La Salle let an 18-point halftime lead slip away in the first 13 minutes of the second half, but scored the final five points to defeat fourth-seeded Kansas State 63-61 in front of 19,301 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center on Friday.
Jerrell Wright scored the final seven points from the line for La Salle (23-9), which advanced to play Mississippi in Sunday's third round.
Wright led the 13th-seeded Explorers with 21 points. Ramon Galloway added 19 for La Salle. Shane Southwell and Jordan Henriquez had 17 points apiece for Kansas State.
Kansas State (27-9), which appeared lethargic in the first half, used the energy of the crowd to surge back into contention.
La Salle is the team that had reason to be sluggish. The Explorers had just 40 hours between the end of their victory over Boise State Wednesday night at the First Four in Dayton and the tip-off to Friday's game.
But when the Wildcats took a 60-58 lead with 4:54 left, it was the Explorers who had life left. The Wildcats missed their last eight shots in the game, including Angel Rodriguez's baseline jumper just before the buzzer.
The Wildcats stormed out of the gate in the second half, cutting an 18-point deficit to 44-34 with an 8-0 run. After a basket by Wright extended the lead back to 12 points, Kansas State continued it rally. The Wildcats outscored La Salle 9-3 and had the margin down to just six points by the 11:56 mark.
After trading a few baskets, the Wildcats finally grabbed their first lead of the game at the 7:12 mark when Rodney McGruder tipped in a Southwell miss.
But the Wildcats couldn't shake the Explorers. K-State's largest lead of the game was two points, and when the Wildcats suddenly went cold from the field, victory eluded them.
La Salle jumped out quickly in the first half, scoring the first six points on two 3-pointers and grabbing a 24-9 lead by the second media timeout. The Explorers led by as many 19 points at 35-16, and led 44-26 at the half.
The Wildcats couldn't do much right. They were 11-of-29 from the field, including 1-of-8 from 3-point range. Southwell led the Wildcats with nine points at intermission.
Meanwhile, La Salle was torrid from the field. The Explorers hit 58 percent of their first-half shots (18-of-31), and they were 6-of-11 (55 percent) from long-range. They were led by Galloway, who had 15 points. Wright also had 10 points.
The Wildcats were 13th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4 to 1). But in the first half, they had four assists and seven turnovers, while LaSalle had 10 assists and just two turnovers.
NOTES: This game was a rematch of the first round of the 1988 NCAA Tournament. All-American Mitch Richmond led Kansas State past La Salle and All-American Lionel Simmons, 66-53. Kansas State advanced to the Elite 8 that season...The Explorers were looking for a second win in the tournament for the first time since 1955, when they reached the championship game in defense of their national title. Kansas State was in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year, 27th overall. The Wildcats stand 33-30 all time, including reaching four Final Fours and the 1951 national championship game.