15/13 [3-seed] KANSAS STATE (23-9, 11-7 Big 12) vs. [14-seed] MONTANA STATE (25-9, 15-3 Big Sky)
NCAA East Regional First Round
Friday, March 17, 2023 >> 8:40 p.m. CT >> Greensboro Coliseum (20,000) >> Greensboro, N.C.
CBS / March Madness App (link here)
- Ian Eagle (play-by-play)
- Jim Spanarkel (analyst)
- Evan Washburn (sideline reporter)
- Craig Silver (producer)
Westwood One [link here]
Satellite Radio: Sirius XM Ch. 134 or 202
- Bill Rosinski (play-by-play)
- Austin Croshere (analyst)
K-State Sports Network
Flagships: // KMAN 1350 & WIBW 580
Online: Varsity Network [free]/ www.kstatesports.com/watch [free]
- Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play)
- Stan Weber (analyst)
K-State: Jerome Tang [Charter Oak State College ’07]
Record at K-State: 23-9/1st Year
Career Record: 25-9/1st Year+
vs. Montana State: 0-0 [0-0 at K-State]
Montana State: Danny Sprinkle [Montana State ’00]
Record at Montana State: 81-42/4th Year
Career Record: 81-42/4th Year
vs. K-State: 0-0 [0-0 at Montana State]
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
NCAA Tournament [appearance/last]: 37-35 [32nd/2019]
East Regional [appearance/last]: 3-4 [5th/2012]
First Round [East Regional]: 11-6 [2-2]
In Greensboro, N.C./Greensboro Coliseum: 0-1/0-1
As No. 3 seed [appearance]: 0-0 [1st]
vs. No. 14 seed [appearance]: 0-0 [1st]
Overall: K-State leads 2-1
In NCAA Tournament: First meeting
In Greensboro, N.C.: First meeting
Last Meeting: W, 96-73 [11/30/1974]
Active Streak: K-State, 2
Tang vs. Montana State: 0-0 [0-0 at K-State]
Tang vs. Danny Sprinkle: 0-0 [0-0 at neutral site]
Montana State (25-9, 15-3 Big Sky)
G: #0 Caleb Fuller
G: #10 Darius Brown II
G: #11 Tyler Patterson
F: #13 Jubrile Belo
F: #21 RaeQuan Battle
No. 15/13 K-State (23-9, 11-7 Big 12) was rewarded for its outstanding season on Sunday night, as the Wildcats earned their 32nd overall bid to the NCAA Tournament with an at-large selection. The team was selected as the No. 3 seed in the East Regional and will play Big Sky Tournament champion and No. 14 seed Montana State (25-9, 15-3 Big Sky) in the first round at 8:40 p.m., CT on Friday, March 17 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. The game will air on CBS with Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Jim Spanarkel (analyst) and Evan Washburn (reporter) on the call. The winner will advance to play either No. 6 Kentucky (21-11, 12-6 SEC) or No. 11 seed Providence (21-11, 13-7 BIG EAST) on Sunday, March 19 at a time to be announced.
- K-State earned its 32nd NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2019 after winning 23 games, including 11 in the nation’s top conference – the Big 12 – to finish in a tie for third place. The Wildcats combined for 13 Quad 1 and 2 wins, including 9 vs. Quad 1 competition. The team was one of 9 schools with at least 9 Quad 1 wins, while they tied a school-record with 7 wins against AP Top 25 opponents. This came after being selected 10th in the preseason Big 12 poll. The No. 3 seed is the second highest in school history after the No. 2 seed in 2010.
- Big 12 Coach of the Year Jerome Tang is one of 7 first-year head coaches in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, including one of 3 first-time coaches, along with Duke’s Jon Scheyer and Fairleigh Dickinson’s Tobin Anderson. His 23 wins rank fifth among first-year coaches behind Scheyer (26-8), Xavier’s Sean Miller (25-9), Fordham’s Kyle Urgo (25-8) and Missouri’s Dennis Gates (24-9). He is the fourth coach to take K-State to the NCAA Tournament in his first year, joining Lon Kruger [20/1986-87], Frank Martin [21/2007-08] and Bruce Weber [27/2012-13].
