The underdogs have managed to pull yet another upset during this session of March Madness. It was relentless, scary, sluggish, troubling and exciting, all rolled into one two hour period.
The Kansas State Wildcats won against the Kentucky Wildcats, 61-58, on Thursday night after a nail-biter. It was so much of a nail-biter, many people might not have had nails after the game.
Right out of the gate, K-State were relentless. Their defense was stifling, making Kentucky struggle and not know what to do next. Soon, the Wildcats had a lead of 13-1. With a stadium filled mostly of blue, it was extremely quiet for the majority of the first half.
The game went on.
When halftime arrived, K-State was leading 33-29. Dean Wade only played a total of eight minutes in the first half, a player who many fans thought K-State absolutely needed to succeed. They were wrong.
The second half of the game began. It became a scary moment for K-State fans when foul trouble began giving away points to Kentucky. As the foul numbers skyrocketed, points for Kentucky began to pick up. Then, panic rose when spectators realized K-State had four players with four fouls, being one short of fouling out.
Levi Stockard, Makol Mawien and Xavier Sneed ended up fouling out for the Wildcats. Cartier Diarra and Amaad Wainright were one foul short of fouling out. Without K-State’s major players, the last two minutes of the second half could’ve been even more intimidating for the fan base.
Sneed was the strongest, most versatile player during this win for K-State. He fouled out in the end, but during this game he had 22 points, nine rebounds. 15 of those points were from three-pointers. Sneed stole the show and would shortly be practicing for an Elite Eight game.
Upon being fouled out, Sneed looked extremely emotional walking off the court. Although Sneed didn’t feel like it was a foul, it didn’t work out his way.
“I was not feeling like it was a foul, but just not being on the court with those guys,” Sneed said. “But I knew they was going to finish off the game, and that’s what they did, and it was a big win for us. I’m an emotional type of player, so I like to get hyped about anything.”
An under appreciated, overlooked team had just knocked off a No. 5 seed. K-State, a team that had once not had much respect among opposing fan bases, had proved thousands of people wrong.
The 2017-2018 K-State Wildcats are now on their way to the 12th Elite Eight in school history. K-State has not advanced this far since 2010.
The leadership among this team shows, and head coach Bruce Weber is not shy to talk about it. With the courage that K-State has been having, Weber thinks the resilience and beliefs among the team keep it afloat.
“They’re a resilient group,” Weber said. “Don’t leave anything out on the court. You know, one, we believed we were going to win it, and we had talked about winning that first media timeout…I’m not sure (Kentucky) was ready for it. We got after them and got a nice lead.”
Kentucky head coach John Calipari received a technical during Saturday’s matchup—a class B one. Calipari was still able to give light and praise upon the loss.
“(K-State) played well,” Calipari said. “They played the kind of game, a physical game, and did what they had to do. Shot 35 percent and won a basketball game. My hats off to them.”
The K-State Wildcats now look to take on the Loyola Ramblers, who just knocked off the Nevada Wolfpack. The game is set to tip at 5:09 p.m. CT and will be broadcasted on TBS.