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Close Loss in Lawrence: Kansas State 88, Kansas 90

It wasn’t what we expected

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve seen plenty of games between the Wildcats and the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse. And the script nearly always plays out the same. No matter how good the Cats are, or how “bad” the Hawks are that year, KU always comes out and builds a huge lead early over a clearly over-matched K-State squad that looks like they’ve never played in Allen Fieldhouse before in their life. Bruce Weber had led four teams into Lawrence prior to tonight, and the average margin of defeat was 19 points.

But on a cold Kansas night, this Wildcat team tore that script up.

It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t explosive, and it didn’t last. But the Wildcats didn’t get buried early, and even managed to lead for a good chunk in the first half. Even Austin Budke drained an early three-point shot, as the Cats led by as many as 9.

But two fouls against D.J. Johnson took him out for the final stretch of the half, and that was all KU needed to close the gap and take a 52-42 lead into halftime.

And Kansas came out of haltime and immediately pushed the lead to 12, but it was the largest lead the Jayhawks would have.

But K-State pushed, and clawed, and fought. The Cats never let KU out of their sights, when a lot of K-State teams would have folded after a tough first half.

The Wildcats, led by a team-high 20 points from Dean Wade, tied the game at 75, then again at 84, 86, and 88.

But the upset wasn’t meant to be. D.J. fouled out with a minute left in the game. Then, with the ball and the game tied with 20 seconds left, a missed three by Dean Wade was juggled out of bounds by Wesley Iwundu with 5.6 seconds on the clock.

And that was all KU needed to walk to the victory for the tenth-straight time in Allen Fieldhouse.

A 90-88 loss for the Wildcats that was close to the end, something a Wildcat team hasn’t done in a decade. These Cats had a chance, these Cats nearly did something special. But the Cinderella story just wasn’t meant to be this time for Kansas State.

K-State returns to action on Saturday afternoon, welcoming the struggling Oklahoma Sooners into Bramlage.