While many were expecting to see senior forward Dean Wade out of the game due to injury, it came as a shock to see senior guard Barry Brown on the bench most of the first half against the University of California, Irvine.
Brown struggled with foul trouble from the start of the game causing alarm bells to ring for head coach Bruce Weber, pulling Brown after just six minutes of play during the first half.
With the absence of Wade and Brown, the pressure fell to the rest of the team who performed evenly against the Anteaters. At the half, the score sat tied at 30-30.
However, the Wildcats could not keep up with the zone defense, and the Anteaters nailed multiple three-pointers without any hesitation.
Once they Anteaters found their stride they had a 12-0 run giving them the momentum to finish out the game ahead of the Wildcats.
Junior guard Evan Leonard and junior guard Max Hazzard were the major playmaker for the Anteaters, leading them with 19 points each.
Senior guard Kamau Stokes and junior forward Makol Mawien were the biggest playmakers for the Wildcats today. Stokes tallied 18 points, and Mawien had 14 to his name.
Stokes acknowledged that UC Irvine was a great team and was some solid competition saying, “they are a good team and that’s why they got to the tournament.”
With this senior class leaving, Brown stressed the importance of having the younger guys step up.
“I told them it is their time and they’ve got to step up and be leaders,” Brown said.
While the season is over for these Wildcats and all of the seniors, Weber said he believes “all of them are going to be great people, great citizens and representatives of Kansas State.”
This appearance is the 31st NCAA Tournament that the Wildcats have been in. They have also been in the last five out of seven seasons under Weber.