Advancing to the second round has just become a reality for the Kansas State men’s basketball team, as they blew out the Creighton Bluejays, 69-59 in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday.
From the start, each of K-State’s guards took turns making a difference. They set the rhythm for the Wildcats, led them into strong defense and offense that left the audience thunderstruck. Because of their strong finishes, K-State would soon knock off the No. 8 seed.
Even with Dean Wade on the bench, the team was still able to accomplish the shock factor. Kamau Stokes started off the Wildcats on the right foot, giving them their first seven points. Cartier Diarra wheeled in shortly after, with blocks and seats to keep the Bluejays from scoring. Later, Diarra helped Barry Brown and Xavier Sneed get the second biggest play of the first half. With a Diarra swat, a Brown assist, and a Sneed dunk, it was a recipe for greatness.
During the final stretch of the game, Mike McGuirl shocked everyone. His talent was portrayed fast—real fast. As time ran off the clock, Creighton’s Mitchell Ballock hit a three-pointer. To retaliate, McGuirl shot a deep three right as the buzzer went off.
At half, it was realized quickly that K-State had done something no other team that played Creighton has done. Marcus Foster, who was a former K-State guard, ended the first half with no points for the Bluejays. He later would go on to get a total of five points in the second half.
The second half rolled in and the Wildcats came in swinging. K-State ended the game shooting 23-50 from the field and 9-19 from the three-point line. Creighton shot 23-68 from the field and 9-34 from the three-point.
K-State was out-rebounded during this game, 35-45. Both K-State and Creighton had 28 defensive rebounds, but K-State only had seven offensive while Creighton had 17. No player on either team fouled out during the game.
K-State was led by Brown with 18 points, followed by McGuirl with a career high of 17, and Stokes with 11. K-State’s bench had a total of 19 points. McGuirl had become K-State’s hidden treasure, and better yet, a postseason hero to K-State fans.
With Creighton now eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, K-State advances forward in the second round. They will play UMBC on Sunday inside the Spectrum Center. UMBC just pulled an upset over No. 1 seed Virginia, winning 74-54.