FORT WORTH, Texas — Kansas State coach Bruce Weber had a message for his team before playing at TCU in a matchup of teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
“I kept telling them, it’s March 1, our March Madness starts today,” Weber said.
Wesley Iwundu scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds in his record 119th career start for Kansas State, and the Wildcats held on for a 75-74 victory Wednesday night. TCU got within one point five times after trailing by 11 at the half.
“We advanced in our little week bracket,” said Weber, whose team had lost eight of 10. “Fought for our life and out-battled them,”
Iwundu said the team has always tried to stay positive, even after a 30-point loss at Oklahoma on Saturday.
“Our mindset after that game, we had a team meeting, just put everything behind us and play for what’s next,” Iwundu said. “We did a great job of that.”
Dean Wade had 20 points for the Wildcats (18-12, 7-10 Big 12), while Kamau Stokes had 16 points with seven assists. D.J Johnson added 12 points.
The tournament chances for TCU (17-13, 6-11) under first-year coach Jamie Dixon took a significant hit. The Frogs lost their sixth consecutive game, and the last two were both at home and by one point.
“This one hurts more than any loss I’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Brandon Parrish, one of four TCU seniors playing their final home games. “This is definitely the most devastating, just the fact that we had so much on the line and we kind of gave it away.”
Vlad Brodziansky had 18 points for the Horned Frogs, who four days earlier lost 61-60 at home to 10th-ranked West Virginia, which got its game-winning free throw with 4.8 seconds left after a questionable foul call.
Officials had to get between players in the home finale after Brodziansky was fouled and ended up on his stomach on the floor with 14 1/2 minutes left in the game.
In the aftermath of that, technical fouls were called on Stokes and TCU freshman point guard Jaylen Fisher, who was clearly agitated after apparently taking a shot to the face.
That spurred a 10-2 run by the Frogs to get them within 50-49 on Parrish’s 3-pointer with 10:55 left.
Alex Robinson had 14 points, including a 3-pointer right before the buzzer. Kenrich Williams had 13 points with 11 rebounds, and Parrish had 11 points.
Kansas State: Weber believes his team should have a good shot at an NCAA berth if they can finish with eight conference wins in the Big 12. He said if a team with eight Big 12 wins is left out of the NCAA Tournament, then somebody needs to check on the league’s publicity.
TCU: This is another one of those games that Dixon knows his team has to learn how to win — especially at home. The Frogs went 13-6 at home, but the last two really hurt. “Couldn’t have been a more disappointing loss than this,” Dixon said.
OFF AND SHOOTING
Dean swished a 3-pointer on the opening shot of the game. He finished 8-of-15 shooting with four 3s, after making only one shot three times in the previous five games. “The coaches have been telling me to shot with confidence,” he said. “When you make the first one, the rim kind of looks like it starts to open up a little bit.”
ALL IN A ROW
All of Parrish’s 11 points came in a 5 1/2-minute stretch when no one else scored for TCU. “Coming out of halftime, I knew I had 20 more minutes left in my career at home, and figured why not go out and shoot with confidence,” he said. “Go out and give it my all.”
Kansas State: Finishes the regular season at home Saturday against Texas Tech.