Kansas State pens Tang era with a blowout victory

KSU defeated UTRGV 93-59 on Nov. 7. at Bramlage Colosseum (Archive photo by Reece Bachta | Collegian Media Group)

Jerome Tang spent nearly 20 years as an assistant basketball coach at Baylor University, winning a National Championship and coaching some of the best players in the world. Prior to that, he spent ten years coaching at the high school level.

On Monday night, the 56-year old finally got his opportunity to be a collegiate head coach, and it started off with a bang. K-State defeated Texas-Rio Grande Valley 93-59 in front of a home crowd.

“It was great to have my family here, along with Dr. Jennifer Cooper who hired me at Heritage Christian and my pastor David Kelly,” Tang said after the game. “My parents had a doctor’s appointment, so they could not come, but it was great that many were able to attend.”

The Wildcats shot over 45% from the field, including 44% from the three-point line. Fifth-year senior Markquis Nowell led the Wildcats in scoring with 14 points and transfer Keyontae Johnson inspired the team with 13 points in his first start in nearly two years.

It was Johnson’s first game since Dec. 12, 2020, when he collapsed during a game for the University of Florida against Florida State. Although named an honorary starter for Florida’s senior night game last March, he hadn’t played since the medical incident.

“He got to play in an actual NCAA basketball game for the first time in two years,” said Tang. “We have a lot of guys here who are getting second chances and I love that our team doesn’t care about themselves but about other people.”

Johnson converted on three of five three-point shots in the contest and Nae’Qwan Tomlin added 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds in the victory. Abayomi Iyiola dropped 12 points in his Wildcats debut.

Kansas State now sits at 1-0 on the season and will hit the road as they take on the California Golden Bears at 6:00 pm on Friday, Nov. 11.