MANHATTAN — Kansas State is surging. After a slow opening 17 minutes on Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum and a first half that included 12 missed layups for the Wildcats, Kansas State started to find its footing.
After Oklahoma tied the game at 25-25 with 3:28 to go in the first half, the Wildcats closed the final three minutes with a 9-0 run and took complete control of the contest with two show-stopping plays. As the clock ticked inside a minute to go in the half, senior guard Desi Sills caught a pass in transition and flipped it behind his back to senior forward Keyontae Johnson for a 3-pointer from the wing. Moments later, Oklahoma guard Bijan Cortes coughed up the basketball to senior guard Markquis Nowell, who picked it up and dropped it off in transition to a streaking David N’Guessan.
The junior transfer from Virginia Tech slammed home a dunk and let out a punctuating scream as the Wildcats headed into the half with a 34-25 advantage. Kansas State opened the closing 20 minutes with a 14-6 run during which every Wildcat point was scored or assisted on by Nowell.
Ultimately, the 11th-ranked Wildcats did what they should against the bottom-dwelling Sooners in a 85-69 Senior Night win.
Up and down the Kansas State lineup on Wednesday night the Wildcats got great production. Their leader, Nowell tallied another double-double with 11 points and 10 assists. Johnson went for an efficient 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and Sills put together his most well-rounded performance of the year with 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Senior night against the Sooners provided plenty of positives for the Wildcats oldest members of the squad, but junior forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin scored a team-high 19 points.
The second half in Manhattan looked like showtime. Kansas State dominated the paint to a 44-32 avantage and had a 24-10 upper hand in fast break points.
On multiple occasions, Kansas State scored in transition with a dunk or layup and Sills or Nowell gestured toward the Wildcats’ student section pretending to have goggles over their eyes. With a combined 18 assists, the vision of Nowell and Sills was on full display all night long.
Just like the week prior against Baylor, Kansas State assisted on the vast majority of its made baskets. Against the Sooners, 22 of the 32 Wildcat buckets were assisted on.
Throughout the night, K-State shot the ball well from beyond the arc. The Wildcats wound up going 9-for-19 from 3-point range, and — after missing layups frequently early on — concluded the game shooting 53.3 percent from the floor.
With the win, Kansas State improved to 23-7 and 11-6 in Big 12 play. They’ll travel to Morgantown to take on West Virginia on Saturday at 1 p.m.