PLAYER GRADES: Wildcats bounce back with win over TCU

The Kansas State Wildcats got back into the win column after dropping their first home game of the season Saturday in a loss to Texas. Here are tonight’s player grades for the 12th-ranked Wildcats:

Markquis Nowell: 4 stars

Kansas State’s senior guard was good in the first half and kept the Wildcats afloat as senior forward Keyontae Johnson sat for the majority of the half with foul trouble. Nowell made enough splash plays to overcome the six turnovers he committed, the last of which came on a live-ball opportunity that allowed TCU to cut its deficit to 65-59.

Nowell put the finishing touches on the win with a heave from the Powercat logo. It was one of two 3-pointers that he hit from more than five feet beyond the arc on the night and gave Kansas State an 80-59 lead with 58 seconds remaining.

Nowell finished with a game-high 18 points and added seven assists, breaking the Kansas State single season record for assists.

Cam Carter: 2 stars

Carter’s biggest impact came when he dove on the floor on the second defensive possession of the game to create a steal. After a couple misses, he worked his way around a post touch for TCU to force another turnover and create an opportunity for Nowell to score in transition.

Then, during the early stretch in which Kansas State went cold, Carter was a part of that with a few misses on dribble drives that came against contests from the TCU defense.

Keyontae Johnson: 3 stars

Once again, Keyontae Johnson picked up multiple early fouls on the offensive end of the court. Despite only playing 25 minutes, Johnson finished with 14 points and shot 50 percent from the floor, adding seven rebounds. After one of TCU’s 19 turnovers on the night, Johnson caught a pass and looked ahead, finding senior guard Tykei Greene for an alley-oop slam that gave the Wildcats a 69-59 lead.

David N’Guessan: 3.5 stars

It looked like N’Guessan was battling through some struggles with his right ankle, but he still provided Kansas State with 10 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting effort that included two makes from the free throw line. He was terrific as the roll man on multiple occasions and made an over-the-shoulder steal on a TCU pass in transition that led to free throws on the other end for the Wildcats.

Nae’Qwan Tomlin: 2 stars

The current version of the Nae’Qwan Tomlin experience includes the highs of a great block and rebound to start a transition opportunity and the immediate low of an errant pass to Cam Carter that became a K-State turnover.

Tomlin went long stretches of the second half without really doing anything noticeable and finished the night with only three rebounds.

Tykei Greene: 4.5 stars

A second half that featured back cut after back cut leading to layups and dunks for Greene provided him with one of his highest grades of the season. Greene finished with a Kansas State career-high 13 points and got a team-leading nine boards for a team that has struggled to find consistent rebounding.

He threw down a dunk in transition off the aforementioned pass from Keyontae Johnson and made up for a first half that saw him miss three layups and a wide open 3-pointer. With Johnson in foul trouble for much of the night, this was a terrific performance from Greene off the bench.

Desi Sills: 4 stars

Tuesday night was the first game that Sills had scored in double figures since the Wildcats Jan. 17 win over then No. 2 Kansas. On that night three weeks ago, Sills had 24 points off the bench. Tuesday, he contributed 14 to go along with a stat sheet-stuffing six rebounds, four assists and two steals.

He was aggressive in transition, and finished strong at the rim throughout the night but in particular on an and-1 during the first half that gave Kansas State a 21-15 lead. On that play, he drove hard with his right hand and took some considerable contact before making his layup. In the second half, he scored in transition with a nifty switch of hands to score with his right hand and give K-State a 46-38 lead.

The first double-digit lead of the night came when Sills nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing in the second half, giving the Wildcats a 51-40 lead.

Bebe Iyiola: 4.5 stars

These grades are relative to player expectations and Iyiola received glowing praise from head coach Jerome Tang following the game for his effort fronting in the post. Twice in Tuesday night’s win, Iyiola took a charge, and he grabbed four rebounds in 12 minutes of action, helping the Wildcats win the rebounding battle.

He was also perfect from the free throw line in two attempts. You can’t ask for much more from Iyiola in a game in which the Wildcats have all of their bigs available.

Ish Massoud: 1 star

Massoud missed his lone 3-point attempt of the night and failed to grab any rebounds during his four minutes of action. With great bench production from Sills and Greene, some added makes from distance from Massoud would have been like icing on a multi-tier cake, but they didn’t happen.

He was one of two Wildcats with a negative plus/minus in the 82-61 win.

Nate Awbrey: 5 stars

Awbrey showed up and provided a great contest on a 3-pointer from JaKobe Coles in the final minute of the game. He also helped the Wildcats with a great look from the scout team, according to Sills, Nowell, Greene and Tang’s postgame comments.


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