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Wildcats Blitz Cornhuskers, 69-53

By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Funny game this sport of round ball and round rim is.

Kansas State spanked the University of Nebraska in Bramlage Coliseum Wednesday night, 69-53. That's the same Cornhusker team that defeated Texas A&M on Saturday, 57-48, and, the same team that played Kansas to within three, 63-60, just two weeks ago.

On this night, Kansas State, which lost to A&M by eight and to KU by 24, opened a 5-4 lead and never looked back in rolling the Cornhuskers.

With K-State's defense dominating, coach Frank Martin admitted, "It was good. We've been defending well, but now we need to learn how to sustain it. We built the lead, but came out in the second half and lost that attention to detail.  We built the lead back up, and then kind of relaxed again. That has to stop."

Only once did NU challenge the Wildcats, cutting the difference to 11 late in the game only to have Pullen respond with two free throws, Curtis Kelly with a pair, Jamar Samuels with two from the line and Pullen on a deuce as K-State went on an 8-2 surge.

On forcing NU into 22 turnovers, which included picking off seven steals, Martin said. "Part of our strategy is to disrupt offense. Our players did a great job paying attention to the things in our scouting report and went out and executed."

Pullen netted 18 to lead the Wildcats, while fellow senior Kelly authored 16.

Star of the Game
After being benched in the second half on Saturday at Kansas, Curtis Kelly responded with a 16-point, four-rebound effort against the Cornhuskers. Kelly also had two assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

"Curt's all right," said Martin. "His biggest wrestling match is with himself. When he makes a mistake he can't let go of the mistake and then it affects his demeanor and approach for periods of time. He can't do that. He's too good and too important to our team."

Stat of the Game
K-State allowed Nebraska just 17 first-half points, which was a season-low by a Wildcat opponent and the lowest one-half output of the year by the Cornhuskers.

NU made just 37 percent from the field in the first half, which included 0-of-4 on treys. The Cornhuskers also committed 13 turnovers, which led to a 13-6 Wildcat margin on points off turnovers.

Prior to Wednesday, Texas Southern and Baylor each scored 18 points on the Wildcats.

Stat of the Game II
Only twice in the entire game did NU score on consecutive possessions without a K-State counter.

Quote of the Game
NU coach Doc Sadler: "That's the worst effort I've had a team play with since the Oklahoma game (70-53 loss) my first year. We didn't compete. Frank had his team ready, and I didn't. With all the effort areas in the game that you can imagine, they won every one of them."

From the Line
Going into the game, K-State had hit 72 percent from the foul line in its last nine games after opening the year hitting 56 percent in early non-conference games.

Against NU the Wildcats went 21-of-25 on one-pointers for a season-high 84 percent for a single game.

Asked to comment on the recent free throwing, Martin responded, "No, I don't want to jinx them."

Weather a Problem
None of the officials for the Nebraska game had been scheduled to work the game. Due to closed airports around the country, two of the officials - Randy Heimeman and Terry Oglesby  - drove in from Colorado where they worked the CU vs. ISU game Tuesday night.

Game Notes
• Will "Mr. Charge" Spradling took his 16th charging foul of the season, which leads the K-State. Next high is Jacob Pullen with 12. On the charge, Spradling cracked his head on the floor. He returned briefly in the first half to make a three-pointer, but did not play in the second half.  Martin confirmed that Spradling was dizzy in the huddle after his first brief stint on the court.
• Jordan Henriquez-Roberts led the team with eight rebounds.
• Henriquez-Roberts was tagged with a technical foul late in the game for holding onto the rim.
• Wally Judge, who quit the Wildcat team on Monday, will remain in school and complete his semester of school.

Up Next
Kansas State travels to 1-7, 14-9 Iowa State for a 12:30 start on Saturday. The Wildcats next home game will be Feb. 14 against the University of Kansas on an ESPN "Big Monday" attraction.