Markquis Nowell returned to his hometown in historic fashion on Thursday as the Kansas State point guard set a single-game NCAA Tournament record with 19 assists to propel the Wildcats past Michigan State in a 98-93 overtime Sweet 16 thriller at Madison Square Garden.
Nowell had plenty of spectacular passes, showing off the flair he honed growing up as an undersized guard in Harlem. But the 5-foot-8 star came up biggest in overtime. With the game tied and less than a minute left in overtime, Nowell delivered this incredible alley-oop to Keyontae Johnson, who threw down a thunderous slam to put the Wildcats ahead 94-92.
MARKQUIS NOWELL TIES THE NCAA RECORD 18 ASSISTS ON THIS FEED TO KEYONTAE JOHNSON 🤩 @KStateMBB pic.twitter.com/R3V53W8wmO— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) March 24, 2023
They would keep that lead for good, thanks mostly to Nowell himself. After a Malik Hall free throw brought Michigan State to within one, Nowell delivered the record-breaking assist on a precise bounce pass to Ismael Massoud, who drained a smooth baseline jumper.
Huge shot for Ismael Massoud! @KstateMBB pic.twitter.com/yDTnz3mLDp— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) March 24, 2023
The 19th assist vaulted Nowell past UNLV's Mark Wade, who had 18 in a 1987 Final Four loss to Indiana. Nowell's 19 assists also set a Kansas State program record.
Nowell wasn't done, however. With his team up three, he stole the ball from Tyson Walker and raced the other way for a layup to put the game away as the final buzzer sounded.
OH MY, MARKQUIS NOWELL 🤩— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) March 24, 2023
HE JUST SENT @KStateMBB TO THE ELITE EIGHT! pic.twitter.com/14EzyZpSmD
Nowell's final stat line is a jaw-dropper: 20 points, 19 assists, five steals and only two turnovers. That Nowell was even available to finish the game -- much less break records while doing it -- was an incredible story in and of itself. He turned his ankle on a drive in the second half and went to the bench to get worked on by trainers. He came back in, though clearly hobbled at first, and ultimately played 43 of the game's 45 minutes.
Kansas State is into the Elite Eight for the first time since 2018, and the Wildcats will face the winner of FAU vs. Tennessee.