MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State opened the second half with 23 consecutive points to blow open an already lopsided game, as the Wildcats capped an impressive offensive performance with a 98-50 win over UIW on Sunday afternoon before 7,042 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
K-State (9-1) collected its third 90-point scoring effort of the season, narrowly missing the school’s first 100-point game since 2010 in the last few minutes before opting to dribble out the basketball in the closing seconds against an undermanned UIW (5-6) squad. The Wildcats connected on a season-best 59.1 percent (39-of-66) from the field, including 68.8 percent (22-of-32) after halftime, and saw seven players score in double figures.
The 9-1 start is best start by the Wildcats since opening the 2011-12 season with a similar 9-1 mark, while head coach Jerome Tang is off to the best 10-game start by a first-year coach in school history.
The 48-point margin of victory was the 10th-largest in school history and the largest since 2008.
K-State busted open a close contest with a 20-1 run midway through the first half before landing the knockout punch with a 23-0 start to the second half. Six different Wildcats contributed during the first-half run, including 5 points each from senior Markquis Nowell and freshman reserve Dorian Finister. The second-half run consisted of much the same balance with seven players registering points, including 3-pointers from senior Keyontae Johnson and juniors Ish Massoud and Nae’Qwan Tomlin.
Johnson led all scorers with 18 points on 7-of-9 field goals, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in a season-low 24 minutes of action. The Wildcats’ leading scorer (17.3 ppg.) has now scored in double figures in all 10 games this season. Tomlin had a near double-double with 15 points and a season-high 9 rebounds in 23 minutes, while junior reserve Desi Sills added 14 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals.
Sophomore Cam Carter, Finister and Nowell each added 10 points, as Nowell nearly notched another double-double with a game-high 8 assists to go with 5 rebounds in 23 minutes. Finister saw his most action of the season in 22 minutes, recording his first career double-digit scoring game to go with 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
UIW, which has 9 true or redshirt freshmen among its 16-man roster, connected on 38 percent (19-of-50) from the field, including 50 percent (7-of-14) from 3-point range, and made just 5 of 8 attempts from the free throw line. Freshman Trey Miller led the Cardinals with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
It was the first meeting between the schools.
HOW IT HAPPENED
K-State jumped out quickly, scoring the game’s first 7 points, including a 3-pointer by sophomore Cam Carter to open the scoring. UIW answered by scoring 8 of the next 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointer, to close the gap to 9-8 just after the first media timeout. However, an intentional foul on the Cardinals’ Benjamin Griscti ignited what would become a 17-0 run that pushed the lead to 26-8 midway through the first half. Five different Wildcats scored in the decisive run, including 5 points each from senior Markquis Nowell and freshman Dorian Finister.
The lead grew to 20 twice on buckets by junior David N’Guessan before UIW closed the deficit to 31-20 after 9 straight points capped by a corner 3-pointer from Griscti. Senior Keyontae Johnson took over in the last 4 minutes, scoring 10 of the team’s last 14 points, to give K-State a 45-28 lead at the half.
The Wildcats extended their momentum to start the second half, as they rattled off 13 straight capped by a 3-pointer by junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin to build a 58-28 lead and force UIW head coach Carson Cunningham to call his first timeout with 16:22 remaining. The run continued after the timeout with 10 more consecutive points, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Johnson and junior Ish Massoud, that extended the lead to 68-28.
The Cardinals’ first points off the second half came on a layup by redshirt freshman Davante Dennis with 13:33 remaining. However, the lead only grew from there, as the Wildcats built as much as a 52-point advantage with 5:24 to play after a dunk by Tomlin. The team got to 98 points after a layup by Finister with 1:47 remaining but could not get a shot to fall in the last minute en route to the 48-point victory.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Keyontae Johnson led the Wildcats in scoring for the fifth time this season with 18 points on 7-of-9 field goals, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in a season-low 24 minutes.
Freshman Dorian Finister had career afternoon in his most action of the season, as he registered his first career double-digit scoring game (10 points) on 4-of-5 field goals, including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc, to go with 7 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal in 22 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
98 – K-State recorded its highest point total since 2014, as the Wildcats connected on a season-best 59.1 percent (39-of-66) from the field with seven players scoring in double figures.
IN THEIR WORDS
Head coach Jerome Tang
On the game…
“Thankful for the fans that showed up today, especially the students with exam week and all that stuff, dead week and everything that goes on with it and for them to take the time to come. I was thankful for that. Very pleased with our guys. Obviously Incarnate Word was a little under manned, they had some injuries and they’re missing some guys. This could easily be a ‘me’ game where guys are trying to get theirs and I really challenged him to make it a ‘we’ game and really work on the things we need to work on and share the ball and be great teammates and I thought we did that. We let down a little bit in the first half with some transition buckets and some easy cuts, back door cuts, and at halftime we challenged them to really lock in away from the bench and talk and really do a better job defensively and I thought for the most part we did that. So, I’m happy to coach.”
On what Dorian Finister did well today…
“He didn’t play scared right, like he didn’t look deer in the headlights when he went out there. Then I thought he was aggressive from the very beginning and if you’re gonna get subbed out of the game, get subbed out for being aggressive and trying to do something not because you’re just out there. And so that’s the thing and he’s been, I mean every practice, he’s our best rebounding guard, and he showed it right. I really like Dorian, I think he’s gonna help us. I think we need him to help us as we go into the Big 12 because guards win games for you and I think there are times when having three guards, a wing, and a center is better for us than having two guards, two wings and a center. So, I need him to come along.”
