MANHATTAN, Kan. – Senior Keyontae Johnson continued his impressive play in his return to the court, as he led three Wildcats in double figures with 19 points in helping Kansas State to a 69-53 win over Kansas City on Thursday night before 7,376 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
The win gave K-State its first 3-0 start to a season since 2019-20.
Johnson, who scored in double figures for the third consecutive game, enjoyed a stellar all-around night, adding a team-tying 7 rebounds, a career-tying 6 assists and 2 steals to his 19-point effort in 35 minutes. He was joined in double figures by sophomore Cam Carter, who finished with a career-high 16 points on 5-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and senior Desi Sills, who added 11 points from the bench.
The Wildcats once again used their defense to generate offense, forcing the Roos (1-4) into 22 turnovers and converting those into 26 points. The team has forced 20 or more turnovers in each of the first 3 games, totaling 76 points off those miscues, an average of 25.3 points per game.
K-State took control of the game in the first half on eight straight points from Johnson, which was capped by the game’s first 3-pointer with 15:21 to play. From there, Carter took control of the the game, hitting his first 3-pointer with 11:23 to play. He followed 3 more treys, as his fourth of the first half gave the Wildcats a 34-20 advantage with 2:24 remaining. Johnson and Carter combined for 25 of the team’s 41 first-half points.
For the second straight game, K-State built a 20-point advantage in the early moments of the second half only to see its opponent chip away at the deficit. Behind the play of senior Shemarri Allen, who finished the night with a game-high 21 points, Kansas City closed to within 57-47 with just under 7 minutes to play.
However, it was another veteran who stepped up for the Wildcats when they most needed it. Just like senior Markquis Nowell who came through in the clutch with his 4-point play in the win at Cal on Nov. 11, it was the veteran Sills who did it against Kansas City, as he scored the next 6 points and finished with 10 of the team’s last 12 points to push the lead back up to 18 points in the waning minutes.
For the game, K-State connected on 41.4 percent (24-of-58), including 35 percent (7-of-20) from 3-point range, and hit on 82.4 percent (14-of-17) from the free throw line. The team once again struggled offensively in the second half, hitting on 35.5 percent (11-of-31) from the field and missing all four 3-point attempts.
Kansas City shot 40.8 percent (20-of-49) from the field, including 26.7 percent (4-of-15) from 3-point range, and hit on 9-of-15 free throws. In addition to his game-high 21 points, Allen finished with 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 assists in nearly 40 minutes. He was joined in double figures by fellow senior Anderson Kopp, who had 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, and team-high 5 assists.
K-State now leads the all-time series with Kansas City, 20-1, including 14-0 at home and 13-0 at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats have won the last 6 meetings.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Neither offense was particularly sharp in the early going, as the teams went 10 straight possessions without a made field goal. Senior Keyontae Johnson broke the 2-2 stalemate with a 3-point play to start his own personal 6-0 run that gave K-State an 8-2 lead at the 15:21 mark. Johnson was responsible for the Wildcats’ first 8 points, which included the game’s first 3-pointer.
Carter took control from there, hitting on his first 3-pointer with 11:23 to play before adding 3 more triples to make it 34-20 with 2:24 before halftime. The Wildcats added 7 more points to end the half, including a second 3-pointer from Johnson for a 41-25 advantage at the break.
K-State twice pushed the lead to 20 points in the second half, including 52-32 with 14 to play, but Kansas City wouldn’t go away, closing the gap to 57-47 with 6:43 remaining. With momentum on the side of the Roos, veteran Desi Sills stepped up with a personal 6-0 run and a charge to push the lead back to a comfortable margin. He would finish with 10 of the team’s last 12 points, as the lead grew to 18 points in the closing minutes.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Keyontae Johnson scored a season-high 19 points on 8-of-12 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and 1-of-1 free throws to go with a team-tying 7 rebounds, a career-tying 6 assists and 2 steals in a season-high 35 minutes.
Sophomore Cam Carter scored a career-high 16 points on 5-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and 2-of-2 from free throw line to go with 3 rebounds in 36 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
26 – K-State scored 26 points off 22 Kansas City turnovers. The Wildcats have now scored 76 points off turnovers this season, including forcing 20 or more turnovers in the first 3 games.
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Jerome Tang
On Cam Carter’s performance…
“I was very disappointed that he didn’t get another catch and shoot 3-point attempt in the second half. And, you know, as, as teammates when you have a teammate who’s going like that, that’s got to be something that you’re actively seeking, you know, like, let’s keep him rolling, and so that that we’re going to look at and address.”
On Desi’s Sills potential leadership role…
“We feel like we’ve brought in multiple guys who at any point in time they can score double figures. And so, when they were focused obviously on Markquis [Nowell], making it hard on them to focus on Keyontae, right, and so that’s when Desi [Sills] had his opportunities because they can’t take everything away. And so, you appreciate his toughness, and just his aggressiveness there at the end, wanting to do what it takes for us to win.”
On having guys step up each game…
“It’s very important to have balance and to have a balanced team that’s, we talk about that all the time. I tell them I want different guys at the podium after every game you know, my goal is to have nine guys interviewed by Kris Budden or Holly Rowe after the game, you know, the nine different dudes on nine different games and that’s the goal. When you have that kind of balance, it’s hard for the other team to prepare for.”
