BOZICH | Kansas State pothole knocks Kentucky off direct path to Final Four
Kentucky had a direct path to the NCAA Final Four but John Calipari's team was upset by Kansas State Thursday night.
ATLANTA (WDRB) — In his first eight seasons at the University of Kentucky, John Calipari earned a national title, four trips to the Final Four, one detour to the NIT and a string of lines for his Hall of Fame resume.
But here is one thing Calipari had not done at UK:
Until Thursday night -- lose in the Sweet Sixteen. He was 6 for 6 in Sweet Sixteen games at UK. Now Calipari is 6 for 7.
Barry Brown drove the left side of the lane and scored over P.J. Washington with 19 seconds to play, lifting Kansas State to a jarring, 61-58 victory.
A banked three-point attempt by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit the left side of the rim and fell to the court as time expired.
Kansas State will play Loyola (Chicago) Saturday for the South Regional title and a trip to the Final Four March 31 in San Antonio. If you don’t have your tournament bracket with you, make a note of this: Loyola was seeded 11th in the region — and the Ramblers have won three tournament games by a total of four points.
Hard to imagine Kentucky will ever have a friendlier path to a Final Four, considering the top four seeds in the South Regional exited the tournament before the four teams arrived at Philips Arena. But Calipari’s team could not defend the three-point line as Kansas State made nine three-point shots and finished the game with five guards on the floor.
Down 12 early in the first half, Kentucky climbed back for its first lead (36-35) less than three minutes into the second half on a three-point shot by Quade Green. A Kansas State three followed by Kevin Knox jumper left the game tied at 38.
The next two minutes flipped the script. Kansas State scored nine points. Kentucky did not score any. Kentucky lost a basket by Knox when he was whistled for an offensive foul. Calipari lost his cool and earned a technical foul as he complained while standing outside the coaches’ box.
Kentucky played uphill the rest of the way, searching for ways to stop Kansas State from scoring from distance.
Kentucky found trouble quickly in this game. The Wildcats did not make a field goal for more than four minutes. They missed threes. They missed rebounds. They missed drives.
They trailed 13-1. After missing 11 of 12 shots from distance against UMBC in the second round last weekend, Kansas State made three of its first four against Kentucky.
By the end of the first half, Kansas State had outscored UK 18 to 3 from the three-point line. Free throw shooting kept Calipari’s team in the game. The Wildcats made five more free throws (16) than Kansas State attempted (11).
Three of Bruce Weber’s players were whistled for three personal fouls. Two others had a pair as Kansas State earned 16 in 20 minutes.
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