K-State basketball had the “honor” of playing in a First Four game in order to get into the NCAA Tournament. They accomplished that goal by defeating Wake Forest 95-88 to advance to the official first round of the tournament.
After some debate with the fan base as to whether or not a First Four game meant that the Kansas State Wildcats were actually in the NCAA Tournament or not, the Cats put the entire argument to rest by winning and for sure making it in.
The Wildcats led for the entire game and while the Demon Deacons came within one point in the second half, K-State stayed strong and did what was necessary to win.
Kansas State hit their free throws, hitting 75% of them in their biggest game all season. They were 66% in scoring and only 37.5% in three-pointers, all per ESPN.com.
Wesley Iwundu led the Wildcats in scoring with 24 points (a career high for the senior), followed by Kamau Stokes with 22, D.J. Johnson with 18, and Barry Brown with 14.
Foul trouble looked like it was going to be a problem early on for KSU, but no one ended up fouling out. The key players were all there at the end of the game, and that was huge for K-State.
What arguably gave KSU the momentum was a technical foul called on Wake Forest with less than two minutes left. The Wildcats hit both free throws and then got the ball back and made a layup to sit ahead on the scoreboard by nine points.
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As for Wake Forest, they played tough. Sure, they gave up 95 points to Kansas State, but they put up 88 of their own. If KSU wants to continue dancing in March, they’ll have to play better defense.
They allowed two Wake Forest players to put up over 20 points (John Collins with 26 and Bryant Crawford with 20) and another to record over 15 (Austin Arians with 17). With Cincinnati next on the schedule, K-State basketball will definitely need to work on their defensive issues and make sure they can stop their opponents.
Should K-State beat the Bearcats on Thursday, they’ll face the winner of UCLA/Kent State. Many might put UCLA down as a sure thing to win that match-up, but that’s why they play the games.
To be honest, I don’t see the Wildcats advancing past Cincinnati. Defeating Wake Forest to make it into the actual tournament was nice, but I just don’t think this team has the mojo to keep going. Maybe I’m biased though, as that loss to Oklahoma is still kind of fresh in my mind.
With this win, Bruce Weber has to be secure as the K-State basketball coach for at least one more year. He got the Cats to the tournament and that’s big for the program.
I don’t know about you, K-State fans, but I’m ready for basketball all day on Thursday and Friday!