A shot to take it all. High expectations and a dream to come true. Advancing to the Final Four seemed like it was reachable, but there was only so much the Kansas State Wildcats could do against the Loyola Chicago Ramblers. The Ramblers ended up running away with a win, 78-62.
Stifling offense and unbreakable defense left the Wildcats stinging at halftime. The Ramblers led 36-24 at halftime, which caused the Wildcats to exit the court with their head hanging down. At first it seemed like it was just an off start, that maybe something wasn’t clicking at first, but it continued throughout the game. It became something they weren’t able to fight off.
At one point during the game, the Wildcats trailed by 23 points, making it the largest lead the Ramblers had during the Elite Eight matchup.
At the end of the game, Loyola collected 36 points in the paint while K-State had 32. The biggest point accumulation difference was for points off of turnovers, where Loyola only had two, but K-State had 28 points. Loyola out rebounded K-State, 36-28.
Junior guard Barry Brown Jr., who tried to help the Wildcats by attempting layups and defending as much as he could, said he thought Loyola carried themselves like champions.
“I think they were just more disciplined on offense,” Brown said. “We didn’t really have a disciplined defense. They were spreading us out, getting in gaps and kicking and playing rope backs and playing off of each other and just making the right passes. And we were just never able to recover and stop it or close out.”
A couple of good things came out of this loss to the Ramblers. K-State’s sophomore forward Xavier Sneed and Brown were named to the South Regionals All-Tournament Team, after Sneed led the Wildcats yet again with 16 points.
The Wildcats finished the game shooting 23-66 from the field, 6-26 from the three-point line and 10-12 for free throws. Loyola ended by shooting 27-47 from the field, 9-18 from the three-point line and 15-18 from the free throw line.
After holding the Wildcats to only 62 points, Loyola head coach Porter Moser talked about the amount of focus among the team.
“You know, like a couple of them said, you achieve what you emphasize,” Moser said. “We’ve been focusing in on it all year. … I always crack up when people say we play slow. We try to grind you out on defense, but we’re trying to push.”
K-State head coach Bruce Weber has started to look forward and state the positives after the gut-wrenching loss, thinking about how they need to continue what they have started.
“I’m very proud of our guys and their work ethic and our staff,” Weber said. “You know, they’ve got to continue that. Now they’ve got a little taste of it.
“I said it many times when we got back in April, Barry said, ‘This is my team. We’re going to lead. We’re going, we’re going to work hard,'” Weber continued. “When you lose your starting point guard in the middle of the Big 12 — the toughest conference in the country with three teams in the Elite 8 — and you’re able to survive, it’s amazing.”