Kansas St. 71, Xavier 56
Jacob Pullen scored all but two of his 16 points in the second half and Kansas State earned revenge two years in the making, outmuscling Xavier for a 71-56 victory Tuesday night.
Embarrassed the last time these teams met, Kansas State (8-1) hounded Xavier into poor shooting and scored 16 points off 14 offensive rebounds. Jamar Samuels had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Curtis Kelly added 15 points for the Wildcats, who overcame 17 missed free throws and a 4-for-17 night from 3-point range.
Xavier (5-3) was no match inside for Kansas State in a physical, start-and-stop game that featured 57 fouls. Brad Redford and Jordan Crawford had 16 points each for the Musketeers, who shot 29 percent and were outrebounded by 13.
The last time these teams met, New Year's Eve 2007 in Cincinnati, Xavier beat the Wildcats 103-77, still the worst loss in Kansas State coach Frank Martin's tenure.
The circumstances surrounding it made the loss seem much worse. Star freshman Michael Beasley forgot his shoes and had to borrow a pair. The Musketeers told jokes at the free-throw line while Kansas State tried to mount a comeback. The fans were ruthless.
Kansas State has just four players left from that game - three who played - but they remember and made sure the younger players knew; minutes after beating Washington State on Saturday, still in the locker room, the Wildcats were already talking about Xavier.
Not surprisingly, the game was tense and physical from the start, with lots of wrestling in the post, jaw-rattling screens and players hitting the floor nearly every trip.
Every possession was a grind, nearly every shot contested.
After eight minutes, Xavier led 7-4. It didn't get a whole lot better after that.
Struggling against Kansas State's pressure, Xavier managed just four free throws over the final 7:15 of the first half, shooting 6-for-21 to trail by 10. Kansas State's fans had better aim at halftime, throwing about 200 paper airplanes onto the court as part of a promotion.
Kansas State was better from the field, but not the free-throw line, making 7 of 14. The 12 turnovers didn't help the Wildcats, either.
Crawford broke Xavier's basket-less streak with consecutive hoops early in the second half. The Musketeers followed with another fruitless run, this one lasting nearly six minutes as Kansas State pushed the lead to 46-30.
The Wildcats still weren't about to let up.
Senior Chris Merriewether, one of the players left over from the loss in Cincinnati, scrambled for a loose ball to keep a possession alive, then landed in a row of photographers to save a ball from going out of bounds. Pullen followed with a 3-pointer that made it 52-37.
Once it was over, the Wildcats high-fived the students who braved a huge winter storm to cheer them on.