- Seniors Keyontae Johnson (17.7 ppg.) and Markquis Nowell (16.8 ppg.) are one of the most prolific tandems, as they combine to average 34.5 points per game to rank fourth among power conferences. They were both selected as Third Team All-Americans by The Associated Press on March 14, becoming the first duo in school history to earn the honor. In all, they are just the eighth and ninth players to earn recognition to the First, Second or Third All-American teams by the AP and the first since Jacob Pullen was named to the Third Team in 2011.
- Johnson is the comeback story of the year in sports after arriving at K-State in August having not played basketball in nearly 2 seasons since his medical emergency while playing at Florida on Dec. 12, 2020. He has led the Wildcats in both scoring (17.7 ppg.) and rebounding (7.0 rpg.) while scoring in double figures in 31 of 32 games with 9 20-point games and 6 double-doubles. He is a finalist for Naismith and John R. Wooden Awards as well as the Julius Erving Award.
- A finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, Nowell currently ranks third nationally in both assists per game (7.6 apg.) and total assists (243), while he is in the top-25 in 5 other categories (steals, steals/game, free throws, free throw percentage and minutes/game). He ranks first or second in the Big 12 in an astounding 10 categories, including first in 7 categories.
NOTES ON MONTANA STATE
- Montana State (25-9, 15-3 Big Sky) enters Friday night riding an 8-game winning streak, including a 3-game sweep in the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the second consecutive season. The Bobcats earned wins over Northern Colorado (84-73), Weber State (60-58) in double overtime and Northern Arizona (85-78) over 4 days to secure its fourth tournament title (1986, 1996, 2022, 2023).
- Montana State is making its fifth trip (1951, 1986, 1996, 2022, 2023) to the NCAA Tournament, including its second straight after falling to Texas Tech, 97-62, in the first round last season.
- Montana State is averaging 74.2 points on 46.9 percent shooting, including 33.8 percent from 3-point range, with 33.1 rebounds, 12.5 assists, 6.5 steals and 3.0 blocks per game, while allowing 66.6 points on 42.5 percent shooting, including 34.1 percent from 3-point range. The Bobcats are connecting on 75.9 percent from the free throw line.
- Montana State ranks among the top-10 nationally in free throws made/game (17.8) and free throws attempted/game (23.4), while is among the best in field goal percentage (46.9). The Bobcats led the Big Sky in both scoring defense (66.6 ppg.) and scoring margin (+7.6), while they were second in 6 others, including field goal percentage defense, steals/game, turnover margin (+1.9) and turnovers forced/game (13.7).
- Junior RaeQwan Battle paces three Bobcats in double figures at 17.4 points on 46.7 percent shooting, including 34.5 percent from 3-point range, and 83.8 percent from the free throw line. Battle was named First Team All-Big Sky and the Big Sky Tournament MVP after averaging 21 points over 3 games, including 25 in the title game. Senior Jubrile Belo averages 13.0 points on 58.3 percent shooting with team bests in both rebounding (6.1 rpg.) and blocks (1.0 bpg.), while sophomore Great Osobor averages 10 points on 61.7 percent shooting with 4.5 rebounds. Junior point guard Darius Brown II, who was named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, paces the team in both assists (4.8 apg.) and steals (1.8 spg.).
- Montana State is led by fourth-year head coach Danny Sprinkle, who has an 81-42 (.659) record with consecutive 25-win seasons. A Helena, Mont., native and 2000 graduate of Montana State, he is the Bobcats’ eighth all-time leading scorer, while he was the 1996 Big Sky Freshman of the Year and a 3-time All-Big Sky selection, including First Team in 1997.
- K-State holds a narrow 2-1 lead in the all-time series with Montana State, winning home games on Dec. 28, 1946 (51-40) and Nov. 30, 1974 (96-73) after losing the first meeting in Bozeman, 45-38, on Dec. 23, 1941.
