BERKELEY, Calif. – Senior Markquis Nowell’s 4-point play with just over 5 minutes helped ignite an 8-0 run that lifted Kansas State to a 63-54 win over California on Friday evening before 3,607 fans at Haas Pavilion.
Nowell hit the 3-pointer from the corner right in front of the Wildcat bench before being knocked to the ground. He calmly hit the free throw to give K-State a 51-46 lead with 5:07 to play.
Nowell, who finished the night with 13 points to go along with a game-high 7 assists and 3 steals, followed his 4-point with a layup then had the steal and assist on the dunk by junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin that capped the 8-0 run and gave K-State (2-0) a 55-46 lead with 4:02 to play.
The Golden Bears (0-2) closed to within 55-50 after a 3-pointer from Devin Askew and a free throw by Joel Brown, but the Wildcats responded with 6 in a row, including a pair of free throws from sophomore Cam Carter to go along with a layup by senior Keyontae Johnson and a dunk by senior Tykei Greene, that pushed the lead back to double figures with just over a minute to play.
Nowell’s clutch shot came with the momentum clearly on the side of the Golden Bears, who had used separate runs of 13-0 and 11-0 run to erase a 20-point deficit and cut the lead to 47-46 with 5:37 to play.
In addition to Nowell’s spectacular night, Johnson had a near double-double with a team-high 16 points on 6-of-13 field goals to go with a game-high 9 rebounds and 2 steals in a team-high 33 minutes. He was joined in double figures by Tomlin, who added 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting to go with 2 rebounds and 2 blocks.
For the game, K-State connected on 36.8 percent (21-of-57), including 26.3 percent (5-of-19) from 3-point range, and hit on a season-high 88.9 percent (16-of-18) from the free throw line. They made just 33.3 percent (9-of-27) from the field in the second half, including 12.5 percent (1-of-8) from beyond the arc.
K-State’s lull in the second half overshadowed a sensational start, in which, the Wildcats built as much as 17-point lead in the opening half behind swarming defense (15 forced turnovers) and efficient offense. The lead grew to 20 points (42-22) in the early moments of the second half.
Cal was able to shoot 40.4 percent (19-of-47) from the field, including 42.9 percent (12-of-28) in the second half, but the Golden Bears made just 27.8 percent (5-of-18) from beyond the arc and 57.9 percent (11-of-19) from the free throw line while being harassed into 22 turnovers.
Cal, which is coached by former K-State assistant Mark Fox, were led by a game-high 17 points the Texas transfer Devin Askew. Askew connected on 6-of-12 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, but turned the ball over 6 times. He joined in double figures by senior Kuany Kuany, who had added 13 points.
It was the first game in a home-and-home series signed between the two schools with the Golden Bears expected to visit Bramlage Coliseum during the 2024-25 season.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The defenses ruled the early moments of the first half, as neither team couldn’t get anything going consistently on offense with a combined 8 turnovers through the first 8 minutes and the score knotted at 13-all.
A 3-pointer by junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin on a feed from senior Markquis Nowell got the Wildcats going offensively, as the triple ignited a 17-2 run that pushed the team ahead 30-15 and forced a second Cal timeout with 3:40 before halftime. The timeout came after a 3-pointer from senior Tykei Greene and a monster dunk from Tomlin.
The teams finished the first half with 6 points each, as K-State took a 36-21 advantage into the break. Senior Keyontae Johnson led the way with 9 points and 4 rebounds, while Nowell and Tomlin each added 7 points.
K-State extended the lead to 20 (42-22) in the early moments of the second half on a pair of Tomlin free throws. However, Cal made a run with 13 straight points to cut advantage to 42-35 with just over 11 minutes to play. The Wildcats missed 9 straight shots and had 3 turnovers in the over 7-minute scoreless drought.
The 3-point play by Johnson ended the run with 11:26 remaining and started a personal 5-0 run to extend the lead back out to 47-35. However, Johnson was given a technical on the celebration, which started the momentum for the Golden Bears, who scored the next 11 points to cut the deficit to 47-46 with less than 5:37 to play.
Nowell’s 4-point play proved to be decisive, as K-State rattled off an 8-0 run to push ahead 55-46 with 4:02 remaining. Cal made one last push, closing to 55-50 after a 3-pointer from Devin Askew and a free throw from Joel Brown, but sophomore Cam Carter calmly knocked down a pair of free throws before a layup by Johnson and a dunk by senior Tykei Greene extended the lead to 61-50 with 1:10 to play.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Keyontae Johnson had a near double-double in just his second career game at K-State, as he finished with a team-high 16 points on 6-of-13 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws to go with a game-high 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist and 1 block in nearly 34 minutes of action.
Senior Markquis Nowell had a stellar stat line with 13 points on 3-of-11 field goals and 6-of-7 free throws to go with game-highs of 7 assists and 3 steals in 33 minutes. He leads the Big 12 in both assists (7.0 apg.) and steals (3.50 spg.) through the first two games.
STAT OF THE GAME
8-0 – K-State scored 8 straight points, including 6 from senior Markquis Nowell, during a key stretch in the second half with the Wildcats clinging to a 47-46 led with 5:37 to play.
