play. They pushed the lead up to 13 while holding Montana State scoreless for a five minute stretch. In a nearly seven-minute sequence, Nowell would either score or assist on seven of K-State’s nine field goals, with the Sills slam the last of those baskets. That made it 75-59 with 1:57 to play and represented the largest lead of the night.
In addition to his 14 assists, Nowell added 17 points. Johnson led the way for K-State with 18 points and eight rebounds. Tomlin and N’Guessan also scored in double figures, chipping in 13 and 10 points, respectively. Raequan Battle’s 27 points led the Bobcats in a losing effort.
— K-State Men’s Basketball (@KStateMBB) March 18, 2023
The Wildcats improve to 24-9 on the season with the win. Next up is a matchup with sixth-seeded Kentucky, who topped eleventh-seeded Providence 61-53 on Friday. The game will tip off at 1:40 Central time on Sunday in Greensboro and be broadcast on CBS.