by Alec Busse • EMAWOnline – Lead Reporter – @Alec_Busse

NEW YORK — Playing in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2018, Kansas State defeated Michigan State 98-93 in overtime behind an NCAA Tournament record 19 assists from point guard Markquis Nowell.

Each team started the game well from the field, but Michigan State was unable to take advantage of four combined offensive rebounds on their first two offensive possessions, which helped K-State jump out to a 5-0 lead after early buckets from Keyontae Johnson and Desi Sills, who would later be tagged with three personal fouls in the first half.

Michigan State’s Joey Hauser started the game well from the field in the first half for the Spartans. He scored 12 points in the first half but was able to overcome misses on three of his first four shot attempts. But he did hit two 3-pointers before the first media timeout, helping Michigan State make it a 9-8 score with 15:01 left in the half.

Johnson later scored on back-to-back possessions with Wildcat point guard

assisting on both buckets. Nowell had 10 assists in the first half, most of them coming on backdoor cuts to the rim for teammates who finished bunnies with ease.

Both third-team All-Americans, Johnson and Nowell combined to score or assist on 18 of 23 made shots in the first half with Johnson leading all scorers in the first half, recording 14 points.

K-State went on a scoring drought of about 2:31 in the first half, which helped Michigan State take a 19-18 lead with 7:49 left in the first half after Hauser hit a jumper. The Spartans increased their lead to four points when guard Tyson Walker hit a layup to put his team up 24-20.

But Kansas State responded in the final 6:07 to outscore Michigan State 22-14, which included a stretch of making 5 of 7 shots. Kansas State reassumed their lead with 4:34 left in the first half when Johnson converted on a 3-point play to take a 28-26 lead. About two minutes later, Nowell hit his only 3-pointer of the first half to put Kansas State up five and then Cam Carter hit a catch-and-shoot triple giving the Wildcats a 43-38 lead.

K-State started the second half hot taking a five-point lead. but Nowell fell to the court after rolling his ankle with 15:31 left, forcing him to leave the game as trainers tended to his right foot. After the injury, Michigan State scored on 4 of -5 possessions to tie the game at 52.

Nowell returned to the game and hit a 3-point layup as the shot clock expired to tie the game at 55. But Michigan State continued and offensive outburst scoring on 5 of 6 possessions to take a 60-59 lead. Athletic forward Malik Hall hit a contested layup with the right hand to score his eighth point of the game within the run.

Sills fouled out of the game with 3:24 left while Spartan guard AJ Hoggard attempted a floater in the paint. he came out of the timeout to shrink K-State’s lead to just two points, while giving himself 11 points in the second half.

But Massoud responded with his fourth 3-pointer of the game to put K-State up five. Massoud was standing on the March Madness logo plastered on center court when he released the shot.

Walker converted on a runner to tie it at 82 shortly before the final buzzer to force overtime with the two teams tied at 82.

Walker drilled a triple after a nice move to get separation from Johnson at the top of the key, putting Michigan State ahead by three points with 3:28 left in the overtime period, it was the 16th point for Walker who had converted on 5-of-11 to that point in the game.

Nowell responded with his 16th assist of the game going to N’Guessan for a layup, giving K-State an 88-87 lead. But Hoggard responded with a 3-point play to take a 90-88 lead. The and-1 free throw put at 23 points in the game.

Nae’Qwan Tomlin tied the game at 92 with 1:28 left after making a pair of free throws. The junior big reached double figures for the third straight NCAA Tournament game with the free throws and also added seven rebounds.

The Wildcats took the lead at 94-92 when Johson reverse slammed an alley-oop lob from Nowell, who recorded a school-record 18th assist on the play. It was the same play that K-State executed against Oklahoma State and Kansas in wins at Bramlage Coliseum earlier in the season.

Massoud converted on a baseline jumper to give the Wildcats a 96-93 lead. it was his 15th point of the game on 5-of-8 shooting from the field. K-State got a stop on the defensive side to clinch the win.

With the win, Kansas State advances to the Elite 8 where they play the winner of No. 4 seed Tennessee and No. 9 seeded Florida Atlantic.