Comeback Bid Falls Short to Kentucky, 56-49

K-State Athletics

March 22, 2014

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ST. LOUIS -- Marcus Foster had 15 points, Shane Southwell scored 11 and Thomas Gipson 10 for Kansas State but the Wildcats' late charge wasn't enough as No. 8 seed Kentucky held on for a 56-49 win on Friday night to earn a date with top-seeded Wichita State in the NCAA tournament.

Julius Randle had 19 points and 15 rebounds, Aaron Harrison finished with 18 points for Kentucky (25-10).

Kansas State (20-13), which started in a 1-0 hole after a technical for a dunk in pregame warm-ups, struggled to hit from the perimeter against Kentucky's tall lineup as the Cats hit just 5 of 21 from 3-point range.

Sophomore walk-on Brian Rohleder, who played only 31 minutes all season, earned a technical foul for that pre-game dunk. NCAA rules prohibit dunking with less than 20 minutes until tip, and Rohleder's dunk came with 19:58 showing on the clock.

Andrew Harrison made one of two free throws while fans from both schools showered the officials with derision, and Kentucky led 1-0 when the game finally started.

The SEC tournament runner-up built on its advantage through the opening minutes, the Harrison twins each knocking down a series of outside shots. Kentucky pushed the lead to 29-17 with 2:23 to go on Randle's basket, but Kansas State answered with six straight points to end the half.

Bruce Weber's team trimmed the lead to 35-33, only for Kentucky to regain control when Southwell was hit with a technical for arguing a no-call on a drive to the basket.

Kentucky stretched its lead to 44-36 midway through the second half, and whenever its rival Wildcats threatened to get closer, Randle was there to answer the call.

The bruising forward stuck back a miss to make it 46-38 with 8:02 remaining, converted a three-point play a few minutes later, and then scored again at the rim for a 51-40 advantage.

Kansas State closed to 55-49 on Foster's off-balance 3-pointer with 24 seconds to go. But a team that replaced most of its key players from a season ago and defied expectations all year eventually ran out of time on its comeback bid.