Rushed Reactions: #9 Kansas State 50, #16 UMBC 43

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 18th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) is in Charlotte this weekend.

Three Key Takeaways.

Kansas State swarmed Jairus Lyles and held off history-making UMBC.
(Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

  1. UMBC couldn’t follow-up Friday’s unbelievable performance just two nights later. Everything went right for the Retrievers in their historic upset of #1 Virginia on Friday evening. They shot the lights out from deep (12-of-24 three-pointers) and had great ball movement (16 assists on 26 made field goals) against the Cavaliers, but UMBC’s offense came back to earth this evening against Kansas State — the Retrievers only shot 29.8 percent from the field and committed 17 turnovers. Still, UMBC hung around for 39 minutes of tonight’s game by playing scrappy defense and battling hard on the boards against the much stronger Wildcats.
  2. It wasn’t always pleasant to watch, but it sure was fun. Even though both offenses struggled mightily all night, the intensity and tension level on the floor was very high throughout. Several times in the second half both teams went through scoring droughts simultaneously, making every possession critical. At times, Kansas State appeared to be feeling the added pressure of facing the #16 seed. The Wildcats coughed up the ball 11 times in the second half and took some very ill-advised shots. In the end, though, UMBC had several shot attempts to take the lead in the second half but could never drop one to cause Kansas State to crack.
  3. Kansas State is really good defensively, especially on the perimeter. The Wildcats held Creighton’s explosive offense in check on Friday night, limiting the Bluejays to 59 points and a woeful 26.5 percent three-point shooting night. It was the same story tonight for UMBC. Only two nights after putting up 74 on Virginia’s top-rated defense, the Retrievers managed just 43 points. The Wildcats aggressively switched on ball screens and dribble hand-offs, harassing UMBC’s shooters into a cold 6-of-22 follow-up performance from behind the arc.

Player of the Game. Barry Brown, Kansas State. Once again, Brown got it done on both ends of the floor tonight. He finished with a game-high 18 points and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Defensively, Brown collected two steals and was the primary defender on UMBC’s star Jairus Lyles. After torching Virginia for 28 points on Friday, Lyles only managed 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the field against Brown.

Quotable.

  • “I know it was an ugly win and probably hard to watch.” – Kansas State coach Bruce Weber’s opening comments at the postgame press conference.
  • “Down the stretch, we buckled down. […] We flew around, contesting every shot.” – Barry Brown, on his team’s defensive performance.
  • “They’ve [UMBC players] captured our country and beyond really, from a sporting perspective.” – UMBC coach Ryan Odom, on the incredible attention his program has received after taking down #1 Virginia on Friday night.
  • “We’ve given hope to underdogs.” –  UMBC’s KJ Maura, on the legacy of Friday’s upset over #1 Virginia.

Sights and Sounds. The Spectrum Center’s love affair with UMBC was nowhere close to what it was on Friday night, but many Tar Heel fans stuck around for the nightcap even if they weren’t in the right emotional state to cheer wildly for them. Still, as the Retrievers continued to hang around, the neutral folks in the building tried to help UMBC recreate the magic.  It never approached the same atmosphere we had on Friday, nor should it have been expected to. At the end of the run, though, most of the building rose to applaud the efforts of the history-making UMBC players and coaches.

What’s Next. Kansas State advances to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2010 where they will meet #5 Kentucky on Thursday night at the South Regional in Atlanta.

Brad Jenkins (334 Posts)


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