ATLANTA – Kentucky’s latest group of fabulous freshmen is all done.
Gritty Kansas State made sure of that Thursday night.
Demeaned by many pundits as the worst team still alive in the NCAA Tournament, ninth-seeded K-State got 22 points from Xavier Sneed and gave the South Regional one more upset with a 61-58 semifinal victory over Kentucky.
Next up in the bracket-busting South: the regional final against No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago, which posted a 69-68 victory over Nevada. It’s 9 vs. 11 for the first time in tournament history, with a trip to the Final Four at stake.
Sneed wasn’t around at the end – he was among three players from Kansas State (25-11) who fouled out – but Barry Brown Jr. came through with the shot of the game to seal it for the Big 12 school.
Brown darted into the lane with the shot clock running down, seemingly blowing by every Kentucky player to get to the basket, and banked one in with 18 seconds remaining to put K-State up 60-58.
“He’s the guy you’ve got to go through. He can make plays,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “He missed a couple of them there down the stretch, but he made a big one at the end.”
Kentucky’s Quade Green put up an airball from beyond the arc and Kansas State rebounded, drawing a foul that sent Amaad Wainright to the line for two free throws that could have sealed it. He made one, giving Kentucky (26-11) one more chance to force overtime.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander got a decent look at the basket, but his shot rimmed out as the horn sounded.
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