- This will be the first meeting in the NCAA Tournament. Although the teams nearly crossed paths in the 1951 NCAA Tournament, as the Bobcats lost to Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State), 50-46, in the first round before the Wildcats knocked off the Cowboys, 68-44, in the semifinals to advance to NCAA Championship and lose to Kentucky.
ALL-TIME MEETINGS [2-1]
Date Rank Result Score Location
12/23/1941 —/— L 38-45 Bozeman
12/28/1946 —/— W 51-40 Manhattan
11/30/1974 —/— W 96-73 Manhattan
K-STATE RETURNS TO THE BIG DANCE
- No. 15/13 K-State (23-9) will be making its 32nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the first under head coach Jerome Tang when the 3-seed Wildcats face 14-seed Montana State (25-9, 15-3 Big Sky) on Friday in the first round of the East Regional at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C.
- K-State was the No. 11 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, including the third among the four No. 3 seeds (behind Baylor and Gonzaga). The No. 3 seed is the second highest by a Wildcat team since seeding began in 1979 and the highest since the 2010 team was selected as a No. 2 seed.
- K-State is making its 39th postseason appearance, which includes 32 in the NCAA Tournament and 7 in the Postseason NIT. The program has now advanced to the postseason 12 times in the last 17 seasons (10 trips to NCAA Tournament and two to the NIT). The 32 overall bids rank 22nd nationally, including fourth among Big 12 schools (Kansas , Texas  and Oklahoma ).
- The program has posted a 37-35 record in NCAA Tournament play, including 11-6 in the first round. The school will be making its fifth appearance (1975, 1989, 1996, 2012) in the East Regional and is 3-4 all-time in the region. This will be second visit to Greensboro, N.C., for the NCAA Tournament after dropping an 86-75 decision to Minnesota in the First Round of the 1989 NCAA Tournament.
- In K-State’s NCAA Tournament history, the Wildcats have advanced to the Sweet 16 a total of 17 times. The program has also reached the Elite Eight 12 times, made 4 Final Four appearances and played in one National Championship.
- Tang becomes the 10th coach to lead K-State to the NCAA Tournament dating back to 1948. Tang was part of 10 NCAA Tournament appearances during his stint as an assistant and associate head coach at Baylor, which included 5 trips to the Sweet 16 (2010, 2012, 2014, 2017, 2021), 3 in the Elite Eight (2010, 2012, 2021) and a Final Four and national championship in 2021.
- Although no K-State players remain from 2019, five players – Jerrell Colbert, Abayomi Iyiola, Keyontae Johnson, David N’Guessan and Desi Sills – have been a part of teams that have advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Johnson (Florida), N’Guessan (Virginia Tech) and Sills (Arkansas) have all played in NCAA Tournament games, including Johnson in 2019, N’Guessan and Sills in 2021 and N’Guessan in 2022. Sills was part of an Arkansas team that advanced to the Elite Eight in 2021.
CRAZY FAITH //
HOW THE CATS WERE BUILT
Below is a timeline on building K-State back from a 14-17 season in 2021-22 to its current 23-9 record and No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Only 2 players (Markquis Nowell and Ismael Massoud) stayed upon Jerome Tang hiring, while a high school signee (Taj Manning) decided to keep his commitment.
- April 18, 2022 – LSU transfer Jerrell Colbert becomes the first Tang signee.
- April 20, 2022 – Cam Carter transfers from Mississippi State.
- May 2, 2022 – Dorian Finister becomes the first high school signee.
- May 5, 2022 – JUCO All-American Nae’Qwan Tomlin joins the program.
- June 2, 2022 – David N’Guessan transfers from Virginia Tech.
- June 15, 2022 – Desi Sills transfers from Arkansas.
- June 24, 2022 – Abayomi Iyiola transfers from Hofstra.
- June 30, 2022 – Tykei Greene transfers from Stony Brook.
- August 20, 2022 – Keyontae Johnson transfers from Florida.
- August 21, 2022 – JUCO Anthony Thomas joins the program.
