Dramatic Win Propels Cats to Elite Eight

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Jacob Pullen nailed a pair of 3-pointers in the second overtime and finished with 28 points as Kansas State held on for a courageous 101-96 win over Xavier Thursday night in the West Regional semifinals at EnergySolutions Arena.

With the win, the Wildcats (29-7) advance to the Elite Eight and the West Regional final for the first time since 1988 and will face Butler, a 63-59 winner over top-seeded Syracuse in the other semifinal. The matchup with Butler (31-4) will tip at 3:30 p.m. CT Saturday with the winner advancing to the Final Four in Indianapolis.

Xavier led 93-91 with 1:23 left in the second overtime but had no answer for Pullen at the end. He hit an open three from the top of the key for a 94-93 lead with 1:09 left. Jason Love made one of two free throws on the next possession, then Pullen hit the next trey to make it 97-94.

Pullen and Clemente then combined for four straight free throws over the last 24 seconds to ice the game.

Xavier sent the game into overtime twice with last second three-point field goals as Kansas State held leads of 72-69 and 87-84 late in regulation and the first overtime. With the Musketeers trailing by three at the end of regulation, Terrell Holloway got fouled while heaving up a 30-footer with 5 seconds left and calmly made all three free throws. Xavier was down by three again at the end of the first overtime, but Jordan Crawford rattled home a 35-footer.

Clemente scored 25 points as he and Pullen combined for 53 points Thursday. Curtis Kelly had 21 points and Jamar Samuels had 14 to lead the Wildcats, who shot 47 percent from the floor in the contest.

Down one at the half, K-State grabbed the lead back in the early stages of the second half as a Pullen three gave the Cats a 40-36 advantage. Holding to a 44-43 lead, Sutton connected on a basket at the bucket to push the lead to 46-43. A Samuels three-point play made it 52-47. Following two Chris Merriewether free throws, the Wildcat defense forced a turnover and Kelly' layup with 8:47 remaining pushed the lead to 56-49.

Xavier answered with a 10-2 run to take a 59-58 lead with 5:31 left. Down 61-60, Clemente drained a three and converted a four-point play following a foul to give the lead back to K-State at 64-61 with just over four minutes left.

Down 4-2 early in the contest, K-State turned up the heat defensively and transition baskets from Clemente and Pullen gave the Wildcats an 8-4 lead and jump-started a 17-0 run. A Judge put-back capped the run for the Wildcats to up the margin to 19-4 before a three from Xavier's Dante Jackson made it 19-7 with 11:35 left in the half.

But in a half of two big runs, one from each team, the Musketeers scored eight straight to cut it to 19-12 before a Clemente jumper stopped the run. Xavier charged back to score eight straight to pull within one at 28-27 and eventually took a 32-31 lead into the break. The Wildcats were held to just three points over the final 7:11 of the first half.

Both teams shot 41 percent in the opening half, but Xavier took advantage at the free throw line and connected on 9-of-13 attempts compared K-State, who was just 1-of-2.

As a reminder, fans are encouraged to submit contingent orders for 2010 Final Four tickets and official travel packages. For more information, visit www.k-statesportstravel.com.