Kentucky Wildcats vs. Kansas State Wildcats Pick & Prediction MARCH 19th 2023

Stadium: Greensboro Coliseum Greensboro
Logo Kentucky Wildcats
Logo Kansas State Wildcats

1.5 -175
146.5o -106



Diminutive Markquis Nowell is used to being the smallest player on the court, while typically making a big impact.

The standout point guard will aim to lead third-seeded Kansas State to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2018 when it battles another band of Wildcats in sixth-seeded Kentucky on Sunday in NCAA Tournament second-round East Region play at Greensboro, N.C.

The 5-foot-8 Nowell matched his career high of 14 assists and also had 17 points, six rebounds and three steals as Kansas State (24-9) posted a 77-65 victory over Montana State in Friday's first round.

"It's a blessing to tie my career high, but I have to give credit to my teammates for getting open and finishing the plays," Nowell said. "It was just a well-executed ball game and game plan that the coaching staff came up with, and the players, we executed it."

Nowell has a single-season program-record 257 assists this season, shattering the mark set by school legend Steve Henson (186 in 1987-88). The 14 assists against Montana State also is the most in an NCAA Tournament game by a Kansas State player, passing Henson's 12 in a 73-70 win over Purdue on March 25, 1988.

Co-star Keyontae Johnson has found it to be a privilege to play with Nowell this season.

"Markquis, he is an excellent point guard," said Johnson, who had 18 points and eight rebounds in the first-round win. "To me he could shoot, create for himself, and he sees the court at a high rate. When we get out on a fastbreak, he sees you, we are locked in and do what he executes. To have a point guard like that is a blessing, really."

Kentucky's star is 13 inches taller and 100 pounds heavier than Nowell. And 6-foot-9, 260-pound Oscar Tshiebwe dominated the interior and grabbed nearly every rebound in sight during Friday's 61-53 victory over Providence.

Tshiebwe collected a season-best 25 rebounds -- 11 on the offensive boards -- to overcome a meager eight-point offensive outing but Kentucky (22-11) wasn't hindered in the least.

The performance was reminiscent of why Tshiebwe was the consensus National Player of the Year for the 2021-22 season. Still, Kentucky coach John Calipari gave mixed reviews of his performance.

"Defensively, when he is alert and bouncing, he is really good," Calipari said. "When he stands behind the defender, he is not really that good in there. They just turn and score on him. ... I'm probably playing him too many minutes. And then he only scored eight points. But he got 25 rebounds."

Kentucky's win over Providence marks its first in NCAA Tournament play since 2019. A year ago, Tshiebwe was part of a dejected crew that was dispatched by 15th-seeded Saint Peter's in the opening round.

Tshiebwe mentioned to his teammates that it was time to put last season's upset loss in the rearview mirror.

"I said this year we come in and fight. Last year doesn't matter anymore," Tshiebwe said. "Now you know this tournament is about fighting. It's about who fights the most. That's the one who is going to keep moving. So we came in with the mentality, and we forget the past, and we're just fighting right now."

Antonio Reeves scored 22 points and Toppin added 18 against Providence.

Meanwhile, Kansas State coach Jerome Tang isn't going to shy away from going up against the more well-known brand of the two Wildcats.

"This won't be my first time playing against Kentucky," Tang said. "We broke their 55-game (home winning) streak when I was at Baylor at Rupp Arena."

Tang was referring to Baylor's 64-55 victory over Kentucky on Dec. 1, 2012, when he was an assistant coach.

In terms of Kansas State's history, it is just 1-9 all-time against Kentucky. But that win was big, a 61-58 victory to reach the Elite Eight of the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

--Field Level Media

Kentucky Wildcats
Kansas State Wildcats

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Kansas State Wildcats Recap MAR 19TH 2023

Markquis Nowell recorded 27 points, nine assists and three steals and Ismael Massoud drained the go-ahead 3-pointer as Kansas State notched a 75-69 victory over Kentucky on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's East Region in Greensboro, N.C.

Keyontae Johnson added 13 points for third-seeded Kansas State (25-9), which advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2018. Nae'Qwan Tomlin had 12 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots and Desi Sills also had 12 points as K-State prevailed in the battle between two schools that go by Wildcats.

Kansas State will face either second-seeded Marquette or seventh-seeded Michigan State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday in New York.

Oscar Tshiebwe had a big outing with 25 points and 18 rebounds for sixth-seeded Kentucky (22-12). Cason Wallace had 21 points and nine rebounds before fouling out and Chris Livingston added 11 points.

Massoud hit the big 3-pointer with 2:21 remaining for his lone points of the game to give Kansas State a 64-62 lead. Johnson drilled a trey to increase the margin to five with 1:23 remaining and Nowell hit two free throws to make it 69-62 with 37.4 seconds to play.

Kentucky later moved within four before Nowell made two free throws with 3.9 seconds left to close it out.

Kansas State improved to 2-9 all-time against Kentucky. The other victory was in 2018 to put Kansas State into the Elite Eight.

Kansas State shot 48.1 percent from the field, including 5-of-21 from 3-point range.

Kentucky committed 16 turnovers, connected on 41.3 percent of its shots and was 4-of-20 from behind the arc. Antonio Reeves was 1-of-15 from the field -- missing nine of 10 from 3-point range -- and scored all five of his points in the final 15 seconds.

Kentucky used a 7-2 run to take a 50-49 lead on Wallace's basket with 8:05 to play.

Later, Wallace's layup and Lance Ware's dunk gave Kentucky a 60-56 edge with 3:58 remaining. Nowell answered with five straight points to give Kansas State a 61-60 edge with 2:59 left.

A putback by Wallace put Kentucky back ahead by one with 2:43 remaining.

Kansas State scored 12 of the final 16 first-half points to take a 29-26 lead at the break. Tshiebwe had 11 points and 11 rebounds in the half for Kentucky.

--Field Level Media