K-State gets a date with No. 6 Cincinnati in the round of 64.
In the First Four’s late game on Tuesday, Kansas State and Wake Forest played a fast, foul-laden affair that saw the Wildcats eventually prevail, 95-88. Wake Forest’s John Collins led all Wake scorers on the night with 24 in a losing effort, while K-State’s Wesley Iwundu also had 24. Now, the Wildcats get No. 6 Cincinnati in the NCAA tournament round of 64.
Wake and Kansas State played in lockstep up to the first half’s under-16 timeout, trading blows that ended with a 9-6 Wildcats advantage. The Demon Deacons tied it up at 11 four minutes later, then took a 13-11 lead after a pair of Brandon Childress free throws.
Kansas State put on a 7-3 run, aided by some sloppy ball handling from Wake, to leg out an 18-13 advantage, but real separation was not to be had for the Wildcats, after Mitchell Wilbekin knifed a three from the right elbow. That made it a one-possession game, and the tug-of-war was on.
Fouls and free throws were in large supply Tuesday night, as the Deacs and Wildcats combined for 24 whistles in the first half alone. Three Kansas State players gathered two in the opening frame, and two had three calls at that point. Wake played cleaner, with just two players picking up two fouls to start the night’s proceedings.
Both teams began the second half with the same intensity, scoring 24 points combined in the first four minutes. Kansas State stole a Wake Forest possession, and that helped them race out to a 57-49 advantage at the under-16 media timeout. From there, a track meet broke out, and suddenly 43 points had been scored in nine minutes.
Try as they might, the Wildcats couldn’t generate any separation, with Wake keeping pace and drawing the score to 65-64 with a little over eight minutes remaining until the final bell. The fouls picked back up at this point, slowing the game drastically, with four Kansas State players sitting on three personals at the five-minute mark.
Aided by an 8-2 run out of a timeout, Kansas State did start to pull away, extending their edge out to 78-70. That was due in part to Wesley Iwundu’s hoop-and-harm three point play and another free throw after a hacking foul. Wake was by then down but not out, until Bryant Crawford committed a Flagrant 1 foul, giving K-State the ball and two free throws. That sequence appeared to take the wind out of the Deacons’ sails, who in the end couldn’t muster enough for a comeback.