GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – Seniors Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson combined for 57 points, including 14 of the team’s 16 points in overtime, to help lift Kansas State to the Championship game of the Cayman Islands Classic with a 96-87 overtime win over Nevada on Tuesday night before 1,200 fans at The John Gray Gym.
K-State (5-0) will play LSU (5-0) in the Championship game on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m., CT. It will be the first Championship game appearance since winning the 2019 Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.
After the Wildcats surrendered a 9-point lead with less than 4 minutes 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 the overtime period with 11 seconds remaining. The momentum carried the team in the extra period, as they dominated the game by connecting on 83.3 percent (5-of-6) from the field and making 6 of their 10 free throws.
Junior David N’Guessan gave K-State the lead for good in overtime with a driving layup with 3:48 to play, which was followed by a jumper and free throw by Johnson for an 87-82 lead. After the Wolf Pack (5-1) closed to within a possession on a pair of free throws by Kenan Blackshear, Nowell caught fire offensively, converting on a 3-point play and a jumper to push the advantage to 92-84 with 1:24 remaining.
Johnson and Nowell finished things off with a pair of free throws in the final 37 seconds.
The 57 combined points by Nowell (29) and Johnson (28) were the most by Wildcat teammates since Dean Wade (34) and Kamau Stokes (23) also combined for 57 points in win at Iowa State on Dec. 29, 2017. It marked just the 14th time in school history that two players scored 25 or more points in the same game and the first time since Michael Beasley (33) and Bill Walker (25) did it against Colorado on March 4, 2008.
Nowell finished with 29 points on 10-of-20 field goals, including 2-of-7 from 3-point range, and 7-of-9 free throws and 11 assists in 41 minutes to become just the fifth Wildcat with a 20-point/10-assist game in school history and the first since Angel Rodriguez had 21 points and 10 assists vs. TCU on March 5, 2013.
Johnson set a career-high with 28 points on 8-of-13 field goals, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, and 10-of-11 free throws to earn his ninth career 20-point game and his first at K-State.
While no other Wildcat cracked double figures, all 9 players recorded at least one field goal while 5 had at least 5 points, including 9 from junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin and 8 from N’Guessan.
For the game, K-State connected on a season-high 55 percent (33-of-60), including 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from 3-point range, and hit on 78.6 percent (22-of-28) from the free throw line. Nearly half (44) of the team’s 96 points came in the paint, while the Wildcats dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Wolf Pack, 36-22, including 13 offensive rebounds that they converted into a season-high 16 second-chance points.
Nevada also connected on better than 50 percent from the field, hitting on 51.9 percent (28-of-54), including 40.9 percent (9-of-22) from 3-point range, and 81.5 percent (22-of-27) from the free throw line. All five starters registered double figures, including 20 for Jarod Lucas on 6-of-12 field goals, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range, while Will Baker added 19 on 8-of-13 shooting. Blackshear had a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists.
On the opening possession, Nowell earned a special milestone, as he recorded his 500th career assist on a feed to Johnson and become one of 2 active Division I players (Tennessee State’s Junior Clay) with at least 1,000 career points, 500 assists and 200 steals.
HOW IT HAPPENED
K-State started strong once again, taking a 10-4 edge on buckets by senior Keyontae Johnson and a pair of 3-pointers from sophomore Cam Carter. However, Nevada got consecutive triples from Jarod Lucas to tie the game at 10-all. The teams then battled through 2 more ties before the Wolf Pack used a 6-0 run to take a 21-15 lead with 12:42 to play. They stayed ahead, including taking a 28-23 advantage after a 3-pointer from Tyler Powell, before a 5-0 run by junior Ismael Massoud gave the Wildcats a 34-32 lead with 3:31 before halftime.
Nevada was able to take a 38-36 advantage at the break on the strength of its foul shooting, connecting on 6-of-6 from the line, including 4 straight from Kenan Blackshear to end the half.
After the Wolf Pack jumped out with 5 quick points to start the second half to push its advantage to 43-36, the Wildcats responded with a 13-2 run — keyed by a 3-pointer from senior Markquis Nowell — to take a 49-45 lead at the 15:48 mark. Johnson had 6 points in the run, while junior David N’Guessan added 4 points.
