By David Smale, The Sports Xchange
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If Kansas State was playing desperate, Baylor coach Scott Drew hopes his team becomes desperate in the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats, who many thought were playing for their tournament lives, shot 65 percent in the second half and hit 11 of 12 free throws down the stretch to earn a 70-64 victory over No. 9 Baylor in the second round of the Big 12 tournament on Thursday.
“Sometimes when you are desperate you don’t make shots because you’re too tight,” Drew said. “Them being desperate and making shots was a good thing. Hopefully we learned that from this game, because we don’t want our season to end and we definitely don’t want it to end like this.”
Kansas State (20-12) earned its first victory over a Top 10 team in a postseason tournament since the Wildcats defeated Kansas in the 1993 Big 8 tournament. The Wildcats will face West Virginia in the second semifinal on Friday.
K-State coach Bruce Weber hopes his players aren’t satisfied with one victory here.
“March Madness started last week for us at TCU and continued at Bramlage and now we’re at the Sprint Center,” Weber said. “We beat a team that’s one of the top RPI teams in the country. We told (the players) the only way you know you’re in the NCAA Tournament is to win this tournament. So we took one more step toward that. Now we’ve got to worry about West Virginia, and that’s what we’ve got to focus on.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. They fought through adversity, fought through injuries. They’ve stayed coachable. They’ve stayed together and (had) a great run here.”
The hero for Kansas State was Barry Brown, who was 9 of 13 from the free-throw line and 4 of 4 from 3-point range.
“I was just trying to stay focused, not worry about making or missing,” Brown said of his clutch shooting from the line. “Like Coach says, I was worried about my routine, keeping my hands up, going through my routine and taking those deep breaths, getting my mind clear and knocking the free throws down for my teammates.”
With the score knotted at 33, Kansas State rattled off seven straight points to grab the largest lead by either team. Brown hit a 3-point shot at the shot-clock buzzer to cap the run.
After Baylor scored four straight points, Brown connected on another 3-pointer and was fouled. His free throw started a 7-1 run that gave the Wildcats a 47-38 lead.
“We all play percentages,” Drew said of Brown. “Brown shooting 25 percent from (3-point range), 4-for-4, 9-for-13 from the free-throw line. Going into the game, he’s the guy we would have tried to foul.”
Baylor (25-6) cut the deficit to five points on a 3-pointer by Manu Lecomte, but six straight points by the Wildcats gave them a double-digit lead for the first time, at the 3:56 mark.
Baylor got it to five points on several occasions but could not get any closer.
Kansas State was led by Brown’s 21 points. D.J. Johnson had 13 points and seven rebounds.
Baylor’s Al Freeman scored 16 points, 13 in the second half. Jonathan Motley and Lecomte added 13 points each.
A low-scoring first half went to intermission tied at 25. Baylor’s largest lead was five points, while Kansas State’s largest was three.
Neither team had anybody score more than six points. Kansas State got six each from Barry Brown and Isaiah Maurice, who came in averaging 2.8 points per game.
Baylor got six points each from Jonathan Motley and Jo Lual-Acuil.