(CTN News) – Despite an arena full of Kentucky blue, Kansas State sent the Wildcats home on their first weekend, again. As Keyontae Johnson delivered a dagger with 1:23 left, Kentucky’s chants of “Go Big Blue” weren’t enough to carry them to the Sweet-Sixteen.
As Kentucky fans headed for the exits, the Kansas State crowd, minuscule compared to BBN, began its own chants. During the second half alone, eight lead changes were made, so college basketball fans were sure to be entertained.
Every time you thought Kentucky was about to go on a run, Kansas State kept fighting back. Wildcats scored every point in the first half around the basket, as they attempted to score in a variety of ways.
During the final ten minutes of the game, Greensboro’s lead changed six times. However, the underlying tone of this game was Kentucky’s failure to reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament again. Three years in a row, the Cats will watch the Sweet-16 at home for the third time.
After Kentucky ran off a 13-2 run in the first half, I thought this game could get out of hand. In the second half alone, Markquis Nowell scored 21 points for Kansas State.
There was no way Oscar Tshiebwe could carry Kentucky alone
Despite scoring 25 points and 18 rebounds, Oscar Tshiebwe could only do so much in the Sweet-16 for his team. What does a team like Kentucky do when their offense is so one-dimensional? In order to force the ball, they take bad shots.
In the postgame interview, John Calipari noted that it was a tough way to end the game. During this tournament, we had some guys fight like crazy and then some guys who were not playing their best on offense as they did all year.
There was a point in this game when I thought John Calipari’s team would win, but getting only 2 points from Jacob Toppin and 5 points from Antonio Reeves wasn’t enough. Kentucky looked like a team just hanging on to the NCAA Tournament. Kansas State kept finding ways to stay in the game.
During a discussion of the disappointment Kentucky fans feel at the moment, John Calipari noted that some players may not be able to handle it when things go wrong.
“I am empathic. This program makes sense to me,” Calipari said. Again, that’s what makes it so unique, and that’s why I tell players that this isn’t for everyone due to the high expectations.
Johnson & Nowell Are Moving On at Kansas State
Even though Kansas State fans were overpowered all evening, they were the ones chanting as the final buzzer sounded. As soon as the game ended, Keyontae Johnson and his teammates headed straight into purple-clad fans. New York City trip was time to celebrate.
When this team is so talented, we saw Kentucky rely mostly on one player. Injuries are to be expected at this time of year.
In the middle of the weekend, Kentucky is heading back to Lexington, with nowhere else to go.
With :13 seconds left, Big Blue Nation tried to begin a chant, but it fizzled out, just like their defense in the final three minutes.
Manhattan, Kansas, is currently hosting a party. As another Kentucky basketball season comes to an end.