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Wildcats Out to Break Stillwater Skid

By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The date was Jan. 9, 1993. That's back in the days of Askia Jones, Vincent Jackson and Anthony Beane.

It's been that long ago that Kansas State last defeated Oklahoma State in the Cowboys' Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Since that 75-62 overtime Wildcat victory for the men of - get this - Dana Altman, K-State has lost 10 times by margins of 21, 24, 23, 5, 6, 5, 8, 20, 14 and 6 points during the eras of Tom Asbury, Jim Wooldridge, Bob Huggins and Frank Martin.

Today at noon on ESPN2, 12-3 K-State will try to end that skid against 12-2 Oklahoma State.

To Jacob Pullen, this Big 12 opener is K-State's "...opening act. We're going to put on a circus show. Circus shows go on the road, perform and get out of the building."

The last time K-State won in Stillwater, Pullen was a 4-year-old, while freshmen Alex Potuzak and Shane Southwell were still in pampers and bibs.

"The coaches have talked about the history," Pullen said. "We're catching them on break, so maybe we'll be fortunate in that they won't pack the student section."

Whether packed, or not, Martin says, "I don't care who you play or where you play in this league, it's going to be a hard game. I've played in that building twice, and it's tough. But it's hard to play at Colorado, it's hard to play at Missouri, it's hard to play at Kansas, it's hard to play here (Bramlage Coliseum). Instead of telling you the hardest place to play, I'd rather tell you that none of them are easy."

The Cowboys
Oklahoma State's lone two losses were to Virginia Tech, 56-51, and to Gonzaga, 73-52. Their biggest wins have been over Alabama and Stanford.

OSU's inside-outside punch includes Marshall Moses owning the paint with a 17.3 scoring average on 57 percent shooting, and 8.3 rebounds per game, while around the perimeter are Keiton Page with a 14.8 scoring average, which includes two treys per game, and Ray Penn, who dishes out three assists per game.

"They are the best screening team that we've played, and their ball movement is real good," said Martin. "Moses is the most efficient big guy in the league with how consistent and dominate he's been."

Ready for the Challenge
No. 22 Virginia Tech, No. 18 Gonzaga, No. 1 Duke, No. 24 Florida and unranked UNLV. Those teams have been on K-State's non-conference schedule, and it's been by design.

"You have no chance to win a Big 12 game unless you're battle tested," said Martin. "Last year we went through the non-conference and never played in someone else's arena. Then we went into our first Big 12 game at Missouri and hadn't been exposed to good teams in tough atmospheres.

"We scheduled differently this year," Martin said. "We have been exposed to tougher atmospheres."

In reality, three of those games were played in Kansas City's Sprint Center, and another at a neutral site in Florida. But K-State has played true road games at Washington State and Loyola-Chicago and come home with wins by five and eight points, respectively.

Since returning from Christmas break, Martin has put the Wildcats through two-a-days each and every day leaving him to say, "If we don't line up and win on Saturday, it won't be because of lack of preparation."

Pullen added, "Our practices have been phenomenal. We've taken it to another level than before Christmas break."

Of the Wildcats' 12-3 record, Martin said, "I'm unhappy with our record. I don't like losing. I'd be unhappy if we were 14-1 because we had lost a game. But, I couldn't be happier with our team. Our team has attacked adversity. We haven't wilted to adversity. Instead of folding up, it's made us stronger and we believe in each other more."

Coming Home
K-State comes home for a week with games on Wednesday at 8 against Colorado, and 12:30 one week from today against Texas Tech.

These first three games will be vital as the Wildcats next four games will be at Missouri, at Texas A&M, Baylor and at Kansas.

'Pack the House' for Sunday's Women's Game
Talk about a Sunday afternoon bargain! The Wildcats' 2:30 matinee with Oklahoma State at Bramlage Coliseum will carry only a $1 ticket, plus $1 for goodies from the concession stand.

At halftime fans will be entertained by America's Best Frisbee Dogs. The traveling halftime act has performed at over 300 professional and collegiate sporting events for over 20 years.

The NCAA "Pack the House" initiative is in its fourth year of existence and was created to assist in growing the game of women's basketball.