The Kansas State Wildcats won the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference tournament quarterfinals on Thursday. They upset Baylor 70-64.
Bruce Weber’s Wildcats outplayed Baylor for 40 minutes. The win was the second by the ‘Cats over the top-10 Bears this season.
Defense and the Kansas State bench were the difference.
It was a rather unremarkable first half. Amazingly, Kansas State and Baylor were tied at 25 going to the break.
It was amazing when you consider D.J. Johnson didn’t touch the ball in the first 7 plus minutes of the game.
There were five minutes between the first Wildcat basket and the 2nd basket at the 11-minute mark in the half.
The team’s leading scorer with 6 first half points was Isaiah Maurice. He played only 4 minutes in the first half.
Barry Brown also had 6 points in the first half. He hit a 3 on Kansas State’s first possession which is just what we needed to see against the Baylor zone.
He finally hit another 3-pointer with just over 4 minutes left in the half. He finished the game with 21 points.
Dean Wade had a couple of turnovers and no points or rebounds in the first half. He spent a considerable amount of time on the bench in the first half and not much changed for the sophomore in the 2nd half.
The Bears killed Kansas State on the glass and finished with a 39-26 advantage.
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Despite all of that, the Wildcats had a lead and wanted more. They got more. They were mentally tough and played outstanding defense in the second half.
You knew it was the Wildcat’s night when Carlbe Ervin’s dunk put the team up 9 with just over 8 minutes to play.
On ESPN Wednesday, Fran Fraschilla said he thought Kansas State’s 8 win Big 12 regular season record was worthy of a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Thursday night’s 20th victory should also go a long way toward enhancing the Wildcat’s NCAA tournament resume.
At least one team from Kansas is in the Big12 Tournament semifinals.