NEW YORK — Markquis Nowell broke the NCAA tournament record for assists in a game with 19, his last two on spectacular passes in the final minute of overtime, and Kansas State beat Michigan State 98-93 on Thursday night in a Sweet 16 thriller at Madison Square Garden.
Playing in his hometown and fighting through a second-half ankle injury, Nowell found Keyontae Johnson for a reverse alley-oop with 58 seconds left in OT to give the Wildcats (26-9) the lead for good in this back-and-forth East Region semifinal. He then threw an inbound pass to Ismael Massoud, who knocked down a jumper with 15 seconds left for a 96-93 lead.
With Michigan State needing a 3 to tie, Nowell stole the ball from the Spartans’ Tyson Walker and drove for a clinching layup at the buzzer.
The 5-foot-8, Harlem-raised Nowell finished with 20 points and five steals in a signature performance at basketball’s most famous arena.
UNLV‘s Mark Wade had the previous NCAA tourney assists record with 18 during the Runnin’ Rebels 1987 Final Four win over Indiana.
Nowell is the second player over the past 25 seasons to have 20 points, 15 assists and 5 steals in a game (UNC Wilmington‘s Chad Tomko did it in 2009), and he’s the only player to accomplish the feat in the NCAA tournament since steals became an official stat in 1986, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Kansas State advanced to its first Elite Eight since 2018.
Johnson scored 22 points for the Wildcats. A.J. Hoggard led Michigan State (21-13) with 25 points.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.