KU No Longer Perfect

And then there was one…There are no longer two undefeated teams in college basketball after KU dropped an 84-75 Big 12 battle to Kansas State, and this won't be the last time these two in-state rivals square off.

Kansas head coach Bill Self stood at the podium and told reporters he couldn’t even hear the whistle blown. This one had it all including an atmosphere that shows what college basketball is all about. It was two undefeated conference rivals going toe-to-toe, and two of the best players you’ll see lace ‘em up this season.

It was a classy way for Frank Martin’s Kansas Wildcat team to end the talk about KU’s dominance at Bramlage Coliseum and beyond. Instead of discussing the streak at the water cooler today, fans and pundits alike will be discussing just how good K-State is, and wondering how much a return match in Lawrence March 1st might mean.

Martin’s squad proved last night they could be here to stay. K-State sits atop the Big 12 standings as the only undefeated team in league play, and for the moment at least, is the class of the Big 12.

Kansas State used a barrage of three-pointers (12) that might’ve caught some off guard including KU. The Wildcats also got solid contributions from their role players like freshman guard Jacob Pullen (20 points), and Clent Stewart (11 points). Martin had to be pleased that his team also limited its turnovers (13), and his dynamic duo of Bill Walker and Michael Beasley were outstanding. Walker was the early first half spark plug and Beasley finished it in style. The two combined for 47 of K-State’s 84 points. The Jayhawks vaunted defense simply had no answer.

“I think we could’ve guarded him better,” said Self, referring to the defensive job done on Beasley. “It’s a hard matchup for anybody if you play a big on him because if he goes 4-4 from three, he may go 2-4 but you don’t anticipate him going 4-4, but he was terrific the second half, just fabulous.”

Kansas State also came up big in the hustle categories gathering a majority of the loose balls and crashing the glass with fervor. On this night the Wildcats were the quicker, and tougher team. The Wildcats showed by they are the best in the Big 12 on the offensive glass with 16 devastating offensive rebounds.

“K-State was just a better team than we were tonight,” Self said in his postgame news conference. “I don’t know if you can pinpoint one thing but to me of the 50-50 balls, they got 70-80 percent of them. Seems to me they scored an awful lot off loose balls and that’s something we’re usually pretty good at.”

On the flip side for Kansas, once again in a road game the Jayhawks got sped up, turned it over more often, and just when the Jayhawks seemed to find their stride in the first half, foul trouble set in. But somehow KU clawed its way to just a two-point deficit (38-36). Just after breathing a collective sigh of relief to be down just two with Darrell Arthur, and Sasha Kaun spending a large portion of time on the bench, KU came out flat in the second half.  

“We didn’t lose the game in the first half, we lost it in the first 10 minutes of the second half,” stated Self.

KU never got in a flow offensively in the second half and by the ten-minute mark, the Hawks were down 12 for the first time all season. Beasley, who guaranteed a KSU victory over KU this season, was pivotal during this stretch with nine key points.

“Up until this point he’s averaging 25, and he’s scoring 25 off of some easy baskets,” Self explained. “He scored real points tonight. He scored pro points.”
Though at the end of the day Kansas held another opponent under 50 percent from the field (42.9%) and again shot a decent percentage for the game (48.1%), the Jayhawks came up nine points short, came away with their first loss of the season, and ended 25 years of dominance in Manhattan.

“It doesn’t sting because of the streak,” said Self. “It stings because it’s our rival. I could care less about the streak. But I do care about beating our rivals.”

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