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On the brink of a choke, La Salle upsets Kansas State

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There are different ways to absorb a smack in the face with the two-by-four. La Salle chose the second half of Friday's West regional Round-of-64 game against Kansas State.

After shooting 63 percent in the play-in game against Boise, the Explorers blew an 18-point halftime lead against the fourth-seeded Wildcats only to rebound to win 63-61. The Explorers suddenly look a lot like VCU a couple of years ago.

And guess who just feels like it just got hit with a length of maple? The fourth-seeded Wildcats who had momentum and a sold-out Sprint Center behind it.

Forward Jerrell Wright converted all four of his free throws in the final 30 seconds to rally the Explorers back from a 61-60 deficit. Angel Rodriguez's baseline jumper fell short for K-State as time expired.

"It is the worst feeling in the world," said K-State's Rodney McGruder.

After leading 44-26 at halftime, La Salle was blitzed 31-12 in the first 13 minutes of the second half. K-State's Rodney McGruder hit a jumper to put the Wildcats ahead 57-56 with 7:12 left. Then the Wildcats had a dry patch of their own missing 10 of their last 11 shots.

The Explorers have traveled from Dayton for the play-in game to Kansas City to play the Big 12 co-champs, barely rested, and now have two tournament wins for the first time since finishing runner-up in 1955. They will play Ole Miss Sunday here in a Round-of-32 game.

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