- August 30, 2022 – Peyton Ackerman, Nate Awbrey added as walk-ons.
TANG WINS BIG 12 COACH OF THE YEAR
- First-year coach Jerome Tang was selected as the Phillips 66 Big 12 Coach of the Year on Sunday after guiding K-State to a 23-8 record and a tie for third place with an 11-7 mark in the nation’s toughest conference despite being picked last in the preseason Big 12 poll. He becomes the seventh coach in school history to earn conference Coach of the Year honors, including the third in the Big 12 era (joining Frank Martin and Bruce Weber) and the first since 2013.
- K-State’s 23-9 start under Jerome Tang is the second-best by a first-year coach in school history behind Zora G. Clevenger, who went 15-2 in 1916-17. It ranks among the best by any first year coach in Division I behind Duke’s Jon Scheyer (27-8), Fordham’s Kyle Urgo (25-8), Xavier’s Sean Miller (25-9) and Missouri’s Dennis Gates (24-9).
- Tang has been named a finalist for a number of national coaching honors, including a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award (top Division I minority coach), Joe B. Hall Award (top first-year coach) and Jim Phelan Award as well as a semifinalist for the semifinalist for the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Award.
- This is not Tang’s first time being a head coach, as he served as athletics director and head coach at Heritage Christian Academy in Cleveland, Texas from 1993-2003, leading the school to 5 TAPPS Division A State Championships.
- In addition, Tang twice served as interim head coach in his 19 seasons as an assistant and associate head coach at Baylor, leading the Bears to 4-0 record. He helped Baylor to wins over Texas (86-79 in OT) and at Texas Tech (82-48) during the 2012-13 season, while he guided the squad to wins over Louisiana (112-82) and Washington (86-52) to open the 2020-21 season. Tang is only credited with the wins in 2013, moving his college head coaching record to 25-9.
A TEAM OF WINNERS
- Head coach Jerome Tang has remarked on a number of occasions that he recruited a team ‘full of winners’ as exemplified by the number of championships that the collective group has won.
- There are a combined 8 state championships among the 15 players on the roster, including 2 each won by seniors Desi Sills and Abayomi Iyiola and true freshmen Taj Manning. In addition, sophomore Jerrell Colbert and true freshman Dorian Finister also won state titles during their senior seasons.
- In addition to the high school success, a number of players have been a part of winning college programs, including Sills and Iyiola being members of Arkansas’ Elite Eight team in 2021 and senior Keyontae Johnson (Florida) and junior David N’Guessan (Virginia Tech) being a part of 2 NCAA Tournaments.
- This championship mentality stretches to the staff, as associate head coach Urlic Maligi has been part of 5 NCAA Tournament and 5 conference title teams in his career. Assistant coach Jareem Dowling has been involved with teams that have won 4 conference titles and earned 4 postseason trips, while assistant coach Rodney Perry is coming off a 2021-22 year in which he led Link Academy to a national runner-up finish at the GEICO National Tournament before helping MOKAN Elite to its third Nike Peach Jam title.
1700 WINS AND COUNTING
- K-State’s overtime 96-87 win over Nevada in the semifinals of the Cayman Islands Classic represented the 1,700th win in school history. The Wildcats are the 43rd Division I team to eclipse 1,700 wins, including the sixth Big 12 school.
- The Wildcats have a 1,718-1,222 (.586) all-time record as a program, which includes 32 NCAA Tournament appearances and 21 conference championships.
- K-State is one of 11 Division I schools whose men’s and women’s basketball teams have both won more than 1,000 games. Joining K-State is this unique club is Baylor, Georgia, Maryland, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, UConn and Western Kentucky.
- The K-State women joined their counterpart by earning a bid to the WNIT.
SUCCESS IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY
- With the 64-50 win over Florida in the final SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Jan. 28, K-State completed its non-conference schedule with a 12-1 mark, including a perfect 8-0 in home games (Nebraska was played at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City is considered a home game).
