K-State's Wesley Iwundu drives around Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein during the second round of the NCAA men's basketball championship at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri on March 21, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
March 23, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
There's really no way to sugar coat it - K-State men's basketball's 56-49 loss to Kentucky last night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament really stung.
The No. 9 seed K-State Wildcats were matched up against a tough No. 8 seed Kentucky team, and despite making a run early in the second half, K-State was unable to come back for the win.
"In the locker room, there's some tears," K-State head coach Bruce Weber said after the game. "Tears of joy from the season we had, but also tears of sadness that we just didn't have enough tonight to continue."
While last night's game is disappointing, as this young K-State team looks back over the 2013-14 season there's no doubt it has a lot to be proud of. The Wildcats turned around a shaky start - a season-opening loss to Northern Colorado, at home - and made it to the NCAA Tournament as a nine seed. K-State beat ranked Big 12 foes Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, and it never stopped battling even when odds were against it.
"I'm extremely proud," said senior Shane Southwell, who finished last night's game with 11 points, after playing his final game as a Wildcat. "I'm proud of my teammates, proud of my coaching staff and also proud of myself."
While seniors Southwell, Will Spradling, Omari Lawrence and Ryan Schultz all played in their final competition as Wildcats, the page will turn, and this year's group of underclassmen has a lot to look forward to.
"We have a good group of freshmen," Weber said. "Our group coming back, Thomas (Gipson) he has to be our leader with Nino (Williams) and set the example and make sure that we have a great off-season and see if we can make some strides next year. Not only get into the tournament, but go somewhere."
MARCUS FOSTER BY THE NUMBERS
Going somewhere next year may just begin with K-State freshmen Marcus Foster. Yesterday evening, in his first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, Foster put away 15 points, had a game-high five assists and had no turnovers.
"Marcus was our go-to guy. He's had a great year," Weber said. "Not only his 15 points, 5 assists and no turnovers, which is huge, but he had to play basically the whole game for us. He has a great future."
Foster quickly became the story of the season for K-State as his hard work ethic was displayed game in and game out.
Looking back over Foster's exciting freshman career, here's a few numbers that really stand out:
2 - The number of Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week and Philips 66 Big 12 Freshman of the Week honors Foster earned this season.
15.5 - The team-leading number of points per game Foster averaged this season; second best among freshmen in the Big 12.
17 - The number of games Foster led K-State in scoring.
34 - Foster's 2013-14 career-high points scored against Texas on Feb. 8. It was the most points scored by a Wildcat since Jacob Pullen went for 38 against Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament on March 19, 2011, and the most by a K-State freshman since Michael Beasley scored 39 points against Kansas on March 1, 2008. His 34 points surged K-State to a 74-57 win over the No. 15/18 Texas.
513 - Foster's total points scored in his freshman campaign.
In conclusion to his freshman year, Foster was named to the All-Big 12 second team, the Big 12's All-Newcomer Team, and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 8.
"It's very surprising," Foster said of his first year at K-State. "I didn't think I'd be able to do this my freshman year, get all the accolades and honors that I'm getting and being put in the top category as these top freshmen. So I think it was a pretty good year and I'm hungry for more next year."
And does a loss in his first NCAA Tournament appearance leave Foster hungry for more?
"Definitely," He said. "I'm going to put my teammates, next year, in the position to win this tournament. I'm going to go out, knock down the shots, give it my all and get the win next year."
For a complete recap of last night's game, click here.