STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Markquis Nowell had 22 points, eight assists and four steals and No. 14 Kansas State defeated Oklahoma State 73-68 on Saturday for its third straight win.
Keyontae Johnson added 17 points for the Wildcats (22-7, 10-6 Big 12), who swept the regular-season series.
The Wildcats trailed at halftime, but shot 52% in the second half to pull out the win.
“We told them there was going to be adversity, and you had to look adversity in the face and smile and then slap the crap out of it," Kansas State coach Jerome Tang said. "And they did. And I was so proud.”
The Wildcats lost four of five before going on the streak. Tang said the team has responded because it has stayed focused internally and ignored critics.
“You don’t know who’s sick," he told reporters. “You don’t know whose family member passed away. You don’t know any of those things. And you just watch them on the floor and make a judgment about, ‘Did they play well, or didn’t they play well.'
"For all the stuff that they face, to be able to continually come out here and give that kind of an effort and believe in each other — we call it crazy faith.”
Kalib Boone scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half on Senior Day for Oklahoma State. Caleb Asberry scored 13 points and John-Michael Wright added 12 for the Cowboys (16-13, 7-9), who have lost four straight.
Oklahoma State led 35-31 late in the first half, but Kansas State's Desi Stills got a steal and layup as time expired to cut the Cowboys' lead to two.
“That was very important because we were down four and we needed to cut the lead to at least two ... And we just came out there in the second half with more energy and we responded well," Stills said.
Boone went to work early in the second half. He scored a dunk and a layup in the first 63 seconds of the second half to extend Oklahoma State's lead to six.
Kansas State rallied, and Nowell's deep 3 after a scramble put the Wildcats ahead 40-39.
The game remained tight throughout the second half until Kansas State went on a run. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Johnson and Ismael Massoud put Kansas State ahead 65-60 with just over five minutes remaining, and the Wildcats hung on.
“Just didn’t finish well enough,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said. “We had opportunities, like most of the games in this league save for our last two. These games usually come down to the last four minutes, and the team that executes the best, gets the best shots, is connected defensively, finishes plays with rebounds and makes free throws, usually wins. We didn’t do any of those things well enough.”
Kansas State: The Wildcats appear to be back on track. Tang said it was an important win because it came on the road against what he believes is an NCAA Tournament team.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys had allowed at least 85 points in its previous three games and allowed 49% shooting in this one. It's a tough slide for a team that had a five-game win streak before the current skid. Their defense will need to step up, or they might not make the NCAA Tournament.
“I was too demonstrative. I didn’t say anything. I made sure on radio my mom heard that I didn’t say anything that would have gotten me a (technical). But I was demonstrative. I was demonstrative on purpose. I didn’t feel like — there were some tick-tack calls that went their way that resulted in and-ones, and there were some physical plays that didn’t go our way that didn’t result in what I wanted. ... I believe that it inspired our guys to play a little bit harder, to fight a little harder." — Tang discussing his second-half technical when the Wildcats were down 53-49.
Kansas State: Hosts Oklahoma on Wednesday.
Oklahoma State: Hosts Baylor on Monday.
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