MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Markquis Nowell scored 18 points and No. 12 Kansas State finished strong, snapping a two-game skid by beating No. 17 TCU 82-61 on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats outscored TCU 17-2 to end the game.
“Coach got on our butts,” Nowell said about the sudden surge. “We just locked in a little bit more. We knew how important this game was. To get this win was big and it gives us momentum.
“You can’t give life to TCU because they’re a second-half team. They can make a run at any given time. We just knew to stay focused,” he said.
Kansas State (19-5, 7-4 Big 12), which lost to TCU earlier this season, moved within a game of first-place Texas in a crowded conference race. The Wildcats are tied with Kansas, a half-game behind Iowa State.
Keyontae Johnson and Desi Sills each had 14 points for Kansas State, Tykei Greene added 13 and David N’Guessan had 10.
TCU (17-7, 6-5) was led by Damion Baugh with 14 points. Micah Peavy and Jakobe Coles each had 11 and Emanuel Miller had 10.
“Obviously they played well and we didn’t,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “You can’t make it any more simple than that. Being outrebounded by 12 and 19 turnovers, that doesn’t give you much of a chance.”
TCU played without preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Mike Miles Jr., who missed his third straight game after hyper-extending his knee Jan. 28 against Mississippi.
Nowell, who spent his first three seasons at Arkansas-Little Rock, hit a short jumper in the first half to record his 1,700th career point. He also passed Steve Henson’s school record with his 187th assist of the season late in the game.
“Any time you set an all-time record, that’s a really big deal,” K-State coach Jerome Tang said. “Steve Henson is a really big deal. The guys Steve Henson played with were really good players. It says two things; Quis is blessed with vision, and there are really good players around him because they’re putting it in the hole.”
Johnson again struggled with foul trouble. He picked up two offensive fouls in the first 10 minutes, after collecting two in the first minute-plus Saturday against Texas. He finished the half with five points, but was limited to 10 minutes of action.
Holding a two-point lead, Kansas State went on a 13-2 run early in the second half to open up a comfortable lead. TCU closed to 65-59 with 4:49 left, but an alley-oop slam by Greene punctuated an 11-0 run that iced the game.
Kansas State blew a halftime lead in its last game, a loss against Texas last Saturday. Tang was tough on his players in the days between the two games, and he’s glad his message was received.
“I really felt like they needed that from me,” he said. “Everybody was on egg shells (the past two days) on purpose because there needed to be a sense of urgency.”
“I’m really glad they got the point. I don’t mind being the bad guy, but it wouldn’t be very fun for (the players) and my staff wouldn’t like me very much. So you hope you have guys who understand so the drive comes from within the locker room, rather than the coaching staff.
The Wildcats led 36-30 at halftime. They had six turnovers before the break after having 20 in the first game against the Horned Frogs.
TCU: The Horned Frogs really need to get healthy. Playing without Miles, they’ve lost two in a row. They miss his scoring (18.1 points per game). But they miss his leadership even more. There is no timetable for his return, but he is expected back sometime before the end of the season.
Kansas State: The Wildcats have a home-court advantage at Bramlage Coliseum. They improved to 13-1 at home this season, and they use the enthusiasm of the crowd to gain momentum.
TCU: The Horned Frogs will host Baylor on Saturday. They defeated the Bears 88-87 Jan. 4 in Waco.
Kansas State: The Wildcats travel to Texas Tech Saturday. They defeated the Red Raiders 66-58 in Manhattan back on Jan. 21.
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