K-State slips past Kentucky, 61-58
ATLANTA (AP) — Kentucky’s latest group of fabulous freshman is all done.
Gritty Kansas State made sure of that Thursday night.
Demeaned by many pundits as the worst team still alive in the NCAA Tournament, ninth-seeded K-State got 22 points from Xavier Sneed and gave the South Regional one more upset with a 61-58 semifinal victory over Kentucky.
Next up in the bracket-busting South: the regional final against No. 11 seed Loyola, which continued its stunning run in the tournament with a 69-68 victory over Nevada.
Yep, its 9 vs. 11 in the Elite Eight for the first time in tournament history with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
Just the way it should be in a regional that became the first in NCAA history to have the top four seeds knocked out on very first weekend, including No. 1-ranked Virginia.
Sneed wasn’t around at the end — he was among three Kansas State players who fouled out — but Barry Brown Jr. came through with the shot of the game to seat it for the Big 12 school.
Brown darted into the lane with the shot clock running down, seemingly blowing by every Kentucky player to get to the basket, and banked one in with 18 seconds remaining to put K-State up 60-58.
Kentucky’s Quade Green put up an airball from beyond the arc and Kansas State rebounded, drawing a foul that sent Amaad Wainright to the line for two free throws that could’ve sealed it. He made only one, giving Kentucky one more chance to force overtime.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander got a decent look at the basket, but his shot rimmed out as the horn sounded.
Brown wasn’t done. In the raucous celebration, he leaped over the press table like Superman and sprinted into the arms of the purple-clad Kansas State fan section.
John Calipari was denied a shot at his fifth Final Four in nine seasons as Kentucky’s coach. Fears that his young players would “drink the poison” — the belief that they had an easy path to San Antonio thanks to all the upsets — turned out to be well founded.
KANSAS ST. 61, KENTUCKY 58
KANSAS ST. (25-11)
Sneed 7-14 3-7 22, Mawien 0-4 0-0 0, Diarra 2-6 0-1 5, Stokes 2-7 1-1 6, Brown 4-15 4-5 13, Stockard 0-0 2-2 2, Wade 1-2 2-2 4, Wainright 2-3 2-4 6, McGuirl 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 19-54 14-22 61.
Washington 5-7 8-20 18, Richards 0-0 1-2 1, Knox 5-10 2-2 13, Gilgeous-Alexander 2-10 11-12 15, Diallo 1-4 0-0 2, Gabriel 1-5 1-1 3, Killeya-Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Green 2-5 0-0 6. Totals 16-42 23-37 58.
Halftime—Kansas St. 33-29. 3-Point Goals—Kansas St. 9-22 (Sneed 5-8, Diarra 1-2, McGuirl 1-2, Brown 1-4, Stokes 1-5, Wainright 0-1), Kentucky 3-12 (Green 2-4, Knox 1-3, Diallo 0-1, Gabriel 0-2, Gilgeous-Alexander 0-2). Fouled Out—Sneed, Mawien, Stockard. Rebounds—Kansas St. 27 (Sneed 9), Kentucky 38 (Washington 15). Assists—Kansas St. 12 (Stokes, Brown 3), Kentucky 6 (Gilgeous-Alexander 5). Total Fouls—Kansas St. 30, Kentucky 22. Technicals—Kentucky coach John Calipari. A—15,616 (19,049).
Florida St beats Gonzaga 75-60
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Florida State’s upset run in the NCAA Tournament has stretched all the way to the brink of the Final Four.
Terance Mann scored 18 points and the ninth-seeded Seminoles advanced to the Elite Eight for just the third time in school history with a 75-60 victory over fourth-seeded Gonzaga on Thursday night in the West Region semifinal.
C.J. Walker and Braian Angola added nine points for the Seminoles (23-11), who knocked out a third straight higher-seeded opponent in a surprising run out West for a team that went 9-9 in ACC play and lost its conference tournament opener.
Coolly maintaining a lead down the stretch at Staples Center, Florida State ended Gonzaga’s 16-game winning streak and halted the pursuit of a second straight Final Four berth for last year’s tournament finalist.
“It’s not any time to start celebrating right now,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “These guys are working hard. We’ve worked hard all year. Not very many people think we have a chance to be where we are.”
Hamilton’s best postseason run in his 16 years at Florida State is extended to Saturday, when the Seminoles will face third-seeded Michigan for a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio. The Wolverines advanced with a 99-72 rout of Texas A&M.
Florida State followed up its stunning comeback against top-seeded Xavier last weekend with a steady, dominant second half against Gonzaga. The Seminoles jumped to a 13-point lead early in the second half and never let their margin dip below four, with Mann providing the biggest buckets along the way.
Rui Hachimura scored 16 points and Zach Norvell Jr. added 14 for the Zags (32-5), who hadn’t lost since Jan. 18. Already playing without injured forward Killian Tillie, the Zags struggled when forwards Johnathan Williams and Hachimura got into early foul trouble.
After a season of running away from West Coast Conference opponents, Gonzaga played from behind for much of the night at Staples Center, even trailing at halftime for only the sixth time all season.
The Zags fell behind by 13 early in the second half while the Seminoles defended the perimeter well and moved the ball fluidly. Florida State was even more dominant than usual around the rim, and Mann led a parade of scorers from all spots on the court.
Florida State: The Seminoles’ 11-man rotation, defensive energy and balanced scoring have all been a nightmare for three straight opponents. On both ends of the court, this is a prime example of a team coming into its best form at the perfect time in March.
Gonzaga: Foul trouble, poor outside shooting and sub-par ball movement all doomed the Zags, who didn’t rise to the March challenge as impressively as last season’s team did. That impressive run would have been hard to top, and they didn’t.
Tillie apparently has an injured hip, although the Zags had kept it quiet. The 6-foot-10 French sophomore typically provides interior defense and creates mismatches for Gonzaga while contributing to its balanced offense.
Florida State: The Seminoles will be underdogs for a fourth straight time against Michigan. For the fourth straight time, they won’t mind.
Gonzaga: Another offseason adding talent to coach Mark Few’s West Coast powerhouse.