Markquis Nowell produced one of the all-time Sweet 16 performances, producing a highlight reel in just two counts in Kansas State’s 98-93 overtime win against Michigan State.
In perhaps the most outstanding moment, Nowell carried the ball down the pitch with the score tied in the final minute of extra time and exchanged spirited hand signals with his coach, Jerome Tang.
Standing atop the March Madness logo at Madison Square Garden, the 5-foot-8 Kansas State point guard glanced at the basket for a split second and threw a chest pass into the lane.
Keyontae Johnson slid behind the Michigan State defense, rose with his back to the basket, grabbed the ball and slammed it down. It was the signature play of an imposing performance by the shortest player on the court.
Nowell broke the NCAA Tournament record for assists in a game with 19, his last two on spectacular passes in the final minute of overtime, and Kansas State beat Michigan State 98-93 Thursday night in a sweet 16. exciting.
Markquis Nowell produced an impressive performance, breaking the NCAA record for assists
Kansas State held on to advance to the Elite Eight behind their Harlem stars, including Nowell
“Today was special, man,” said Nowell, who battled an ankle injury in the second half. ‘I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates for fighting, for fighting against adversity when we were down. I can’t even explain how I feel right now. I just know that I am blessed and I am grateful.
He was praised by NBA legends past and present, as well as Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, as social media fell in love with the Harlem native.
Nowell’s alley-oop to Johnson with 52 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Wildcats (26-9) the lead for good in this two-way East Region semifinal.
The Wildcats are heading to their third Elite Eight since 2010. They are one win away from reaching their first Final Four since 1964 and fifth in program history. Cam Carter scored 12 points and David N’Guessan added 11 for the Wildcats.
“I mean, it was just a basketball play between me and Keyontae,” Nowell said. ‘We knew how Michigan State plays defense. They play loud, and Keyontae just told me, we had eye contact, and he was like, lob, lob. I just threw it up and he made a great play.
Michigan State cut the lead to one before Nowell bounced a pass from under the basket to Ismael Massoud, who knocked down a jumper with 17 seconds remaining that put Kansas State ahead 96-93 and gave Nowell the record assists.
With Michigan State needing a 3-pointer to tie it, Nowell stole the ball from the Spartans’ Tyson Walker and drove for a clutch layup at the buzzer. Nowell finished with 20 points and five steals in a signature performance in basketball’s most famous arena that drew praise tweets from Mahomes and Kevin Durant.
“That was a legendary demonstration of controlling a Markquis basketball game,” Durant tweeted.
UNLV’s Mark Wade had the previous record for assists in an NCAA tournament with 18 during the Runnin’ Rebels’ 1987 Final Four win over Indiana.
NBA stars including Kevin Durant and Trae Young praised the guard’s excellent display.
Nowell’s no-look alley-oop pass to Keyontae Johnson gave the Wildcats a decisive push
Magic Johnson and Patrick Mahomes tweeted about the 5-foot-8 base
Tang, the energetic 56-year-old first-year head coach who was hired to lead the Wildcats after two decades as an assistant at Baylor, gave all the credit to his senior point guard.
“Well, what really helps is that all 10 defense eyes have to pay attention to it, and that’s what allows everyone else to open up,” Tang said. “It’s not just that he sees it, but everyone has to listen to him when he has the ball in his hands.”
Johnson, the transfer from Florida who was sidelined for nearly two years after collapsing on the court during a game in December 2020, scored 22 points for the No. 3-seeded Wildcats. Kansas State will face ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic on Saturday, as he seeks the top spot in the show’s Final Four since 1964.
AJ Hoggard scored a career-high 25 points for seventh-seeded Michigan State (21-13). Joey Hauser added 18 points and Walker had 16, including a layup with 5 seconds left in regulation that forced the first overtime of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Nowell sprained his ankle early in the second half, was helped off the field and bandaged. Michigan State took the lead with him out, and when he returned, he drove in his ankle to hit a clock-beating 3-pointer and tied the game at 55-5.
The Wildcats have their first Elite Eight since 2018 under first-year coach Jerome Tang (R)
Turns out it was just getting started. Neither team led by more than seven points in the final 15 minutes of regulation, and Nowell steadied Kansas State’s offense down the stretch, finding Massoud for a 3-pointer that made it 80-75 and hitting a jump shot. with 1:04 to play to go. The last regulation basket for the Wildcats.
Massoud, who like Nowell honed his game on the Harlem playgrounds, finished with 15 points for the Wildcats, who shot 55.9 percent from the field. They become the second team to shoot better than 50 percent against the Spartans this season. Cam Carter added 12 points.
Jaden Akins added 14 points for coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans, the last Big Ten team in the tournament. Michigan State outrebounded Kansas State 37-31 and finished on 31-of-63 shooting from the field (49.2 percent).
Nowell nearly went down before draining an incredible 3-pointer in the second half
“We got caught hypnotized at Nowell,” Izzo said. ‘He is a special player. We actually did a really good job with him… It was the assists that really killed us, and the cuts back.”
Both teams were efficient from 3-point range in a tournament that featured shaky outside shooting, with Michigan State shooting 13-of-25 (52 percent) and Kansas State hitting 11-of-24 (45.8 percent).
Nowell made a difference, putting his name alongside great New York City guards like Kenny Smith, Kenny Anderson, Mark Jackson and Bob Cousy, and sending Kansas State to its first Elite Eight since 2018.
Nowell put his name in March Madness folklore, and in the record books, on Thursday night.