Kansas State defeated Kentucky 75-69 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Markquis Nowell scored 23 of his 27 points after halftime, and the Wildcats overcame a terrible shooting start by making a few crucial 3-pointers. For the first time since 2018, Kansas State advances to the Sweet 16. It was made possible by a string of clutch shots that gave them the advantage in a close game.
Photo Cred: Sporting News
Kansas State will take on Michigan State in the East Region semifinals. Tshiebwe led sixth-seeded Kentucky (22-12), which shot 55% after intermission and led by eight points early in the second half with 25 points and 18 rebounds. When Kansas State made a surge, the Wildcats couldn’t respond with their big outside shots (4 for 20 for the game).
As a result, they were never able to extend their lead. Think of it as the most recent season in Kansas State’s stunning string of quick victories under first-year coach Jerome Tang, who left Baylor after spending a lot of time on Scott Drew’s staff to assume the helm in Manhattan. After three consecutive losing seasons and is predicted to finish last in the Big 12, the program he took over had not participated in the tournament since 2019.
Photo Cred: SI
“Tough way to end,” Calipari said. “We had some guys really fight like crazy and had a couple of guys offensively not play their game like they did all year — but that can happen this time of year.”
After going 22-4 and reaching five Elite Eights, four Final Fours, and winning a national title in his first five NCAA tournaments as Kentucky coach, Calipari has gone 10-6 with two Elite Eights in his last six NCAA tourneys. Some feel he no longer can lift UK back to those heights. Only time will tell.
Photo Cred: Lexington Herald
Following a summer of roster restructuring through the transfer portal, the Wildcats quickly gained confidence and flourished. As a result, they are now in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. And on Sunday, the gamble was successful in many ways.