Men’s basketball defense limits Wichita State, Wildcats win 65-59 in renewed rivalry

(Photo courtesy of Sean Marty | The Sunflower)
Junior Markquis Nowell leads the way for a Wildcat victory in the first matchup against Wichita State since 2003. (Photo courtesy of Sean Marty | The Sunflower)

Kansas State men’s basketball (5-2) bottled up Wichita State (6-2) star sophomore Tyson Etienne on its way to a defensive 65-59 win on Sunday, Dec. 5, in the first matchup between the two Kansas schools since 2003.

Down 20-8 to start the game, the Wildcats fought back to take the lead, going into the half at 32-30. A close game throughout the remainder of the contest, K-State pulled away in the final two minutes to get the win on the road.

“To our guys’ credit, they stuck with it and found a way to get the win,” head coach Bruce Weber said.

Etienne, a 2022 NBA draft prospect, finished with 11 points on 4-20 shooting, including 1-11 from downtown. The star guard averages 16.3 points per game while shooting 34.8 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from behind the arc.

“I think one, we have really good defenders,” Weber said. “Even when [Etienne] made one, it was a tough one … We have made some strides defensively.”

K-State played without its leading scorer, sophomore Nijel Pack, who provides the Wildcats with 15.8 points per contest. Pack was sidelined after an injury during practice earlier in the week.

Stepping up in Pack’s place was junior Markquis Nowell, and he was up for the task with 16 points, seven of which came in the final two minutes, including a deep three-pointer to push the Wildcat lead to 57-54. The 5 foot 8 inch transfer from Arkansas Little Rock also led the team in rebounds (8) and assists (4).

“I went to him before the game and said, ‘I need you. I don’t need you to make every play, but I need you to lead,'” Weber said.

Also starting for K-State was sophomore Ish Massoud, junior Kaosi Ezeagu and super-seniors Mike McGuirl and Mark Smith. Nowell led the way in scoring, while three other Wildcats reached double-figure: Ezeagu (14), McGuirl (10) and sophomore Selton Miguel (12), who came off the bench.

Massoud finished with two points, Smith with three points and sophomore Luke Kasubke with eight points. Sophomore Davion Bradford and freshman Logan Landers reached the court but didn’t record any baskets.

Wichita State junior forward Morris Udeze captured a game-high 19 points for the Shockers on 7-8 shooting as the only player outside of Etienne to reach double-figures for Wichita State.

The win against Wichita State was the first time the two schools played against each other since 2003, and Weber had nothing but good things to say about renewing the rivalry.

“It’s good for college basketball, and it’s good for the state of Kansas,” Weber said.

The Wildcats face another challenging opponent in Marquette on Wednesday, Dec. 8, at home in the Big East/Big 12 Challenge. The game will tip-off at 8 p.m. and can be watched on ESPN2, with a recap after the game on the Collegian.