K-State prepares to take on Kentucky in the round of 32

Published: Mar. 19, 2023 at 1:15 PM CDT
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GREENSBORO, NC. (WIBW) - Only one team stands in the way of a trip to the Sweet 16 for 3-seed K-State, 6-seed Kentucky.

They’ll face off in a battle of the Wildcats in the round of 32 on Sunday, and K-State says they know what they need to do to beat the blue blood squad. It starts with containing the 2022 National Player of the Year.

“Box Oscar Tshiebwe out,” said Markquis Nowell. “We can’t give them second chance points. They miss a lot of first shot attempts, but they get the rebound and score it again. So if we could just limit his offensive rebound touches then I think we’ll be fine.”

A lot of that responsibility is going to fall on K-State’s big guys. They said after Friday’s game they know they need to fix their communication on the defensive end.

“Just boxing out. Really just trying to make sure I box him out as best as I can,” said Nae’Qwan Tomlin. “It’s gonna be a team effort, but just try to box him out as best as I can.”

“Obviously he’s a great player, but it’s more than just one player,” said Ismael Massoud. “It’s a really good team behind him, but we have a really good team too.”

Tshiebwe’s talent isn’t a news flash for Jerome Tang. He has experience coaching against him.

“I didn’t have to look at Oscar on film. I recruited him really hard coming out of high school, and then watched him play for two years, and competed against him at West Virginia,” said Coach Tang. “He does have that ‘it’, and in their wins and losses, Oscar gets double-doubles.”

But it’s not just about containing the star forward.

“Everybody asks these questions about Oscar. But it’s those dudes out there that are making three’s, right,” said Coach Tang. “Those are the ones that determine winning or losing. We got a whole team out there to guard. It’s not just Oscar Tshiebwe.”

By no means is anything about this matchup affecting K-State’s edge or nerves.

“It’s a blue blood, it’s Kentucky. They’re up there. Like it’s Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, all those types of schools. But at the end of the day it’s about taking them for who they are and not looking past them or thinking that they’re bigger because of the name,” said Massoud.

The last time these two teams met in the NCAA Tournament, K-State came out on top in the Sweet 16 of 2018.

Tipoff is set for 1:40 on Sunday at Greensboro Coliseum. The game is on WIBW/CBS.