Florida Atlantic shocks Kansas State to advance to Final Four with 79-76 win at Madison Square Garden

Tribune Content Agency

NEW YORK — The Harlem wizard’s magic finally ran out.

Markquis Nowell took third-seeded Kansas State on his back again in Saturday’s Elite Eight matchup with his fellow star Keyontae Johnson missing nearly half the game in foul trouble, but ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic had too many answers for the Wildcats and their spark plug.

Florida Atlantic, a team that won the most games in the country this season but had never won an NCAA Tournament game before this year, withstood everything Nowell threw at them to pull off the shocking 79-76 win.

The Owls (35-3) move on to their first Final Four.

Nowell finished the game with 30 points and 12 assists, leaving him with 50 points and 31 assists at the New York regional.

With Johnson sitting in foul trouble, Nae’Qwan Tomlin, another Harlem denizen, helped fill the void, scoring 14 points and grabbing six rebounds for the Wildcats (26-10).

It was a remarkable turnaround for Kansas State under first-year coach Jerome Tang. Picked to finish ninth out of 10 teams in the Big 12, the Wildcats were mere moments away from a Final Four.

Alijah Martin had 17 points and Vlad Goldin had 14 points and 13 rebounds for Florida Atlantic.

The Owls pounded the glass, outrebounding the Wildcats 44-22, including 22-8 in the first half.

Florida Atlantic took away some of Nowell and the Wildcats’ backdoor options in the first half, so Nowell needed to open things up with his scoring, especially with Johnson missing nearly 12 minutes of the half after getting his second foul.

Trailing 28-22 with 7:58 left in the first half, Nowell went on his own run, scoring 12 of the Wildcats’ points during a 14-10 run.

Johnson fouled out with 2:44 left in the second half and Kansas State would trail 72-64 after Martin hit two free throws.

The Wildcats pulled to within one twice in the final two minutes, but could never tie or take the lead as the Owls made enough free throws to hold them off.