AMES, Iowa – In a game befitting the first top-15 matchup in the 246-game history between the schools, No. 12/13 Iowa State made the right plays at the right moments to hold off a late rally by No. 5/5 Kansas State for 80-76 win on Tuesday night before a sold-out crowd of 14,267 fans at Hilton Coliseum.
Down 59-49 with 8:12 to play, K-State (17-3, 6-2 Big 12) made a late charge behind the play of senior Markquis Nowell, who scored 5 points in a 10-1 run that closed the deficit to 60-59 at the 5:43 mark. However, senior Caleb Grill made his only shot – a 3-pointer – on the next possession after a big offensive rebound from freshman Tamin Lipsey that gave Iowa State (15-4, 6-2 Big 12) a 63-59 lead and more breathing room.
Five times down the stretch, the Wildcats closed to within one possession but each time the Cyclones seemed to answer any big shot with one of their own to remain perfect (11-0) at home. Nowell, who continued his stellar play with a game-tying 23 points and a game-high 9 assists, missed a layup with 14 seconds left that would’ve pulled K-State to within 76-75. Lipsey grabbed the defensive rebound and Grill sink a pair of free throws for a 78-73 lead.
Nowell gave the Wildcats’ one last chance at 78-76 with 3 seconds left after he made all 3 free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer, but senior Jaren Holmes was able to knock down both free throws for the final margin.
The loss was the first this season by single digits after starting 9-0 in such contests.
Nowell continued his stellar play with another near double-double, scoring a game-tying 23 points to go with a game-high 9 assists in 38 minutes. He has now scored 20 or more points seven times this season, including on six occasions in Big 12 play. He was one of four Wildcats in double figures, as senior Keyontae Johnson grabbed his fourth double-double, including his second straight, with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore Cam Carter and junior Ismael Massoud finished with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
The Cyclones got big nights from Kalscheur (23) and fellow senior Jaren Holmes (19), who combined for 42 points on 15-of-22 shooting, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Senior big man Osun Osunniyi added 16 points, while freshman guard Tamin Lipsey had a solid all-around night with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent from the field, including an opponent-high 57.1 percent (28-of-49) by Iowa State, which finished with advantages in points off turnovers (25-13), points in the paint (34-28) and second-chance points (17-7). K-State was able to hit on 52.1 percent (25-of-48) of its field goals, including a season-best 56.3 percent (9-of-16) from 3-point range. The 76 points were the most allowed this season by the Cyclones, which ranks among the top-10 in 4 defensive categories nationally and tops in the Big 12 in scoring defense (58.6).
The loss spoiled the Wildcats’ debut as a Top 5 team, which is the highest in more than a decade since also ranking No. 5 on Dec. 6, 2010. K-State is still off to its best 20-game start in more than 60 years since the 1961-62 opened the year with an 18-2 record, while they are now tied with Iowa State and Texas atop the Big 12 at 6-2.
HOW IT HAPPENED
K-State enjoyed the early momentum, jumping out to a 14-10 lead behind the play of sophomore Cam Carter, who scored 9 of the Wildcats’ first 14 points, before the first media timeout at the 14:26 mark. However, Iowa State settled down after the timeout to score 9 in a row to take a 19-14 advantage and force head coach Jerome Tang to take his first timeout near the midway point of the first half.
The Wildcats responded out of the timeout with a 10-4 run to regain the lead at 24-23 with 5:51 remaining. Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin, senior Tykei Greene and junior Ismael Massoud all contributed points in the run.
The two teams went back and forth over the next few minutes, exchanging the lead, before a layup by senior Markquis Nowell with 45 seconds to play gave K-State a 33-31 lead at the break.
After the teams traded the lead in the early moments of the second half, Iowa State grabbed the momentum with a 12-2 run to take a 49-42 advantage into the second media timeout at the 11:55 mark. The run grew to 15-2 after a 3-pointer by senior Gabe Kalscheur on the next possession, as the Cyclone lead grew to double figures.
Senior Keyontae Johnson’s layup in heavy traffic at the 10:40 mark ended a more than 7-minute field goal drought by the Wildcats and closed the gap to 52-46. However, the Cyclones once again responded to the push with 4 straight points to again lead by 10 points.
Trailing 59-49 with 8:12 to play, a 3-pointer by Nowell ignited a 10-1 run that pulled the Wildcats to within 60-59 with nearly 6 minutes remaining. However, senior Caleb Grill answered with his only field goal make of the night on an offensive rebound from freshman Tamin Lipsey to push the Cyclones back out at 63-59.
Five times down the stretch the Wildcats closed to within a possession, but the Cyclones seemed to have answer, including a big offensive rebound and layup by senior Osun Osunniyi with 1:37 to play, a jumper by senior Gabe Kalscheur with 45 seconds and a free throw by Osunniyi with 24 seconds.
Nowell gave K-State one last chance after being fouled on a 3-pointer and making all 3 free throws to pull to within 78-76 with 3 seconds remaining, but senior Jaren Holmes sealed it with 2 more free throws for the final margin.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Markquis Nowell scored a game-tying 23 points on 6-of-17 field goals, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, and 7-of-8 free throws to go with a game-high 9 assists and 3 steals in 38 minutes. It was seventh 20-point game of the season, including his sixth in Big 12 play.
Senior Keyontae Johnson collected his fourth double-double of the season, including his second in a row, with 15 points on 6-of-12 field goals to go with a game-high 10 rebounds.
STAT OF THE GAME
25 – In game where K-State had just one turnover (14-13) than Iowa State, it was the Cyclones who took advantage of those miscues, outscoring the Wildcats, 25-13.
