Midweek Musings

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Wednesday conundrums while we so-called “sports experts” continue trying to wrap our minds around K-State’s 84-68 win over top-ranked Kansas.

• Despite all the ups and downs that the Wildcats have seen this year, there is one thing I can say I’m certain about. Anything I think I knew about this team completely flew out the window two days ago.

• Before the game started, I told some of my fellow reporters that I’d be happy if the final margin was around 15 points. While my guess wasn’t far off, I’ll admit that wasn’t what I had in mind.

• Before the postgame press conference began, a reporter posed a question to others in the room: “Would anyone have beaten K-State tonight?” I won’t go as far as to say no, but that was the first time all season that the Wildcats looked worthy of all the preseason hype they received.

• Speaking of preseason hype, a certain preseason All-American played absolutely out of his mind last night. The 38 points scored by senior guard Jacob Pullen weren’t only a career high, they were the most ever by a K-State player against a No. 1 team.

• Even after watching a whole season with Michael Beasley in Manhattan, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a single player take over a game like Pullen did against the Jayhawks. He truly was in another universe on Monday night.

• In the Jayhawks’ lopsided win against K-State on Jan. 29, the Wildcats had 20 points at halftime. This time around, Pullen had that on his own at the break – and a few more to spare. It seemed as though every time he put up a shot, it was going in, even if he had ten hands in his face.

• It will undoubtedly be overshadowed by Pullen’s career night, but the performance put together by sophomore forward Jordan Henriquez-Roberts really was the “X-Factor” in the Wildcats’ upset win. He doubled his scoring average in the first half alone and tied for the team lead in rebounds. But, more importantly, he’s finally starting to play like a seven-footer.

• In his defense, this wasn’t a total shocker. Henriquez-Roberts has shown some serious signs of improvement over the last couple weeks, but he really took his game to the next level on Monday. Pullen said K-State is really hard to beat when its big man has that kind of night, and I tend to agree.

• Not to be a pessimist or rain on everybody’s parade, but how big does the heartbreaker at Colorado look right now? If the buzzer-beater had counted that day in Boulder, the Wildcats would currently be in fourth place in the Big 12. I know there’s no point in dwelling on what’s already happened, but it’s amazing how much difference one game can make in this league.

• That being said, this season is far from over for Pullen and company. The Wildcats have some very winnable games left on their schedule and still have plenty of opportunities to prove they’re for real. It starts this weekend with a visit from Oklahoma. Stay tuned.

Justin Nutter is a December graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. Please send comments to sports@spub.ksu.edu.

 

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