Salt Lake City The guards that carried Kansas State to a school-record 29 victories couldn’t get the Wildcats a 30th victory.
Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente — the backcourt duo that had combined for a 35-point average — had to fight through Butler’s relentless defense and never were able to get the Wildcats up to their usual offensive speed in a 63-56 loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday in the West Regional final.
It was Kansas State’s lowest-scoring game of the season and only the fifth time the Wildcats finished with less than 70 points.
“We weren’t able to guard. We had defensive breakdowns. We didn’t make shots,” said Pullen, who finished with 14 points after being shut out for the first half. “We made some bad decisions on offense, and they capitalized. They’re a good team.”
Butler was headed home to Indianapolis for the Final Four. The Wildcats (29-8) were just heading home.
Two days after holding off Xavier in double overtime to advance, Kansas State was playing from behind most of the game Saturday.
“This game was more emotionally draining I think than the last game,” said Curtis Kelly, who kept Kansas State alive with 12 points in the first half but scored only two in the second. “I didn’t feel as in control. I felt like we kept having to fight back.”
After rallying from 11 points down to take a brief lead, the Wildcats struggled to score down the stretch as Butler used a 9-0 run to put away the game and keep the Wildcats from reaching the Final Four for the first time since 1964.