Sophomore Cam Carter
On his performance tonight…
“I couldn’t do it without my team. I mean, it got me going, I figured I got us going and you know, we were able to get on top, get some momentum and you know, go up by a lot.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State moves to 3-0 to start a season for the first time since 2019-20.
- K-State is now 123-14 in home venues in non-conference play since 2006-07, including 114-12 at Bramlage Coliseum… During the span, the Wildcats have 6 wins over the Roos.
- K-State is now 162-52 in non-conference play since 2006-07.
- K-State now leads the all-time series, 20-1, including 14-0 at home and 13-0 at Bramlage Coliseum… The Wildcats have won the last 6 meetings.
- K-State is now 58-3 vs. current member of the Summit League, including 51-0 in games played at home.
- K-State used a starting lineup of fifth-year senior Markquis Nowell, sophomore Cam Carter, fifth-year senior Keyontae Johnson, junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin and fifth-year senior Abayomi ‘Baybe’ Iyiola… It marked the first time using this lineup and second different lineup of the season.
- Nowell is making his 24th start at K-State, while Carter, Johnson and Tomlin all made their third start in Wildcat uniforms… It was first career start for Iyiola at K-State… It was Johnson’s 58th start in college (other 55 at Florida) and the 65th for Iyiola (the others have come at Stetson and Hofstra), the seventh for Carter (other 4 at Mississippi State), while Tomlin made his third Division I start.
- K-State scored 69 points on 41.4 percent shooting (24-of-58), including 35 percent (7-of-20) from 3-point range, and connected on 82.4 percent (14-of-17) from the free throw line… The team connected on just 35.5 percent (11-of-31) in the second half, including missing all 4 3-point attempts.
- K-State has had at least 3 double-digit scorers in each of the first 3 games.
- K-State scored nearly half of its points (32) in the paint.
- K-State scored 26 points off 22 turnovers by Kansas City… The Wildcats have now forced 76 turnovers through its first 3 games, including 20 or more in each of the first 3 games… The team had 31 points off 26 UTRGV turnovers and 19 points off 22 California turnovers.
- K-State held a narrow 34-33 rebounding advantage, including 12 second-chance points off 15 offensive rebounds… Three Wildcats had at least 6 rebounds.
- The bench was once again productive with 16 points, including 11 by senior Desi Sills.
- K-State took 5 more charges on night, and now have 15 charges taken through the first 3 games.
- K-State posted a season-high 11 steals and have double-digit steals in back-to-back games.
- K-State led 41-25 at the halftime on the strength of 48.1 percent (13-of-27) shooting, including 43.8 percent (7-of-16) from 3-point range… The Wildcats generated 17 points off 11 Roo turnovers… Seven players scored in the opening half, including a game-high 14 points from sophomore Cam Carter.
- K-State has led in all 3 games this season.
- Senior Keyontae Johnson scored a season-high 19 points on 8-of-12 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and 1-of-1 free throws to go with a team-tying 7 rebounds, a career-tying 6 assists and 2 steals in a season-high 35 minutes… It was Johnson’s third straight double-digit scoring game… He has now scored in double figures in 41 career games.
- Sophomore Cam Carter scored a career-high 16 points on 5-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and 2-of-2 from free throw line to go with 3 rebounds in 36 minutes… His previous high of 15 came against Alabama on Feb. 16, 2022… His 4 treys were a career-high… It was his first double-digit scoring game as a Wildcat and the third of his career (2 others came at Mississippi State).
- Senior Desi Sills scored 9 of his 11 points in the second half, as he finished 4-of-9 from the field and 3-of-4 from the free throw line… He also added 5 assists and 2 rebounds in 25 minutes… It marked his second double-digit scoring game as a Wildcat and the 51st double-digit scoring game of his career.
- Senior Markquis Nowell notched his 200th career steal in the first half… He now ranks second nationally among active Division I players with 202 steals, trailing just Junior Clay (204) of Tennessee State… He finished with the night with 3 steals, upping his season total to 10… He now has 56 career games (19 at K-State) with 2 or more steals.
- Nowell scored 9 points on 2-of-6 shooting with a game-tying 6 assists in 33 minutes… He now has 20 assists on the season… He also 49 career games (15 at K-State) with 5 or more assists.
- Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin scored 9 points on 3-of-11 shooting to go with 7 rebounds, 3 steals and an assist in 26 minutes… It was his first game not in double figures.
K-State will play in its first in-season tournament starting next week, as the Wildcats travel to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands to play 3 games in 3 days at the Cayman Island Classic on Monday-Wednesday, Nov. 21-23.
K-State and Rhode Island (1-2) will meet for the first time in their respective histories in the final game of the first day of the tournament at 7:30 p.m., CT on Monday, Nov. 21. The winner will advance to face the winner of the game between Nevada and Tulane on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m., CT, while the two remaining teams will play at 5 p.m., CT.
How to follow the ‘Cats: For complete information on K-State men’s basketball, visit www.kstatesports.com and follow the team’s social media channels on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.