After all the talk about the Big 12 powerhouses Kansas and Texas, Kansas State has to be in the conversation after their performance against No. 1 Texas. The first time two Top 10 opponents faced in the Bramlage Coliseum would be one for the record books.
The last time the Wildcats defeated a No. 1 opponent was when they took down Kansas in 1994. The Wildcats upped their overall record against the Longhorns to 11-9 and 6-3 at home. Now they ride a 14-game win streak at Bramlage Coliseum, longest in building history.
Coming into the game, the Wildcats knew that in their only losses on the season the frontcourt players were a no-show. Not this time, as Jamar Samuels led the way with 20 points off the bench.
After the game Samuels said, “My mom just had surgery and I told myself that I would dedicate this game for her. Before the game Luis (Colon) told me that one of his friends was just shot so I just played my butt off and it showed in the outcome.”
Samuels was definitely a key component to a Wildcat upset. He scored 15 of his 20 in a dominating first half, with six coming in an end-of-the-half run to put Kansas State up by 10 entering the second half.
The key player in the second half was Rodney McGruder. His numbers may not have been spectacular, but when they needed some offense he was the one to contribute. Rodney sparked a key run late in the game that put the Wildcats firmly in the driver's seat.
“It has been coming with him," Head Coach Frank Martin said. "He was overwhelmed in early December, like most freshmen are, by the intensity of practice. He was overwhelmed by going against Dominique Sutton and Jacob Pullen every day and getting embarrassed. He took great strides over Christmas break, like a lot of our freshmen did. That is two games in a row where Rodney has done a heck-of-a job for us defensively.”
Kansas State played with high intensity on both ends of the floor and battled with the Texas frontcourt all night. The Wildcats out-rebounded the number one rebounding team in the nation by eight on the night.
The win can be atttributed to Kansas State’s ability to get to the rim and put the ball inside for the easy basket. The Wildcats also forced 19 turnovers, two of which were key turnovers that kept the Wildcats in complete control for the win.
The Wildcats aren’t known for passing the ball down low and letting their frontcourt operate but it worked tonight.
“They were great," Martin said after the game. "Jamar (Samuels) is a sophomore, Curtis (Kelly) has not played basketball for three years, and they both played with a lot of passion tonight. I have been on Jamar’s rear-end for about three weeks now, because he is averaging less than two defensive rebounds a game. That was a big-boy game today, and he grabbed eight defensive rebounds.
"It needs to be every day, not every once in a while. We sat down two years ago and said, ‘If we want to beat the big boys in this league, we have got to have great front-line play.’ Luis Colon played his heart out today. He gave us 18 minutes of great basketball. Wally (Judge) did not have great numbers, but he played at a high level when he was in the game.”
Kansas State didn’t just beat the No. 1 team in the nation; they made believers out of many doubters. Under Frank Martin the Wildcats are definitely a team to beat and have a legitimate chance at getting a Big 12 championship.
Look for the Wildcats to shake up the Big 12 standings as March gets closer. There is no doubt that Martin is marching the Cats right into the big dance with as good of a chance as any team in the country.
The Wildcats have now accumulated a 3-1 conference record and 16-2 record overall. The Wildcats still have tough conference games before they can be crowned conference champions. Beating KU would result in most likely winning the Big 12 championship. The Wildcats definitely have a chance to compete with the top teams in the league.
The Wildcats see their next action at home against a struggling Oklahoma State team.