MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) — K-State men’s basketball took a break from Big 12 play to host Florida in a portion of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, where each Big 12 school squared off against an SEC school on Saturday.
A big halftime lead helped the Wildcats keep the game out of reach for the Gators’ strong start to the second half, as K-State won 64-50.
K-State started with a 1-0 lead on free throws by Nae’Qwon Tomlin and never pulled back. The Wildcats started the game strong at both ends of the field, leading 26-11 fifteen minutes into halftime.
Three minutes into the game, K-State forward Keyontae Johnson hit a layup to put the Wildcats up 9-3. Normally an unremarkable bucket, the layup held the weight as it was the first points Johnson scored against his former team.
The Wildcats defense held on for the remainder of the first half, holding the Gators scoreless for the final five minutes. K-State sat down enough with a big 37-16 lead heading into the locker room.
Florida came out of halftime firing on all cylinders, starting on a 10-0 run and cutting K-State’s lead to 11. Despite the scare, the two teams traded buckets for the next few minutes.
The Wildcats followed up with a 16-6 run to push the lead back by more than 20 points with under four minutes to play. From there, K-State took care of business, finishing with a win and a final score of 64-50.
Johnson led K-State in its meeting against Florida with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Markquis Nowell also put up an impressive stat with 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Tomlin added 11 points.
K-State’s win puts the Wildcats back in the win column after a road loss to No. 12 Iowa State. K-State now sits at 18-3, 6-2 in Big 12 play.
The Wildcats return to Big 12 games starting Tuesday, with a rematch of Sunflower Showdown at No. 9 Kansas. In the first meeting, K-State beat their in-state rival 83-82 in overtime.