Kansas State Wildcats coach Jerome Tang had an emotional Saturday night when his group visited the 19th-ranked Baylor Bears at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.
That’s where Tang spent 19 seasons as an assistant under Scott Drew, leading that program through the best years in its history. Before Saturday’s game, it’s also where Tang received his 2022 Big 12 championship ring.
By the end of the night, the lingering emotion was something like relief as K-State survived an overtime thriller against Baylor 97-95.
Tang said that the game itself was fun, but everything before and after the contest wasn’t.
“I love Scott, it’s never a good Saturday when Scott loses,” Tang said.
The Wildcats have become one of the nation’s most explosive offensive teams over their last two games, pouring in 213 points between Tuesday’s record-setting victory over Texas and this win over Baylor.
Just like Tuesday night, it was senior duo of Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson who powered K-State’s offensive explosion. Nowell followed his career-high 36-point performance against Texas with another 32 on Saturday, going 8-of-16 from the floor, 4-of-7 from three-point range and 12-of-13 at the free throw line.
He did set a career high in assists against Baylor, however, picking up 14 of them to give him his eighth double-double since transferring to K-State and his fifth of the season. That’s also the first 30-point, 10-assist game in K-State history.
Nowell came up big for the Wildcats in the game’s biggest moments, recording six points and an assist in overtime to help seal the victory.
“I’m just so proud of him because it’s hard work,” Tang said. “He’s worked really hard in the offseason and not just in basketball.”
Not to be outdone, Johnson posted his second-straight 20-point game against the Bears, scoring 24 on 11-of-17 shooting, and he also hauled in a game-high nine rebounds.
Johnson set the tone of the game early, cashing in 12 first-half points and eight points in the first 4:40 of game time.
Even with the big nights from Nowell and Johnson, Baylor still had a chance to win at the end of regulation and in overtime. The Bears overcame an eight-point deficit in the second half to send the game to overtime, and they led by three points with 2:09 left in overtime.
The Wildcats went on a 9-4 run from that point, though, to earn third-straight win over a ranked opponent and to improve to 3-0 in Big 12 play.
“This was a tough two-game span but we pulled it off and we showed some grit,” Nowell said.
After two straight road games against top-20 teams, K-State will return to Bramlage Coliseum on Tuesday night to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys. That game will tip off at 6:00 p.m. central time.