- The 12-1 record is the best non-conference record since the Wildcats won a program-best 13 non-conference games in 2009-10. The teams also won 12 non-conference games in both 2008-09 (12-3) and 2010-11 (12-3). K-State had won just 19 non-conference games, including 16 at home, in the 3 seasons (2019-20 to 2021-22) before this season.
- K-State has posted a 171-53 (.762) record in non-conference play since the 2006-07. During that span, the Wildcats have a 129-14 (.901) mark at home venues (includes games at Bramlage Coliseum, INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita and the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City in non-conference play, including a 119-12 (.908) mark at Bramlage Coliseum.
- K-State enjoyed a special night on offense in its 116-103 win over No. 6/6 Texas, as the Wildcats not only broke the school record for points but also tied the Big 12 record in handing the Longhorns their first and only loss of the 2022-23 season in the brand-new Moody Center on Jan. 3.
- The 116 points eclipsed the previous school-record mark of 115, which first came vs. Delaware State on Dec. 7, 1991, then again vs. Fresno State in the NIT on March 24, 1994. It was also the most-ever in a road game, surpassing the 108 at Iowa State on Jan. 29, 1975, while it was most in a conference game, topping the 114 scored vs. Nebraska at home on Jan. 10, 1987, and the most in a Big 12 game, surpassing the 111 vs. Missouri at home on Jan. 3, 1998.
- According to ESPN Stats & Info, K-State’s 116 points in the win at No. 6/6 Texas marked the most by an unranked team in a win over a top-10 opponent since Missouri scored 119 against Iowa State in 1988.
- All 5 starters scored in double figures, including a career-best 36 points from senior Markquis Nowell and a career-tying 28 by senior Keyontae Johnson. The 64 combined points tied for the fourth-most by a duo in school history and most since 2008, while it marked just the 16th time (including the second time this season) that tandem has each had at least 25 points in a game. Nowell’s 36 points are the seventh-most points by a Wildcat in a Big 12 game and the most since Barry Brown, Jr., scored 38 points vs. Oklahoma State on Jan. 10, 2018.
- As a team, the Wildcats connected on 61 percent (36-of-59) from the field, including 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from 3-point range, and set a school-record by hitting on 93.9 percent (31-of-33) from the free throw line. It marked the first time the team has shot better than 60 percent against a Big 12 opponent since 2018, while the 13 treys tied for the sixth-most made in a conference game.
POTENT OFFENSIVE ATTACK
- K-State is averaging 75.5 points this season on 45.3 percent (838-of-1848) shooting, including 34 percent (228-of-670) from 3-point range, while hitting on 75 percent (512-of-683) from the line. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in assists (16.8 apg.), while are second in free throw percentage, fourth in scoring offense and fifth in scoring margin (+6.5) and assist/turnover ratio (1.19).
- The current scoring average (75.5 ppg.) is just outside the top-10 the single season top-10 and the highest since the 2009-10 team averaged 79.7 points per game. The 45.3 field goal percentage is also just outside the top-10 best in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the highest since 2017-18 (46.3 percent).
- K-State has scored 80 or more points 11 times, including 5 games of 90 or more points highlighted by the school-record 116-point effort in the win at No. 6/6 Texas (1/3/23), which was the first 100-point game since 2011. It is the most games of 80 or more points since also posting 11 in 2017-18 and most games of 90 or more points since also totaling 5 in 2009-10.
- The 93 points vs. UTRGV (11/7/22) were the fourth-most in a season opener in the last 25 seasons and the most since scoring 98 vs. Southern Utah to open the 2014-15 season. The Wildcats also topped the 90-point barrier in a 96-87 overtime win over Nevada (11/22/22) at the Cayman Islands Classic, while they had 98 vs. UIW (12/11/22) behind a school-record first 7 double-digit scorers.
- Twice this season the Wildcats have had 2 players (Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson) score 25 or more points in the same game, which hadn’t happened since 2010. Nowell (29) and Johnson (28) combined for 57 points in the overtime win over Nevada (11/22/22) before they went for 64 in the win at No. 6/6 Texas (1/3/23), which ties for the fourth-most by a duo in school history and the most since Michael Beasley and Bill Walker at Baylor in 2008.
