Wildcats Sew up Big 12 Tournament bye

MANHATTAN, Kan. Senior Cartier Martin celebrated his final regular-season game in Bramlage Coliseum with a career-high 30 points and Kansas State secured a first-round bye in next week’s Big 12 Tournament with a 72-61 victory over Oklahoma Saturday.

Seniors David Hoskins and Lance Harris added 14 and 10 points each for Kansas State (21-10, 10-6 Big 12), which sewed up a fourth-place conference finish with the win to receive its first-ever Big 12 Tournament bye.

The victory also marked the first time the Wildcats have won 21 games during a regular season since 1988 and ended an eight-game slide vs. Oklahoma (15-14, 6-10 Big 12), many of which were maddening close for K-State.

But not today. After dropping four in a row at home to the Sooners by two points or less, Kansas State ran out to a 19-point halftime lead and maintained its double-digit edge for most of the final 20 minutes.

The Wildcats led by as many as 22 points early in the second stanza and still held a 17-point cushion after Hoskins connected on a short jumper to make it 64-47 with 5 minutes to go.

Oklahoma, which got 14 points from Nate Carter and Tony Crocker, used a 10-2 run to cut K-State’s edge to single digits at 66-57 with 2:52 to go.

But that’s as close as the Sooners would get as Oklahoma, which dropped is sixth game in a row, would score just four more points the rest of the way.

Kansas State started to impose its will midway through the first half and used a 16-4 run to build a 30-18 lead with just under five minutes remaining.

A bucket by Oklahoma’s Nate Carter one of just two field goals by the Sooner over the last 11 minutes of the half briefly stopped the bleeding before K-State once again caught fire.

The Wildcats, who shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half, scored the next 11 points of the game to take a 41-20 lead. Harris connected on three field goals during the run that lasted nearly three minutes.

Michael Neal slipped in a layup for the Sooners in the closing seconds to make it 41-22 at the break.

Kansas State opens play at the 2007 Big 12 Tournament at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City on Friday, March 9, at 2 p.m. when the Wildcats face the winner of the Texas Tech vs. Colorado game.