KANSAS STATE (7-1) vs ABILENE CHRISTIAN (5-4)
Tuesday, December 6, 2022 >> 7:01 p.m. CT >> Bramlage Coliseum (11,000) >> Manhattan, Kan.
Big 12 Now on ESPN+ / WatchESPN (link here)
- Ben Boyle (play-by-play)
- Stan Weber (analyst)
- Jazsmin Halliburton (producer)
K-State Sports Network
Flagships: // KMAN 1350 & WIBW 580
Satellite Radio: Sirius XM 380/970
Online: Varsity Network [free] / www.kstatesports.com/watch [free]
- Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play)
- Matt Walters (analyst)
(800) 221.CATS 
Single Game: $10, $25
K-State: Jerome Tang [Charter Oak State College ‘07]
Record at K-State: 7-1/1st Year
Career Record: 9-1/1st Year+
- Abilene Christian: 0-0 [0-0 at K-State]
Abilene Christian: Brette Tanner [Emporia State ‘98]
Record at Abilene Christian: 30-15/2nd Year
Career Record: 30-15/2nd Year
- K-State: 0-0 [0-0 at Abilene Christian]
Overall: K-State leads 2-0
Current Streak: K-State, 2
In Manhattan: K-State leads 2-0
At Bramlage Coliseum: First meeting
Last Meeting: W, 90-67 [12/11/1986 in Manhattan, Kan.]
Tang vs. Tanner: 0-0 [0-0 at home]
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP (Based off the last game)
Kansas State (7-1)
G: #1 Markquis Nowell
G: #5 Cam Carter
F: #11 Keyontae Johnson
F: #35 Nae’Qwan Tomlin
C: #3 David N’Guessan
Abilene Christian (5-4)
G: #1 Damien Daniels
G: #11 Tobias Cameron
G: #12 Hunter Jack Madden
G: #25 Immanuel Allen
F: #32 Joe Pleasant
K-STATE CONTINUES HOMESTAND TUESDAY NIGHT VS. ACU
- Kansas State (7-1) continues its 3-game homestand on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats play host to Abilene Christian (5-4) at 7 p.m., CT on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. After playing its first home game in 17 days in Saturday night’s 55-50 win over in-state Wichita State, the team will play consecutive home games this week vs. ACU and Incarnate Word (5-5).
- The champions of the 2022 Cayman Islands Classic, K-State responded well to its first loss of the Jerome Tang era against Butler with a come-from-behind 55-50 win over WSU on Saturday in front of a season-best crowd of 8,957 fans at Bramlage Coliseum. Senior Markquis Nowell came through in the clutch, scoring the game’s last 6 points, including a pivotal 3-pointer with 54 seconds left, to lift the Wildcats to their second straight win over the Shockers.
- The 7-1 start is the best by the Wildcats since opening the 2017-18 season with a similar 7-1 record.
- Nowell shook off a subpar shooting night to help knock off Wichita State for the second straight season, as he helped save K-State during a poor shooting night. The Wildcats had a season-low offensive night across the board, scoring a season-low 55 points on 35.8 percent (19-of-53) shooting, including 20 percent (4-of-20) from 3-point range. The Big 12’s best free throw shooting team also had an off night from the line, hitting on a season-low 61.9 percent (13-of-21).
- Nowell’s heroics were set up by a huge play from reserve senior Desi Sills, who raced down the court to block Shammah Scott’s breakaway layup with 1:42 to play with the Wildcats trailing 50-49. Nowell then tied the game with a free throw with 1:32 remaining then forced a steal of senior Craig Porter, Jr., to set up his winning 3-pointer with 54 seconds. After his triple gave the Wildcats a 53-50 lead, he forced another bad pass before hitting a pair of free throws for the final margin of victory. Nowell had a solid all-around stat line with 11 points, a game-high 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals and he was joined in double figures by Keyontae Johnson (17 points) and Nae’Qwan Tomlin (14 points).
- The Wildcat defense sparked the rally in the second half, as they allowed just 18 points after halftime on a mere 25.9 percent (7-of-27) shooting, including 8.3 percent (1-of-12) from 3-point range after allowing 32 points on 54.4 percent (12-of-22) shooting in the first half. For the game, the Shockers had just 5 assists on its 19 made field goals with 16 turnovers.
- K-State’s 6-0 start under head coach Jerome Tang was the best by a first-year coach since Hall of Fame coach Lon Kruger opened the 1986-87 with 6 straight wins. Tang was one of four first-year head coaches in Division I who were unbeaten going into last week, joining Missouri’s Dennis Gates (8-0), Mississippi State’s Chris Jans (7-0) and Maryland’s Kevin Willard (7-0) who all remain undefeated heading into this week’s games.