Nevada continued to chip away at the lead with 4 straight points to tie the game at 58-all. After a series of ties, the Wolf Pack regained the lead at 65-64 on a 3-point play by Will Baker.
A Tomlin 3-pointer from the corner sparked a 12-2 run, including a streak of 9 in a row, that gave K-State a 76-67 lead with 3:54 remaining. However, Nevada responded with 9 of its own to tie the game at 76-all with just over a minute left. After a dunk by Tomlin gave the Wildcats the advantage, Lucas connected from the corner to push the Wolf Pack ahead 79-78 with 35 seconds remaining.
A free throw by Blackshear extended the lead to 80-78 before Nowell’s driving layup forced overtime.
N’Guessan gave K-State the lead for good on a layup with 3:48 left in the extra period before Johnson followed with a jumper and a free throw for an 87-82 lead. After Nevada closed to within a possession at 87-84 on a pair of free throws, Nowell took control with a 3-point play and jumper for an 92-84 advantage. Johnson and Nowell finished off the scoring for the Wildcats with a pair of free throws.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Markquis Nowell scored a game-high 29 points on 10-of-20 field goals, including 2-of-7 from 3-point range, and 7-of-9 field goals to go with 11 assists in 41 minutes. He became the fifth Wildcat with a 20-point/10-assist game in school history and the first since Angel Rodriguez in 2013.
Senior Keyontae Johnson scored a career-high 28 points on 8-of-13 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 10-of-11 free throws to go with a game-high 9 rebounds in more than 40 minutes. It was his ninth career 20-point game and his first as a Wildcat.
STAT OF THE GAME
83.3/28.6 – K-State connected on 83.3 percent (5-of-6) from the field in overtime, while holding Nevada to just 28.6 percent (2-of-7). The team shot a season-high 55 percent (33-of-60) from the field, including 58.1 percent (25-of-43) from inside the 3-point arc, while finishing with a season-best 44 points in the paint.
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Jerome Tang
On what the team showed tonight…
“We showed a lot of toughness. You know, they say, offense sells tickets, and defense wins games, but rebounding wins championships. I think it is the first time that we’ve outrebounded a team on both the offensive and defensive glass. They are a really good offensive team. And they were in a rhythm in the second half, it was the first time in the second half that our defense was better in the second half than the first. And it was away from our bench. So, we grew up some (tonight) with how they’re talking to each other. I’m so proud of the guys and their resilience, their fight and the toughness.”
On Markquis Nowell…
“He had a special night. To be one of only five players to have a 20-point/10-assist game is pretty special. He just made big play after big play. Big time players make big time play in big time moments. And that was a big time moment for us. He stepped up and his team trusted him.”
On the 1-2 punch of Nowell and Johnson…
“They were great tonight, quite the 1-2 punch. I’ve said all along, my goal is that every night we have a different person, so teams can’t just lock in on a couple guys. But, you know, somebody must have said something to him about being from New York because he (Nowell) really stepped up.”
Senior Keyontae Johnson
On what it was like to play in such a high-quality game…
“I’m just blessed with the opportunity to play again and play in such a competitive game. We fought through adversity tonight and it feels good to come out with a victory.”
On what was working well…
“I feel like my teammates helped me get involved. I was just trying to take advantage of what the defense gave me and to attack hard.”
On Markquis Nowell…
“Markquis played special tonight. He just made big play after big play especially down the stretch.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State moved to 5-0 to start a season for the first time since 2018-19.
- K-State is now 179-114 all-time in-season tournament play, in this, the 87th such tournament in school history… The 2 wins pushed the Wildcats into the Championship game for the first time since winning the 2019 Paradise Jam Championship Game… The last 2 in-season tournament titles have come on islands (2011 Diamond Head Classic and 2019 Paradise Jam).
- K-State is now 164-52 in non-conference play since 2006-07, including 24-22 at neutral sites.
- K-State now leads the all-time series with Nevada, 2-1, in this, the first meeting on a neutral site… The previous 2 meetings came in a home-and-home series in 1992 and 1993.
- K-State is now 37-19 vs. current member of the Mountain West, including 7-3 at neutral sites.
