With five minutes remaining Wednesday night against Iowa State, Kansas State held a 47-44 lead, and it seemed that the Wildcats would be looking to place an ad in the lost and found section of the paper to locate their missing offense.
That's when Jeremiah Massey took over. Beginning with a thunderous tomahawk slam after slicing through the lane, Massey would score nine of his game-high 23 points in the final 4:58 of the game. His presence was also felt on the defensive end, blocking a 3-pointer that could have cut the Wildcats' lead to three points with near 30 seconds to play.
Coach Jim Wooldridge praised Massey's late performance. "He's a big key," Wooldridge said. "He gave us the offense we needed down the stretch to win the game."
"(Massey's dunk) really got the momentum back to our side," said Cartier Martin. Martin was also impressed by the highlight-worthiness of Massey's slam. "That should be on Sportscenter there- Top Ten."
Massey wasn't as quick to pat himself on the back. "I see some awesome dunks every night," Massey said. "I don't think it would make Top Ten."
Just four days after a disappointing performance where he scored just seven points and shot a mere 42 percent from the field, Cartier Martin seemed determined from the start to help his team out more on the offensive end. As the team went back to the locker rooms following pre-game warm-ups, Martin refused to leave the floor until he hit a 3-pointer. The persistence seemed to pay off in the first half, as Martin scored 15 points, shooting 5-7, including 4-6 from behind the arc.
"I knocked some shots down in the beginning and got into the zone," Martin said. "We jumped out to an early lead and took it from there.
Peete also rebounded nicely from this sub par shooting against Texas A&M. Peete had 15 points, after scoring just two on 1-11 shooting against the Aggies.
"We had to come out and do the things we needed to do to win, and that's what we did," Peete said.
"We gotta have guys come in and knock shots down every game," Massey said of his teammates stepping up their offense.
The main concerns of the Wildcats' victory against the Cyclones seemed to lie in the 19 turnovers they committed. Wooldridge showed concern, but also pointed to the style of basketball the Cyclones play night-in-and-night-out.
"Obviously we made a lot of mistakes," Wooldridge said. "…It appears to me that everyone makes a lot of mistakes against them. Turnovers are higher and steals that they generate are higher than what you normally see." Notching his first career start for the Wildcats was Tyler Hughes.
Hughes made an immediate impact on the defensive end; forcing two Jared Homan misses, including one air ball. Hughes would struggle on the offensive end, though, failing to score. Justin Williams manned the center position in the crunch-time minutes of the ballgame. The Wildcats played another game without Marques Hayden at 100 percent.
Hayden, again struggling with migraine headaches, played just six first half minutes before retreating to the locker room, where he would stay for the rest of the game. Concerning Hayden, Wooldridge said, "The first thing we're concerned about is health."
Attendance for the game was just 6,713, but the student section again made themselves heard. Of particular note was when seldom-used Cyclone reserve Aaron Agnew entered the game. Why would the students hold such an infatuation with an opposing player? Perhaps due to the fact that at 6-foot-10, 365 pounds, his size more closely resembles a professional wrestler than a basketball player.
The students roared with his entrance to the contest, only to see him leave the floor 21 seconds later, after fouling Massey. It was the professional wrestling equivalent of a DQ victory for Massey.
Massey said the size of his foe was a little daunting. "I looked over at (Jared) Homan, he said ‘good luck.'" Wooldridge was not surprised that Massey took the ball right at the big man and drew the foul. "I think Jeremiah… can make plays on a lot of people," Wooldridge said.
Next up for the Wildcats is a visit to Columbia to face the Tigers on Saturday. "(The Missouri) game is another must win," Peete said. "We have to come out Saturday and win to move up in the Big 12.
With the games remaining on their schedule, it seems the Wildcats have their work cut out for them to achieve their goal of postseason play. If they win all the remaining games on their schedule against the schools that don't have a Kansas, Oklahoma or Texas in their name they would stand at 8-8 in the Big 12 and 18-9 overall. Pulling an upset against one of the top teams would dramatically increase their chances. Then again, it all starts at Missouri on Saturday.
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