Wildcats look to chase 16th-seed Retrievers from dream tournament run

Wildcats look to chase 16th-seed Retrievers from dream tournament run


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a stunning upset of overall No. 1 seed Virginia, Maryland-Baltimore County coaches and players could be excused for resting on their laurels. That isn’t likely to happen.

The underdog of all underdogs, the 16th-seeded Retrievers are looking to continue to dance as they face No. 9 seed Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday evening at Spectrum Center.

“We made history, but we try to block out everything,” said Jairus Lyles, who led the Retrievers with 28 points against Virginia. “We’ve got a tough team we have to play on Sunday. I think we’ll be ready.”

“We want to win every game we’re in,” UMBC forward Joe Sherburne said. “We think we have just as good a chance at winning this game as the last game and the game before that.”

After most of the team struggled chasing sleep after the big win, the biggest concern still may be a letdown for the Retrievers (25-10).

“It’s always a concern,” coach Ryan Odom said. “This was a historic event. We knew that would be an issue. But I’m not the type of guy that’s going to take their phones. It’s more about they’ve got to do the right thing.

“We experienced this on a much smaller scale when Jairus hit the (game-winning) shot at Vermont (in the America East Tournament final). Now this is a little bit different story here. We’ve got to encourage our guys to turn the page and focus here.”

UMBC’s style proved to be a tough matchup against Virginia, with Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett saying they couldn’t handle the Retrievers’ four-guard lineup.

But that may fall right into the hands of Kansas State. The Wildcats defeated Creighton using mostly four guards. There were times when the second-tallest player on the floor was 6-foot-2 Barry Brown, who likely will get the assignment of stopping — or at least slowing down — Lyles.

“I watched tape on him already when I found out that we were going to play them,” Brown said Saturday. “That’s going to be the guy I’m going to be guarding for most of the game. (I) see where he picks his spots and what he liked to do and how he likes to score. Hopefully I can shut him down.”

Kansas State (23-11) likely will be without All-Big 12 first-team forward Dean Wade, who missed the 69-59 victory over Creighton with a stress fracture in his left foot. He is a game-time decision, but Wildcats coach Bruce Weber is preparing for life without him.

“Dean did some stuff today again,” Weber said, “just a little bit on the court. I think if he plays it would be (on) a limited basis probably. But you know, miracles happen, and it would be nice to have him.

“Obviously we would have a nice matchup advantage if we had him inside. But (if) we don’t, it’s next man up. Mike (McGuirl) was it last night, Mak (Makol Mawien) was it against Kansas. We have to have somebody else step up tomorrow night.”

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