No. 12 K-State rolls to 11-1 start
With a short turnaround off a tough road win and several players
fighting nagging injuries, Frank Martin decided to try an
Instead of relentlessly pushing his team through practice as
he almost always does, the Kansas State coach took it easy on them.
Martin won’t do that again. Not after the way the Wildcats
had to claw their way past a winless opponent.
Jacob Pullen had 18 points, Dominique Sutton added 14 and No.
12 Kansas State responded to its highest ranking in 36 years with
an uneven 90-76 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Monday night.
“I’m like everyone else,” Martin said. “I make decisions.
When they work out, I understand. When they don’t, I take notes and
move forward. I kind of prepare my mind for the next time we have a
It wasn’t just Martin’s trial balloon. The Wildcats had
plenty of reasons for a letdown: one day off after a hard-fought
win over Alabama, facing a winless opponent after a tough four-game
stretch, the excitement of a high ranking, a trip home for
Christmas in the morning.
Kansas State (11-1) battled through the distractions, using
balanced scoring and a swarming defense to wear down Pine Bluff
after four resume-building wins over bigger programs. Curtis Kelly
had 13 points and eight rebounds, Denis Clemente and Jamar Samuels
added 12 points each and the Wildcats shot 50 percent for their
eighth consecutive win.
“Everyone probably expected us to come out and destroy them,
but it was a tough game for us,” Pullen said.
Not surprisingly, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-10) didn’t make it
easy on Kansas State.
The Golden Lions had gone through a gauntlet of tough games
before arriving in Manhattan and weren’t in awe of the atmosphere
of playing in a Big 12 arena against a ranked opponent.
UAPB scrapped to keep it close early, made a gritty run late
to cut a 24-point lead in half and never let up, even as the win
climbed out of reach. Tyree Glass had 18 points and Savalance
Townsend added 16 for the Golden Lions, who lost another road game
despite shooting 52 percent.
“It’s hard to get down to a team like K-State and try to dig
yourself out of that hole,” UAPB coach George Ivory said. “I’m just
proud of the guys. They never quit and they competed all the way to
This game was never supposed to be close.
Off to their best start in five years, the Wildcats have the
nation’s best RPI rating, second-best strength of schedule and have
beaten two ranked nonconference teams in the same season for the
first time since 1958-59.
They also entered Monday’s game with 20 consecutive
nonconference wins at home.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff hasn’t won a game, hasn’t played at home
and is in the midst of a brutal stretch of eight straight games
against schools from BCS conferences that thankfully ends next week
Complete mismatch, right?
Well, not completely.
UAPB has kept most of its games close, even against the
big-conference schools, losing by an average of 14.2 points. The
Golden Lions stayed with Kansas State early by sneaking in for
offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive.
What hurt UAPB was turnovers — again.
The Golden Lions had 15 that led to 19 points for Kansas
State in the first half and 21 overall after turning it over 20
times in a loss to Missouri on Saturday.
The miscues set up easy opportunities at the other end for
Kansas State, particularly Pullen.
Coming off a 30-point game against Alabama, the junior guard
scored Kansas State’s first eight points and keyed two
Pullen whipped a nifty bounce pass through traffic to set up
Sutton for a two-handed slam to cap an early 12-2 run that put the
Wildcats up 27-14. He hit a 3-pointer to start another run, this
one a 15-0 halftime-spanning streak that included Clemente’s
buzzer-beating 3-pointer from about 30 feet and was capped by
Sutton’s steal, dunk and three-point play that put the Wildcats up
UAPB scored 24 of the next 36 points to cut Kansas State’s
lead to 65-53, but the Wildcats followed with a 10-0 run to pull
away. Another loss for the Golden Lions, but also another good
lesson for when the Southwestern Athletic Conference season starts
“It was good that we got to play against a team like this,”
Ivory said. “It’s exciting for our guys to play against a team like
that, especially in a basketball atmosphere like the crowd was