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Slow Start Dooms Wildcats

By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - On Kansas Day it was Kansas' day, as in the Jayhawks.

For the 42nd time in the last 44 games in the Sunflower Showdown, the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks carried away the bouquet of sunflowers in a 90-66 handling of the Kansas State Wildcats in Allen Fieldhouse.

Just minutes before tipoff K-State coach Frank Martin said, "I worry about the beginning of the game and our young guys keeping their emotions in check."

In their first eight possessions prior to the media timeout, K-State had gone 1-of-7 from the field, committed two turnovers (which included a five-second call on an inbounds play), missed a layup, allowed two KU buckets off offensive rebounds and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts had a pair of fouls in one minute of action.

With 15:52 to go in the half, Kansas 10, K-State 2, which later became 15-2.

"It's something that you try to prepare for, but at the same time, it's something that seems to always happen when you walk into this building," said Jacob Pullen of falling behind early. "They usually don't miss in the beginning and they capitalize on your turnovers and bad shots. For us, it happened again."

The lead would grow to 16, 25-9, 12-plus minutes into the game, to 20 points, 37-17, and 37-20 at the half. Only one time in the first half did K-State score on consecutive possessions. Out of 35 trips to the offensive end, the Wildcats scored on just nine possessions.

"I've always said that Bill (Self's) teams play as hard and as united as any team in the country," said Martin. "Obviously, they did a hell of a lot better job than I did."

On the Wildcats shooting and scoring woes early in the game, Martin simplified, "Kansas. They made it difficult for us and we were not disciplined enough. Everyone always wants to blame the guy with the ball and very rarely is it his fault."

The second half was only more of the same, but even more. KU hit its first nine shots from the field and at one point had netted 20-of-25 from the field before settling for 70 percent second-half shooting (23-of-33).

Overall, Martin said, "I was proud that our guys, with a tough environment against a very good team, were able to put up a fight."

Kansas improves to 5-1, 20-1, while K-State slips to 2-5, 14-8. The last time the Wildcats opened a conference season 2-5 was in 2003-04.

Star of the Game
Jacob Pullen did score 21 points, but on only 8-of-21 shooting with the majority of those makes coming in the final minutes of the game.

Pullen now has 1,850 points, which is good for second on the all-time K-State scoring list. Saturday, he passed Askia Jones (1,834) and Rolando Blackman (1,844).

Mike Evans' career record of 2,115 points is still within reach, but the Wildcats would have to go deep into postseason play.

Pullen also had one steal (his 191st), which moves him one ahead of Steve Henson on the K-State charts.

Stat of the Game
K-State's first-half numbers left them no chance for victory as the Wildcats hit 19 percent overall (7-of-36), which included 8 percent (1-of-12) from 3-point range. K-State's big three - Jacob Pullen (2-of-10), Jamar Samuels (1-of-6) and Curtis Kelly (0-of-2) - combined for just 3-of-18 from the field.
    
Kansas State's 19.4 percent shooting from the field in the first half was the lowest by a Kansas opponent in a conference game since Colorado shot 17.9 percent in the first half of a Jan. 25, 2004 game.

K-State took 13 more shots than Kansas (34-21), but made five fewer (7-12).

At the other end, Kansas was shooting 57 percent from the field with the Morris twins - Markief and Marcus - combining for 17 points and 13 boards as the Jayhawks constructed a 37-20 first-half lead.

Markief ended with 20 points and 9 rebounds and Marcus 10 points and 9 rebounds.

Game Notes
• KU players wore black circle patches with the white letters of "LR" in honor of Lisa Robinson, who died of a heart attack one week ago Friday. She is the mother of Thomas Robinson of the Jayhawks. Robinson scored 17 points and snared 9 rebounds.

In the closing seconds, K-State's Jacob Pullen gave Robinson a hug: "I just told him that he has to use basketball as a tool for other things in life and to keep his head up at all times and things will get better. God will never put you in a situation that you can't handle and right now times are tough on him but I told him that things would definitely get better."

• Rodney McGruder had 15 points and a team-high six rebounds.

• Wally Judge got the second-half start over Curtis Kelly. Kelly played 10 minutes of scoreless basketball in the first half. Martin elected not to play Kelly at all in the second half. Judge played 17 minutes, was 1-of-7 from the field, scored five points and had two rebounds. Judge had not played more than one minute in any game dating back to Jan. 12.

• The last time KU scored as many as 90 on K-State was back in 2007 in a 97-70 Jayhawk win.

• K-State shot 68 times to KU's 55, but made just 23 field goals to KU's 34. The Jayhawks had 20 assists to Wildcats' 8.

Up Next
K-State returns home on Wednesday for a 7 p.m., start against Nebraska in Bramlage Coliseum. NU upset No. 13 Texas A&M Saturday, 57-48. The Cornhuskers are 3-3 and 15-5.