IN THEIR WORDS
Head coach Jerome Tang
On the game…
“I thought this was just an unbelievable Big 12 game. The environment was incredible. We obviously wanted to win. But what we really wanted to see is how much we improved from a week ago from the loss at TCU when we came in with two good wins, they were coming off of a loss that they probably should have won and they were just tougher than we were. And so that was a challenge to our guys. And we knew this environment was way different than TCU. I mean, these fans have always been some of the best fans in the country, one of my favorite places to come and compete that just because of how knowledgeable they are, and how much they love the team here. I’m very proud of our guys for how we responded, how we played with poise at the right time. I always say big time players make big-time plays at big-time moments. And I thought that the young man (Gabe Kalscheur) that hit that shot coming up out of the timeout was incredible. (Jaren) Holmes was also incredible. And big fella (Osun Osunniyi) down the stretch, we didn’t have an answer for one. We will get better, but very proud of my guys.”
On Iowa State’s success driving and what you can do to stop that…
“Well, they have really good shooters. And sometimes we’re probably spread out a little bit too much. I’ll have to go look at the film, I thought we let the right-handed drivers drive. We just have to do a little bit better job.”
On the improvements made from the road loss at TCU a week ago…
“I just thought we competed. You know, and we stayed together, and we didn’t let their runs get us out of character. The way we really improved was in preparation that we didn’t get giddy because we’ve won a couple of games. We realized we had to keep improving and stay focused and all of that. And so just our preparation and our mental focus coming into this game was way better. And then you know, we executed much better.”
On Cam Carter…
“Cam’s a hooper. You put him in space, and he is really good. And he had space in the first half. In the second half, they played a little bit more attention to him, and so they took away his space.”
On the early pace then how the game changed…
“But I really liked the pace of the game in the first half because they scored 12 more points a game at home than they do on the road. And so when we led 33-31 at the half, I was like this is good. This game is going to be played in the 60s. However, they started to make shots in the second half so you just to try and match it.”
On Nowell’s shot on one of the last possessions…
“It was set up for a shooter in the corner because we knew they’d help on that corner. I thought he would maybe kick it out there, but I have no problem with him. He had just finished one like that just a little bit earlier. And he finished one like that against the other night when we won the game. So yeah, the ball was in his hands, and we gave him the right space and he had what we wanted. It just didn’t go in.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State falls to 17-3 on the season, which is the best 20-game start since the 1961-62 team went 18-2.
- K-State is now 6-2 in Big 12 play, which is still the best start since 2018-19.
- K-State still leads the all-time series, 144-92, including 54-52 in Ames (23-29 in Hilton Coliseum) … Iowa State now holds a slight advantage in the Big 12 era at 29-27.
- K-State used a starting lineup of fifth-year senior Markquis Nowell, sophomore Cam Carter, fifth-year senior Keyontae Johnson, junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin and senior Abayomi Iyiola… It marked the ninth time in 20 games using this lineup.
- Nowell made his 41st start at K-State, while Carter, Johnson and Tomlin all made their 20th starts in Wildcat uniforms and Iyiola his ninth… It was Johnson’s 76th start in college (other 55 at Florida), 73rd for Iyiola (other 39 at Stetson and 25 at Hofstra), 24th for Carter (other 4 at Mississippi State) and 20th for Tomlin (all at K-State).
- K-State scored its 76 points on 52.1 percent shooting (25-of-48), including 56.3 percent (9-of-16) from 3-point range, and connected on 68 percent (17-of-25) from free throw line.
- The 76 points is the most allowed by Iowa State this season, which leads the Big 12 in scoring defense.
- It marked the seventh time this season that K-State has shot 50 percent or better from the field.
- K-State connected on 9 3-pointers, including 2 players (Markquis Nowell and Ismael Massoud) hitting 4 each… The 56.3 3-point field goal percentage was the highest of the season.
- Iowa State held advantages in points off turnovers (25-13), points in the paint (34-28) and second-chance points (17-7).
- K-State got 15 points from its bench, including 13 from junior Ismael Massoud.
- K-State led 33-31 at the half behind 13 points from sophomore Cam Carter… Iowa State made one more field goal (13-12) than K-State in the first half, while the Wildcats made two more 3-pointers (3-1).
- K-State is now 10-1 this season when leading at the half.
- Senior Markquis Nowell once again enjoyed a solid all-around night, scoring a game-tying 23 points on 6-of-17 field goals, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, and 7-of-8 free throws to go with a game-high 9 assists, 3 steals and 2 rebounds in 38 minutes… It was his 26th career 20-point game, including his seventh this season… He has now scored in double figures in 83 career games, including 36 at K-State.
- Nowell now has at least 5 assists in 17 of 20 games this season, while he has at least 2 steals in 14 games.
- Senior Keyontae Johnson registered his 17th career double-double, including his fourth this season, with his 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds to go with 2 steals in 34 minutes… He now has 58 career double-digit scoring games, including all 20 games in 2022-23.
- Sophomore Cam Carter scored 15 points on perfect shooting, including 5-of-5 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line… He has now scored in double figures in 7 career games, including 5 this season.
- Junior Ismael Massoud scored 13 points on 4-of-6 field goals, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, in 27 minutes… His 4 made 3-pointers are the most in his K-State career… He has now scored in double figures in 26 career games, including 15 times in his K-State career and 4 times in 2022-23.
K-State returns home to Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats play host to Florida (11-8, 4-3 SEC) in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge at 5 p.m., CT on ESPN2. The game is already a sellout.