Presbyterian-Kansas St. Preview
Kansas State coach Frank Martin didn't want to make too much of a win against a Top 25 opponent. A victory over Presbyterian surely won't get him any more excited.
With two more tough matchups looming, the third-ranked Wildcats try to open 3-0 for the eighth straight season Thursday at Bramlage Coliseum, where they'll face the Blue Hose for the first time.
Coming off Friday's 75-61 season-opening victory over James Madison, Kansas State defeated No. 22 Virginia Tech 73-57 on Tuesday in Manhattan, Kan.
"We are not going go out and do cartwheels because we won a game in November," said Martin, last season's Big 12 coach of the year. "It is a learning experience. We were not very good against James Madison, but I thought we did a lot better from one game to the next and that is the growth you look for."
While Martin can't be happy with his team's 51.7 percent free-throw shooting, he admitted that he was pleased with how his young bench responded during extended action Tuesday.
With senior starter Curtis Kelly missing a second straight game for an undisclosed disciplinary reason and preseason All-American Jacob Pullen limited to 14 minutes due to foul trouble, a trio of reserve sophomores made key contributions. Jamar Samuels had 13 points and eight rebounds, center Jordan Henriquez-Roberts added 10 and eight, and Martavious Irving hit a career-high three 3-pointers.
The Wildcats' reserves outscored the team's starters 37-36.
"When they saw me go out with that second foul, a lot of them just put their chins up and stepped up to the challenge," said Pullen, eight points shy of moving into sixth place in program history with 1,547. "Good teams don't win games because of a person. They win games because of a team. Today the team just came together."
Pullen producing more and Kelly contributing could be key for next week's CBE Classic in Kansas City, where the Wildcats meet No. 11 Gonzaga on Monday before facing either top-ranked Duke or Marquette on Tuesday.
Even if Kelly doesn't return for this game, the Wildcats should have more than enough weapons against a Presbyterian team in the midst of its transition to Division I.
Still a year away from being eligible for the Big South Conference tournament, coach Gregg Nibert's team opened its season Friday with an 88-47 loss at Vanderbilt.
Junior center Al'Lonzo Coleman, who redshirted last season along with guards Josh Johnson and Pierre Miller so they'll be fifth-year seniors when the Blue Hose are full Division I members in 2011-12, led the team with 17 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Johnson scored 11, Miller added eight and the team shot just 32.7 percent, missing 10 of 14 3-point attempts.
The Wildcats, who are 17 of 42 from 3-point range, are holding teams to 40.8 percent from the field.
Kansas State is the highest-ranked team ever to play Presbyterian, which has dropped its last five games to ranked opponents by an average of 37.8 points.