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Saturday, April 19, 2014

K-State advances to play Syracuse

By TONY ADAME
The Wichita Eagle

The Kansas State men’s basketball team saved its fans from a lonely couple of days in the Steel City.

The Wildcats defeated Southern Mississippi 70-64 on Thursday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, setting up a Saturday showdown with top-seeded Syracuse in the East Regional.

The game will air starting at 11:15 a.m. on CBS.

Most K-State fans booked travel – hotel rooms and flights – through Sunday morning, betting that the Wildcats would beat the Golden Eagles. It’s the fourth straight time under fifth-year coach Frank Martin that K-State won its opening game in the tournament.

The K-State women’s team is also in the NCAA Tournament. It takes on Princeton at 10:20 a.m. Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn.

“I don’t want our fans to ever get spoiled,” K-State athletic director John Currie said. “We don’t want to take for granted that there are 250 men’s teams and 250 women’s teams that would kill to take our place.”

Tickets for tournament games at the Consol Energy Center are sold out, but scalpers outside the arena were selling tickets to the sessions for as low as $60. Friday’s announced attendance was 18,820 in the 19,000-seat facility.

K-State fans filled up a small section of the arena behind the Wildcats’ bench on Thursday.

“I’m grateful that we’re still playing, and I’m grateful for the tenacity of our team,” Currie said. “Nothing ever comes easy this time of year, but our group persevered and played defense when it mattered.”

Reach Tony Adame at 316-268-6284 or tadame@wichitaeagle.com.

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