GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Markquis Nowell scored 23 of his 27 points after halftime, and Kansas State overcame a horrid start from outside by hitting a couple of clutch 3-pointers while topping Kentucky 75-69 in Sunday’s second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Third-seeded Kansas State (25-9) heads to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2018, where it will play Michigan State in the East Region semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Ismael Massoud buried a 3 from the right wing at the 2:21 mark that gave Kansas State the lead for good. Keyontae Johnson followed with another 3 with 1:23 left to put Kansas State ahead by five.
The 5-foot-8 Nowell, a third-team Associated Press All-American, played a fearless floor game while making 7 of 14 shots and 10 of 11 free throws.
Oscar Tshiebwe had 25 points and 18 rebounds for sixth-seeded Kentucky (22-12), which shot 55% after halftime and led by eight early in the second half.
MICHIGAN STATE 69, MARQUETTE 60
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Tyson Walker scored 23 points and No. 7 seed Michigan State beat second-seeded Marquette, sending coach Tom Izzo’s squad back to the Sweet 16 for the first time in four years.
Joey Hauser — a Marquette transfer — had 14 points and A.J. Hoggard had as 13 Michigan State (21-12) took over in the last three minutes. The Spartans advanced to play third-seeded Kansas State.
Izzo, the 68-year-old Hall of Fame coach, reached his 15th regional semifinal and won his record 16th March Madness game with a lower-seeded team — one more than Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, who retired after this season.
This one was particularly meaningful. Izzo became the face of a grieving school where three students were killed in a campus shooting on Feb. 13.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper led Marquette (29-7) with 16 points and Kam Jones had 14 points, including three 3-pointers, for the Big East champions.
XAVIER 84, PITTSBURGH 73
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Jack Nunge scored 18 points, Adam Kunkel added 15 on five first-half 3-pointers, and No. 3 seed Xavier beat 11th-seeded Pittsburgh to reach its first Sweet 16 since 2017.
Colby Jones had 10 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, and Souley Boum and Jerome Hunter each chipped in with 14 points as all five Xavier starters scored in double digits.
Xavier had 17 assists on 19 baskets in the first half to build a 48-34 lead at the break. The Musketeers finished with 22 assists.
Xavier (27-9) moves on to play No. 2 seed Texas on Friday in the Midwest Region semifinals in Kansas City, Missouri.
Blake Hinson scored 18 points and Jamarius Burton had 16 for Pitt (24-12).
UCONN 70, SAINT MARY’S 55
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Adama Sanogo scored 24 points and Jordan Hawkins delivered from the 3-point line in the second half as UConn pulled away from Saint Mary’s to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in nine years.
No. 4 seed UConn (27-8) advanced to the West Region semifinals in Las Vegas on Thursday. Next up is eighth-seeded Arkansas, which knocked off No. 1 seed Kansas.
Sanogo followed up his 28-point game in the Huskies’ NCAA tourney opener against Iona with another powerful and efficient performance in the paint. The 245-pound junior was 11 for 16 from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds, dominating a big-man matchup with Mitchell Saxen (six points, three rebounds and four fouls).
Saint Mary’s (27-8) of the West Coast Conference failed to get out of the first weekend of the tournament for the second straight season as a No. 5 seed.
Aidan Mahaney and Logan Johnson each scored nine points for the Gaels, who played the final 25 minutes without third-leading scorer Alex Ducas. The senior left with a back injury.
CREIGHTON 85, BAYLOR 76
DENVER (AP) — Ryan Nembhard scored a career-high 30 points and No. 6 seed Creighton found its shooting touch to beat third-seeded Baylor and earn a spot in the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons.
With Baylor heavily focused on containing big man Ryan Kalkbrenner, Nembhard and the Bluejays went to work from outside. They shot 45.8% from 3-point range after a 3-for-20 showing in a first-round win over North Carolina State. They also went 22 of 22 from the free throw line, including 10 for 10 from Nembhard.
The Bluejays (23-12) will meet 15th-seeded Princeton in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday in the South Region semifinals in Louisville, Kentucky.
LJ Cryer finished with 30 points for Baylor (23-11), which lost in the second round for the second consecutive year after winning the championship in 2021. Big 12 freshman of the year Keyonte George was held to seven points, well below his average of 15.6.