Cats by a whisker over Hornets

If close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, the Kansas State Wildcats were nearly in a duck-and-cover situation Thursday night. K-State beat Emporia State 79-75, but held a 17-point lead at one point in the second half.

Coach Jim Wooldridge said he wasn't sure what to take away from the exhibition contest, because there were "so many games within the game." What was he talking about? Consider the following: Emporia State opened up the game by jumping out to a 10-0 lead. The Wildcats followed with their own 16-0 run. The rest of the first half played out fairly evenly, with the Wildcats leading 41-32 at the break. The second half was just as unpredictable. K-State jumped out to a 57-40 lead with just under 14 minutes remaining. Emporia State pulled within a point with a 19-3 run, and would later tie the ballgame.

The Wildcats pulled out the victory, mainly due to greater athleticism, Wooldridge said.

Junior Lance Harris, for one, was not pleased with the breakdown in the second half. "We can't let that happen," Harris said, "and we almost paid the price for it."

The Cats had difficulty on the defensive end throughout the game. Junior Cartier Martin said the Wildcats know that they have to improve their defensive play. "We'll have to make (defense) an emphasis in practice, working on our 'D', switching and helping on ball screens," Martin said. "We let those guys get open toward the end there, and they knocked down some shots and got back in the game."

Repeating last week's theme, this Wildcat team has plenty of improvement to make. Wooldridge said that when analyzing all the various components of the squad, it is basically the "newest team" he's coached while at K-State.
"It's like we just arrived here," Wooldridge said. "We've got a new mentality, a new system of play and were perhaps not nearly as grounded in certain aspects of the game that we were a year ago." He also mentioned the roles of Martin, Harris and Clent Stewart having changed, along with the influx of new players.

Player of the game-

Cartier Martin

After a seven-point outing in the first contest, Martin stepped up big against Emporia State. Martin finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. He also shot 10-16 from the field, including 4-6 from behind the arc. Wooldridge was pleased with Martin's game. "He looked like he wanted to step up and make the critical and crucial plays when we needed it," Wooldridge said. "Somebody on your team needs the fortitude and the ability to make those plays, and he showed that tonight."

The debuts keep coming.

Freshman Darren Kent saw his first playing time as a Wildcat on Thursday. Kent played 4 minutes. When not in the ballgame, he was often riding the stationary bike on the sidelines. "It was good we got him in there," Wooldridge said. "We needed to get that done."
Different post rotation.

In the murky picture that is the Wildcats' post situation, Serge Afeli, not Tyler Hughes, was the first player off the bench. The student section roared in approval as the new fan favorite came on to the floor. Afeli totaled two rebounds and a block in seven minutes of action. Hughes played six minutes and scored two points.

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