In 2009-2010, Frank Martin’s third year as Kansas State’s head basketball coach, the Wildcats gave their fans a ride all the way to the Elite 8. Getting there wasn’t easy, though. The Xavier Musketeers forced two overtimes before the ‘Cats finally prevailed, 101-96.
The season had been a slow build. K-State started the season unranked, though they were receiving votes. They entered the Associated Press poll at No. 17 after beating Xavier 71-56 and No. 18 UNLV 95-80 in week five. They climbed as high as fifth, compiling a 26-7 record prior to the NCAA tourney. Their seven losses included three to No. 1 overall seed Kansas, one of those a 2-point overtime loss on Gameday in Manhattan, and another an 8-point loss in the Big 12 Tournament final.
For their work, the ‘Cats earned a 2-seed. They defeated North Texas 82-62 in the first round, then beat Jimmer Fredette’s BYU squad 84-72 to advance from Oklahoma City (while a certain other squad’s season shockingly ended there, thanks to Ali Farokhmanesh).
Xavier would not go down so easily in the teams’ second match-up. The game, ten years ago tonight, was a roller-coaster of emotion, with both teams hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. Jacob Pullen scored 28, Denis Clemente had 25, Curtis Kelly contributed 21, and Jamar Samuels added 14 off the bench. That’s the kind of effort it took to overcome Jordan Crawford (32 points) and Tu Holloway (26 points).
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