Markquis Nowell Set An NCAA Tournament Record With 19 Assists As Kansas State Beat Michigan State In An OT Thriller

The first game of the 2023 Sweet 16 did not disappoint in the slightest, as Kansas State and Michigan State put on an absolute thriller in Madison Square Garden, with the 3-seeded Wildcats taking down the 7-seeded Spartans in a 98-93 overtime showdown for the ages.

The game was tight throughout, with a 7-point lead being the biggest of the night for either squad, as they went back and forth for 45 minutes, trading blows in a high-scoring shootout. Michigan State had the leading scorer of the game, as AJ Hoggard put up 25 to go along with six assists, but the star of the night was New York native Markquis Nowell, as the diminutive guard continues to steal the spotlight in March with sensational play, putting forth a record-setting performance to lead the Wildcats to the win.

Nowell finished the game with 20 points, most of which came in the final 15 minutes of action, and an NCAA Tournament record 19 assists, alongside 5 steals. He did just about everything, and spent the second half battling through a rolled ankle that he had to get taped up on the sideline.

We’ll start with the closing 90 seconds of regulation, which saw Nowell put Kansas State in front by four with a stepback midrange jumper from the left wing with just over a minute to play.

After a Malik Hall tip-in cut the lead to two, Nowell went for the dagger from way downtown and came up empty, giving Michigan State a chance to tie the game or take the lead on the final possession. The Spartans put the ball in the hands of Tyson Walker, who drove to the rim and hit a runner off glass with five seconds left, with the two biggest points of his 16-point performance.

Walker would put Michigan State in front by three in overtime, but from that point it became the Nowell show, as he had his hands in just about every big play for Kansas State down the stretch as a facilitator. After hitting a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one, Nowell rifled a pass to David N’Guessan for a go-ahead layup.

Down two he again found N’Guessan cutting to the rim, this time on a filthy bounce pass that was his best of the night.

That was the highlight of the night for all of one minute, as with just under a minute to play in a tie game, he set up a gorgeous midcourt lob to Keyontae Johnson, lulling the Michigan State defense to sleep by seeming to pretend to argue with coach Jerome Tang over the playcall.

After another ambitious logo three from Nowell got ever-so-slightly tipped and went out of bounds, the Wildcats needed to draw up a quick hitter with a one-point lead and under five seconds on the shot clock. After a string of timeouts from both teams, they drew up a beauty to get Ismael Massoud open on the baseline, as he connected with a big jumper off Nowell’s 19th dime of the game to put K-State up by three.

On the final possession, Michigan State seemed overly obsessed with finding a perfect look, turning down a few good looks from three before Walker tried to rush into a pullup over Nowell, who stripped him clean and darted to the rim for a layup at the buzzer.

It was a tremendous game, which was good because the other game in the window was a blowout as UConn trounced Arkansas, and Nowell continues to cement his status as a March Madness legend. They’ll know await the winner of FAU-Tennessee in the nightcap at MSG, who they’ll play on Saturday for a chance at the Final Four.