- The Wildcats have quite the scoring duo in seniors Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell, as they are averaging 32.4 points per game on 48.3 percent (83-of-172) shooting. They are currently the third-best scoring duo in the Big 12 after the tandem of Kansas’ Jalen Wilson (21.9 ppg.) and Gradey Dick (15.3 ppg.) and Baylor’s L.J. Cryer (16.5 ppg.) and Adam Flagler (16.1 ppg.). Johnson (28 points) and Nowell (29 points) joined an elite group in the overtime win over Nevada on Nov. 22, as they combined for 57 points and became just the 15th duo in school history and the first since 2010 to each top 25 points in a game.
- Johnson, who ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring at 17.9 points per game, is one of just 12 Division I players shooting 50 percent or better from the field (58.3), 50 percent or better from 3-point range (50.0) and 80 percent or better from the free throw line (82.5). Johnson and Maryland’s Hakim Hart are the only players among Power 6 leagues on the list.
- Nowell, who was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Nov. 28 after his MVP performance at the Cayman Islands Classic, continues to be one of the nation’s leaders in assists. His 7.8 assists per game tie for third nationally, while his 62 total assists places fourth. He is also 26th in assist/turnover ratio (3.44) with 62 assists to 18 turnovers. He is the only active Division I player with at least 1,000 points, 500 assists and 200 steals in his career.
NOTES ON ABILENE CHRISTIAN
- Abilene Christian (5-4) enters Tuesday’s game with 3 consecutive victories after starting the season with a 2-4 record. The Wildcats began their current streak with a 92-82 win at Northern Arizona on Nov. 27 before home wins over North American (93-46) and Arlington Baptist (88-42) last week.
- Abilene Christian will be playing its second Power 6 Conference opponent after losing at Texas A&M, 77-58, in the second game on Nov. 11. The Wildcats’ other losses have come to Wright State, Weber State and UC Riverside.
- Abilene Christian is averaging 77 points on 47.5 percent shooting, including 36.9 percent from 3-point range, with 34.0 rebounds, 17.1 assists, 10.4 steals and 3.6 blocks per game, while allowing 64.3 points on 43 percent shooting, including 32.5 percent from 3-point range. The Wildcats are connecting on 68.9 percent from the free throw line.
- Seven players are averaging better than 6 points per game, including a pair of double-digit scorers in junior Cameron Steele (10.7 ppg.) and senior Immanuel Allen (10.6 ppg.). Steele is connecting on 49.3 percent from the field, including 43.9 percent from 3-point range, while Allen is hitting on 54.1 percent, including 48.1 percent from long range. Both have combined for 31 3-pointers. Senior Tobias Cameron has a team-leading 5.6 rebounds to go with 9.6-points per game scoring average. Senior Damien Daniels and sophomore Ja’Sean Jackson each have dished out a team-leading 28 assists.
- Head coach Brette Tanner is in his second season at Abilene Christian with a 30-15 record. He led the Wildcats to a 25-11 record in year one, advancing to the WAC Championship game before playing in the CBI. He previously was the top assistant at ACU from 2013-21, helping the school advance to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, including a win over Texas in the first round.
- K-State and Abilene Christian will meet for the third time and the first time since 1986. The Wildcats won home games against the other Wildcats during the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons by an average margin of 22.5 points, including a 91-69 on Jan. 9, 1986, and 90-67 on Dec. 11, 1986.
- K-State is 15-2 all-time against current members of the WAC, including a 13-0 mark at home. Earlier this year, the Wildcats beat WAC member UTRGV, 93-59, in the season opener on Nov. 7.
LAST TIME OUT: K-STATE 55, WICHITA STATE 50
- Senior Markquis Nowell shook off a subpar shooting night to score the game’s last 6 points, including a pivotal 3-pointer with 54 seconds, to help lift K-State to a 55-50 win over in-state Wichita State on Saturday night before a season-best crowd of 8,957 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
- K-State rebounded from its first loss of the season at Butler on Nov. 30 to earn its fourth straight win over its in-state rival in the first meeting between the schools at Bramlage Coliseum since 2003.
- Although he had an off-shooting night, Nowell had a stellar all-around night for the Wildcats, adding a game-high 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals to his 11 points. He was joined in double figures by fellow senior Keyontae Johnson, who led all scorers with 17 points, and junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin, who kept the team in the game early with 12 of his 14 points coming in the first half.
