K-State headed to Sweet 16 after win against Kentucky
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - Markquis Nowell scored 23 of his 27 points after halftime and Kansas State overcame a horrid start from outside by hitting a couple of clutch 3-pointers while topping Kentucky 75-69 in Sunday’s second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The win sends the third-seeded Wildcats (25-9) to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2018, and it came thanks to a series of big shots that finally pushed them through in a tight game.
They’ll play the winner of the Michigan State-Marquette in the East Region semifinals.
Kansas State missed its first 13 3-pointers and sat at 2 for 17 for the game when the outside shots started falling. There was Nowell burying a step-back 3 against Cason Wallace to bring Kansas State within 60-59, followed a bit later by Ismael Massoud burying one from the right wing at the 2:21 mark that gave Kansas State the lead for good at 64-62.
Keyontae Johnson added one more from that side of the court in front of the Kansas State bench, pushing the lead to 67-62 with 1:23 left — sending a jolt with the kind of margin that felt massive considering nearly all of the second half had been played within four points.
The 5-foot-8 Nowell, a third-team Associated Press All-American, played a fearless floor game while making 7 of 14 shots and 10 of 11 free throws. He also hit three 3s, including the first one over Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe after an 0-for-13 start by Kansas State and another after halftime with his left foot on the “March Madness” logo near midcourt.
Tshiebwe had 25 points and 18 rebounds for sixth-seeded Kentucky (22-12), which shot 55% after halftime and led by eight early in the second half. But the Wildcats never could stretch that lead out, then couldn’t make their own big outside shots (4 for 20 for the game) to answer when Kansas State made its move.
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