- K-State has connected on better than 50 percent of its field goals in 8 games, including back-to-back vs. Rhode Island (11/21/22) and Nevada (11/22/22) and ACU (12/6/22) and UIW (12/11/22). The team hit on a season-best 60 percent (36-of-60) vs. Texas (1/3/23), which included a season-high 13 3-pointers, and a school-record performance from the free throw line of 93.9 percent (31-of-33).
DISHING THE ROCK
- K-State ranks among the best in sharing the basketball, as the Wildcats rank 11th nationally and first in the Big 12 with 16.8 assists per game. Among the 536 assists are 8 players with double-digit totals, including senior Markquis Nowell, who ranks third nationally in assists/game (7.6) and total assists (243). The 536 assists rank fifth on the single-season chart and are the most since 2012-13. Nowell, who has double-digit assists in 8 games, became the school’s single season assist leader with his 7 dimes in the win over TCU.
- The Wildcats also rank in the top-10 with a 64.0 assist percentage according to KenPom, which calculates assists (536) to made field goals (838). Only Lafayette (68.8), Tennessee (66.2), Virginia (66.0), Arizona (65.4) and Air Force (64.9) have a better percentage nationally.
- Although Nowell gets all the attention for his playmaking ability, the rest of the team has shared the ball, as the Wildcats have had 3 or more players dish out at least 2 assists in 25 of 32 games. The team had 7 players with 2 or more assists vs. UTRGV (11/7/22), while 6 vs. Nebraska (12/17/22) and Baylor (1/3/23) and 5 vs. UIW (12/11/22), Texas (1/3/23), TCU (twice) and Texas Tech (1/21/23).
TEAM FULL OF SCORERS
- K-State is one of just 15 schools to have at least four 1,000-point scorers on its roster, as Wildcats Tykei Greene (1,198 points), Keyontae Johnson (1,354 points), Markquis Nowell (1,847 points) and Desi Sills (1,380 points) have all reached the milestone in their Division I careers. Only Johnson, who did it against Radford (12/21/22), and Nowell have reached the mark while at K-State.
- K-State has now six 1,000-point scorers if you count senior walk-on Nate Awbrey, who scored 1,032 points in his 4-year career at Manhattan Christian College, and junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin, who scored more than 1,000 points in his junior college career at Monroe (2019-20) and Chipola Colleges (2020-22).
- Missouri has 6 1,000-point scorers followed by Notre Dame, Penn State, San Diego, UAB and Youngstown State with 5, while K-State joins 13 other schools (including Big 12 foes Iowa State and Texas) with 4 such scorers.
- K-State is getting solid production from its bench this season, as the Wildcats are averaging 17.3 points per game. The team has scored 20 or more bench points 10 times this season, including a season-best 41 vs. UTRGV.
- The Wildcats got 41 points from its bench in the opener vs. UTRGV (11/7/22) with 3 reserves (Abayomi Iyiola (12), Ismael Massoud (10) and Desi Sills (10) all posting double-digit points. As a group, the bench connected on 14-of-29 from the field, including a collective 11-of-17 effort by Iyiola, Massoud and Sills.
- Before 5 starts in the last 6 games, senior Desi Sills had made a huge impact from the bench, scoring in double figures 11 times, including a season-high 24 points in the win over No. 2/2 Kansas. Junior Ismael Massoud has also proved to be a spark of the bench, posting 4 double-digit scoring games.
- K-State’s defense has forced 474 turnovers this season, which includes 246 steals, while averaging 16.5 points per game off those miscues. The Wildcats’ 14.8 turnovers forced per game ranks 38th nationally, including fourth in the Big 12. They are fifth in the league in steals/game (7.7 spg.), which includes steals leader Markquis Nowell (2.4 spg.).
