It's hard to imagine any of Kansas State's regular-season games next season being any more physical than the 74-72 exhibition loss the Wildcats suffered in Brazil on Monday night.
Kansas State and Tijuca Club shot 78 free throws, 41 by the home team. Five Wildcats fouled out of the game. Referees assessed four technical fouls during the game and ejected new Kansas State coach Bruce Weber early in the fourth quarter for disputing a call that went against his team.
"It was tough, hard-fought loss tonight," Weber said in a release from the school. "It was a foul-plagued game with lots of technicals and double-fouls. I have been on many international trips and you never know what type of officials you are going to get in these games and FIBA rules are pretty different. They let us play pretty physical in our first three games and tonight we had five guys foul out, but give our kids credit for coming back."
Assistant coach Chris Lowery didn't sugarcoat anything on Twitter either, adding "Never been in a game where I was fearful that my players would get hurt."
Details are scant on exactly what led to Weber's ejection, but it's quelled any concerns that the former Illinois coach lacks the fire and passion of his predecessor. Not even crazy-eyed Frank Martin ever got ejected during an exhibition game.
The fact no Wildcats got hurt means the game's legacy may be as a bonding experience for the team.
After Tijuca scored nine of the first 12 points of the fourth quarter, all at the foul line, to take a 66-60 lead, Kansas State rallied without its coach. The Wildcats ripped off a 12-4 run capped by a Will Spradling 3-pointer, only to see their short-lived two-point lead vanish less than a minute later when a Tijuca player hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 45 seconds to go.
Rodney McGruder led four players in double figures with 16 points. Spradling added 12. And Weber took away some lessons from the game as well.
"We have to learn to keep our composure, and I didn't do a good job of that tonight, and I need to do better to help our kids," he said. "We will rebound and continue to get better."
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