K-State comeback bid falls short against KU


LAWRENCE – There are times in life when a person just wants to hit the reset button and start over.

K-State coach Frank Martin probably wishes he could have had that opportunity Tuesday night in a hostile Allen Fieldhouse, as KU used an 18-0 run in the first five minutes of the game to help the Jayhawks defeat the Wildcats 87-71 and win their 34th consecutive game in the legendary building.

It may have seemed like a rerun of sorts for K-State fans. The Wildcats had seen this story before. Martin said it was the third year in a row the Wildcats had gotten off to a poor start and he didn’t have an answer for it.

“For us to come out and turn it over three out of the first four possessions and play the way we did was just unfortunate,” Martin said. “I’ve been here three years, and three years in a row we’ve been down 20 at the first media timeout. I don’t know what it is about us and this building.”

Perhaps it’s the raucous intro video that may make the casual fan wish it had brought ear plugs to the game or the numerous national championship banners hanging in the fathomed arena that can unsettle and unglue a young team.

“We weren’t focused,” said Jamar Samuels, who scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. “We just weren’t ready in the first five minutes. They came out on their home court shooting very well.”

The Wildcats looked like a deer in the headlights early.

“It’s a hostile atmosphere,” said Jacob Pullen, who scored a team-high 13 points on just 5-of-15 shooting. “I said before the game it was unexplainable. As a team we just didn’t have the consistency in the first three to four minutes of the game.”

The start to the second half looked like the polar opposite of the first for K-State.

The Jayhawks and their fans looked to be the ones in shock as a Denis Clemente three-point play capped off an 18-8 K-State run with 15:42 remaining in the second half to close the lead to 45-42.

But the Jayhawks had an answer. A Brady Morrningstar 3-pointer began an 8-0 run that saw the Jayhawks capture a 53-42 lead. The Wildcats would get no closer than nine points for the rest of the game.

K-State, which prides itself on defense, had one of its worst nights of the season, allowing the Jayhawks to hit 28 of their 48 field goal attempts (58.3 percent). KU also made 26-of-37 from the free throw line.

The Wildcats struggled to stop the guard play of KU, as Sherron Collins and freshman Tyshawn Taylor combined to score 44 points on 12-of-19 shooting.

“Our defense has been our strongpoint,” Pullen said. “Tonight we come out and didn’t guard. Everything we did was either a foul or a open layup or an open three. It had nothing to do with Frank [Martin]. It has nothing to do with practice — it has everything to do with the 12 people in that locker room.”

Still, the Wildcats said there will be an opportunity for payback.

“The great thing about the Big 12 is they gotta come see us in our house,” Pullen said. “We get a rematch.”