I anticipate this may be one of the longest posts in the history of Bring On The Cats. So I'm not going to mince words. There are too many newspaper stories to fully discuss each one, so I'm just going to list them.
Wildcats savor win over Jayhawks
K-State snaps home losing streak to KU
KU takes loss hard
Loss leaves KU fans stunned
Whitlock: Wildcats are definitely for real
Sunflower Showdown notes: KU's Arthur finds foul trouble
Jayhawks' Self says Wildcats 'just better'
Hawks' 24-year streak ended at Bramlage
KU's guards cite lack of poise
Beasley lives up to his word
K-State alone in first in Big 12 Standings
Dean: Cats will remember this one
Also, just because I can't resist a little schadenfreude, here's one more newspaper front page.
Before I move on to what I liked and what (little) I didn't like, it would really be low of me not to say something nice about Bob Lutz. I have criticized some of his columns in the past few months, but he came out today and straight-up admitted he was wrong.
People are saying Kansas State is back and they're right.
I was wrong.
When K-State athletic director Tim Weiser decided to hire Martin after the abrupt resignation of Bob Huggins last spring, I wrote that it was short-sighted. The hiring of Martin, Huggins' top assistant, reeked of desperation solely to keep Beasley and the rest of Huggins' recruiting class at K-State.
I don't know what the future holds, I just sometimes pretend to.
It takes a big man to admit he was wrong. My girlfriend would tell you that makes me very small, indeed.
One other note. Several of those articles mention Andre Gilbert's indefinite suspension for violation of team rules. The word I get from those in Manhattan is that Gilbert got into a fight in Aggieville last Saturday night/Sunday morning. Take that for what it's worth. I'm sure we'll know more soon.
On to my game reactions.
What I liked...
Jacob Pullen, Blake Young, Clent Stewart, Bill Walker, Dominique Sutton, Michael Beasley, Chris Merriewether, Darren Kent, Luis Colon, Frank Martin, Dalonte Hill(*), Brad Underwood and the entire coaching staff. That's what I liked.
Jacob Pullen was the X-factor last night. All year I felt like he was really going to be an impressive player for us, but he showed how impressive last night. He went toe-to-toe with the best backcourt in the Big 12 and kicked sand in the faces of Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins. He chilled the blood in his veins to the freezing point, making all 10 of the free throws he attempted. He committed only one turnover while dropping four dimes, the most important his behind-the-head pass to Beasley for a dunk to put K-State up 12 in the middle of the second half. This kid has arrived and shown he is one of the premier point guards in the conference.
Good games also by Clent Stewart and Blake Young last night. Young took a nasty shot to the face early and had to have the cut stitched, but he came back and did exactly what we need by playing defense and hustling after loose balls. Stewart knocked down a couple huge threes en route to 11 points.
What more can you say about Michael Beasley and Bill Walker? Beasley served notice that he is the best player in the country, period, end of discussion last night. He put up 25 points and grabbed a (tied for) team high six rebounds, knocked down all four-pointers he took, and only picked up one personal foul. Walker provided the early offense while Beasley tried to find his rhythm, knocking down a couple threes and cutting through the KU defense on an inbounds play for a dunk.
Dominiqute Sutton did a good job stepping into the moment when he was thrust into the starting lineup by Gilbert's suspension. His stat line is unimpressive, but he did exactly what he needed to by playing tough defense and not hurting the team with bad plays.
Finally, a big congratulations to Frank Martin for showing, not only last night but throughout the last five games, that he is worthy of being a Division I basketball coach. Even if Beasley and Walker leave after this year, we will still have Martin, and from what I've seen that is a good deal for us.
What I didn't like...
I'm sure you're thinking I must be nuts, but there were just a couple things I picked out last night that I didn't like. Believe it or not, we can play better than we did.
Bill Walker took a couple ill-advised three-pointers, and we shot 26 of them overall. That's more than I'd like to see, but we still beat the best team we've played thus far.
The officiating last night was a little odd. I was alternating between yelling at my TV that Beasley was getting killed on the block in the first half, but then I would snap out of it and realize that we were getting away with roughly the same amount of contact on the other end. The elbowing call on Walker was crap as Chalmers clearly flopped and had no visible effects of contact, which he surely would have if he had actually been drilled. What's more, Brandon Rush pushed off with an elbow and got away with it shortly before Walker got called for his. As strange as it was, though, the officiating had no bearing on the outcome last night.
