Editor’s note: Fixed “Sooner” to “Sooners” in all instances.
The No. 11 Kansas State men’s basketball team defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 85-69 on senior night in Manhattan. K-State sits in second place of the Big 12 with one game left before the conference tournament.
The Wildcats got off to a slow start offensively but managed to keep it a close game as scoring was a struggle for both teams.
“We was pretty jittery the first couple of minutes because of the scene tonight and our families there,” guard Markquis Nowell said after the game. “But once we settled down, we played K-State basketball — we played winning basketball.”
Momentum began to swing towards the Wildcats late in the half as the star seniors in Nowell, guard Desi Sills and forward Keyontae Johnson stepped up. Two consecutive possessions with assists by Nowell including a 3-pointer from Johnson gave K-State the first lead at 18-17.
After that point the Wildcat offense took off. K-State ended on a 9-0 run full of fastbreak highlights that gave them a 34-25 lead at the break.
Sills made his mark all over the stat sheet in the first half with five points, six rebounds and four assists.
K-State picked up right where they left off late in the first half. Led by Nowell, the Wildcats made nine of their first 10 shots out of the break. Highlight plays were abundant as the Wildcat lead continued to grow and reached as many as 20 points.
Twenty points would remain the largest lead for the Wildcats throughout the second half, but the Sooners failed to cut their deficit to single digits.
Nowell finished with 11 points and ten assists — his seventh double-double on the year. Forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin was the leading scorer on the night with 19 points.
“He [Tomlin] was big time. … Whenever he plays like that you know we’ve got a different team,” Nowell said. “He’s like the X-Factor … going into March that’s something we need.”
Nae’Qwan Tomlin dunks during the Oklahoma game. K-State won the match 85-69. (Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)
Johnson finished with 16 points and five rebounds. Sills flirted with a triple-double posting 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
“Des [Desi Sills] is a winner man, you could try to find other words but that’s what it boils down to,” head coach Jerome Tang said. “Des does whatever it takes for us to win.”
Lastly, senior walk-on Nate Awbrey recorded the second and third points of his K-State career after fans chanted for him to enter the game late.
“It [having fans chant his name] was really cool,” Awbrey said. “That was a really cool experience and something I’ll never forget.”
The Wildcats will head to Morgantown for the last regular season Big 12 play on at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 4.