MANHATTAN, Kan. — Markquis Nowell scored 20 points and found Keyontae Johnson for an alley-oop dunk with 38 seconds left as No. 11 Kansas State held off Oklahoma State 65-57 on Tuesday night.
Johnson added 12 points and Desi Sills had 11 for the Wildcats (15-1, 4-0 Big 12), who won their ninth straight and exceeded their victory total from last season. Predicted to finish last in the Big 12, Kansas State went from unranked last week to just outside the top 10 in the AP poll.
“We didn’t play well in the first half, but we were only down two,” Kansas State coach Jerome Tang said. “Up to this point of the season, we’ve been the hunters and now we have the number in front of our name. We challenged the guys to play with a smile and win the second half.”
Kalib Boone scored 23 points and Caleb Asberry had 15 for the Cowboys (9-7, 1-3), who have lost three of four, all by 10 points or fewer.
“We came into a difficult environment, which is expected when you are playing the hottest team in the country,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said.
Kansas State led by 10 points in the second half before the Cowboys made it close in the closing minutes. Johnson’s slam put Kansas State ahead 62-57 and the Wildcats closed it out at the free-throw line.
“That’s what happens when you have dudes,” Tang said. “I would love to tell you I drew that up, but I didn’t. He caught it with one hand and that was big-time guys making big-time plays at big-time moments.”
Oklahoma State held Kansas State to its worst shooting performance of the year. The Wildcats went 21 of 50 (35.6%). However, the Cowboys were even worse, going 22 of 66 (33.3%). Kansas State scored its fewest points in a Big 12 game thus far but also gave up its fewest.
“I feel like we were switching up our defense so it was tough on them, but they were tough on us too,” Asberry said. “We started playing more through Kalib and he produced for us like he usually does, which got us back in it.”
Nowell made five 3-pointers and had seven assists and five rebounds.
Oklahoma State: Avery Anderson (11.1 points per game) was limited to 13 minutes because of a wrist injury and was held scoreless. Once he’s fully healthy, the Cowboys’ offense should get a nice boast.
Kansas State: The Wildcats’ next two games — at No. 17 TCU and against second-ranked rival Kansas — should give them a better feel for where they stand in the Big 12.
Oklahoma State: At Baylor on Saturday.
Kansas State: At TCU on Saturday.