LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 7/6 Kansas State could not overcome a poor shooting night, as the Wildcats shot a season-low 33.9 percent from the field in falling 90-78 to No. 8/8 Kansas in the 299th edition of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown on Tuesday night before a sold-out crowd of 16,300 at Allen Fieldhouse.
In just the 10th meeting as Top 10 opponents, including the first time since 2010, the Jayhawks took control of the game with a 13-3 run over a pivotal stretch late in the first half to take a 49-37 lead into the half. The Wildcats got to within striking distance at 54-48 with just under 16 to play and within single digits at 83-74 with 2:28 left but could get no closer in falling for the 17th consecutive time at Allen Fieldhouse.
Despite the loss, K-State (18-4, 6-3 Big 12) is still off to its best start to a season since 1972-73. The Wildcats fell into a four-way tie for second place in the Big 12 standings with Kansas, Iowa State and TCU, as Texas (18-4, 7-2 Big 12) is a full game ahead at 7-2 at the halfway point of the conference season.
The tandem of senior Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell were impressive despite the loss, combining for 45 points, while Johnson collected his team-leading sixth double-double, including his fourth in a row, with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Nowell earned his team-best eighth 20-point game of the season with a team-best 23 points.
Junior David N’Guessan performed well in his first Big 12 start, finishing with 10 points on 2-of-6 field goals to go with 6 rebounds and an assist in more than 20 minutes. He missed the first 6 Big 12 game with an injury before playing 4 minutes off the bench vs. Texas Tech on Jan. 21. It was his second consecutive start after scoring 9 points in 19 minutes in the win over Florida on Saturday.
Kansas (18-4, 6-3 Big 12) got another stellar effort from All-American candidate Jalen Wilson, who had a near double-double with 20 points and 8 rebounds. However, it was two players – junior Dejuan Harris, Jr., and senior Kevin McCullar, Jr. – who had poor games in the previous loss to K-State on Jan. 17 who helped the Jayhawks even the season series. The duo combined for 34 points, including a career-tying 18 from Harris on 7-of-12 shooting while McCullar added a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Neither team shot the ball well, as Kansas connected on 40.3 percent (27-of-67) from the field, including 40.7 percent (11-of-27) from 3-point range, compared to the 33.9 percent (20-of-59) from K-State, including 33.3 percent (7-of-21) from long range. However, each team took advantage of the 47 personal fouls in the game, combining 56 points, as the Wildcats shot 86.1 percent (31-of-36) from the free throw line, while the Jayhawks made 71.4 percent (25-of-35) from the stripe.
Kansas now leads the all-time series, 204-95, including 94-35 in Lawrence. The series, which is the sixth-most played rivalry (299) in Division I men’s basketball history, has been played every year since 1907.
HOW IT HAPPENED
As expected, both teams went back and forth in the early going with K-State taking its first and only lead on consecutive baskets by senior Markquis Nowell and junior Ishmael Massoud for a 9-6 edge. Kansas regained the lead and kept for the remainder of the half with 7 straight points for a 13-9 advantage.
Free throws by junior David N’Guessan and senior Keyontae Johnson pulled the Wildcats to within 16-13, but the first career technical on head coach Jerome Tang sparked a 6-0 run by the Jayhawks to push their lead back out to 22-16. The advantage grew to double figures at 30-19 after a pair of 3-pointers, forcing Tang to call his first timeout at the 9:16 mark.
With K-State trailing 32-19, Johnson put the Wildcats on his back, scoring 8 straight points in a 10-0 run that cut the deficit to 32-29 with under 7 minutes to play. However, the Jayhawks responded with 11 of the next 14 points, including a 9-0 run right before the last media timeout with 1:58 to play, to extend the lead to 45-32.
The lead stood at 49-37 at the break, as Kansas took advantage of 10 K-State turnovers for 15 points.
The Jayhawks scored 5 of the first 8 points of the second half to extend their lead 14, but the Wildcats responded with an 8-0 run to close to within 54-48. Nowell keyed the run with a 3-pointer before senior Desi Sills connected on 5 of 6 from the free throw line.
Kansas once again responded to the K-State rally with one of its own, scoring 16 of the next 20 points, to push it back out to a game-high 16 points at 70-54 with just over 11 to play.
