From the Desk of the Chief

Markquis Nowell’s Fake Argument Alley-Oop: The Most Creative Play in March Madness History

Kansas St. point guard Markquis Nowell had an absolute day last Thursday, leading the team to a 98-93 overtime victory over Michigan State, propelling them to the Elite Eight. 

The 5’8’’ Nowell, known for his strong ball-handling skills and unparalleled passing ability, put up 20 points and 19 assists, breaking the record for most assists in a March Madness game. The previous record, held by Mark Wade with 18 assists, stood for 36 years prior to Nowell’s dominant performance. 

But with history made and an overtime thriller in the past, neither the win nor the record has been the story of the game. Rather, what might be the most creative, most situationally aware, most point-blank amazing March Madness play in recent memory. 

As the clock broke the minute mark, Michigan St. and Kansas St. sat tied at 92-92. Nowell is handling the ball near the center court logo and appears to be arguing mid-game with head coach Jerome Tang. The two gesture repeatedly back and forth, and Nowell is seen waving off Tang’s play call while shouting at him. 

This moment froze the defense and the action on the court. Then in the blink of an eye, forward Keyonae Johnson jets from the corner straight for the hoop, totally blowing by his defender with the back-door cut. Nowell zips the ball toward the basket from almost half-court, and Johnson finishes the lob emphatically with a reverse slam prior to flexing toward the stunned crowd.

The play put Kansas St. up two, and after Michigan St. got back within one, Nowell dropped another dime — this time finding Ismael Massoud in the corner, whose fadeaway jump shot put the team up three points and secured the win.

You can relive the final minute of the game, including the alley-oop below:

In the post-game interview, Tang and Nowell were side by side with arms around one another. Their bond is evident even though they’ve only been together a year.

“We got a ton of faith in each other. They probably did more coaching than me. I just try to love them,” Tang said with an arm around a nodding Nowell. 

Although the interviewer on the court didn’t explicitly ask whether the clutch alley-oop was intentional or not, the press conference crew was quick to mention the moment.

Reporter: “Was [the alley-opp] a fake call?”

Tang: (To Nowell, jokingly): “You can’t tell them for the next time you do it”

Nowell: “It was just a basketball play between me and Keyonate” 

A good magician never tells his secrets, and Nowell is certainly magical with the basketball in his hands.