DAYTON -- Kansas State coach Bruce Weber looked at the stats sheet Tuesday night and saw that his team had just shot 66 percent in an NCAA Tournament game. "I don't know if that's a record," Weber said. "But that's pretty good for any game, especially in an NCAA game on a neutral court." It's not quite record, but it tied a 20-year-old mark, and helped the Wildcats earn a trip to the South Regional in Sacramento. Wesley Iwundu scored 24 points and Kamau Stokes added 22, lifting Kansas State to a 95-88 victory over Wake Forest in a NCAA Tournament First Four matchup of No. 11 seeds on Tuesday night at University of Dayton Arena. Both teams had to sweat on Selection Sunday, but the Wildcats moved on to face No. 6 seed Cincinnati on Friday. "I know Cincinnati is really good, really tough," said Weber. "I've watched them and SMU really dominated that league (American). We've played West Virginia. We've played physical teams. We've played teams that go up and down, Kansas. So, we can adjust. And it won't be easy but I know our guys will come ready to play." After Tuesday's performance, the Wildcats hope they left some baskets for the Bearcats. Kansas State (21-13) shot close to 70 percent in the second half. These are the same Wildcats who didn't' shoot better than 56 percent in 18 Big 12 games this season. But, on Tuesday, K-State made eight straight field goals in one stretch of the first half and after halftime hit seven of the first 10 shots including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. "We felt if we guarded and took care of the ball and moved the basketball we'd be able to score," Weber said. "I didn't know that we'd get 95. But I thought we'd be able to score." K-State won despite a dominant performance by Wake Forest (19-14) sophomore forward John Collins, who scored 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. He went 8 of 8 from the free throw line and grabbed nine rebounds. Bryant Crawford added 20 points for the Demon Deacons, who were 29 of 32 from the free throw line to help keep the score relatively close. But Wake Forest had no answer on defense for Kansas State, which outscored the Demon Deacons 42-24 in the paint. "They had 42 points in the paint. It wasn't the big guys. It was their guards getting dribble penetration," said Wake Forest coach Danny Manning. "Staying in front of the basketball was something we know we needed to do coming into this ballgame. We've got to become a better rebounding team and a better defensive team in terms of getting the ball in front of us." Wake Forest shot just 36.4 percent from the field in the first half but went 17 of 18 from the free throw line. Kansas State made seven straight shots to go ahead 34-29. The Wildcats led by as many as seven points in the first half. K-State carved up the Demon Deacons' defense in the half, scoring 24 of 40 first-half points in the paint. Iwundu scored 10 points for the Wildcats, including a tomahawk dunk, in the first half. His two-hand jam off an assist from Stokes put K-State ahead 47-40 early in the second half. D.J. Johnson's tip-in with 15:32 left gave K-State its largest lead to that point at 57-47. He finished with 18 points. But Wake Forest managed to stay in the game. Austin Arians' third 3-pointer cut K-State's lead to 64-62 with nine minutes left. Arians finished with 17 points. Wake Forest was within one or two points on a few occasions in the second half, but K-State had an answer. After a dunk by Collins made the score 72-70 with five minutes left, Stokes nailed a deep 3-pointer to push the Wildcats' lead to five. Stokes scored 19 of his points in the second half as Kansas State pulled away. "Guys stepped up, made big plays down the stretch," Iwundu said. "We kind of got stagnant a little bit, but Kamau hit, like, three big 3-pointers." NOTES: Kansas State made its third NCAA Tournament trip in five seasons under coach Bruce Weber. ... The Wildcats are 34-32 overall in 29 NCAA Tournament appearances. ... Wake Forest made its 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2010. ... It was the first meeting between the programs. ... Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning starred for the Kansas Jayhawks, helping them defeat archrival K-State in the Midwest Regional final en route to the 1988 national title.
Kansas State advances with 95-88 win over Wake Forest
The Sports Xchange | Mar 15