Long before most of us can remember, Kansas State was a force in the world of college basketball. Nine NCAA Tournaments in 12 seasons. One year, they upset heavily favored Kentucky in a run to the Elite Eight. The next year they helped dethrone in-state villain Kansas’s long reign at the top and won a share of their conference title.
Those were in the olden days of 2019. (You know, the before times. No one remembers what that was like.) And 21 full months later, the Division II Fort Hays State University Tigers marched into Manhattan and completely shut down the Power 5 Wildcats en-route to an 81-68 win.
Not a misprint.
Kansas State loses a buy game to Fort Hays State. The epitome of brutality.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 9, 2020
Don’t be fooled by my nonchalant tone here. This is shocking, shocking, SHOCKING stuff. K-State was not exactly expected to contend this year — the 1-3 start illustrated that well — but after their matchup with Butler was canceled, this was supposed to be a wipeout.
Which it was! The Tigers never trailed, led by six at the break and after a 12-1 run midway through the second half, led by 21 points and cruised to the finish line.
You love to see it #DefendTheFort pic.twitter.com/CxE3wpPuKG— Tiger Hoops (@fhsutigerhoops) December 9, 2020
Now I know exactly what you’re thinking — those early season wins by Drake and UNLV don’t mean as much anymore. OK, fine, that’s true. But to cure your sorrow, read up on these eight things to show you just how awesome and improbable this win was:
- Fort Hays State lost its first three D-II games of the year. But of course that statement is quite misleading. It doesn’t tell you they lost by only eight combined points to absolute juggernauts Washburn, Emporia State, and Nebraska-Kearney.
- This is the first non-D-I win on the road over a major team since Texas A&M Corpus Christi took down Texas Tech in 2000. I almost left out “on the road” and pissed off some Silversword fans.
- Fort Hays was picked to finish SEVENTH in its conference. Five bucks if you can name one of the six teams projected ahead of them in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
- This game counted for K-State, but not for FHSU. Ha. Haha. HahahaHAHAHahahahaha.
- The Tigers’ were without their head coach. Even though they lost four of their five leading scorers from last year, one thing the Tigers’ were counting on was coaching continuity — this is Mark Johnson’s 20th season at the helm. But after Johnson tested positive (and with the top assistant out too for contact tracing), the program turned to Todd Johnston, in his 30th year of life. Soon to be Bruce Weber’s replacement?
- Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy started as a GA at FHSU. Jesus, Mike. Pouring water all over an otherwise great night for the Tigers.
- FHSU is located in Hays, Kansas, which every year hosts a Wild West Festival, Polka Fest, and two Oktoberfests (Oktobersfest?). If the Wildcats need a place to drown their feelings, they know where to go. Oh right, pandemic. (Side note about the Wild West piece: Hays was once home to famous Wild Westerners Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Self--er, Hickock.)
- Fort Hays State evened the all-time series at three apiece with the win. Sure, the other two were in 1936 and 1938, but enough to form a budding in-state rivalry, perhaps?
Hey, though, we get it KSU. Times are hard, and you’re trying your best. High five.
Oh you don’t—oh, you don’t want one. Ok. Awkward.