These Cats Wreck Red Raiders

These Cats are on a roll and some coaches are saying that Coach Martin has his squad playing better basketball than anyone in the Big 12. Cats Wreck the Raiders and continue to roll up victories. Are the Cats Peaking? And who stands in their way?

It was after Wednesday's Kansas State game with Texas Tech that Red Raider coach Pat Knight said that no team in the Big 12 was playing any better basketball than the Wildcats.

After opening Big 12 play 0-4, the Wildcats huffed-and-puffed their way to an overtime win at Colorado, which Knight said, "... gave them confidence. It snowballed from there. You win a couple, and that gives you confidence. You realize you can actually play with guys. Frank (Martin) has them playing at the right time."

K-State did beat Colorado in overtime, and then smacked Missouri by 16, followed by an OT win at Texas, a 15-pointer over Iowa State, and then a third road win over Texas A&M before Wednesday's 85-73 win over Texas Tech.

That's six Big 12 wins in a row for a 6-4 fourth-place standing in the Big 12 Conference. "Our kids have fought hard to get back in the conversation for March," Martin said in reference to the NCAA Tournament.

But, that's where his compliments stopped. "What have we proven? What have we proven?" Martin asked, and then re-asked. "That we can win 17 games and that we can be 6-4 in the Big 12 after 10 games? You don't prove anything until the season is over. That's when you sit down and reflect."

Martin later added, "You can't start planning a parade down College Avenue just because you're 6-4. You have to finish the year." Still, the fact is, K-State has won six Big 8/12 games in a row for only the second time since the 1987-88 season.

The last time K-State enjoyed a seven-game win streak was in 1976-77 when Jack Hartman's gang finished the year with eight wins, and then added another two in winning the Big 8 Tournament.

For this K-State team, the six-win streak is a special accomplishment because it's something that the Michael Beasley-Bill Walker team of 2007-08 did not do. And a seventh win -- against Kansas on Saturday at 2:30 -- would really, really be special.

"It would mean a lot (to beat KU.) It would prove a lot for us as a team," said sophomore guard Jacob Pullen. "From the start of the season to now, people still say that without Mike (Beasley), we still can't do this and that, but if we win Saturday, it'll prove how hard we've worked since we lost to Wisconsin (NCAA Tournament) and since we knew we weren't going to have Mike (Beasley) and Bill (Walker) this year. It shows how hard we've worked to improve as a team."

This K-State team has won three Big 12 road games, and become the first Wildcat team to ever start the year 0-4 and later be over .500 in conference play. If it makes either the postseason tournaments, it would mark only the fourth time that has ever happened with a team opening the year 0-4.

But Martin warns that all of that will mean nothing unless growth continues.

Unless K-State can finish the strong, as Martin says, "We've won six in a row ... who cares?"

He adds, "Let's see how much we continue to grow and how willing we are to expand on who we are. We need to keep these young kids humble and understanding what we're supposed to do. At the end of the day, if I can't do that, then I'm not doing my job."


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