The final second of No. 13 Kansas State’s 64-61 win at Baylor on Saturday night couldn’t have been more symbolic.
With the game tied and just 1.0 on the clock, Baylor had the ball under the Kansas State basket, needing to go the length of the floor, Tate George-style, to get a bucket and beat the Wildcats in a game they desperately needed for their NCAA tournament profile.
The play Scott Drew draws up? A full-court pass to 7-foot-1 Isaiah Austin at the rim. Ideal in theory, until the guy throwing the ball in-bounds tossed it over Austin’s outstretched arms and out of bounds without being touched.
Kansas State ball, under their own basket, setting up this final play, where the Bears somehow manage to forget to guard the Wildcat’s best player:
Fitting, isn’t it?
But there’s more to the story than a simple chuckle about Baylor and Scott Drew.
The Bears needed this win. Badly. Their NCAA tournament prospects are slowly but surely slipping through their fingers as they continue to miss out on the kind of quality wins they need to bolster what is a weak profile. The Bears will still have their chances — they get Kansas at home and still have to play in the Big 12 tournament — but the likelihood of seeing Pierre Jackson donning fluorescent yellow in the Big Dance is now severely diminished.
Kansas State, on the other hand, still holds their Big 12 destiny in their hands.
They entered Saturday tied with Kansas for first place in the conference standings. A loss here would have dropped them a game back with two games left. The Jayhawks still look like the favorite, as K-State’s final game of the season is a trip to Gallagher-Iba Arena to take on Oklahoma State, but thanks to McGruder, Kansas State can still earn their share of the Big 12 title without having to hope for a Jayhawk loss.
I wonder how many Illinois fans are scratching their heads watching a Bruce Weber team finish the season strong?
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.