FOR THE ‘CATS, SO MUCH STILL ON THE LINE

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Frank Martin believes pressure is good, so he's loading a bunch on the shoulders of his Wildcats by saying that the Kansas game is the biggest of his years at K-State. And, for good reason, there's plenty on the line ranging from a share of the Big 12 title to a No. 1 seed.

Missouri coach Mike Anderson said of the toughness of Kansas State's play after Saturday's 63-53 loss to the Wildcats, "They're trying to win something. They're in the hunt for something."

Something like … sharing the Big 12 title with Kansas.

Something like … the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Championship.

Something like ... a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Whether Kentucky and Kansas lost, or not, Saturday, Wildcat coach Frank Martin says, "The only thing we can control is our team. We can't control what other people do, or think about us, but we can control our team and we can control our emotions, and our emotions control our team."

But sure, when the No. 2 Wildcats fell to Tennessee, and the Jayhawks went down to Oklahoma State Saturday afternoon, Martin says, "When those teams lost did I say, ‘Hmmm.' I did. But it's still meaningless because it's up to us to win our games and not focus on what anyone else."

Kansas State's focus is now on the University of Kansas and a 7 p.m. start Wednesday in Allen Fieldhouse.

A K-State win, and the Wildcats stay alive for a share of the league title on the Final Saturday when KU travels to Missouri and K-State hosts Iowa State.

It's why Martin, like he did prior to the Missouri game, is now calling the game against the Jayhawks "… the biggest game we've played." Quizzed whether such a phrase creates additional pressure on his team, Martin was armed with an immediate reply.

"We do this (play with pressure) every day. They're 19 now, but what are they going to do if they've never had to deal with pressure when they become my age?" asked the 43-year-old Martin.

"It's about making things difficult for kids. It's not about making things easy. If you're making life easy, then you're cheating them. You've got to make things difficult. You've got to make things difficult and you've got to be real with them. You've got to be honest with them." Martin wasn't finished.

"Life is about pressure. If you can't handle pressure, you're going to have a hard life," said Martin. "Life is about pressure and going out there and staying focused and being disciplined to do your job."

It's because of that, that Martin looks at calling the Kansas game the biggest in the history of the world, so to speak, a good thing.

"Why is that negative pressure?" Martin says. "I look at that as great pressure. I look at that as hard work paying off and putting themselves in the conversation with teams where something great can happen. That's the way I look at it."

And, it's how the Wildcat players look at it. As junior Jacob Pullen said, "We have our destiny in our hands. We hope to continue to play well and find ways to win games, no matter how we have to do it."

Jamar Samuels adds, "We know this one is a big game, but we're trying to look at it as just another game."

Just another game with a Big 12 championship still within reach.

Just another game with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament still within reach.

HERE'S HOW IT ‘COULD' WORK

Kansas State still has a 50-50 chance to be the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Championship … IF:

• … the Wildcats defeat Kansas Wednesday night.

• … the Jayhawks lose at Missouri on Saturday at 1, AND, K-State defeats Iowa State Saturday at 5.

IF those three results happen, Kansas State and Kansas will be knotted at 13-3 atop the Big 12 standings.

Ironically, with the above scenario, the losses suffered by K-State and KU would be to Oklahoma State, Missouri and KU/KSU.

That would take the Big 12's tie-breaking system for tournament seeding all the way down to (f): if two teams remained tied, the higher seed will be chosen by draw.

Rules include that the draw will be conducted in public or with media in attendance. Schools involved in the drawing have the right to have a representative in attendance for the drawing of a single slip of paper from a container that will determine whether it is K-State or KU that is the No. 1 seed.


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