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Colorado Completes Sweep of Wildcats

By Mark Janssen

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas State's run of six straight victories came to an end here Thursday as Colorado won for an unprecedented third time against the Wildcats in a single season in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Championship.

"We couldn't defend them. They beat us three times, so they're just better than we are. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it," said K-State coach Frank Martin. It's been proven on the floor."

On this day it was CU's Alec Burks and Cory Higgins that did the proving with 28 and 24 points, respectively, in a game where the Buffs came from seven points down in the first half.

Colorado shot 64 percent in the second half, which included out-scoring K-State 17-6 over the final 2:05 of the game.

"You have to play start to finish," said freshman Will Spradling, who had 14 points off the bench. "With some teams you can get them down and they stop playing, but not Colorado."

Jamar Samuels said of the second half, "We didn't guard. They just came out, drove the ball and scored."

It was Burks who scored 16 of his 24 points in the first half, and Higgins with 21 of his 28 in the second half on 7-of-8 shooting.

Higgins said of the 1-2 punch, "I think me and Alec really feed off each other. It's hard for teams to shut down both of us."

No one agreed more than Martin.

"Their two wings are real good off the dribble and our weakness the whole year has been our ability to guard the dribble," said Martin. "Alec came out of the chute and was aggressive, and then Higgins just played like a senior that was determined to get his team deep into this tournament."

But as Spradling said, "They do that about every night."

Other Buffs also put on a great show as Marcus Relphorade hit a trey at the 2:05 mark, and Levi Knutson one with 9:12 remaining to keep CU in the lead.

"Big buckets," said guard Rodney McGruder. "We cut the lead and then they hit big shots when they needed to, and we didn't."

Jacob Pulllen added, "We made bad decisions. We were undisciplined. We gave up some easy shots and it cost us the game."

On offense, K-State shot just 33 percent from the field in the second half with Pullen making just three of his 11 shots and scoring nine points.

FIRST HALF: K-State opened the game going 10-of-14 from the field and scoring on 11 of its first 14 possessions to claim a 23-16 lead at the 11:09 mark. Of those tallies, Curtis Kelly scored six of K-State's first eight points.

The Wildcats maintained 31-28 lead, when the Buffs went on a 7-0 surge to open a 35-31 lead. Pullen answered with a conventional three-point play, McGruder a 3-pointer and Spradling a bucket as K-State closed out the half on an 8-2 run for a 39-37 lead at intermission.

K-State shot 53 percent in the first half with Pullen netting nine, while Kelly and Jamar Samuels each had eight. CU shot 52 percent with Alec Burks leading the way with 16.

STAR OF THE GAME: Curtis Kelly had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds, plus added three assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Kelly was 7-of-11 from the field.

STAT OF THE GAME: Credit Colorado for pulling the trifecta of defeating K-State three times in one season for the first time in the history of the rivalry.

"Nothing different," CU coach Tad Boyle said of the game plan. "When you play them you just talk about toughness and mental toughness."

CU won games 74-66 in Manhattan, 58-56 in Boulder and 87-75 in Kansas City.

Updating Jacob Pullen:
BIG 12 CAREER SCORERS: 1. LaceDarius Dunn, BU, 2,285; 2. Andre Emmett, TT, 2,256; 3. Jarrius Jackson, TT, 2,221; 4. Nick Collison, KU, 2,097; 5. Jacob Pullen, KSU 2,072
K-TATE CAREER SCORERS: 1. Mike Evans, 2,115; 2. Jacob Pullen, 2,072

TRIVIA: In all-time games played in the Sprint Center, what Wildcat holds the record for highest free-throw percentage for a single game (a minimum of 8 attempts)?  Read on.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: Curtis Kelly on moving forward: "Good teams lose. I think we're a good team that just lost. The Big 12 is over and now we move on to the national portion and we'll have to play strong and play well. I know for Jake and I our hour-glass is ticking."

GAME NOTES:
Jacob Pullen has been in twin figures in all but two games this season, and has at least 10 points in his last 21 games in a row.
As a No. 4 seed, K-State is now 6-8 in all-time Big Eight/12 Championship events, which includes an 0-3 mark since the start of Big 12 play.
The 28 points scored by Cory Higgins ties for the most ever scored on a K-State team in the Big 12 Championship.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Darren Kent swished 10-of-10 from the foul line against Southern Mississippi on Dec. 11, 2008.

DID YOU KNOW: In the 14-year history of the Big 12 Championship only last year with Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen has K-State had an all-tournament selection.

Including the Big Eight years, only once - Rolando Blackman in 1980 - has K-State had the MVP of the postseason event.

UP NEXT: K-State will now wait until Sunday afternoon at four when Selection Sunday takes place on CBS with the assignments for this year's Field of 68.

On the future, Pullen said, "We've got to understand that this is it. Every game now is your last game if you don't come out to play."


We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com. For those who would like to share Sports Extra with a friend or family member, or change your current email address, click here.