Finally, this is something I just have to get off my chest. The "Overrated!" cheer in spectator sports needs to die. Yesterday. I have never heard such a ridiculous thing come out of a group of people's mouths (OK, that's a lie, I've watched political speeches). Think about it. You are watching your favorite team play another team, and it looks like they are going to win. So you say the losing team isn't as good as they supposedly were, in order to devalue the hard-fought victory your team just picked up. Makes absolutely perfect sense to me. Just once, I'd like to hear the fans yell "Under-rated!" (clap-clap-clapclapclap).
I hope all of you who are lucky enough to be back in Manhattan celebrated into the wee hours of the morning and didn't bother going to class today. That was a night you'll remember your entire life, just like I will never forget the sting of the Kansas City air back in December 2003.
But now it's time to move along. About the third time I watched the highlights on SportsCenter last night, they had a segment about the game with ESPN's Jimmy Dykes. His last point was the point Coach Martin and the other coaches need to drill home to this team, starting today. Don't let last night be your best performance of the year. We have now proven that we can beat the best team in our conference. We have shown with our 5-0 record that we can beat good teams at home and on the road. We have shown that when you talk about who will win the Big 12, you can't say it's KU and then everybody else. The way things are right now, the road to the #1 seed in Kansas City goes through Manhattan.
The problem is, we have to keep bringing that level of effort every night. All of this won't mean jack if we go to CoMo and lay an egg against Missouri on Saturday. Bill Walker has called it a 16-round heavyweight fight, I've called it a series of 16 one-game seasons. Same idea. Every night is a new challenge. We can win this conference this year. But it won't happen if we don't come to play each and every night. The idea that we are a threat this year hasn't sunk in on some of the thicker folks down the river, but that's not a surprise. Excuses and arrogance from KU were as predictable as snow in winter.
Here are your current Big 12 standings (and next opponent in parentheses):
K-State 5-0 (@ Mizzou)
KU 5-1 (@ Colorado)
Baylor 4-1 (@ Texas)
Texas 3-2 (Baylor)
Oklahoma 3-2 (@ Texas A&M)
Texas A&M 3-3 (Oklahoma)
Iowa State 3-3 (@ Nebraska)
Texas Tech 2-3 (Oklahoma State)
Missouri 2-4 (K-State)
Nebraska 1-4 (Iowa State)
Oklahoma State 1-5 (@ Texas Tech)
Colorado 1-5 (Colorado)
Last night's action...
Nebraska 66, Mizzou 62
Mizzou made a pretty good game of this considering they were short five players. Check out Rock'M Nation for more as I didn't get to see any of this one for obvious reasons. Sounds like it was an incredibly ugly basketball game, and Nebraska's Aleks Maric was thoroughly unimpressive against an undersized and short-handed Mizzou squad. Alas, the Huskers picked up their first conference win on the year, while Mizzou was again denied its second.
Texas A&M 80, Texas 63
When ESPN+ flashed "Texas A&M 26, Texas 9" on my screen during the second-half of our game, I had to blink my eyes to make sure it was correct. Alas, it was, and A&M continued to take it right at the Longhorns. I flipped over to this game right about the time UT's Alexis Wangmene was ejected for throwing an elbow at A&M's DeAndre Jordan. They don't mess around down in Texas. The Aggies have really picked themselves up off the mat of their 1-3 start to conference play with two straight wins. Texas remains an enigma, standing only 3-2 in conference play and looking like they are lacking something right now.
That is it for the game review and conference peek. Hit "Read More" below for much more from last night's game, including YouTube, photos and much more.
Here are the last few moments of the game and the ensuing celebration. Turn your speakers up really loud so you can sort of feel like you were there.
I managed to take a few pictures of my TV screen last night during SportsCenter. Here is a little of what I caught. Accept my apologies for leaving the flash on.
Here are a few pictures from the newspapers. If anybody reading this has a problem with me posting these, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to take them down.
As always: We'll Carry the Banner High!