ST. LOUIS — Marcus Foster had 15 points, Shane Southwell scored 11 and Thomas Gipson 10 for Kansas State but the Wildcats’ late charge wasn’t enough as No. 8 seed Kentucky held on for a 56-49 win on Friday night to earn a date with top-seeded Wichita State in the NCAA tournament.
Julius Randle had 19 points and 15 rebounds, Aaron Harrison finished with 18 points for Kentucky (25-10).
Kansas State (20-13), which started in a 1-0 hole after a technical for a dunk in pregame warm-ups, struggled to hit from the perimeter against Kentucky’s tall lineup as the Cats hit just 5 of 21 from 3-point range.
The SEC tournament runner-up built on its advantage through the opening minutes, the Harrison twins each knocking down a series of outside shots. Kentucky pushed the lead to 29-17 with 2:23 to go on Randle’s basket, but Kansas State answered with six straight points to end the half.
Bruce Weber’s team trimmed the lead to 35-33, only for Kentucky to regain control when Southwell was hit with a technical for arguing a no-call on a drive to the basket.
Kentucky stretched its lead to 44-36 midway through the second half, and whenever its rival Wildcats threatened to get closer, Randle was there to answer the call.
K-State finishes the season at 20-13.