No. 7 Kansas St. 83, Oklahoma 68

BY foxsports • February 21, 2010

If Denis Clemente isn't playing fast and pushing the pace, he doesn't feel like he's doing his job.

After seeing him at work, Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel rates him among the best in the country.

Clemente scored 27 points and led a 3-point barrage by No. 7 Kansas State, propelling the Wildcats to an 83-68 victory against the spiraling Sooners on Saturday.

``I think Clemente is the fastest guy in college basketball from end to end, especially with the ball in his hands. When he's making his jump shot, which he's been doing, he's awfully, awfully tough to guard,'' Capel said.

Clemente hit five of his first seven 3-pointers, including a pair that he bracketed around another 3 by Jamar Samuels during a quick 9-0 burst that put Kansas State up by double digits for the first time at 59-49 with 12:41 to play.

Dominique Sutton added another 3-pointer to finish an eight-point run that extended K-State's advantage to 71-55 with 8:05 remaining. At that point, the Wildcats (22-4, 9-3 Big 12) had hit 10 of their first 17 shots from 3-point range against an Oklahoma defense with the worst 3-point defense in the Big 12. They finished 10-for-20.

``It felt good. When you make a couple 3s, you want to keep shooting,'' said Clemente, who has hit at least five 3-pointers in three of his last five games. ``What can you do? You just keep shooting.''

Capel said Clemente, who also had six assists, merits consideration as perhaps the top point guard in the country other than Kentucky's John Wall.

``The main thing is that he's older,'' Capel said. ``He has such a confidence out there and such control of the game, and that's something that the really, really elite point guards have.''

Clemente, who transferred to Kansas State after two seasons at Miami (Fla.), regularly used his acceleration to beat defenders up the floor or lose them around screens. When he wasn't creating his own shot, he was getting others open - as he did on Samuels' 3-pointer that was sandwiched between two of his own.

``That's my job, to control the game, control what we do,'' said Clemente, a Puerto Rico native and a second cousin of baseball great Roberto Clemente.

Tommy Mason-Griffin scored 16 points and fellow freshman Andrew Fitzgerald matched his career-high with 14 points as Oklahoma (13-13, 4-8) lost its fourth straight game. The Sooners played without leading scorer Willie Warren for the fourth time in eight games, first because of a sprained ankle and then mononucleosis.

Capel said Warren would be out indefinitely with an ankle injury for which he couldn't provide a technical description.

Jacob Pullen, Clemente's partner in one of the nation's most explosive backcourts, and Curtis Kelly added 14 points as both teams had five players reach double figures. Samuels scored 12 and Sutton had 11.

``They have two of the best guards in our league and they play so fast with the ball,'' Oklahoma guard Cade Davis said. ``You'd think some people would be fast just without it, but (Clemente) can go. The stretch there in the second half, he started going. He kind of just stepped up and took over the game, started making some big shots for them.''

In the final minutes, many of Oklahoma's fans started heading upstairs and toward the door while a vocal contingent of Kansas State fans decked out in purple filtered down to take their seats.

The Wildcats won their fifth straight away game and assured themselves of a winning road record in conference play for the first time since the 1987-88 season. In the process, they kept top-ranked Kansas from clinching at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title.

On the way off the floor, K-State players waved at the cheering fans who had moved behind their bench.

``We knew that they were there the whole night. When we scored, we could hear them,'' Pullen said. ``They were spread out all over the gym. They did a great job of just letting us let us know that they were in the building supporting us. It's always great to go on the road and get a win and see your crowd cheering at the end of the game.''

The victory gave Frank Martin 65 in his first three seasons at Kansas State, breaking the mark held by Lon Kruger for the best three-year start at the school. He's also led the Wildcats to their highest ranking since 1962.

Davis and Tony Crocker scored 11 for Oklahoma while Tiny Gallon added 10 points, eight rebounds and a career-high four steals. Oklahoma held its largest lead at 31-23 before Kansas State scored 12 straight points to claim a 35-33 halftime lead.

The Sooners opened a final regular season stretch with all five of their opponents in the Top 25 this week, beginning with the Wildcats and then top-ranked Kansas on Monday night.

After opening the season ranked 17th, the Sooners will likely need to win the Big 12 tournament to return to the NCAA tournament.

Asked what his team would use for motivation, Capel said it was an opportunity for everyone to get better and then added: ``I don't mean this in a negative way, but scholarships aren't guaranteed for next year. There will be some decisions that will be made. So if guys aren't motivated, they'll make that decision a little bit easier.''

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