- K-State has scored 20 or more points off turnovers 8 times with a season-high 31 points off 26 UTRGV (11/7/22) turnovers in the opener. The Wildcats scored 20+ points off miscues in back-to-back games vs. Kansas City (11/17/22; 26 points) and Rhode Island (11/21/22; 21 points) and Oklahoma (3/1/23; 20 points) and West Virginia (3/4/23; 20 points).
- K-State is 17-2 this season when the Wildcats have less or equal turnovers than their opponents, while they are 6-7 when they have more turnovers.
JOHNSON MAKES RETURN TO COURT
- Junior Keyontae Johnson made his triumphant return to basketball court on Nov. 7 in the season opener with UTRGV after a 2-year absence after suffering a medical emergency against Florida State on Dec. 12, 2020. He finished the night with 13 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds in a team-high 26 minutes.
- Johnson was named the March Madness National Player of the Week and the Phillips 66 Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Nov. 14, as he averaged 14.5 points on 47.6 percent (10-of-21) shooting, including 57.1 percent (4-of-7) from 3-point range, to go with 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the Wildcats’ first 2 wins.
- Johnson helped the Wildcats win the Cayman Islands Classic and was named to the All-Tournament team, as he averaged a team-best 19.3 points on 53.6 percent (15-of-28) shooting, including 50 percent (4-of-8) from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 6.0 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game.
- Johnson earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors for the second time on Dec. 19 after his impressive effort vs. Nebraska, as he posted game-highs in points (23) and rebounds (11) to go with his career-tying 4 steals.
- Johnson has been selected for the Newcomer award 3 more times since the start of Big 12 play, including Jan. 9 after posting consecutive 20-point games in wins at No. 6/6 Texas and No. 19/17 Baylor, Jan. 23 after his 24-point effort in the win over No. 2/2 Kansas and double-double vs. Texas Tech and Feb. 27 after averaging 21 points in wins vs. No. 9/10 Baylor and at Oklahoma State. The 5 total awards are the most since Michael Beasley won it 8 times in 2007-08.
- Johnson has scored in double figures in a team-best 31 games, leading the Wildcats and ranking second in the Big 12 in scoring (17.7 ppg.). He is second in the league in field goal percentage (51.9), while he is in the top-15 in 5 other categories. He is one of two Big 12 players (Kansas’ Jalen Wilson) rank in the league’s top-5 in scoring and rebounding in overall and conference-only games.
- Johnson was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year by both the league coaches and the AP as well as a First Team All-Big 12. He has been chosen as a finalist for the Naismith and John R. Wooden Awards as well as the Julius Erving Award, which goes to the top small forward in the country.
NOWELL STILL RUNNING THE SHOW
- On a team with 13 new players and a new staff, fifth-year senior Markquis Nowell has been the guy running the show for the Wildcats, as he leads in both assists (7.6 apg.) and steals (2.4 spg.) while averaging the second-most points (16.8 ppg.). An All-Big 12 First Team and All-Defensive Team selection, he was named a finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard Award and a Third Team All-American by both The Sporting News and NABC.
- Nowell ranks third nationally in assists/game (7.6 apg.) and assists (243), while he is in the top-25 in five others, including eighth in steals (76), 11th in steals/game (2.4), 16th in free throws (162), 20th in free throw percentage and 23rd in minutes/game (36.5). He is one of 3 Division I players with at least 1,500 points, 500 assists and 200 steals, while he has eclipsed 1,800 career points. He also ranks first among all active Division I players in steals (268).
- Nowell was recognized for his MVP performance in helping the Wildcats win the Cayman Islands Classic, as he was selected as the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Nov. 28. He averaged 18.7 points, 9.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 33.6 minutes per game. It was his first weekly honor in the Big 12 and his fourth overall after winning it 3 times in the Sun Belt.
- In wins vs. Rhode Island and Nevada, Nowell became the first Wildcat to record double-digit assists in consecutive games, while he became the second player in school history and the first since 1989 to post a 25-point/10-assist game with his 29-point, 11-assist effort in the overtime win over the Wolf Pack.
