NEW YORK — Kansas State’s Harlem-raised players reveled in the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. Thanks to them, the Wildcats are heading to the Elite Eight.
Fighting through a second-half ankle injury, Markquis Nowell put up 20 points and an NCAA Tournament-record 19 assists to lead third-seeded Kansas State to a 98-93 overtime victory over seventh-seeded Michigan State on Thursday in East Region action.
Nowell fed Keyontae Johnson (22 points) an alley-oop pass, and Johnson’s two-handed reverse slam pushed the Wildcats ahead 94-92 with 52 seconds left in overtime. Malik Hall got to the line for the Spartans and missed the second of two foul shots.
On a baseline out-of-bounds play, Nowell hit Ismael Massoud for a corner jumper with 17 seconds left. On the Spartans’ last play, Nowell slapped the ball away from Tyson Walker and added a triumphant layup at the buzzer.
Nowell, Massoud and Nae’Qwan Tomlin all hail from Harlem, the famed neighborhood in Upper Manhattan. Massoud shot 4 of 6 from 3-point range and scored 15 points, and Tomlin added 11 points and seven rebounds for Kansas State (26-9).
The Wildcats are headed to their third Elite Eight since 2010. They are one win away from reaching their first Final Four since 1964 and the fifth in program history.
Cam Carter scored 12 points and David N’Guessan added 11 for the Wildcats.
A.J. Hoggard scored 18 of his game-high 25 points after halftime to lead Michigan State (21-13). Joey Hauser posted 18 points, Walker had 16, Jaden Akins added 14 and Malik Hall had 13.
The second half saw seven ties and 10 lead changes. Tomlin waltzed in for a layup thanks to Michigan State’s defensive miscommunication to make it 77-70 with 4:45 to play.
Massoud’s straightaway 3-pointer, assisted by Nowell, gave the Wildcats an 80-75 lead. Akins hit a corner trey, but Nowell answered with a pull-up jumper.
Hall’s layup cut it to 82-80 with 51 seconds left, and after a stop, the Long Island native Walker got his turn to be the hero by getting a game-tying layup to fall with five seconds left, forcing overtime.
Nowell went down with the ankle injury early in the second half and had to be helped off by two assistants. In the 2:21 of game time Nowell missed while getting his ankle treated, the Spartans shot 4-for-5 from the field to take a 55-52 lead on Hoggard’s three-point play.
On his first possession back, Nowell had to chuck up a game-tying 3-pointer with two seconds left on the shot clock, and he banked it in before limping down the court.
Carter’s triple with 15 seconds left cemented the Wildcats’ 43-38 lead at halftime. Nowell had 10 assists in the first half alone.
Kansas State will oppose either ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic or fourth-seeded Tennessee on Saturday for a berth in the Final Four.
–By Adam Zielonka, Field Level Media