The No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats faced the No. 9 Kansas State in the Sweet 16 stage of the NCAA Tournament. It was supposed to be an easy ride to the Final Four for the Wildcats, which is the best remaining seed in the South Region. However, Kansas State had other plans. They eliminated the Wildcats with the score of 61-58.
Wildcats Coach John Calipari said that his players overlooked Kansas State. They were too complacent and were already thinking about the next game. On the other hand, Kansas State wanted the victory more.
Defense is the Best Offense
Kansas State was the better defensive team. They only allowed 51 points per game throughout the tournament, the lowest allowed by any team in the Sweet 16. Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander shot for 2 out of 10 the whole game. As a team, the Wildcats were 3 out of 12 from beyond the three-point arc. To make matter worse for Wildcats, P.J. Washington was eight out of 20 from the free throw line. If only he made half of his free throw attempts, Kentucky could have won the game.
Coach Calipari said part of the team’s loss was his fault. He said that he should have called a timeout with only 19 seconds to go in the game. However, he trusted his players to run a play that will catch Kansas State off-guard. His gambit didn’t pay off when the three-point attempt didn’t go in. Before the match, Kansas State was 0-9 against Kentucky.
Kansas State played a similar game in the next round of the tournament, but Loyola-Chicago managed to create more offense compared to Kentucky. As a result, No. 11 Loyola-Chicago advanced to the Final Four and met No. 3 Michigan in the Final Four.