K-State goes from unranked to No. 11 in men’s basketball poll; KU No. 2

Kansas State guard Markquis Nowell (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas State guard Markquis Nowell (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)(Charlie Riedel | AP)
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 11:21 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - After wins over three ranked opponents to begin Big 12 play, including two on the road, Kansas State has entered the AP men’s basketball top 25 for the first time since 2019. The Wildcats, who are 14-1, checked in at No. 11. Kansas, also 14-1 and 3-0 in the Big 12, is ranked second, trailing only top-ranked Houston.

K-State claimed a victory over West Virginia on New Year’s Eve, following that up with wins at Texas and at Baylor last week. The Wildcats had their two highest point totals of the season in those games, beating Texas 116-103 in Austin, then beating Baylor 97-95. The win over Baylor came in K-State coach Jerome Tang’s first game against the school at which he served as an assistant/associate head coach under Scott Drew for 19 years.

Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson have emerged as candidates as Big 12 Player of the Year, if not first-team All-Americans, for the Wildcats. Johnson is averaging 18.8 points on 58 percent shooting, along with 7.1 rebounds, while Nowell is averaging 17 points, 8.9 assists and 2.3 steals. Against Texas and Baylor, Nowell, a 5-foot-8 point guard, combined for 68 points and 23 assists.

Kansas had its first Big 12 runaway on Saturday, defeating West Virginia 76-62 after narrow wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. The Jayhawks play Oklahoma on Tuesday in Lawrence at 8 p.m.; K-State hosts Oklahoma State.