K-STATE WINS WITHOUT A HEAVY OUTPUT FROM KEYONTAE JOHNSON
After two straight games with Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson filling up the scoring column, it was a rough start to the evening for Johnson. He struggled to score early in the game and also had some uncharacteristic turnovers.
Johnson proved he could overcome slow starts with his performance against Nebraska in T-Mobile Center, as he started to come alive midway through the first half. But that was not the case against the Cowboys on Tuesday. At the half, Johnson had just three points on 1/7 shooting to go with 3 turnovers.
Eventually, Johnson would finish the game with 12 points, tying his season low (Abilene Christian). He also delivered the biggest play Bramlage Coliseum had seen since Cartier Diarra’s dunk against Kansas in 2019, finishing a lob with one hand from Nowell as the shot clock shrunk down in the waning moments of K-State’s 65-57 win.
For most of the game though, the Wildcats didn’t get the typical output from their star, who also missed some critical free throws at various points. K-State being able to grit out a win against a team that was going to limit the scoring on Tuesday was another big step for the Wildcats and their future success.
Finding a way to win without a major contribution for a majority of the game from Johnson will pay dividends moving forward.
MARKQUIS NOWELL LEADS THE WAY IN THE BIG 12 POTY RACE
There are players with more talent in the Big 12, but Markquis Nowell showcased for yet another night in the Big 12 that he is the best player in the conference as it currently stands. Another 20-point night for the under-sized guard, and 50% from three, while also knocking down all of his free throws in a tight game.
He has put K-State on his back and it has gone from a magnificent stretch he is in the middle of, to just being who he is as a player. It’s similar to the rise that Nijel Pack had last season where he could pop off occasionally, and somewhere it just turned into an every-night occurrence for Nowell.
The last piece for Nowell to complete this ascent is to avenge the blown lead to Kansas from last season and deliver victory and big moments a week from Tuesday against the Jayhawks.
CATS IN THE TOP 25 IS NO JOKE
The game that played out in Bramlage Coliseum on Tuesday night is a game in which ranked teams are able to find a way to win. Defending your home floor against a slightly-inferior opponent in front of a giant crowd. It was not pretty and it got tight at times, but the No. 11 Wildcats proved they belong in the Top 25 by not dropping a game to the Cowboys at home.
Another step for the Wildcats to prove that the No. 11 ranking isn’t just due to a hot streak is what lies ahead in Fort Worth this weekend against a salty TCU squad.
CONCERNS ABOUT SECOND CHANCE POINTS AND OPEN LOOKS
Oklahoma State outscored K-State on second-chance points 16-0, which provided a huge boost to the Cowboys’ ability to stay in the game with K-State. The Wildcats not only failed to limit offensive rebounds but also got caught out of position allowing easy buckets.
Another thing to watch out for is the looks from three that I have harped on all season. It didn’t affect K-State against Oklahoma State because they are a below-average shooting team, but both of these defensive vulnerabilities give me some concern for the challenge that looms against Kansas next week. TCU will also try and take advantage with Mike Miles and company on Saturday at Schollmaier Arena.
Speaking of free throws, yet again I have to point out the play of Bebe Iyiola, who made two huge free throws when Oklahoma State had trimmed the lead to just one in the final minutes. Having a big that can be reliable handling the ball and going to the line is such an advantage for the Cats and I thought both players deserved special mentions tonight.