After No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic's 79-76 win over No. 3 seed Kansas State in the Elite Eight on Saturday, the Owls received an unlikely visitor in their locker room. Amid the sting of defeat, K-State coach Jerome Tang stopped by to congratulate FAU and implore the Owls to keep progressing as the program's historic NCAA Tournament run continues to the Final Four.
"Your toughness, your togetherness, your ability to make plays for each other, the way you communicate with each other, nobody can beat ya'll," Tang told FAU. "So just stay together, don't get distracted between now and then. Stay locked in, keep doing what you're doing. Ya'll are the toughest son of a guns we played all year long. Just proud of ya'll and going to be rooting for you."
Though the gesture was an unorthodox and old-school move, it was indicative of the passion and love that Tang coached with all season. Tang, 56, just completed his first season at Kansas State after two decades as a Baylor assistant under Scott Drew. He earned Big 12 Coach of the Year honors for immediately turning the Wildcats from a 14-17 team before his arrival to a 26-10 team that reached the Elite Eight.
"Y'all the toughest son of a guns we played all year long."— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 26, 2023
Jerome Tang visited the FAU locker room to congratulate the Owls. 👏 pic.twitter.com/DUw0H49xSM
Though his team was just a few points away from reaching K-State's first Final Four of the modern era, Tang was spotted encouraging each player and staff member as the Wildcats left the floor at Madison Square Garden amid the defeat.
"In the midst of probably one of the toughest things that I've experienced with these guys, if we can't be grateful in these times, then all the love and joy that we talk about is fraud," Tang said in his postgame press conference. "We're not frauds. I want to give FAU and Coach a lot of credit. They did a great job. They were tough, they were together and they made big shots."