The Wildcat cut the deficit to 80-70 just before the last media timeout of the half with 3:43 remaining, which included an 8-2 run, but a 3-pointer by junior Dajuan Harris, Jr., out the timeout halted any further momentum, as the Jayhawks made the right plays down the stretch for a 90-78 win.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Keyontae Johnson posted his fourth consecutive double-double with 22 points on 7-of-19 field goals, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, to go with a team-high 12 rebounds in 36 minutes. It was his 19th career double-double, including his sixth this season. He has now scored in double figures in all 22 games.
Senior Markquis Nowell scored a game-high 23 points on 5-of-18 field goals and 10-of-11 free throws to go with 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 39 minutes. It was his team-leading eighth 20-point game of the season.
IN THEIR WORDS
Head coach Jerome Tang
On the game…
“I want to congratulate Coach Self, his staff and team on a tremendous win. I thought in the first half they were locked in and made all the hustle plays. In environment like this, you don’t win a game in the first half, but you can certainly lose it. I thought they did what they needed to do to get the crowd involved. They did a better job than us tonight and all the credit in the world goes to them tonight.”
On what Kansas did defensively to slow down the offense…
“I thought we got sped up and we did some things uncharacteristic to us (on offense). But that was because of what they were doing on defense. We left our feet to throw passes. We had 10 turnovers in the first half. I thought we had a bunch of self-inflicted wounds (in the first half) part of it was the environment and part of it was the scheme and how we tried to attack them. We will go back and look at it.”
On the rivalry…
“I think it’s great for the state of Kansas and college basketball (when this rivalry is competitive). I’m trying to really learn the history of the rivalry and what has happened over the course of time. I know that up until 1988, K-State had more conference titles and Final Four appearances than Kansas so I know there is rich history there. People told me how close the games with Kansas and Iowa State used to be at the old Big Eight Tournament and how fun and entertaining they were. I hope we can bring that type of competitiveness game-in and game-out.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State falls to 18-4 on the season, which still equals the best start since 1972-73.
- Kansas now leads the all-time series, 240-95, including 94-35 in Lawrence… The Jayhawks have now 17 straight over the Wildcats at Allen Fieldhouse… The last win coming on Jan. 14, 2006.
- K-State shot a season-low 33.9 percent (20-of-59) from the field, including 33.3 percent (7-of-21) from 3-point range… The previous low of 35.6 percent came vs. Oklahoma State (1/10/23).
- The 20 made field goals were one shy of the season-low of 19 vs. Wichita State (12/3/22).
- The 20 points in the paint tied for the season-low with 20 vs. Texas Tech (1/21/23).
- The 31 made free throws tied the season-high of 31 vs. Texas (1/3/23), while the 36 attempts were a season-high, eclipsing the 34 vs. West Virginia (12/31/22).
- Kansas scored 21 points off 13 K-State turnovers, while K-State had 12 off 9 Kansas turnovers.
- K-State lost the rebounding battle, 44-42… The Wildcats had 33 defensive rebounds.
- Kansas led 49-37 at the half, turning 10 K-State turnovers into 15 points… Eight of the Jayhawks’ 14 made field goals came from 3-point range, including 3 by senior Jalen Wilson… Senior Keyontae Johnson (14) and Markquis Nowell (11) combined for 25 of the Wildcats’ 37 points.
- K-State is now 6-3 this season when trailing at the half.
- Senior Markquis Nowell scored a game-high 23 points on 5-of-18 field goals, including 3-of-11 from 3-point range, and 10-of-11 free throws to go with 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 39 minutes… It was his 27th career 20-point game, including his 11th as a Wildcat, while his team-leading eighth of the season… He has now scored in double figures in 85 career games, including 38 at K-State.
- Nowell now at least 2 steals in 16 games and continues to lead all active Division I players with 243 steals.
- With his 4 assists, he moved into second place on the single season list with 177… He is now 9 shy of Steve Henson’s school-record mark of 186 in 1987-88.
- Senior Keyontae Johnson tallied his 19th career double-double, including his sixth this season, with his 22 points and team-high 12 rebounds in 36 minutes…He now has a double-double in 4 consecutive games… He has 60 career double-digit scoring games, including all 22 games in 2022-23.
- Johnson now has 21 career games with 10 or more rebounds.
- Junior David N’Guessan scored 10 points on 2-of-6 field goals to go with 6 rebounds and an assist in 20 minutes… He now has 8 career double-digit scoring games, including 4 this season.
K-State begins a 2-game homestand on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats play host to 10/9 Texas (18-4, 7-2 Big 12) at 3 p.m., CT before another expected sold-out crowd at Bramlage Coliseum.
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.