March Madness 2023: Kentucky’s Sweet 16 drought continues as Kansas State ousts John Calipari’s Wildcats



No. 3 seed Kansas State rallied from an eight-point deficit in the second half to sink No. 6 seed Kentucky 75-69 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday behind some clutch 3-point shooting and the fearless play of point guard Markquis Nowell. K-State missed its first 13 attempts from beyond the arc but made five of its next eight to surge into the Sweet 16.

Nowell made three of those 3-pointers while leading Kansas State with 27 points. K-State will play either No. 2 seed Marquette or No. 7 seed Michigan State in the East Regional semifinals next week in New York as the program’s remarkable turnaround under first-year coach Jerome Tang continues. The Wildcats were picked to finish last in the Big 12 this season.

The loss ends in disappointment for Kentucky, which hasn’t appeared in a Sweet 16 since 2019, after UK rallied from a 1-3 start in SEC play to secure a respectable seeding in the Big Dance. Antonio Reeves and Jacob Toppin, who entered as Kentucky’s No. 2 and No. 3 scorers, combined for just seven points on 2-of-22 shooting in the loss.

Cason Wallace and Oscar Tshiebwe combined for 46 points to give UK a chance. But the ineffectiveness of Reeves and Toppin was difficult to overcome after the duo combined for 40 points in UK’s 61-53 win over Providence in the first round. Though Kentucky won the battle of second-chance points 17-7, a 16-8 turnover deficit hampered UK.  

This story will be updated with takeaways

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