WACO, Texas – On a night when senior Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson combined for 56 points, it was junior Ismael Massoud who proved to be the difference in overtime, as his 3-pointer with 32 seconds lifted Kansas State to a thrilling 97-95 win over No. 19/17 Baylor on Saturday night before 9,211 fans at Ferrell Center.
Baylor’s Adam Flagler turned the ball over with 5.3 seconds and Nowell was fouled immediately, making the first free throw before missing the second – snapping a streak of 29 consecutive makes – to allow the Bears’ one more opportunity to either win the game or force a second overtime, but junior Caleb Lohner’s 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer, setting off a wild celebration on the Wildcat bench.
K-State (14-1, 3-0 Big 12), which is off to its best start to a season in more than 60 years, collected its school-record third consecutive Top 25 victory, including its second in a row over a Top 20 on the road. Although the Wildcats have won as many as 4 consecutive games over Top 25 opponents, including as recently as the 2018-19 season, no team had ever done it in 3 straight games before Saturday.
The Wildcats’ current 8-game winning streak is the longest since a 10-game streak from Nov. 14, 2013, to Jan. 7, 2014. The team is also 3-0 to start Big 12 play for the first time since 2012-13.
A game after combining for 64 points in the win over No. 6/6 Texas in Austin on Tuesday night, the tandem of Nowell (32 points) and Johnson (24 points) collectively scored their 56 points on 19-of-35 field goals, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range. Nowell starred yet again, posting the first 30-point/10-assist game in school history, dishing out a career-best 14 assists to go with his 32 points. Johnson, who has now scored in double figures in all 15 games, had a near double-double with 24 points and a game-high 9 rebounds in a career-best 43 minutes.
Massoud joined the tandem in double figures with a season-high 13 points on 3-of-4 field goals (all from 3-point range) and a perfect 4-of-4 effort from the free throw line.
After scoring a career-best 36 points against No. 6/6 Texas on Tuesday, Nowell became the first Wildcat with consecutive 30-point games since Michael Beasley did it in 4 consecutive games from Feb. 23-March 4, 2008. Nowell’s 14 dimes tied the school record for assists in a conference game, while they tied for the second-most in any game in school history and the most by any Wildcat in the last 40 years.
Nowell’s 30-point/10-assist game is just the second in Division I in the last 10 seasons, joining Oklahoma’s Trae Young who did it against TCU in 2017.
After setting the school record for points in a 116-103 win over the Longhorns, the 213 points are the most combined points over a 2-game stretch in school history. The Wildcats posted a 50/40/80 line as a team, connecting on 53.1 percent (34-of-64) from the field, including 44 percent (11-of-25) from 3-point range, while hitting on 85.7 percent (18-of-21) from the free throw line.
The game marked the return of first-year head coach Jerome Tang to the Ferrell Center, where he spent 19 seasons as an assistant coach (2003-17) and associate head coach (2017-22) for head coach Scott Drew, helping the Bears win 397 games, an NCAA title in 2021 and back-to-back Big 12 regular-season titles (2021, 2022).
Tang was presented with his 2022 Big 12 Championship ring and a tribute video prior to tipoff.
“This was not fun, it just wasn’t, it wasn’t fun before and it wasn’t fun after,” said Tang. “It was fun during, the game of basketball was fun and watching young men compete, do it at a high level, that’s fun, but you know, before and after, and somebody’s got to win and lose. I love (Baylor coach) Scott [Drew] and I never want to see him lose, never a good Saturday, when Scott loses or (North Florida’s) Matt (Driscoll) loses or (North Texas’) Grant (McCasland) loses, (Oral Roberts’) Paul Mills loses. Yeah, it’s never good a Saturday when that happens. I’m very thankful for the Baylor fans and the welcome (video) that was really cool. And then it turned out to be one heck of a basketball game, so credit to both teams for doing a great job.”
Tang’s 14-1 start to his tenure at K-State is the best any current first-year Division I head coach.
No. 19/17 Baylor (10-5, 0-3 Big 12) was led by the duo of senior Adam Flagler (23 points) and freshman phenom Keyonte George (22 points), who combined for 45 points. All told, five Bears scored in double figures, including 14 from graduate Flo Thamba, 11 by junior Jalen Bridges and 10 by redshirt freshman Langston Love.
