In what may be the greatest shot in Kansas State history, Rolando Blackman buried a baseline jumper with two seconds remaining to beat second-ranked Oregon State 50-48 in a 1981 second round game. The sweet release was splashed on Sports Illustrated’s cover the next week.
Kansas State’s powerful 1964 squad led UCLA 75-70 with seven minutes remaining in the national semifinal at Municipal Auditorium, when it happened. UCLA’s cheerleaders, delayed by weather, finally arrived at the game, and fortunes turned the Bruins’ way. Willie Murrell scored 29, but it wasn’t enough as K-State fell 90-84, and UCLA went on to win the first of 10 titles in 12 years under John Wooden.
Cats top Big O
The Wildcats opened the 1958 NCAA Tournament against Oscar Robertson and Cincinnati in Lawrence. Robertson got his — 30 points and 14 rebounds — but K-State, behind 24 from Bob Boozer and 17 from Jack Parr prevailed 83-80 in overtime.
Defense wins in the Final Four
Lew Hitch was K-State’s leading scorer with 12 points in the semifinals of the 1951 Final Four, but the Wildcats didn’t need much offense to beat Oklahoma State and advance to the national championship game. K-State held the Cowboys to 44 points and cruised to a 68-44 victory. Oklahoma State made 16 of 52 shots that night.
National championship game
After beating Arizona, BYU and Oklahoma State, K-State was playing for the 1951 national championship. All that stood in the way was Kentucky. With Ernie Barrett, Lew Hitch and Jack Stone leading the way, K-State put up a good effort. But it wasn’t enough. Kentucky won 68-58 behind 22 points from Bill Spivey. Many consider that team, coached by Jack Gardner, to be the best team in program history. It won 25 games and the Big Seven championship before falling short of a national title.
Game of the year
With a trip to the 2010 Elite Eight on the line, K-State and Xavier played long into the night in Salt Lake City. The Wildcats eventually won 101-96, but it took 28 points from Jacob Pullen, 25 points from Denis Clemente, 21 points from Curtis Kelly and two overtimes to do it. Terrell Holloway, 26 points, and Jordan Crawford, 32 points, wouldn’t let Xavier go away. Both teams hit mind-blowing shots at the end of regulation and the first overtime to keep the game going. When K-State emerged victorious, it set off celebrations in Manhattan and left fans across the country saying they had just watched the game of the year.
Richmond to the rescue
K-State entered its Sweet 16 matchup with No. 1 seed Purdue as an underdog in 1988. The Boilermakers were one of the nations’ top teams and were playing close to home in Pontiac, Mich. But Mitch Richmond didn’t see things that way. Richmond scored a game-high 27 points to lead K-State to a 73-70 victory over Purdue that advanced it to the Elite Eight.
One moment, it looked like K-State was on the verge of sending the game to overtime. The next, the game was over. Trailing Marquette 67-64 in the final minute of the 1977 regional finals, Darryl Winston hit a tip-in layup while being fouled. But tips weren’t considered controlled shots at the time, so the basket was waved off. Instead of counting the basket and going to the free-throw line with a chance to tie the game, as would be the case under current rules, Winston went to the free-throw line with his team trailing by three. He made both free throws, and K-State lost. The NCAA adopted the “Winston Rule” the following year, allowing tips to be counted despite fouls, but that meant little to Winston. He vowed never to return to Oklahoma City, where the game was played. It wasn’t until K-State started the 2010 NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City as a No. 2 seed that Winston relented and returned to Oklahoma’s largest city.
Pullen vs. Fredette
According to the scoreboard, it was Kansas State vs. BYU. But it might as well have been Jacob Pullen vs. Jimmer Fredette. With a spot in the Sweet 16 at stake, Pullen out-played one of the nation’s hottest players in 2010. Pullen scored 34 points while hounding Fredette on defense, holding the current NBA guard to 21 points.
They won by one
Tyrone Adams scored 21 points against Arkansas in the second round of the 1985 NCAA Tournament, and K-State needed all 21 of them. The Wildcats walked away from a back-and-forth game with a 65-54 victory in Dallas that sent them to the Sweet 16.