Marquis Noel had 17 points and 14 assists, and No. 3 seed Kansas State upset 14th seed Montana State 77-65 Friday night for its first win in the NCAA Tournament since ousting Kentucky in 2018 to reach the Elite Eight.
The two Wildcat programs will meet again in a rematch Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. Sixth seed Kentucky defeated No. 11 Providence 61-53 in the previous game.
Noel and fellow Associated Press All-American Quintay Johnson, who had 18 points and eight rebounds, proved to be too much for the Bobcats.
RaeQuan Battle scored 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting for Montana State (25-10), which snapped its eight-game winning streak.
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Kansas State (24-9) led Montana 34-28 at halftime. The Wildcats extended the lead to 13 with 11 minutes left in the game when Desi Sills scored on an away pass under his own basket after a botched defensive stint.
Montana State went on a 1-3-1 defense, briefly crippling the Wildcats, and helping narrow the lead to eight before Noel buried a deep three-pointer from the left wing and a Nae’Qwan Tomlin lob ball pushed the wire back to 13.
Montana State didn’t quit, with Darius Brown down 3 with 2:44 left.
FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON turbulently atop the seed, becoming the twelfth No. 1 hit. 1 in the history of March Madness
But Tomlin, who finished with 13 points, responded with another dunk after Noel snatched the needle with his 14th assist, the most ever by a Kansas State player in an NCAA tournament game.
David N’Guessan added two technical fouls and then scored on a layup. Sills punctuated the win with a left-handed breakaway that gave the Wildcats a 16-point lead.
The Big Picture
Montana State: The Bobcats were looking for a better showing after losing 35 points in the opening round of last year’s championship to Texas Tech, and they’ve got it. The Big Sky champions showed they could compete on the NCAA Tournament stage, but in the end, they didn’t have the size to compete with the Wildcats. Montana State won 48-30 in the paint.
Kansas State: The Wildcats had some concerns coming into the tournament after their back-to-back losses to West Virginia and TCU. It was a struggle at times, but the Wildcats quickly finished it off for the win.
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Kansas State defeated Kentucky 61-58 on March 22, 2018, for their first victory over the Wildcats in 10 attempts.
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