Efficient shooting leads K-State past Montana State in Round of 64

Senior guard Markquis Nowell prepares to high five his teammate during player intros. KSU defeated OSU 65-57 on Jan. 10 at Bramlage Colosseum. (Archive photo by Reece Bachta | Collegian Media Group)

Playing their first March Madness game in over 1450 days, the No. 3 seeded Kansas State Wildcats opened up the NCAA Tournament with a 77-65 victory over No. 14 seed Montana State Bobcats.

The trio of forward Keyontae Johnson, guard Markquis Nowell and forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin led the Wildcats offensively in their victory on Friday night. Nowell in particular was lights out on the scoreboard, having a double-double, scoring 17 points while recording 14 assists.

Johnson led the scoring for K-State with 18 points on eight of 15 field goal shooting and Tomlin scored 13 points as the Wildcats shot 58% from the field.

Even with the victory and being favored entering the contest, the Wildcats did face adversity as the Bobcats fought hard throughout the contest. In particular, junior RaeQuan Battle was a force to be reckoned with as he dropped a contest-high 27 points.

However, K-State’s efficient field goal shooting and sixteen turnovers forced on defense handed the Wildcats its first tournament victory since the team beat its next opponent in Kentucky on March 21, 2018. 

The victory was also the first ever NCAA Tournament victory for head coach Jerome Tang, who witnessed a fair share of those during his time as an assistant coach at Baylor.

The Wildcats now advance to the second round of the tournament against the Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday from Greensboro, North Carolina. The game time is yet to be announced.