Know Your Opponent: Keyontae’s reunion

Forward Keyontae Johnson celebrates after making a basket during the game on Dec. 6. (Archive photo by Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)

No. 5 K-State 17-3 (6-2) 

In the final edition of the Big SEC/12 Challenge, Kansas State has the opportunity to add a win in a break from conference play. Following Florida is a tough stretch against No. 9 Kansas, No. 10 Texas and No. 11 TCU, but the Wildcats cannot look ahead of this matchup. Despite being ranked No. 5 in the latest AP Poll, K-State is not immune to an upset, especially if Florida finds success in the paint. Center David N’Guessan saw brief minutes against Texas Tech after being injured for all of conference play. N’Guessan would limit Florida’s chance of an upset by either returning to the starting lineup or playing his regular minutes.

Florida 12-8 (5-3)

Florida could use someone with the same scoring capabilities as K-State forward Keyontae Johnson. Florida got off to an average start to their season with a difficult schedule, including two losses against Big 12 opponents. However, the Gators have won five of their last six games, pushing them into the bubble conversation for March Madness. Their recent success has been defined by their strong defense. The Gators are ranked 12th in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom, but fall to 115th offensively. Forward Colin Castleton leads the team in points, rebounding, blocks, steals and field goal percentage. Castleton would likely need to have a dominant game in the paint for a Gators victory.


Matchup to Watch: Keyontae Johnson vs. Former Team

In a story that has taken college basketball by storm, forward Keyontae Johnson has returned to playing basketball following a two year absence after collapsing on court against Florida State on Dec. 12, 2020. Johnson’s team at the time of the event: the Florida Gators. Before his collapse, Johnson had been named the 2020-21 Preseason SEC Player of the Year and looked to be an NBA draft pick. But without being medically cleared to play, Johnson had to take on a new, temporary role as “Coach Key,” according to the team’s Twitter.

Johnson served as an assistant coach helping with filming, scouting and on-court instruction, being a respected voice among teammates and coaches. Johnson was “basically another coach” for the Gators, said Florida star forward Colin Castleton, according to Insider. “He’s our guy, he’s our leader and everybody looks up to him and listens to him. So, he’s helping us out a lot.” Now, Johnson has the opportunity to face some of his former teammates in game action. The matchup will prove if Johnson has the upper hand, having instructed them over two years.


Key Players


Forward Keyontae Johnson

Center David N’Guessan


Forward Colin Castleton

Guard Kyle Lofton


Prediction: K-State 71-62