- Nowell was part of the first Wildcat duo since 2010 to each collect at least 25 points in a game, as he and fellow senior Keyontae Johnson combined for 57 points in the overtime win over Nevada. He capped the tournament with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting in the title game win over LSU, as he helped the Wildcats rally from an 11-point second-half deficit.
- Nowell enjoyed a special performance in the historic win at No. 6/6 Texas, scoring a career-best 36 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range, to go with a perfect 12-of-12 effort from the free throw line. It was the seventh-most points by a Wildcat in a Big 12 game and the most since Barry Brown, Jr., scored 38 points vs. Oklahoma State on Jan. 10, 2018.
- Nowell capped his impressive week with the school’s first 30-point, 10-assist game in the win at No. 19/17 Baylor, scoring 32 points while dishing a career-best 14 assists. He became the first Wildcat since Michael Beasley in 2008 with consecutive 30-point games, while his 14 assists tied the record for most in a conference game in school history. In addition to his second Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 9, he was named the NCAA March Madness, ESPN, Naismith Trophy and Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week.
- Nowell nearly posted the school’s first triple-double in the win over Florida on Jan. 28, scoring 13 points on 4-of-9 field goals, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, to go with a career-tying 9 rebounds and a game-high 8 assists.
- The school’s single season assists leader (238) with his 7 assists in the win over TCU, Nowell continued his historic season in the win over No. 9/10 Baylor, becoming just the 12th player in Division I since 1996-97 to dish out at least 10 assists without a single turnover vs. an AP Top 10 opponent. He collected his 15th double-double and seventh this season with 11 points and 10 assists in the win over Oklahoma in his final game at Bramlage Coliseum.
AN INSTANT IMPACT
- Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin has given K-State another scoring threat in the post, as the junior college All-American ranks third on the team in scoring (10.2 ppg.) while connecting 48.6 percent (125-of-257) from the field to go with 6.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks in 26.9 minutes per game. He averaged 9.1 points on 50.4 percent (64-of-127) shooting with 5.7 rebounds in Big 12 play.
- Tomlin was selected as the Big 12 co-Newcomer of the Week on Dec. 26 after his near double-double in the win over Radford on Dec. 21. He led four Wildcats in double figures with a season-high 26 points, as he hit on 11-of-18 field goals, which included 4 dunks, a 3-pointer and 3 free throws, to go with 9 rebounds.
- Tomlin scored in double figures in 7 consecutive games from Dec. 3 to Jan. 3, in which, he averaged 14.9 points on 55.4 percent (41-of-74) shooting to go with 6.3 rebounds per game. The streak began with 14 points vs. Wichita State and was highlighted by a career-best 26 points vs. Radford.
- Tomlin has grabbed 10 rebounds 3 times this season, while posting his first career double-double (15 points/10 rebounds) in the win over No. 2/2 Kansas. He added a second double-double with 17 points and a season-tying 10 boards at Oklahoma. He scored in double figures in 7 games in Big 12 play.
- Tomlin scored more than 1,000 points in his junior college career at both Monroe College (2019-20) and Chipola College (2020-21) while connecting on 54.2 percent from the field. He averaged a team-leading 13.8 points on 52.4 percent shooting with 5.9 rebounds during his All-American season at Chipola, as he guided the school to the semifinals of the NJCAA National Tournament.
STARTER OFF THE BENCH
- Before missing the West Virginia game, senior Desi Sills had earned the start in each of the games during the 4-game win streak, where he averaged 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 33 minutes per game. Before that 4-game span, he had been a spark off the bench for the Wildcats, averaging 8.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 29 minutes per game.
- Sills has scored in double figures 14 times, including a season-high 24 points in the win over No. 2/2 Kansas. He came up with 16 big points in the win over LSU in the Cayman Islands Classic Championship game, while he scored all 17 of his points at Butler in the second half. He has scored in double figures in 6 of the last 9 games, including a near triple-double vs. Oklahoma in his final home game with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists.
- Although Sills went scoreless in the win over Wichita State, he had the play of the game with his block of Shammah Scott’s breakaway layup with 1:42 to play with the Wildcats trailing 50-49.