- It marked the second year in a row Nowell proved to be difference in a win against Wichita State. Last season, he scored 5 of his team-high 16 points in a late 7-0 run, including a dagger of a 3-pointer with 1:35 to play, that helped the Wildcats to a 65-59 win over the Shockers at INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita.
- Nowell’s heroics helped spark a late rally by K-State, which trailed for more than 30 minutes and appeared to be heading for a loss until senior Desi Sills made perhaps the biggest play of the night with his block of Shammah Scott’s breakaway layup with 1:42 to play with the Wildcats trailing 50-49.
- Nowell tied the game with a free throw with 1:32 left then forced a steal of senior Craig Porter, Jr., to set up his winning 3-pointer with 54 seconds. After his triple gave the Wildcats a 53-50 lead, he forced another bad pass on the next possession before knocking down 2 free throws for the final margin of victory.
- K-State had a season-low offense night across the board, scoring a season-low 55 points on 35.8 percent (19-of-53) shooting, including 20 percent (4-of-20) from 3-point range. The Big 12’s best free throw shooting team also had an off night from the line, hitting on a season-low 61.9 percent (13-of-21).
- It was a tale of two halves for Wichita State, which led by as many as 7 points in the first half on 54.5 percent (12-of-22) shooting before scoring just 18 points in the second half on a mere 25.9 percent (7-of-27) shooting. For the game, the Shockers had just 5 assists on its 19 made field goals with 16 turnovers.
K-STATE WINS CAYMAN ISLANDS CLASSIC
- K-State captured its 17th in-season tournament title, as the Wildcats knocked off Rhode Island (77-57), Nevada (96-87 in overtime) and LSU (61-59) to win the 2022 Cayman Islands Classic on Nov. 21-23. It was the team’s first tournament title since winning the 2018 Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The 3 wins gave K-State its first 6-0 start since the 2018-19 season.
- Senior Markquis Nowell was selected the Cayman Islands Classic MVP and to the all-tournament team, while fellow senior Keyontae Johnson was named to the all-tournament team. Nowell averaged 18.7 points and 9.0 assists in the 3-game tournament, while Johnson averaged a team-best 19.3 points on 53.6 percent shooting with 6.0 rebounds per game. For his effort, he was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Monday.
- After breezing past Rhode Island, 77-57, in the first round, K-State had to fight through tight contests with Nevada in the semifinals and LSU in the finals to earn the title. After surrendering a 9-point lead to the Wolf Pack with 4:08 to play to trail 80-78 with 14 seconds left in regulation, Nowell drove the lane and was able to convert on a layup in traffic to force overtime with 3.5 seconds. The Wildcats were able to carry the momentum in the extra period, as they hit on 5 of 6 from the field and 6 of 10 free throw line to win 96-87.
- The Wildcats then overcame an 11-point second-half deficit to the Tigers in the title game, using their defense to allow 18 points after halftime on 36.8 percent shooting while forcing 14 turnovers en route to a 61-59 victory.
TANG DEBUTS AS HEAD COACH
- First-year head coach Jerome Tang enjoyed a successful a debut, as the Wildcats posted a 93-59 win against UTRGV on Nov. 7, becoming the 24th man and the first full-time black head coach in school history. He followed with his first road victory at Cal to start his tenure off with a 2-0 record. He is the sixth minority men’s head coach in K-State Athletics history, including the third in men’s basketball following interim head coach Darryl Winston (1984-85) and former full-time head coach Frank Martin (2007-12).
- K-State’s 6-0 start under head coach Jerome Tang was the best by a first-year coach in school history since Hall of Fame coach Lon Kruger opened the 1986-87 with 6 straight wins. Tang was one of four first-year head coaches in Division I who were unbeaten entering last week, joining Missouri’s Dennis Gates, Mississippi State’s Chris Jans and Maryland’s Kevin Willard.
- This is not Tang’s first time being a head coach, as he served as athletics director and head coach at Heritage Christian Academy in Cleveland, Texas from 1993-2003, leading the school to 5 TAPPS Division A State Championships.
- In addition, Tang twice served as interim head coach in his 19 seasons as an assistant and associate head coach at Baylor, leading the Bears to 4-0 record. He helped Baylor to wins over Texas (86-79 in OT) and at Texas Tech (82-48) during the 2012-13 season, while he guided the squad to wins over Louisiana (112-82) and Washington (86-52) to open the 2020-21 season. Tang is only credited with the wins in 2012, moving his college head coaching record to 9-1.
SUCCESS IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY
- K-State has posted a 166-53 (.760) record in non-conference play since the 2006-07 season. The loss at Butler on Nov. 30 dropped the Wildcats to 15-13 in true road non-conference games in that span, while the team already has a road win after their 63-54 victory at California on Nov. 11.
