The battle of the Wildcats didn’t look like much in the first half as Kansas State led at halftime 33-29. To say the first half of this Sweet 16 match up was ugly, was a complete understatement. These Wildcats combined for 26 fouls as the men in the striped suits seem bent on controlling the game instead of letting both teams play a little. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit 11-of 12 free throws in the half, if that tells you how ugly this was. No rhythm at all.
K State raced out to a 13-1 lead behind 3 of 4 three pointers and 4-5 overall from the field. UK would battle back to cut the lead to 15-13 behind a 12- run of their own. K State would not wilt however as they opened the lead back up to 24-16 with 6:09 to play in the first half. UK went nearly 5 minutes with out a field goal yet remarkably were only down by 8. Kentucky would cut the lead to 30-29 with 56.4 seconds to go, the closest UK had been since trailing 1-0 to start the game. Kansas State would score the final 3 points of the half to head in the locker room clinging to a 33-29.
For UK to go in the locker room down 4 says a lot. UK entered halftime with 2 assists, 7 turnovers and shooting 26.1 from the field to include 1 for 5 from behind the arc. The assists is a scary area for UK because it shows lack of ball movement which is usually a death nail for them. PJ Washington struggled mightily from the charity stripe going 3 for 8. The saving grace for UK, K State shot 35% from the field and 63.6% from the foul line. K State had 8 assist compared to 7 turnovers.
The second half started with UK making a nice little run to take their first lead of the game at 36-35 at the 17:21 mark. UK though cannot stand the prosperity as K State continued to rain down three after three to build their lead back up to 47-38 at the 13:16 minute mark. UK would take a timeout to try and regroup after K State’s 12-2 run.
UK scored quickly out of the timeout but could not stop Kansas State on the defensive end. UK went in to the under 8 timeout trailing 52 – 45. Kentucky just didn’t seem to have the urgency needed to get over the hump. The pace was set and dictated the entire game by the K State Wildcats.
UK would finally work their way back to take the lead 55-54 at the 4:04 mark, only to commit their 15th turnover which resulted in K State regaining the lead 56-55 at the 3:01 mark. PJ Washington would muscle up a shot and get the foul to give Kentucky a 57 – 56 lead, but K State would draw a foul and retake the lead 58-57 on 2 made free throws. Kansas State would win this one and end UK’s run to the Final Four after an extremely disappointing season 61-58.