The win snapped a 7-game losing streak to Baylor and was the first since a 66-60 at home on March 2, 2019, and the first at the Ferrell Center since a 70-63 win on Feb. 9, 2019. It was the most combined points (192) in series history, topping the 178 scored in a 92-86 win by the Bears on Feb. 23, 2008.
HOW IT HAPPENED
K-State started the game off like a team that had scored 116 points in the last game, jumping out to a 10-4 lead behind 6 points from senior Keyontae Johnson to force a Baylor timeout at the 16:36 mark. The timeout seemed to spark the Bears, as they used a 9-2 run to take their first lead at 13-12.
The teams traded shots and the lead until Baylor used an 11-2 run to take its largest lead at 44-38 with 2:50 to play before halftime. However, the K-State duo of Johnson and Markquis Nowell combined to score 9 of the last 12 points to help tie the game at 47-all at the break. The tandem had 30 points on 66.7 percent (12-of-18) shooting, including 57.1 percent (4-of-7) from 3-point range, with Nowell scoring a game-high 18 points.
The Wildcats started the second half much like they did the game, jumping out to a 58-53 lead at the first media timeout behind 4 points each from Johnson and senior Abayomi Iyiola. A 3-pointer by the Bears closed the gap to one possession before a 7-1 run capped by a 3-pointer from junior Ish Massoud pushed the lead back out to 65-57 at the 13:21 mark.
A 3-pointer by Johnson gave K-State a 73-67 lead and forced a Baylor timeout with 7:45 to play. However, the Bears responded with an 11-4 run to regain the edge at 78-77 with just 3:25 remaining.
A jumper and a pair of free throws by Nowell gave the Wildcats an 81-78 advantage at the 2:29 mark, a lead they held onto before junior Jalen Bridges tied the game at 86-all on a 3-pointer from the corner with 22 seconds left.
In the extra period, the two teams went back and forth with Baylor taking an 89-86 lead on a combined 3 of 4 free throws by Keyonte George and Flo Thamba. Massoud made a pair of free throws for K-State’s first points of the overtime with 2:30 remaining. After Adam Flagler’s jumper made it 91-88, Nowell was fouled on a 3-pointer from the corner and quietly knocked down all 3 attempts to tie the game at 91-all with 1:46 to play.
With the score tied at 93-all after free throws by both teams, Massoud connected on the game-winning 3-pointer with 32 seconds left from the top of key on a pass from Nowell for his 14th assist of the night. Nowell made 1 of 2 free throws after Flagler turned the ball with 5.3 seconds, allowing Baylor one chance to win or force another overtime, but Caleb Lohner’s 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Markquis Nowell became the first Wildcat with consecutive 30-point game since 2008, as he scored 32 points on 8-of-16 field goals, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, while knocking down 12-of-13 attempts from the free throw line. It is the first 30-point, 10-assist game in school history.
Senior Keyontae Johnson posted consecutive 20-point games for the first time this season, finishing with 24 points on 11-of-17 field goals, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, to go with a game-high 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in a career-best 43 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
11 – K-State knocked down 11 3-pointers on the night, including at least one from 5 different players, led by Markquis Nowell’s game-high 4 treys, as the team connected on 44 percent (11-of-25) from beyond the arc.
IN THEIR WORDS
Head coach Jerome Tang
On the mindset of the team…
“We’re not trying to prove doubters, right, what we’re trying to just continue to believe in ourselves and we know where we wanted to get to and we’re not there yet. So, I mean had we lost this game, it wouldn’t change that we’ve made great strides as a team. And because we wanted it doesn’t mean that we don’t have any room for improvement as a team so we’re just trying to keep it like compartmentalize it. I don’t know when’s the last time a team had to play three ranked teams in a row and two of them on the road. That’s a great accomplishment for these young men. But none of that matters if we lay an egg in the next game, right? So, it’s like what’s the next thing that we have to do?”
