Ismail Masood shines as unlikely hero of Kansas State’s win over Michigan State
When it became clear that Michigan State was going to fight to the bitter end of a thrilling Sweet 16 basketball game against Kansas State on Thursday, it also became clear that the Wildcats needed a win to leave Madison Square Garden with a win. An unlikely hero was needed. ,
Enter Ismail Masood.
The junior forward took so many shots against the Spartans that it felt like his right arm had turned into a flamethrower.
In addition to exaggeration, Massoud was actually red hot for the Wildcats as they found a way to defeat Michigan State 98–93 in overtime. He made four three pointers, one free throw and then a fadeaway jumper to give his team a 96–93 advantage in overtime.
“When I’m off like that and I’m making shots, I try not to think about anything,” Masood said. “But I remember when I made my first one I was like, ‘Okay, if I can get a few more of these to go down then I’m going to go down them.’ That’s exactly what happened.”
Call him “Swish” Masood
The Harlem native has been more than just a valuable role player for the Wildcats during the NCAA tournament. He hit a game-changing three against Kentucky in the Round of 32 and then finished off Steph Curry-like shots against Michigan State.
Many of his three-pointers were from NBA range. On one of them, he dribbled free from a defender and went behind the line before unleashing a shot that went no-point when it fell through the net. And yet, it ended up being a swish.
He put on a show in his hometown in front of his friends and family.
Masood said, “I was just relying on the work that I’ve done.” “It’s all about the work you do in the dark when no one is looking. If you do this you are going to shine when the lights are on. I worked and I am entitled to such moments.
It hasn’t always been that way for Masood.
He entered the game averaging only 5.1 points per game. But he hits about 40% of his three-pointers. When teams leave him wide open, he is capable of scoring in bunches.
It’s hard to remember that there was a time when K-State coach Jerome Tang didn’t like playing Massoud because he was considered a liability on defense.
“Ish decided he wanted to be a part of this thing,” Tang said. “He wanted to contribute and he knew he could. Then we both started looking at the game the same way. He’s seen it through my eyes and I’ve done a better job of seeing it through his eyes, because He has some talent, some serious talent. As a coach, I needed to find a way to make sure he had the opportunity to showcase it.”
Masood was at his best in the final minute of overtime when he drained a crucial jumper with the game on the line.
That’s not usually his shot. He likes to shoot from deep or right at the rim. He doesn’t have much of a mid-range game. But at that moment the Wildcats trusted him. He delivered
“I told him there were only four seconds on the shot clock, so if he got it he needed to shoot,” Tang said. “We set up the play to get action on the backside. First there was action on the front then we looked at the backside and I’m glad he was able to hit that shot.