Marquis Nowell’s alley-oop pass to Keyontae Johnson for a go-ahead dunk in the final seconds of overtime was not a designed play, according to Kansas State coach Jerome Tang.
That was just what Nowell and Johnson have done all season.
With the game tied at 92-92 in overtime and Kansas State with the basketball, Nowell was dribbling at the top of the halfcourt and Johnson was set up in the far-right corner.
Everyone saw the play unfold from the wide camera angle. Nowell looked distracted and Johnson stood in the corner while the Michigan State defense slid up toward the free-throw line.
Then, Nowell, just threw the ball at the rim and Johnson plucked it out of the air and dunked it home to give the Wildcats a 94-92 lead it wouldn’t give up.
But later the broadcast cut to another camera angle, a floor angle that featured a shot of Nowell and Tang discussing the play. It looked like the pair were discussing the play call. Nowell’s head was not facing forward. Ultimately, Tang nodded his head and walked away, and right at that moment Nowell made his pass.
The narrative after the game was that perhaps Nowell, Johnson and Tang were all in cahoots. Tang told Sports Illustrated that wasn’t the case.
Admittedly, it’s a little less fun knowing that the trio weren’t pulling a rope-a-dope on Michigan State.
But, if you’ve watched Kansas State this season, you know Nowell and Johnson do this often.
Just not when a trip to the Elite Eight is on the line, as the Wildcats won, 98-93, in overtime.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard