Kansas State Wins First Four Battle Over Demon Deacons

Kansas State Basketball’s first trip to March Madness in three seasons started successfully. The Wildcats beat Wake Forest 95-88.

Bruce Weber took his team to the big dance for the first time since 2014 and saw the Kansas State beat a good team from the tough Atlantic Coast Conference.

If not for 29 Demon Deacon free throws, the Wildcats would have won easily.

I was glad to see the ‘Cats wearing purple on this opening night of March Madness. They started strong defensively and were aggressive on offense.

Wesley Iwundu Senior leadership was critical. He scored a career 24 points to lead all scorers.

D.J. Johnson with an easy layup opened the scoring for the ‘Cats in the first seconds of the game.

That set the tone. The Wildcats owned the paint all night.

They had a 24-6 edge on points in the paint in the opening half. They also owned the glass by an overwhelming 15-8 advantage in the first 20 minutes and ended the night with 8 more boards than the Deacons.

Mar 14, 2017; Dayton, OH, USA; Kansas State Wildcats forward Wesley Iwundu (25) moves the ball in the second half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the first four of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Dayton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats were hitting free throws early and attacking. Just what they need to do.

Officials also tagged the Wildcats for 15 first half fouls.

D.J. and Dean picked up a pair of fouls in the first two minutes and it went downhill from there.

Despite that Kansas State had balanced scoring and led 40-36 at the break.

Both teams were on fire from the field to start the second half hitting 6 of their first 7shots. I didn’t know if the ‘Cats could keep up, but they did. In fact the ‘Cats shot 66 percent for the game.

Kansas State was playing as well on offense as they have all season.

I was concerned down the stretch. Wake Forest was 7-8 in games decided by 10 points or less. The ‘Cats were 7-9. It didn’t matter.

The Wildcats have come a long way since the 30-point loss to the Sooners in Norman. Now they can rest and prepare for a game with Cincinnati in Sacramento on Friday.