Markquis Nowell sends No. 3 K-State past Kentucky, into Sweet 16

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Markquis Nowell recorded 27 points, nine assists and three steals and Ismael Massoud drained the go-ahead 3-pointer as Kansas State notched a 75-69 victory over Kentucky on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament’s East Region in Greensboro, N.C.

Keyontae Johnson added 13 points for third-seeded Kansas State (25-9), which advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2018. Nae’Qwan Tomlin had 12 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots and Desi Sills also had 12 points as K-State prevailed in the battle between two schools that go by Wildcats.

Kansas State will face either second-seeded Marquette or seventh-seeded Michigan State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday in New York.

“It hasn’t hit me just yet, and I kind of don’t want it to because I don’t want to lose that hunger that I play with and that passion I play with, but this is about my team,” said Nowell, a native of New York City. “I mean, we accomplished this. I didn’t accomplish this by myself. Everybody played huge for us. The coaching staff did great. I’m just proud of everybody in the locker room and behind the scenes.”

Oscar Tshiebwe had a big outing with 25 points and 18 rebounds for sixth-seeded Kentucky (22-12). Cason Wallace had 21 points and nine rebounds before fouling out and Chris Livingston added 11 points.

Massoud hit the big 3-pointer with 2:21 remaining for his lone points of the game to give Kansas State a 64-62 lead. Johnson drilled a trey to increase the margin to five with 1:23 remaining and Nowell hit two free throws to make it 69-62 with 37.4 seconds to play.

“I knew there would be a time when I would get an opportunity to make a shot, and I just had to make sure I was ready,” Massoud said. “And Quis found me, and I just let it go with no hesitation.”

I didn’t really think much of it until after I hit it, but just grateful Quis had trust in me to pass that ball.

Kentucky later moved within four before Nowell made two free throws with 3.9 seconds left to close it out.

Kansas State improved to 2-9 all-time against Kentucky. The other victory was in 2018 to put Kansas State into the Elite Eight.

Kansas State shot 48.1 percent from the field, including 5-of-21 from 3-point range.

Kentucky committed 16 turnovers, connected on 41.3 percent of its shots and was 4-of-20 from behind the arc. Antonio Reeves was 1-of-15 from the field — missing nine of 10 from 3-point range — and scored all five of his points in the final 15 seconds.

Kentucky used a 7-2 run to take a 50-49 lead on Wallace’s basket with 8:05 to play.

Later, Wallace’s layup and Lance Ware’s dunk gave Kentucky a 60-56 edge with 3:58 remaining. Nowell answered with five straight points to give Kansas State a 61-60 edge with 2:59 left.

A putback by Wallace put Kentucky back ahead by one with 2:43 remaining.

Kansas State scored 12 of the final 16 first-half points to take a 29-26 lead at the break. Tshiebwe had 11 points and 11 rebounds in the half for Kentucky.

–Field Level Media

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