Revenge On The Minds Of The Wildcats

MANHATTAN, Kan. - K-State has played, and lost, to Xavier in each of the last two years. That is definitely on the mind of the Wildcats as they set to play the Musketeers Tuesday night at 8 in Bramlage Coliseum.

Jacob Pullen called it "… the worst New Years Eve I've ever had in my life."

It was Dec. 31, 2007, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Kansas State was playing Xavier in the U.S. Bank Arena.

Final Score: Xavier 103, Kansas State 77.

Jacob Pullen bluntly says, "I wouldn't say it's a rivalry, but they left a bitter taste in my mouth. I really want to beat them by a lot. It's like being beat up by a kid. You see that dude later on and you're not going to like him. He's not going to be a friend."

It was a game where freshman sensation Michael Beasley forgot his shoes; it was a game where Beasley had three turnovers and Bill Walker missed consecutive shots to open the game; it was a game where K-State was 3-of-17 from the field with eight turnovers in the first 13 minutes; it was a game that Xavier led early, 30-7; and it was a game where Walker had 31 and Fred Brown 25, but the rest of the team scored just 21 points, which included Beasley scoring five on 1-of-6 shooting.

"They were telling jokes during free throws," said Pullen, who was 1-of-5 from the field.

"They were having a good time at our cost. (Pause) I'm excited about this game." Kansas State, which also lost to Xavier on Jan. 3, 2007, 76-66, will play host to the Musketeers Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum.

"We talked about that game as soon as the game (Saturday's win over Washington State) was over," said KSU coach Frank Martin. "That's the worst loss I've ever had as a college basketball coach."

Martin stressed, "I'm a prideful guy. I don't forget those things."

But the coach of the 7-1 Wildcats knows it will not be easy.

Xavier is 5-2 with wins over Youngstown State, Bowling Green Sacred Heart, Creighton and Kent State, while the losses have been to Baylor and Marquette.

The Musketeers are averaging 81 points per game and giving up 64. Xavier is shooting 50 percent as a team and allowing teams to net just 38 percent of their shots.

Jordan Crawford, a 6-foot-4, sophomore, leads the club with an 18.9 scoring average, while Jason Love (6-9, senior) averages a double-double of 11.0 and 10.9.

K-State counters with an 81-point team average on 46 percent shooting. Defensively, the Wildcats allow 67 points per game on 40 percent shooting.

Pullen and Denis Clemente lead four twin figure scorers at 18.6 and 14.8, respectively, while Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly are averaging 11.4 and 11.2 points, respectively.

The Wildcats are coming off an 86-69 victory over Washington State.

It was a game where defensively the Wildcats allowed the Cougars to hit just 16 percent of their shots through the first 18 minutes of the game, but nearly 78 percent in the last 22 minutes of the game.

"We didn't guard anyone in the second half," Martin said. "Part of that is being a young team and understanding the game is 40 minutes long.

"We have to grow as a team. We can't play 28 or 29 minutes and then put it in cruise control," Martin said. "That's the fault that we had and what we have to correct."

After a subpar performance against Division II Fort Hays State last Tuesday, Martin said his crew came back and had the best three consecutive practices that the team has had all year.

"We're not asking them to be perfect, but to improve every day," said Martin.

After giving his club a verbal lashing last week and promising to threaten their manhood, Martin said after Saturday's win, "These are my guys and I'm their guy. It's like raising a child. When they do right, you applaud them, hug them and give them a kiss. When they don't do right, you tell them. Just because they have a bad day doesn't mean I'm going to stop believing in them."


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