UMBC's surprising run ends with loss to Kansas State

Joann Johnston
March 21, 2018

"This moment gives a little bit of life to my country, and I'm very proud and happy for that".

Don't get me wrong, now.

Until it did a similar Lazarus routine vs Texas, coming from 14 down to win, Nevada was best known for NFL national anthem kneeler Colin Kaepernick and for former Cleveland Cavalier Edgar Jones. He is a second-team America East All-Conference selection who stayed for his senior year when he could have transferred and been eligible immediately because he was going to be a graduate student.

And when Arkel Lamer made a 3-pointer from the corner with 3 1/2 minutes left to put UMBC up by 17 and backpedaled down the court with his tongue hanging out, you knew history was inevitable. That said, there's still some growing for Bennett to do to get his Virginia program over the hump. The talent is there, and has been. But that was the regular season.

Could anyone in a similar setting handle a gut-wrenching loss with the class and poise that Virginia's Tony Bennett did nearly immediately after the loss?

Both teams appeared tired emotionally and physically after winning huge games two days earlier.

The team's Cinderella run may be over, but they did something no other NCAA team has ever done before and that is reason to celebrate. With this loss, Virginia has done itself one better-or, that is, worse.

At that point, his old team was up by almost 20 points in what would end in a 74-54 rout of one-seed Virginia.

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UMBC didn't zone Virginia, but in effect out-Virginia'd Virginia, with heavy ball pressure, post doubles and aggressive approaches to screens. The payout system means that one upset by UMBC should be worth more than $1.7 million. "We definitely didn't think we were going out tonight".

Virginia's defensive strategy further reinforced this weakness. Virginia would shoot 4-for-22 from behind the arc in the loss. Brown scored eight of his 10 first-half points in the final five minutes before halftime.

By about 9:45 Friday night, as 16th-seeded UMBC sustained its second-half lead over Virginia in a South Regional first-round game at Charlotte, North Carolina, there must have been thousands of Google searches on the "UMBC" acronym.

Kentucky is 9-0 all-time against Kansas State, including a 56-49 win in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament and a 68-58 win over the Wildcats in the 1951 national championship game.

The teams shared some common opponents, including Georgia (KSU defeated 56-51), Vanderbilt (KSU defeated 84-79), Kansas (KSU lost three times, 73-72, 70-56 and 83-67) and West Virginia (KSU lost 77-69).

The old adage that basketball is a game of quickness as much as height was proven when quicker UMBC made Virginia disappear faster than Trump University.

Adding some flexibility in terms of something like the postup for Jerome, iso plays, some basic pick-and-rolls on different spots on the floor, some more sophisticated sets, whatever the case, would give the coaches some more ammunition to use in in-game situations where an opponent has success in taking away the base offense. "As soon as we slowed things down and moved it around and ran our plays, we got good shots, good looks and that really helped us".

I'll see myself off to drifting out to sea.

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