New York City native Markquis Nowell played in a meaningful game at Madison Square Garden for the first time on Thursday night, and he put forth a historic showing.
The Kansas State point guard battled through an ankle injury to break the men's NCAA Tournament record for assists in a game with 19 and lead the No. 3 Wildcats past the No. 7 Michigan State Spartans in a 98-93 overtime Sweet 16 thriller at the World's Most Famous Arena.
Nowell tied the previous record of 18 assists, which was held by UNLV's Mark Wade from the 1987 Final Four, on an apparent trick play in the final minute of OT. The point guard seemed to overexaggerate a disagreement with head coach Jerome Tang as he was bringing the ball up before throwing a pass to Keyontae Johnson for a go-ahead alley-oop.
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Nowell's record-breaking 19th assist came off an inbounds feed to Ismael Massoud, whose baseline jumper extended Kansas State's lead to three.
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On the subsequent possession, Nowell made a game-sealing strip of Michigan State's Tyson Walker and took it the other way for a layup just before the final buzzer sounded.
The 5-foot-8 senior from Harlem, who briefly left the game in the second half due to an ankle injury, finished with 20 points, 19 assists and five steals in the legendary performance.
Nowell drew praise from NBA superstar Kevin Durant and NFL superstar Patrick Mahomes, who fought through an ankle injury of his own en route to a Super Bowl title last month.
This was just the latest dazzling March Madness outing for Nowell, who tallied 17 points, 14 assists and three steals in Round 1 against No. 14 Montana State followed by 27 points, nine assists and three steals against No. 6 Kentucky.
The Wildcats will be hoping for yet another big-time game from Nowell when they meet the winner of No. 4 Tennessee-No. 9 Florida Atlantic in the Elite Eight.