On Keyonate Johnson playing at a high level right away…
“He’s a special player man. I think, you’ll have to ask him this, I’m pretty sure he’s been playing basketball since that time, he’s been hooping. He’s been getting himself ready for the opportunity and for us, it was just about getting his legs underneath him. And then finding the best ways to put him in position to allow his talents to shine. Yeah, doesn’t it look effortless, like it looks effortless for him out there. Sometimes I wonder if he’s playing hard but then you see the readouts of the numbers and his speed up and down the court and his jumps and you say that man was getting after it. But it just looks so easy for him. Yeah, I’m amazed too.”
SENIOR KEYONTAE JOHNSON
On 9-1 start to the season…
“We just tried to take every game just to play how we’ve been playing like in practice and just don’t take it for granted. So for us to start off 9-1, it’s a blessing, just seeing all the hard work we had in the summer coming all together.”
On areas the team needs to work on …
“We’re still trying to get better at just communicating on defense right now. I feel like today, we did better in the first half, just getting on the lead and just trying to build off the energy so in the second half, we came out with a better urgency. Not to say, we just need to communicate better on defense and take care of the ball more.”
On how Dorian Finister is progressing…
“I mean for me when I first came in, he made a big jump. He was one of the guys that stood out to me as a freshman. He was competing at a high level and just seeing all the work he put into summer and today he gets time to shine. So, I mean it was really good seeing him just succeed and putting in the work.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State’s 9-1 start is the best since also opening the 2011-12 season at 9-1.
- Head coach Jerome Tang is off to the best 10-game start by a first-year coach in school history.
- K-State is now 126-14 in home venues in non-conference play since 2006-07, including 117-12 at Bramlage Coliseum… It was the Wildcats’ fifth home game of the season.
- This was the first meeting between K-State and UIW.
- K-State is now 7-1 all-time vs. current members of the Southland Conference, including 7-0 at home.
- 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 ninth time in 10 games using this lineup.
- Nowell made his 31st start at K-State, while Carter, Johnson and Tomlin all made their 10th starts in Wildcat uniforms and N’Guessan his ninth… It was Johnson’s 65th start in college (other 55 at Florida), the 14th for Carter (other 4 at Mississippi State), ninth by N’Guessan (all at K-State), while Tomlin made his 10th Division I start (all at K-State).
- K-State scored its season-high 98 points on a season-best 59.1 percent shooting (39-of-66), including 46.2 percent (12-of-26) from 3-point range, and connected on 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from the free throw line.
- K-State hit on 67.5 percent (27-of-40) of its field goals inside the 3-point arc.
- The 98 points are the most since scoring 98 vs. Southern Utah on Nov. 14, 2014… The team missed scoring 100 points for the first time since 2010.
- The 48-point margin of victory is the 10th largest in school history and the most against one opponent since a 107-48 win over Gardner-Webb on Dec. 14, 2008.
- K-State had an assist on 26 of its 39 made field goals, including 4 players with 4 or more assists.
- K-State’s 8 turnovers tied for a season-low (Wichita State on 12/3/22).
- K-State scored 48 points in the paint a game after posting a season-high 52 vs. Abilene Christian (12/6/22), which were the most in the paint in nearly 12 seasons.
- K-State scored 28 points off 20 turnovers and have now posted at least 12 points off turnovers in all 9 games, including 5 such games of 20 or more points, while forcing 177 turnovers (17.7 per game).
- K-State had 33 points from its bench, which were the most since scoring 41 vs. UTRGV (11/7/22).
- K-State held the advantage on the glass, 38-25, including a season-best 28 defensive rebounds… Of its 10 offensive rebounds, the Wildcats scored 13 second-chance points.
- K-State tied a season-high with 11 steals.
- Seven Wildcats scored in double figures for the first time this season.
- K-State led 45-28 at halftime on the strength of 50 percent (17-of-34) shooting, which included 18 points in the paint… Senior Keyontae Johnson led all scorers with 13 points.
- K-State moved to 6-0 this season when leading at the half.
- Senior Keyontae Johnson scored game-high 18 points on 7-of-9 field goals, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, and 1-of-2 free throws to go with 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in a season-low 24 minutes… He now has 48 career double-digit scoring games, including all 10 this season… His 3 steals were a season-high, while he had 5 or more assists in a game for the fourth time in his career.
- Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin nearly had a double-double with 15 points on 7-of-9 field goals, including 1-of-1 from 3-point range, to go with a season-high 9 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 23 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 6 games.
- Senior Desi Sills continued his strong play from the bench with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting with 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 26 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 55 career games, including in 5 of 10 games this season… He eclipsed 1,200 career points.
- Junior David N’Guessan scored 12 points on perfect 5-of-5 shooting, including 1-of-1 from 3-point range… He went a perfect 14-of-14 for the week after going 9-of-9 in the win over Abilene Christian (12/6/22)… He has now scored in double figures in 7 career games, including 3 this season.
- Senior Markquis Nowell scored 10 points on 3-of-7 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and made both of his free throws to go with a game-high 8 assists, 5 rebounds and a steal in 23 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 74 career games, including 27 in his K-State career and 8 this season.
- Nowell has 82 assists (8.2 apg.) through 10 games with 24 turnovers.
- Sophomore Cam Carter scored 10 points on 4-of-8 field goals, including 1-of-4 from 3-point range, to go with 3 assists and a steal in 27 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 4 games, including twice this season.
- Freshman Dorian Finister performed well in his first major action of the season, registering his first double-digit scoring game with 10 points on 4-of-5 field goals, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range, to go with a season-best 7 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal in 22 minutes.
K-State renews its rivalry with Nebraska (6-5) on Saturday, Dec. 17, as the Wildcats host the Cornhuskers in the Wildcat Classic at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City. It will be the first Wildcat Classic since 2019. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased online at kstatesports.com/tickets, by calling (800) 221.CATS or visiting the K-State Athletics Ticket Office in Bramlage Coliseum.