Weber: Fans Were Yelling At Us Like We Were Villains

K-State was not a fan favorite against UMBC; that likely won't change against Kentucky

Tiki and Tierney
March 20, 2018 - 5:11 pm

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When Bruce Weber saw Kansas State’s draw on Selection Sunday, he had two goals: prepare for No. 8 Creighton and, just in case, prepare for No. 1 Virginia.  Needless to say, he was not expecting No. 16 UMBC to make history and beat the Cavaliers.

“I would say zero percent,” Weber said on Tiki and Tierney, when asked what chance he gave UMBC of beating Virginia. “We did assign a coach to them. He might have watched a game or two, but I promise you we didn’t have a bunch of info.”

Weber, however, learned a thing or two about the Retrievers during their opening-round win. He figured that Virginia would ultimately come back, but a 10-point deficit ballooned to 20 in a blink.

“It didn’t change,” Weber said of Virginia's deficit. “In fact, it went the other way. (UMBC is) a good team. Their defense really disrupts you. I love Tony Bennett. I think he’s great. But UMBC was the better team on the court that night.”

Kansas State (24-11), to its credit, survived UMBC, 50-43, on Sunday to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010. The N. 9 Wildcats will face the No. 5 Wildcats – in this case, Kentucky (26-10) – on Thursday at 9:37 p.m. ET in Atlanta.

Philips Arena will likely feature a pro-Kentucky crowd, which Weber doesn’t mind.

“It was a home game for UMBC,” he said, laughing. “People are throwing things at us and yelling at us like we were villains. We had everybody against us the other night. I’m sure it’s going to be a pro-Kentucky crowd. We’re hoping that the neutral people – the Loyolas and the Nevadas – might cheer for us a little bit, but you just got to deal with it. I think the biggest thing for me is can we guard them? Can we rebound? They have such great length.”

Dean Wade’s presence would greatly improve Kansas State’s chances of winning. The 6-10 forward has missed the Wildcats’ last three games with a stress fracture in his foot. He brings production in addition to size. In fact, he’s averaging 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds and shoots 44.0 percent from three – all team-highs.

Weber said Wade will practice Wednesday with the hope of playing Thursday.

“We’re hoping to have him a little bit, but for three games in a row we haven’t had him and we’ve been okay,” Weber said. “We’ll have to make some shots, there’s no doubt about that.”