Nowell, Johnson lead Wildcats over Baylor in Tang’s return

Coach Tang sits in front of his players during a time out, focused on instructing the team. The wildcats defeated UMKC 69-53 on Nov. 17th. (Archive photo by Jersey Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

For the third straight game, the Kansas State Wildcats pulled off an upset victory over an AP Top 25 opponent as they defeated the Baylor Bears 97-95. The overtime victory on Saturday marked head coach Jerome Tang’s return to Waco where he previously coached.

Guard Markquis Nowell and forward Keyontae Johnson again led the scoring for the Wildcats, dropping 32 and 24 points, respectively. 

“I’ve been just taking a lot of good shots,” said Nowell. “I’ve been watching a lot of film with Coach Perry and Tang and the key has been taking more and more good shots. If I do that, I’m way more efficient.”

Baylor was led offensively by guard Adam Flagler with 23 points and 22 points from guard Keyonte George. Forward Flo Thamba chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds.

“Their guards are some of the best shooters in the country,” said Tang. “We just wanted to try to make it as difficult as possible for them when they were shooting.”

The two teams battled back and forth throughout the night as the largest lead was only eight points.

With a three-point lead in the waning seconds of regulation, the Wildcats watched their lead fall apart as forward Jalen Bridges buried a 3-pointer, tying the game at 86 and sending the game to OT.

In the overtime period, the teams traded baskets. Baylor led by two with 30 seconds remaining before forward Ismael Massoud hit a 3-pointer to give K-State a 96-95 lead.

“Ish [Ismael] is playing because he is giving the kind of effort and has embraced playing the way that’s going to allow us to have a chance to win every night,” said Tang. “His communication out there has improved drastically.”

Nowell then hit one free throw, clinching the two-point victory for K-State.

The Wildcats are now 14-1 to start the season, their best start since the 1958-59 season. The Wildcats face off against Oklahoma State at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at home.