Kansas State, thought by some to be on the bubble for an entry to the NCAA tournament, pulled out a squeaker in the first game of the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday. After TCU tied it up at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, the Wildcats outlasted TCU and will face in-state rivals Kansas on Friday. Kansas is a five point favorite on the early offshore line.
“I’m really proud of our guys, happy for them”, said KSU head coach Bruce Weber. “From the beginning I told them before the game since practice when we got back and got going in the spring through the summer and through the fall, they worked their tails off. They’ve had great leadership, you know. They’ve done everything we’ve asked. They’re very, very coachable. Probably raised my voice, you know, other than yelling play hard and all that stuff, you know. But getting after ’em a couple times all year. They’re a great group. We got down 7. We didn’t have much emotion. Cartier made a couple of good plays for us, got energy going. Kam went in and made a play and Mak was very good, a lot of big plays.”
Weber talked about the final play in regulation where TCU hit a a game tying three point play. “Obviously we probably should have fouled on the three at the end. We had ’em in the — but it’s in that chaotic state where you’re running back, and, you know, they made a great play. You gotta give them credit, but we came back. Very rarely when teams make a big shot like that do you come back with the emotional and energy that we had in the overtime period that we found to win. Barry obviously made the big play at the end. We gave him the ball and he had a chance to make the play and he came up big for us and made the basket.”
TCU is expected to be selected to the Tournament on Sunday. Head Coach Jamie Dixon is hoping for nine of the 10 Big 12 teams to make the field.
“I never thought it would be possible to get nine teams in the NCAA tournament, but we’re giving it as good of a shot as you possibly can,” said Dixon. “So it will be a great boost for our conference to get eight, nine, whatever it may be in. It’s remarkable. What we did in nonconference was remarkable, and I’ve been in good conferences. But top to bottom this provides the greatest challenge. It’s a great conference, and I think people are recognizing it more and more.”