CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A strong defensive effort and junior guard Barry Brown Jr.’s 18 points led K-State to a 50-43 win over upstart UMBC in the Second Round of the NCAA South Regional at the Spectrum Center on Sunday to advance the Wildcats to the Sweet 16.
K-State (24-11) will meet No. 5 seed Kentucky Wildcats (25-10) on Thursday, March 22, in the South Region Semifinals at Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The appearance will be the 17th time in program history K-State has reached the Sweet 16, and their first bid since 2010. K-State also improved to 36-33 in tournament history, including a 7-5 record in the second round.
Brown was one of two Wildcats in double figures, as Makol Mawien added 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Brown’s 18 points came off 5-of-13 shooting and a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw stripe, while sophomore forward Xavier Sneed contributed eight points, including six in the final five minutes to propel K-State to victory.
The Wildcats defense forced 17 turnovers, including 13 steals, which ties a program-high in an NCAA Tournament game. K-State previously recorded 13 steals against Arkansas on May 6, 1980. Offensively, K-State shot 40.9 percent (18-of-44) from the field, while scoring 30 of their 50 points in the paint.
With the win, K-State head coach Bruce Weber became the 10th Division I coach to take three different teams to the Sweet 16 (Kansas State, Illinois, Southern Illinois) in his career. Weber improved to 14-11 all-time in the NCAA tournament as a head coach, including a 3-3 mark with K-State.
The Wildcats played their third consecutive contest without All-Big 12 First Team selection Dean Wade, who was held out as a precaution due to foot soreness. The Wildcats returned to a four-guard lineup for the third consecutive game, featuring guards Brown, Sneed, Cartier Diarra, and Kamau Stokes and Mawien at forward.
UMBC (25-11) was led by senior guard Jairus Lyles, who scored 12 points on 4-of-15 from the field. The Retrievers shot 29.8 percent from the field in the game and hit 6-of-22 from beyond the arc, after becoming the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 after their 74-54 upset of top-ranked Virginia on Friday.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Retrievers continued their hot streak against the Wildcats early on Sunday, as they got out to an early 5-0 run, while K-State struggled to find an open look. The Wildcats missed on their first five shots as UMBC claimed a 5-0 lead through four minutes of play.
The Wildcats got their first basket with 13:39 left in the first half, after Stokes found Mawien under the hoop for a layup. The Retrievers responded with a 3-pointer to give the Retrievers a 10-2 advantage with 13:26 remaining in the half.
After falling behind early, the Wildcats clawed back into the game by holding the Retrievers defensively, while finding an advantage on offense in the paint. K-State gained their first lead of the game behind a 7-0 run which led to a 15-14 advantage with 8:28 remaining in the first half.
With 4:51 remaining in the first half, Brown came up with a big steal on the UMBC inbound, before taking the ball coast-to-coast in transition, to give K-State a 19-15 lead. K-State’s defense had a big impact in the first half, as the Wildcats tallied eight forced turnovers and seven points off the Retriever mistakes.
The layup in transition started a run for Brown, as he scored eight consecutive points for the Wildcats, including a contested jumper with 1:59 left in the half to bring the score to 25-17. Brown led K-State with 10 points on 3-of-6 from the field coupled with two steals at the half.
K-State went into the locker room with a 25-20 lead at the break, where the Wildcats entered Sunday’s contest with an 18-2 record when leading at the half. The Wildcats shot 37.5 percent (9-of-24) from the field and 87.5 percent (8-of-9) from the free throw stripe in the first half.
After not connecting on a 3-pointer in the first half, the Wildcats got their first (and only) of the game on a step-back from Diarra to give K-State a 28-22 lead with 17:28 remaining in the second half. However, UMBC would find their spot behind the arc to draw within one at 32-31 with 14:25 remaining.
Over the next six minutes, neither team was able to capitalize from the field, as the Wildcats still possessed a one-point lead at 34-33 with 7:48 remaining. During that span, the Retrievers shot 0-of-5 from the field, connecting on a pair of free throws.
With 6:55 remaining in the contest, Stokes found some offense for K-State, as he hit a mid-range jumper with the shot clock expiring to bring the score to 38-33, K-State’s lead.
UMBC marched back behind 3-pointer from Lyles to bring the score back to just one point at 38-37 with 6:01 left in the game. The Lyles 3-pointer ended a scoring drought of 8:24 from the field.
On the next defensive, possession, Sneed responded with a steal that led to a fast-break dunk on the other end. The Sneed dunk gave the Wildcats some momentum, as Brown scored on the next offensive possession to give K-State a 42-37 lead with 4:25 remaining.
With 3:03 remaining in the game, Sneed came up with another ferocious dunk, after Brown missed on a pull-up jumper. The put back dunk from Sneed helped K-State lead 44-38.
On defense, Mawien recorded a big block with 1:39 remaining, as Lyles drove the lane. The block led to a clutch jumper from Sneed on the following possession, as K-State began to pull away at 46-41 with 1:08 left.
K-State shot 40.9 percent (18-of-44) from the field in field in the game, improving to 24-2 when outshooting the opponent this season. K-State also claimed the rebounding battle, outrebounding UMBC 35 to 28.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Barry Brown Jr. – Junior guard Barry Brown Jr., scored a team-high 18 points on 5-of-13 from the field and a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line, as he recorded his 27th game this season and 61st of his career with 10 or more points. Brown also tallied 2 steals, as he led a strong defensive effort for the Wildcats.
STAT OF THE GAME
10 – With the win, K-State head coach Bruce Weber becomes the 10th Division I coach to take three different teams to the Sweet 16 (Kansas State, Illinois, Southern Illinois) in his career. Weber is now 14-11 all-time in the NCAA tournament as a head coach, including a 3-3 mark with K-State.