On the game plan against Baylor…
“Well, we knew they’re arguably the best group of guards in the country and great three point shooters and multiple guys, more than 50% of their shots are from the three. And so, we wanted to try and make it as difficult as possible. Some of them they just missed, you know, and then some of them we were right on them, and they made them you know, and it’s just it’s a make or miss game, you make them, you look like a great coach, you miss them, you look like a bad coach.”
On Markquis Nowell’s improvement…
“A train is a very powerful piece of machinery, but if you put it on sand, it can’t go anywhere. All we’ve done as a staff is just put some tracks under him [Markquis] so that he can go wherever he wants to within the boundaries of the tracks. And for him to embrace that, right, and say ‘Okay coach,’ you know, because some people see those as limitations, but it’s not, it allows you to propel your game further by taking some things away and adding some things, helping them to allow to see certain things. We have these personality things we do and Markquis by nature is a tiger, right? And the tiger’s bigger, stronger, faster than a lion. But the lion’s the king of the jungle, right and we’ve been helping Markquis learn how to be a lion for parts of the game, and then at the right time, because the tiger will only eat what it kills, and so at the right times in the game, we need him to be a tiger, you know, just go eat and kill and he’s learning when and how to do that. And you know, and keeping his teammates involved and I’m just so proud of him because it’s hard work right he’s worked really, really hard in the offseason. And I mean, not just in basketball, right? He’s helped us recruit the team him and [Ismael] right and he’s constantly in a group text that they don’t allow me to be in talking to the guys about, you know, mental preparation of the game and bringing guys along and helping coach. It makes coaching so much easier when you don’t have to coach the ball all the time. And you can coach the other four guys up there. And so, it’s all a credit to him and his hard work.”
On Ismael Massoud seeing more playing time…
“Ish has not seen the floor because somebody’s injured, Ish is seeing the floor because he is given the kind of effort and has embraced playing the way that’s gonna allow us to have a chance to win every night. And whether he was making shots or not making shots his effort level, his attention to detail is on defense. Like just his communication out there it has improved drastically but he shows it in practice, right, because I’m not a dude that if you don’t do it in practice, you’re not gonna do it in the game, and he has embraced that. And that’s why Ish is playing.”
Senior Markquis Nowell
On improving his personal game…
“Just taking good shots, you know, I watch a lot of film with Coach Perry, and Coach Tang. The key to my shots are just taking good, good shots. And when I do that, I’m more efficient, so I just try to focus on that more and you know, just try to take rhythm threes.”
On the importance of this game to the team…
“Coach Tang tried to make sure that it wasn’t about him, and it was about us. He talked about that in shoot around. He knew what it was gonna be like coming back, but he just focused on a game plan and that was to win. And that’s how the team handled it and that’s how he handled it.”
On the improvement from Ismael Massoud…
“Definitely [Ismael] has taken a big step man, his big shot today. But, you know, his work and his work ethic is what’s really making him excel, his practice and preparation is good and it just leads to confidence. And when you practice hard, and you give it all you got each and every day. That’s what builds your confidence to do it and, in the game, and I feel like he’s been really working on that, and practice and he was able to show it today. Shout out to Ish.”
Senior Keyontae Johnson
On the last play of regulation…
“It was for me to go screen for [Markquis] and hopefully they either bait on me or bait on Markquis and flip back but they played a great defense and Markquis still got all the way to the rack and we still had a chance to try to get a putback layup to end the game.”
On the team understanding this game…
“Just came in playing with confidence. We’re all just ready to play in big games. I feel like that’s what the team is about. We all want to play on the highest level and for us to showcase our talent, we got to showcase in these games. I think that’s why everybody came in the game just played a role in the right way and nobody just felt selfish, we played as a team, that’s how we came up with two wins on the road.”
On the key to securing big time points…
“It really just comes down to big-time players got to make big-time plays. I mean, we all got confidence in each other. I mean the team, nobody selfish when coaches got confidence in us, so I feel like that just helps us, when a coach has confidence in you then it just helps the player showcase what you are able to do.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- The 14-1 start is the best since the 1958-59 Big Eight Championship team won 25 of its first 26 games before falling to Cincinnati in NCAA Midwest Regional Final at Allen Fieldhouse to finish 25-2.
