Kansas State Basketball: Are the Wildcats an Elite Team Again?

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Kansas State Basketball:  Are the Wildcats an Elite Team Again?

Boy, am I eating my words.  But c'mon, who isn't that said anything negative about Kansas State?

About a month ago I wrote an article for FOX Sports glorifying the incredible meltdown that Kansas State was publicly going through.  

Just to recap, here's what was said:

—Kansas State started off over-ranked

 

—Kansas State couldn't beat a ranked team

 

Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly got suspended for receiving impermissible benefits (Dillards)

 

—Pullen stated if K-State went to the NIT, he wouldn't play and the media blew it up

 

—KSU starts out Big 12 play 1-4, becomes unranked

 

—Freddy Asprilla and McDonald's All-American Wally Judge walk away from the program

 

—Curtis Kelly is under investigation for violating team policy

 

—Kansas blows them out on national television

Now, before I start recapping what has transpired in the past few weeks, let me state that all of that information is true.  

Tell me that doesn't scream epic meltdown.

Fast forward a few short weeks and where are we now?  Kansas State is finally looking like the team we had all expected it to and that's without Asprilla and Judge.

Everyone knew that Frank Martin is a good coach but it seemed as if his aggressive coaching tactics had finally taken the ultimate toll on his team and broken it down.

KSU has won its last five games and has been rolling lately.  These aren't just any games, but solid resume-building victories.  These include:

 

—No. 1 Kansas

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—Oklahoma

 

—at Nebraska

 

—No. 21 Missouri

 

—at No. 8 Texas

Some teams on the NCAA tournament bubble are struggling for quality wins, but KSU has three in the last five games.

Not only are they winning, but they are looking very good while doing it.

Jacob Pullen is an absolute stud and is finally showing why he was a preseason All-American.  It's true that Kansas State has to have Pullen on fire to win, but lately he hasn't missed a beat.  

Could it continue to the Big 12 tournament and beyond?  We'll see.  But honestly, I think he could continue to put up 20 points a game, because he knows how important it is to his team's success.

Over the past five games Pullen has averaged 27.2 points per game including a 38-point performance and two 27-point performances.  

Unreal.

Don't forget about Rodney McGruder and Curtis Kelly who have been playing solid basketball as well.  The only thing that concerns me with Kansas State is now that Asprilla and Judge are gone, they really can't afford to have Kelly in foul trouble.

When he fouled out of the Texas game, it seemed as if Texas could jump on the opportunity to come back.  Luckily the Longhorns were forced to shoot three-pointers towards the end of the game, but the depth is certainly a question for KSU without Asprilla and Judge.  

Jamar Samuels and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts can hold their own, but KSU fans better hope those guys stay out of foul trouble in the tournament.

But to consider all that has happened with KSU this season, you have to be impressed with the late-season comeback.  If Kansas State can win on Saturday against Iowa State and make a deep push in the Big 12 tournament, look out for them to get a much higher seed than expected.

I'll tell you one thing, Kansas State is for real if they can keep up the intensity they've showed over the past few weeks.  Whatever team you cheer for, I wouldn't want to face them in a tournament right now.

I think it's fair to say that right now Kansas State has jumped back up into the college basketball elite.

 

For all of Kip's Big 12 coverage, follow him on Twitter @KipReiserer and become a fan on his Sportswriters Profile Page!

Like this article?  Check out some more of Kip's recent articles:

Big 12 Basketball Tournament 2011 Bracket Predictions: Kansas or Texas?

Kansas Basketball: Why the Jayhawks, Not Duke Blue Devils, Will Be Team To Beat

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