Defense Steady for Wildcats

Those are numbers that lead Martin to say, "You can't be disappointed with that."

Only No. 1 Duke has bruised the K-State defense with an 82-point showing, while six opponents were held in the 60s and three in the 50s - Virginia Tech (57), Washington State (58) and Alcorn State (55).

In the Martin era, K-State is 23-0 in games where it holds opponents to 60 points or less.

Individual leaders at the defensive end include:• Defensive Rebounds: Rodney McGruder (42), Jamar Samuels (37) and Freddy Asprilla (28)• Steals: Jacob Pullen (20), Will Spradling (10) and McGruder (9)• Blocked Shots: Jordan Henriquez-Roberts (14), Asprilla (13) and Curtis Kelly (9)

Martin, however, stops short of pointing to a defensive specialist saying that the K-State concept is a team concept.

Quizzed about missing the defensive stopper that Dominique Sutton provided last year, Martin said, "Rodney (McGruder) has been pretty good, but our defense is not about a guy. It's about a team. The way we play, we want five guys on the same page and we've done a pretty good job of that and winning individual matchups."

Saturday was no exception as the Wildcats held Loyola-Chicago to 60 points in an eight-point K-State victory.

"On nights like this, you can get mad at everything that went wrong, but at the end of the day you've still found a way to win on the road," said senior Jacob Pullen.

Already this season, K-State has road wins at Washington State and Loyola, plus a neutral site victory over Gonzaga.

LONG, LONG, LONG RIDE HOME: K-State won the game against Loyola-Chicago on Saturday, and celebrated afterward with a mini-Pullen reunion, but then the smiles turned to frowns on Sunday.

Scheduled for a charter flight home, the snow and wind conditions in Chicago kept the K-State flight grounded, so the team opted to bus home in what would normally be a 12- to 13-hour trip.

But not too long into their journey, the Wildcats were stalled for nearly four hours on Interstate 55 near Springfield, Ill., by a 20-car pile-up.

After leaving Chicago at 7 a.m. on Sunday, the team arrived at the Manhattan airport Monday morning around 1:15 completing their 18-hour bus ride, and arriving home just in time for the start of finals.

BAD WEEK: Martin calls this finals week that K-State is in an "impossible week."

He explains, "You have to mix and match practice times, plus understand that it's a stressful week for the players in that it's the culmination of a semester of work and getting their grades. It's a week where I am very understanding about academics. I want them to finish the semester like I ask them to finish games."

NOTEABLE NOTES:• For the first time in the 15-year history of the Big 12 Conference, there are six teams ranked in the Top 25: No. 3 Kansas, No. 6 K-State, No. 9 Baylor, No. 13 Missouri, No. 22 Texas and No. 25 Texas A&M.  On Dec. 21, K-State will face No. 22 UNLV. The Rebels lost for the first time over the weekend at Louisville.• In the four-year history of the Big 12 - Pac 10 Hardwood Series, the Big 12 holds a 27-20 advantage, which includes a 7-4 advantage this year.  K-State is 2-2 all-time with two losses to Oregon and two wins over Washington State.• Jacob Pullen ranks 8th in the Big 12 in scoring at 16.3, seventh in assists at 4.0, fifth in steals at 2.0, and seventh in 3-pointers at 2.0 per game.• K-State ranks second in the league in attendance at 12,528 per home game. That only trails Kansas at 16,709 per home date.

LEADERSHIP FAR, FAR AWAY: Asked about K-State's leadership this year, Martin recently replied, "It's in Israel, it's in Puerto Rico, it's in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. That is where our swagger is. That is where those three seniors - Denis Clemente, Luis Colon and Chris Merriwether - are. They did not take anything for granted. That is where our swagger is at right now."