- K-State’s winning streak is now 8 games, which is the longest since winning 10 in a row from Nov. 14, 2013, to Jan. 7, 2014.
- K-State is 3-0 in Big 12 play for the first time since 2012-13.
- K-State has won 3 consecutive Top 25 games (all in a row) for the first time in school history and the first time overall since winning 4 straight from Jan. 12-Feb. 5, 2019.
- Baylor still leads the all-times series, 25-24, including 24-19 in the Big 12 era and 11-9 at the Ferrell Center… The win snapped a 7-game losing streak to the Bears and was the first since a 66-60 win on March 2, 2019… It was the first in Waco since Feb. 9, 2019.
- 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 fourth time in 15 games using this lineup.
- Nowell made his 37th start at K-State, while Carter, Johnson and Tomlin all made their 15th starts in Wildcat uniforms and Iyiola his fourth… It was Johnson’s 70th start in college (other 55 at Florida), 68th for Iyiola (other 39 at Stetson and 25 at Hofstra), 19th for Carter (other 4 at Mississippi State) and 14th for Tomlin (all at K-State).
- K-State scored its 97 points on 53.1 percent shooting (34-of-64), including 44 percent (11-of-25) from 3-point range, and connected on 85.7 percent (18-of-21) from free throw line.
- The 97 points tied for the ninth-most points in a road game, including the second-most in a Big 12 road game… The 213 points in the last 2 games are the most in a 2-game stretch in school history.
- The Wildcats made 11 made 3-pointers, including 5 players hitting on at least one trey… It marks the fifth time this season with double-digit 3-pointers.
- K-State had an assist on 24 of its 34 made field goals, including 6 players with 2 or more assists.
- K-State took a season-tying 6 charges and now has 44 on the season.
- The game was tied at 47-all at the half, as senior Markquis Nowell (18) and Keyontae Johnson (12) combined for 30 of the Wildcats’ 47 points, while Nowell dished out 8 assists.
- It was K-State’s first game when tied at the half.
- Senior Markquis Nowell collected the first 30-point/10-assist game in school history with his game-high 32 points and career-best 14 assists in 43 minutes… He went 8-of-16 from the field, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and made 12-of-13 free throws… It was just the second 30-point/10-assist game in Division I in the last 10 seasons (Oklahoma’s Trae Young vs. TCU in 2017)
- Nowell is the first Wildcat with consecutive 30-point game since Michael Beasley did it in 4 straight games from Feb. 23 to March 4, 2008.
- Nowell’s 14 assists tied the school-record for assists in a conference game, matching the 14 that Tim Jankovich had against Kansas on March 7, 1981… It ties for the second-most in a game in school history.
- Nowell now has 13 career double-doubles (points-assists), including 8 at K-State and 5 in 2022-23… It is his third 20/10 double-double of the season and just the seventh in school history… He now has 23 career 20-point games, including 7 at K-State… He has now scored in double figures in 79 career games, including 32 in his K-State career and 13 this season.
- Senior Keyontae Johnson posted his second consecutive 20-point game, finishing 24 point on 11-of-17 field goals, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, to go with a game-high 9 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block in a career-tying 42 minutes… It was his 13th career 20-point game, including his fifth at K-State… He now has 53 career double-digit scoring games, including all 15 games this season.
- Junior Ish Massoud scored a season-best 13 points on 3-of-4 field goals (all from 3-point range) and a perfect 4-of-4 effort from free throw line in 16 minutes… It tied for the most he has scored in a Big 12 game in his 2-year career… He now has 24 career double-digit scoring games, including 2 this season.
- Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin had a near double-double with 9 points on 4-of-9 field goals, including 1-of-3 from 3-point range, to go with 8 rebounds in 32 minutes… His 9 points snapped his streak of 7 consecutive games reaching double figures.
K-State returns home to Bramlage Coliseum on Tuesday night when the Wildcats play host Oklahoma State (9-6, 1-2 Big 12) at 6 p.m., CT. The game will air nationally on ESPNU. Tickets are still available and can be purchased via kstatesports.com/tickets as well as by calling the Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 221.CATS.