If No. 16 UNC-Asheville could run Syracuse to the wire in the Round of 64, Kansas State had to have some confidence heading into their Round of 32 game against the Orange, but then they lost big man Jamar Samuels.
Reportedly because of nothing that had to do with academic problems or behavior, Samuels sat and the Wildcats were without their best rebounder when they could have used him the most.
Though they won the battle on the glass, Kansas State shot an abysmal 31% from the floor and fell to No. 1-seeded Syracuse, 75-59, in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Dion Waiters had 18 points and Scoop Jardine had 16 for the Orange, who shot 51% from the floor and were able to get to the line 29 times, hitting nearly 80%.
The Syracuse zone was alive, with active hands and their signature length coming through with much more consistency than against UNC-Asheville in their first game.
Freshman Rakeem Christmas was an important piece for Syracuse, putting up eight points and 11 rebounds in a breakout game as he filled in for the academically ineligible Fab Melo.
Christmas led the battle on the front lines, where Kansas State didn’t have the depth to compete with Syracuse.
Samuels’ absence forced Jordan Henriquez to take on a bigger role, which he accepted and thrived in, with 10 points and 16 rebounds, including 10 offensive rebounds. The fault was not Henriquez’s, but more so the Wildcats’ inability to keep pace with the Orange for 40 minutes.
That effect stretched out to the perimeter, where Kansas State was unable to hit with relative consistency from the 3-point range, unlike UNC-Asheville on Thursday afternoon.
The Orange move on to play the winner of Vanderbilt and Wisconsin.