Kansas State fans were cautiously optimistic about the teams 4-0 start and the prospects of destroying the Oakland Golden Grizzlies from Michigan. After all Oakland was winless and should be easy pickings for the Wildcats to continue their undefeated start to the season.
That could not be further from the truth as Oakland hit 7-12 from the 3-point line in the first 10 minutes of the game and took a lead into halftime. The Golden Grizzlies enjoyed a shooting half that all teams dream of . This caused whispers and nervous moments around Bramledge from everyone in the K-State camp.
As hot as Oakland was from three point range in their first dozen attempts, it ended just as quick as they missed their next 14 attempts. This was due to Oakland cooling off tremendously and the Wildcats stepped up the defensive pressure. This allowed Kansas State to finally put away the scrappy players from the state of Michigan and moved their record to 5-0 with a 76-69 win.
Jeremiah Massey brought his most complete game so far in this early season as he finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Massey , overlooked for preseason all Big 12 put up numbers, all of the coaching staff expect out of him every time he takes the floor. Massey turning in the second double-double of his 2004 season and he pulled down a much needed 15 rebounds.
There were a couple of sophomores who sparked the Wildcats and proved to be the difference in the game. Cartier Martin hit 5-7 from the field and 3 of 4 from 3 point line and added 5 assists. Lance Harris came in and gave K-State 8 big points and 3 assists. Both of these players seem to be relaxing, not putting as pressure on themselves and seemed primed to be valuable pieces to this years team.
After the Oakland win it was off the first road trip of the season and not to a nice tropical location but into the deep freeze of Casper, Wyoming where everyday there is at least a 20 percent chance of snow even in July.
K-State took on the Cowboys of Wyoming who came into the game with a record of 4-2. This was one of the most exciting games in recent Wildcat basketball history as the Cats remained undefeated, downing Wyoming 63-61 before a stunned crowd at the Casper Events Center. This represents the best start from the Kansas State men's team since the 97-98 season.
Fred Peete continues to show moments of brilliance, and showed why to this point in the season he is the newcomer of the year as he sparked the Wildcats down the stretch . Peete scored the final 8 points of the game as the Cats outscored Wyoming 17-5 in the last 3 minutes of the game. The game winner was an unbelievable spinning lay up to put the game on ice for K-State.
The game midway through the second half was controlled by the Cowboys as the Wildcats were struggling to score and rebound the ball. The Cowboys Jay Straight hit a three point shot that gave the home team a 56-47 lead and an apparent victory.
Fortunately for Kansas State there were some key plays including a 3 point basket from Clent Stewart and solid play from Lance Harris combined with the great stretch from Fred Peete left Wyoming with no answers to what Kansas State was throwing at them.
Kansas State struggled at the free throw line the entire game, but they made up for it by hitting 51 percent from the field including 10-13 for Peete and Lance Harris hit 5-8. The Wildcats only scored 17 points through the first 17 minutes of the second half , K-State scored a remarkable17 points in the final three minutes.
Jeremiah Massey after what many thought was a breakout performance against Oakland was a non-factor for the Wildcats finishing with only 7 points and 5 rebounds. The rest of the Wildcats picked up the slack in the rebounding department as they out boarded Wyoming.
Marcus Hayden is one front court player who came to play against Wyoming. With Massey having an off night Hayden played tough defense, ran the floor well and did the fundamental things that don't show up in the box score. Its these kinds of role players who come through night after night that help to make a solid all around team.
The now 6-0 Wildcats enjoyed their first on the road victory over a non-conference opponent in 2 years. Game by game this team is starting to believe in one another, bad breaks don't affect them, if one of the go to guys is having a night off someone picks up the slack. If one part of their game is off such as free throws in the Wyoming game, another part is on such as their shooting percentage from the field, or the teams work on the boards. The other reason is the addition of Fred Peete a player still learning on the job but he has guts, tons of potential, and a no quit attitude that seems to be spreading to his teammates.
K-State returns to action next Saturday as Texas San Antonio comes to Bramledge with a 7pm tip-off.
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