KANSAS CITY, Mo. – La Salle sprinted early, crawled late … and in the end did just enough to live another day.
The 13th-seeded Explorers continued their postseason run with Friday’s 63-61 upset win over No. 4 Kansas State before 18,301 partisan Wildcats fans at the Sprint Center.
La Salle (23-9) meets SEC tournament champion and 12th-seeded Mississippi in Sunday’s third-round game.
After a first half in which La Salle led by as many as 19 points and held an 18-point advantage at intermission, the Explorers held on for dear life by surviving both the Wildcats and their boisterous purple-clad fans.
“Throughout the game we tried to keep calm,” said La Salle guard Sam Mills, who scored 10 points. “We knew they would take their punch and we had to deal with it.”
“La Salle comes at you in a number of ways,” said Kansas State coach Bruce Weber. “Obviously they jumped on us.”
Using the inspired play of 6-foot-11 Jordan Henriquez, who finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, the Wildcats stormed back and eventually led by two with just over 6 minutes remaining.
But La Salle countered with Jerrell Wright. The 6-foot-8 sophomore had 21 points, hitting all six field goal attempts and 9 of 10 free throws, and added eight rebounds.