Kansas State Wildcats

How Markquis Nowell’s NCAA Tournament Performance Stacks Up in K-State History

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament East Regional-Michigan State vs Kansas State

K-State point guard Markquis Nowell put together one of the most impressive NCAA tournament performances ever. Not only in K-State history but in the entire history of the tournament. I wondered how his performance stacks up against some of the other great tournament runs in K-State history. It was fun to look back at great K-State tournament runs and compare them to this one.

Here is my ranking of the best individual tournament runs in K-State history. What constitutes a “tournament run?” I decided on at least four games played in a single tournament. That means an Elite Eight run nowadays and a Final Four run back in the early history of the tournament. I made one exception, as you will see because the numbers the individual put up in two games stack up with what many of the others put up in four games.


How does Nowell’s four-game run in this year’s tournament stack up with the others? Let’s find out….

8.) Rolando Blackman: 1981 Elite Eight

Games: 4
Minutes: 110
Field Goal %: .53
Free Throw % .78
Rebounds 19
Assists 8
Steals 1
Blocks 1
Turnovers 9
Points Per Game: 13.75

Blackman famously made the cover of Sports Illustrated after hitting the winning shot to beat number one Oregon State in the second round of the 1981 NCAA tournament. While that shot is probably the most famous shot in K-State history, and the 1981 team made the Elite Eight before losing to North Carolina, Blackman’s statistics in the four games are pretty mediocre compared to others above him on the list.

7.) Barry Brown: 2018 Elite Eight

Games: 4
Minutes: 153
Field Goal % .345
Three Point %: .182
Free Throw %: .808
Rebounds: 14
Assists: 8
Steals: 7
Blocks: 2
Turnovers: 13
Points Per Game: 15.75

Brown led K-State to a victory over Kentucky in the Sweet 16 before the team lost to Loyola-Chicago in the Elite Eight. While averaging almost 16 points per game, he only shot 35 percent from the field and 18 percent from three-point range in the four games.


6.) Bob Boozer: 1958 Final Four

Games: 4
Field Goal %: .44
Free Throw %: .60
Rebounds: 39
Points Per Game: 21

Boozer averaged almost a double-double when leading the 1958 K-State basketball team to the Final Four.

5.) Michael Beasley 2008 Round of 32

Games: 2
Minutes: 66
Field Goal %: .48
Three Point Field Goal %: .20
Free Throw %: .88
Rebounds: 24
Assists: 2
Steals: 2
Blocks: 1
Turnovers: 3
Points Per Game: 23.00

Despite losing in the round of 32, Michael Beasley put on his usual spectacular show in the 2008 NCAA tournament, averaging 23 points per game and 12 rebounds per game. Putting up numbers like that meant I couldn’t keep him off the list.


4.) Mitch Richmond 1988 Elite Eight

Games: 4
Minutes: 151
Field Goal %: .45
Three Point Field Goal %: .38
Free Throw %: .79
Rebounds 30
Assists: 20
Steals: 1
Blocks: 1
Turnovers: 15
Points Per Game: 21.75

Richmond was amazing in the 1988 tournament as K-State reached the Elite Eight before losing to eventual national champion Kansas. He averaged almost 22 points, five assists, and seven and a half rebounds per game. Few have performed better than that in one tournament run, but I believe the three above him on the list have…

3.) Jacob Pullen 2010 Elite Eight

Games: 4
Minutes: 134
Field goal %: .44
Three Point Field Goal %: .47
Free Throw % : .96
Rebounds: 9
Assists: 9
Steals: 14
Blocks: 0
Turnovers: 8
Points Per Game: 22.75

Pullen is known for his stunning performance in the 2010 Sweet 16 double overtime win against Xavier. His free throw percentage steals (almost four per game), and low turnover numbers (for a point guard) in the four games give him the edge over Richmond.

2.) Willie Murrell 1964 Final Four

Games: 4
Field Goal %: .48
Free Throw %: .65
Rebounds 44
Assists 6
Turnovers 10
Points Per Game: 25

Murrell averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds per game, leading K-State to the 1964 Final Four. It is the highest points per game average in any K-State one-year tournament run of four games.

1.) Markquis Nowell 2023 Elite Eight

Games: 4
Field Goal %: .45
Three Point Field Goal %: .42
Free Throw %: .92
Rebounds: 14
Assists: 54
Steals: 16
Blocks: 0
Turnovers: 16
Points Per Game: 23.5

Looking at the numbers he put up, it is hard to argue Nowell put up the best one-year K-State NCAA tournament run in history. He shot 45% from the field, 42% from three-point range, 92% from the free throw line, somehow snagged 14 rebounds, had 54 (54!) assists, 16 steals, and still scored 23.5 points on average.

Four of these eight players already have their jerseys retired and hanging in the rafters in Bramlage Coliseum. Pullen will have his jersey retired soon, and there is a push to have Beasley’s retired as well. Should Nowell be added to the list? While initially skeptical that he belongs with the others, the idea is growing on me.

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