Markquis Nowell had 17 points and 14 assists, and No. 3 seed Kansas State held off 14th-seeded Montana State 77-65 Friday night for its first NCAA Tournament win since knocking off Kentucky in 2018 to reach the Elite Eight.
The two Wildcat programs will meet again in a rematch on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum. Kentucky, the sixth seed, defeated No. 11 Providence 61-53 in the earlier game.
Nowell and fellow third-team Associated Press All-American Keyontae Johnson, who had 18 points and eight rebounds, proved too much for the Bobcats to handle.
RaeQuan Battle had 26 points on 9 of 17 shooting for Montana State (25-10), which had its eight-game win streak snapped.
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Kansas State (24-9) led Montana State 34-28 at the break. The Wildcats stretched the lead to 13 with 11 minutes remaining when Desi Sills scored on a layup off an inbounds pass under his own basket after a botched defensive assignment.
Montana State went to a 1-3-1 defense, which disrupted the Wildcats for a short time, and helped cut the lead to eight before Nowell buried a deep 3-pointer from the left wing and Nae’Qwan Tomlin scored off a lob to push the lead back to 13.
Montana State wouldn’t quit, though, with Darius Brown knocking down a 3 with 2:44 left.
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But Tomlin, who finished with 13 points, answe