Kansas State takes down Kentucky, advances to first Sweet 16 since 2018
It was a battle of Wildcats from Greensboro, North Carolina, on Sunday afternoon when No. 3 seeds Kansas State and no. 6 Kentucky took the court. After a long, back-and-forth game, Kansas State is the one moving on after defeating Kentucky, 75-69.
This is Kansas State’s first Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2018.
With just under three minutes to play, Kentucky’s Cason Wallace made a layup that gave them a 62–61 lead, but Kansas State was ready to answer that bucket.
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Ismael Massoud took a pass from Marquis Nowell and put up a three-pointer to take the lead back and splashed it for a 64-62 advantage.
After a miss from Chris Livingston of Kentuckytrying to match Massoud’s three, Kansas State went right back down the floor and gave their star player, Keyontae Johnson, a chance to separate a bit from Kentucky.
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Johnson got his one-on-one matchup and didn’t squander the opportunity, as he stepped back and rained a three-pointer from the right wing and hit it to put Kansas State up, 67–62.
Kentucky wouldn’t be able to answer, which led them to begin intentionally fouling with the hope Kansas State would miss their free throws. But Nowell and Desi Sills were a combined 8-for-8 to end the game despite Kentucky trying their best to get back in it.
Nowell was Kansas State’s leading scorer as the senior point guard dropped 27 points – he averaged 16.8 this season – with nine assists and two rebounds. Johnson also finished with 13 points, four boards and three assists.
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On the Kentucky stat sheet, Antonio Reeves, the team’s second-leading scorer with 14.6 points per game, was ice cold when he put the ball up. He went 1-of-15 from the floor, including nine of 10 missed three-point attempts. That certainly didn’t help head coach John Calipari.
But Wallace stepped up with 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting with nine boards and four assists. The team’s leading scorer, Oscar Tshiebwe, recorded a double-double with 25 points and 18 rebounds.
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While Kentucky heads home, Kansas State goes on to face the winner of No. 2 seed Marquette and No. 7 seed Michigan State in the Sweet 16.