Florida Atlantic continues Cinderella run, clinches Final Four berth in instant classic over Kansas State


Florida Atlantic’s magic carpet ride will now head to Houston.

The ninth-seeded Owls are off to the Final Four after taking down No. 3 Kansas State, 79-76, in an instant classic.

The Wildcats trailed by four at the half but stormed out of the locker room to a 19-8 run to take a seven-point lead, their largest of the night.

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Jalen Gaffney (12) and Bryan Greenlee (4) of the Florida Atlantic Owls celebrate after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament at Madison Square Garden March 25, 2023, in New York City. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

But that didn’t deter the Owls. Kansas State didn’t score for close to five minutes, and FAU dropped 10 unanswered points to take a four-point lead with four minutes to go.

FAU drilled a 3-pointer to take a 70-64 lead with less than three minutes to play. Several seconds later, the Wildcats’ Keyontae Johnson fouled out. Alijah Martin went to the line and drilled two free throws, and the Owls’ eight-point lead with 2:44 to go was the largest of the night. It was a 15-1 run for FAU.

New Yorker Marqkuis Norwell drilled a deep three-pointer to cut the deficit to three points with just over 90 ticks left. The Owls missed a one-and-one, but they grabbed their own rebound and netted a layup to go back up five.

The Florida Atlantic Owls celebrate after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament at Madison Square Garden March 25, 2023, in New York City.

The Florida Atlantic Owls celebrate after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament at Madison Square Garden March 25, 2023, in New York City. (Elsa/Getty Images)

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Norwell hit a pair of free throws to again make it a three-point game with 1:06 remaining. The Owls air-balled a three, and it was Wildcats’ ball with 39.2 seconds left. Norwell missed a layup, yet the Owls only made one free throw on the other end. A wild, deep 3-pointer by Kansas State made it a one-point game with 22.8 seconds to go.

FAU’s Michael Forrest knocked a pair of free throws to go back up three, and the Wildcats had 17.9 seconds. They again cut it to one, and the Owls went to the line with 6.9 seconds for two shots. Forrest again hit both, and Kansas State was unable to get a shot off as the final buzzer sounded.

The Owls put on a clinic on the offensive glass, grabbing 14 offensive boards to Kansas State’s five, and the Wildcats had just 17 defensive rebounds. The Owls also took advantage of their trips to the charity stripe, going 18-for-22, while Kansas State went 12-for-18.

Bryan Greenlee (4) and Alijah Martin (15) of the Florida Atlantic Owls celebrate after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament at Madison Square Garden March 25, 2023, in New York City. 

Bryan Greenlee (4) and Alijah Martin (15) of the Florida Atlantic Owls celebrate after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament at Madison Square Garden March 25, 2023, in New York City.  (Al Bello/Getty Images)

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FAU awaits the winner of No. 5 San Diego State and No. 6 Creighton. It’s FAU’s first Final Four appearance in school history.



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