- 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 fourth time using this lineup.
- Nowell made his 26th start at K-State, while Carter, Johnson and Tomlin all made their fifth starts in Wildcat uniforms and N’Guessan his fourth… It was Johnson’s 60th start in college (other 55 at Florida), the ninth for Carter (other 4 at Mississippi State), fourth by N’Guessan (all at K-State), while Tomlin made his fifth Division I start.
- K-State scored a season-high 96 points on a season-best 55 percent shooting (33-of-60), including 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from 3-point range, and connected on 78.6 percent (22-of-28) from the free throw line… The Wildcats hit on 83.3 percent (5-of-6) in overtime… The team connected on better than 50 percent from the field in each half for the first time since North Dakota on Nov. 28, 2021.
- The 96 points were the most since also scoring 96 points at Oklahoma State on Jan. 18, 2017.
- K-State has had at least 2 double-digit scorers in each of the first 5 games.
- K-State is now 72-47 all-time in overtime, including 66-37 in single overtime… The Wildcats have now won 4 of their last 5 overtime games.
- The 44 points in the paint were a season high.
- K-State had 21 assists on a season-best 33 made field goals.
- K-State dominated the glass, holding a 36-22 rebounding advantage… The team snagged 13 offensive rebounds resulting in 16 second-chance points… Johnson and N’Guessan combined for 17 of the 36 rebounds, including 6 of 13 offensive boards.
- K-State scored 14 points off 11 turnovers by Nevada, which were both season-lows… It marked the first time that the Wildcats have forced fewer than 20 turnovers…The team has now forced 97 turnovers through its first 5 games, including 20 or more in 4 of 5 games.
- The bench was once again productive with 16 points, including 7 by senior Desi Sills.
- K-State took 4 more charges on night, and now have 21 charges taken through the first 5 games.
- Nevada led 38-36 at halftime on the strength of 57.1 percent (12-of-21) shooting, including 44.4 percent (4-of-9) from 3-point range… The Wildcats countered at 51.9 percent (14-of-27), including 40 percent (4-of-10) from long range… Senior Keyontae Johnson led all scorers with 13 points.
- It marked the first time all season that K-State trailed at the half.
- Seniors Keyontae Johnson (28) and Markquis Nowell (29) combined for 57 of the Wildcats’ 96 points… The 57 combined points are the most by two Wildcat teammates since Dean Wade (34) and Kamau Stokes (23) combined for 57 points at Iowa State on Dec. 29, 2017… It marked just the 14th time in school history that two players have scored 25 or more points in the same game and the first time since Michael Beasley (33) and Bill Walker (25) did it against Colorado on March 4, 2008.
- Nowell finished with 29 points (a K-State high) on 10-of-20 field goals, including 2-of-7 from 3-point range, and 7-of-9 free throws, to go with 11 assists, 2 rebounds in 41 minutes… Nowell became just the fifth Wildcat with a 20-point/10-assist game in school history and the first since Angel Rodriguez had 21 points and 10 assists vs. TCU on March 5, 2013… He was one point shy of the first 30-point/10-assist game in school history… It was his ninth career double-double (points/assists), including his fourth at K-State… It was his 20th game of at least 20 points, including his fourth at K-State… It was his 10th game of at least 10 assists, including his fifth such game as a Wildcat.
- Johnson collected a career-high 28 points on 8-of-13 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 10-of-11 free throws with a game-high 9 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 41 minutes… It was his ninth career 20-point game and his first at K-State… The 28 points surpassed his previous high of 25 vs. LSU on Feb. 26, 2020, as a Florida Gator… It was Johnson’s fifth straight double-digit scoring game… He has now scored in double figures in 43 career games.
- Junior David N’Guessan finished with a near double-double with 8 points on 4-of-6 field goals and 8 rebounds to go along with 2 blocks in 27 minutes.
- Senior Desi Sills was strong from the bench, posting 7 points on 3-of-5 field goals and 1-of-1 free throws to go with 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 28 minutes.
K-State will meet LSU (5-0) for the first time in their respective histories in the Cayman Islands Classic Championship Game on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., CT. It marks the first in-season championship game appearance for the Wildcats since winning the 2019 Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.