Set against the backdrop of historic Madison Square Garden, the Kansas State Wildcats emerged victorious in an instant classic 98-93 in overtime over the Michigan State Spartans in the Sweet Sixteen. With the victory the Wildcats are headed to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2018.
The game was a back and forth affair with neither team fully pulling away from the other. Kansas State’s largest lead on the night was nine points, but even that wasn’t enough to keep Michigan State away for long.
The Spartans trailed by five at halftime and trailed by four with under a minute left before tying the game at 82 at the end of regulation.
Kansas State, behind the charge of star senior point guard Markquis Nowell, took the lead in overtime with a minute and a half to go and never gave it back and sealed the victory with a fantastic defensive stand forcing a turnover on Michigan State’s final possession.
This game was a homecoming for Nowell, a New York City native, and he put on a show for the hometown crowd. Nowell recorded 20 points in the match-up, but that wasn’t even his most impressive feat on the night.
Nowell set a NCAA tournament record for assists as he dished out 19 in the win. The previous record of 18, set by Mark Wade of UNLV, had stood since 1987.
Nowell spoke all week about how excited he was to play in Madison Square Garden and the impact of his performance in his hometown was not lost on him.
“Today was a special one, man,” Nowell said. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my teammates for battling, for fighting through adversity when we was down. I can’t even explain how I’m feeling right now. I just know that I’m blessed and I’m grateful.”
Nowell was not the only New York native to have an impact performance. Junior forward Ish Massoud, who grew up in Harlem, scored 15 points off the bench in the victory.
Massoud’s four three-pointers on the night were important for the team, but his most important shot came in overtime. With the Wildcats leading by just one point, Massoud made a baseline jump shot to extend the lead to three with 15 seconds left.
This was not the first time Massoud has come through in a big moment for the Wildcats and it is something Massoud tries not to overthink in the moment.
“I just try and take every shot one at a time, one shot at a time,” Massoud said. “I try and take everything play-by-play and just be ready whenever the moment comes.”
For Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang, he is now the first Big 12 coach in conference history to win his first three NCAA tournament games as a head coach.
Kansas State entered the season picked to finish last in the conference and was a team that did not finish being fully constructed till near the end of the summer.
Through all of that the Wildcats have found a way to make it to the Elite Eight and Tang wants to make sure he, nor his players, forget to embrace this moment.
“Man, when it happens, you just have to really embrace it and enjoy it and not — like take a moment,” Tang said. “We’ve got to take a moment and just really soak this thing in before we move on to the next thing.”
That next thing for the Wildcats will be an Elite Eight match-up against either Tennessee or Florida Atlantic on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Tune into Mic’d Up with Jake and Fulton from noon-three and 580 Sports Talk with Brendan and Dan from 3-6 Friday afternoon for their reactions to the game
Click below to hear what Jerome Tang and the Wildcats had to say following their 98-93 OT win over Michigan State