- K-State has a 124-14 (.898) record at home venues (includes home games played at Bramlage Coliseum, INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita and the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City) in non-conference play dating to the 2006-07 season, including a 115-12 (.905) mark at Bramlage Coliseum.
- The Wildcats posted double-digit non-conference wins in 12 of 13 seasons from 2006-07 to 2018-19, but they have since managed just a 28-17 record in non-conference action in the last 3 seasons (since 2019-20)
- K-State finished the 2021-22 non-conference season with an 8-5 record, including a 6-1 mark at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats won their first 4 non-conference games (Florida A&M, Omaha, North Dakota and UAlbany) before the setback against Marquette. They finished with wins over Green Bay and McNeese, while the final game vs. North Florida was cancelled.
IN NEEDING OF A STRONGER START
- One of the keys to K-State’s 6-0 start to the season had been its strong starts, as the Wildcats averaged 40.3 points on 50 percent (84-of-168) shooting from the field, including 42.5 percent (31-of-73) from 3-point range, while hitting on 82.7 percent (43-of-52) from the free throw line.
- The last 2 games K-State has gotten off to less than desirable starts, scoring just 25 points in the first half of the loss at Butler before posting 29 first-half points against Wichita State. In those games, the Wildcats combined to shoot just 36.8 percent (21-of-57) from the field, including 17.4 percent (4-of-23) from long range.
- K-State had out-scored its opponents, 242-178, in the first half in the first 6 games, as its defense had allowed 29.7 points on 39.6 percent (63-of-159) shooting, including 31.4 percent (16-of-51) from beyond the arc. However, in the last 2 games, opponents are averaging 34.5 points on 52 percent shooting.
- The 52 points vs. UTRGV were the most first-half points in a season opener since scoring 53 vs. South Dakota on Nov. 29, 1986, as K-State’s 93 points were the most in an opener since scoring 98 vs. Southern Utah on Nov. 14, 2014.
- K-State’s defense has forced 144 turnovers through the first 8 games, which includes 62 steals, while averaging 19.5 points per game off those miscues.
- The 18.0 turnovers forced per game ranks 25th nationally, while it places fourth in the Big 12 behind Iowa State, Texas and West Virginia. K-State ranks sixth in turnover margin (+3.4) and seventh in steals (7.8), while senior Markquis Nowell places fifth in the Big 12 in steals per game (2.00).
- The Wildcats opened the year by forcing 20 or more turnovers from each of their first 3 opponents, which hasn’t happened since at least 1995-96. The 2007-08 season was the last time that K-State has forced 20 or more turnovers from each of its first 2 opponents.
- K-State scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 3 of its first 4 games with a season-high 31 points off 26 UTRGV (11/7/22) turnovers in the opener. The Wildcats scored 20+ points off miscues in back-to-back games vs. Kansas City (11/17/22; 26 points) and Rhode Island (11/21/22; 21 points).
- K-State is getting solid production from its bench through the first 8 games, as the Wildcats are averaging 19.0 points per game. Three reserves (Desi Sills, Tykei Greene and Ish Massoud) are averaging better than 4 points per game on a collective 43 percent (49-of-114) shooting.
- The Wildcats got 41 points from its bench in the opener vs. UTRGV (11/7/22) with 3 reserves (Abayomi Iyiola (12), Massoud (10) and Sills (10) all posting double-digit points. As a group, the bench connected on 14-of-29 from the field, including a collective 11-of-17 effort by Iyiola, Massoud and Sills.
- The veteran Sills has been particularly impactful from the bench, scoring in double figures 4 times in 8 games, including 16 points in the win over LSU (11/23/22) at the Cayman Islands Classic Championship game and a season-high 17 points (all in second half) in the loss at Butler (11/30/22).
TEAM FULL OF SCORERS
- K-State is one of 13 schools to have at least three 1,000-point scorers on its roster, as Wildcats Tykei Greene (1,145 points), Markquis Nowell (1,424 points), Desi Sills (1,181 points) all have eclipsed the milestone in their careers at the Division I level. Only Nowell has reached the mark while at K-State.
- K-State has 5 1,000-point scorers if you count senior walk-on Nate Awbrey, who scored 1,032 points in his 4-year career at Manhattan Christian College, and junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin, who scored more than 1,000 points in his junior college career at Monroe College (2019-20) and Chipola College (2020-22).
- That total could increase this season, as two other Wildcats (Abayomi Iyiola and Keyontae Johnson) have more than 800 points in their career.