Nowell record-breaking masterclass leads Wildcats in OT
A MARCH Madness performance for the ages from Markquis Nowell was enough to drag the Kansas State Wildcats past the Michigan State Spartans in the Sweet 16 stage of the tournament.
Friday morning saw a classic match at Madison Square Garden (a fitting venue for such an entertaining game), as both sides looked to make it to the Elite Eight. The two teams fired haymaker after haymaker in an extremely entertaining affair.
After the Wildcats took the first half by a narrow margin, the Spartans flipped the script and forced overtime thanks to a lay-up from Tyson Walker with six seconds on the clock.
Kansas State could not answer and the game headed to overtime. Extra time saw another tightly contested affair, but with 90 seconds left to play, the Wildcats took over, producing a match-winning burst to claim a 98-93 win and advance to the next stage.
There is no doubt surrounding who was the most impactful player on the court, with Nowell delivering the best performance of the tournament so far. He was simply spectacular and delivered a historic performance on the offensive end.
Michigan State Spartans (93) def. by Kansas State Wildcats (98)
Markquis Nowell – 20 points, 19 assists, five steals
Nowell’s performance will go down in the history book, as the shortest player on the court had the biggest impact.
At just five-foot-eight, the guard is not exactly the prototype backcourt player of the modern game, with taller prospects favoured. However, Nowell’s impact and ability extends far beyond his listed height, quickly establishing himself as one of the best players the NCAA has to offer.
His 19 assists against the Spartans are the most in NCAA Tournament history in a single game, an insane feat given the big names that have come through in the past. Nowell’s court vision was unmatched, creating a remarkable amount of scoring opportunities for his teammates with his excellent decision-making and execution.
His passing power and the impact it had on the game was perfectly displayed in overtime. The match was tied, with the result still up for grabs as the two teams traded buckets. Nowell walked the ball up the court, and looked to be visibly arguing with head coach Jerome Tang.
He glanced at the hoop for a split second, and launched a chest pass into the lane in unexpected fashion. Instead of an overzealous and hopeful pass, it was a calculated and magnificent alley-oop pass to a cutting Keyonte Johnson, who threw down the dunk. It was the biggest play of the match and lit the spark for the eventual match-winning run.
He added 20 points too, the second most of any Wildcat and behind only Johnson, who finished the match with 22.
To add even more to an already remarkable game, Nowell fought through a second-half ankle injury to deliver a herculean performance, perfectly displaying how to control a basketball game at the point guard position.
Nowell’s performance will be remembered for years to come, and the guard is proving to be a larger than life factor in Kansas State’s run for the March Madness title.