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Jerome Tang
On the game…
“We wanted to play a road game – not a neutral site game – but a road game, so we could experience some adversity. You never want to go through what we went through in the second half, but it’s the only way you learn and get better. I thought the last game (vs. UTRGV) we only played about 17 minutes of what we are capable of and today I thought we were really good in the first half until the last possession. We ended the game very well, the last 4 to 6 minutes of the second half, so we put together 24 to 25 minutes of good solid basketball. We are building and heading in the right direction.”
On the first half defense vs. second half defense…
“I thought our speed and quickness affected them. Also, when you play defense in front of your own bench (in the first half) and the whole team is calling out their action and helping on that end, while in the second half, you’re away from the bench so now they have to talk to each and for each other, so there is always a difference. I thought our bench did a great job of relaying information and the guys are really locked into what they are doing.”
Senior Markquis Nowell
On the last 5 minutes of the game and his 4-point play…
“This is great team win. A great road win. We battled through adversity when they went on their run. But that last 5 minutes, we call that ‘the 5 to grind’ and we tried to get as many stops as possible. We came together, talked it out and decided what we needed to do to win.”
On the offense in the early part of the second half…
“I felt like we got complacent and played the scoreboard. However, we got back together and figured out what we needed to get things going again.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State is now 161-52 in non-conference play since the 2006-07 season, including 15-13 in true road games… This was the first true road game under first-year head coach Jerome Tang.
- K-State is now 7-1 all-time against California, including 3-1 on the road… This was the first meeting between the schools since 2007… The Bears are coached by former K-State assistant coach Mark Fox.
- K-State is now 141-79 vs. current members of the Pac-12, including a 47-53 mark in true road games… This is the first meeting with a Pac-12 foe since a 68-65 win over Washington State on Dec. 20, 2017.
- 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 junior David N’Guessan… It marked the second straight game using this lineup.
- Nowell is making his 23rd start at K-State, while Carter, Johnson, N’Guessan and Tomlin all made their second in Wildcat uniforms… It was Johnson’s 57th start in college (other 55 at Florida) and the sixth for Carter (other 4 at Mississippi State), while N’Guessan and Tomlin made their second Division I starts.
- K-State scored 63 points on 36.8 percent shooting (21-of-57), including 26.3 percent (5-of-19) from 3-point range, and connected on 88.9 percent (16-of-18) from the free throw line… The team connected on just 33.3 percent (9-of-27) in the second half, including 12.5 percent (1-of-8) from beyond the arc.
- K-State scored more than half of its points (32) in the paint.
- K-State has forced 48 turnovers through its first 2 games, including 22 by Cal… The Wildcats scored 19 points off those miscues after scoring 31 points off 26 UTRGV turnovers.
- K-State had 10 steals, including a game-high 3 by senior Markquis Nowell.
- The rebounds turned out even at 35 apiece, while K-State had 12 offensive boards which resulted in 9 second-chance points.
- The bench was once again productive with 17 points, including 8 by senior Tykei Greene.
- All 9 players who saw action had at least one made field goal.
- K-State took 5 more charges on night, including a pair from senior Keyontae Johnson, and now have 10 charges taken through the first 2 games.
- K-State led 36-21 at the halftime on the strength of 40 percent (12-of-30) shooting, including 36 percent (4-of-11) from 3-point range… The Wildcats generated 15 points off 15 Golden Bear turnovers… Seven players scored in the opening half, including a team-high 9 points from senior Keyontae Johnson and 7 points each from senior Markquis Nowell and junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin.
- Senior Keyontae Johnson scored a team-high 16 points on 6-of-13 field goals, including 1-of-2 from 3-point range, and 3-of-4 free throws to go along with a game-high 9 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist in a team-best 33 minutes… It was Johnson’s second straight double-digit scoring game… He has now scored in double figures in 40 career games.
- Senior Markquis Nowell scored 13 points on 3-of-11 field goals, including 1-of-4 from 3-point range, and 6-of-7 free throws… He has now scored in double figures in 67 career games, including 21 at K-State… He also added 7 assists and 3 steals… He now has 48 career games (14 at K-State) with 5 or more assists and 55 career games (18 at K-State) with 2 or more steals.
- Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin totaled double figures for the second straight game with 11 points on 4-of-9 field goals, including 1-of-4 from 3-point range, and 2-of-2 free throws to go with 2 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal in 26 minutes.
- Senior Tykei Greene had a season-high 8 points off the bench on 3-of-6 field goals, including 1-of-4 from 3-point range, and 1-of-1 free throws to go with 3 rebounds in 20 minutes.
K-State returns home on Thursday, Nov. 17 when the Wildcats play host to Kansas City (0-2) at 5:30 p.m., CT in the first game of men’s and women’s doubleheader at Bramlage Coliseum. The game will air on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Tickets start at just $10 and can be purchased at kstatesports.com.
How to follow the ‘Cats: For complete information on K-State men’s basketball, visit www.kstatesports.com and follow the team’s social media channels on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.