January 18, 2008

Wildcats scoring points in bunches

Looking for a recipe to beat Texas A&M? Senior center Joseph Jones summed up his 10th-ranked Aggies' 15-point loss at Texas Tech with four words: "They outplayed us." But the Red Raiders' offense had a little something to do with it and that could mean bad news for Texas A&M on Saturday. Behind the Big 12's top one-two punch in Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, dangerous Kansas State is putting up its most points on the scoreboard in years.

Hours before Texas Tech sent Texas A&M flailing and Bob Knight picked up his 900th career victory, Beasley sat inside a still Bramlage Coliseum, the wheels in his head churning. The Big 12 Player of the Week, who had a 32-point, 12-rebound effort in his Big 12 debut at Oklahoma, contemplated his game-winning lay-up that sank the Sooners, 84-82.

"I think about it every 10 seconds," Beasley said, "because I should have dunked it and hung on the rim a little bit."

On a night when K-State's defense wasn't stellar (the Sooners shot 52.8 percent), the Wildcats used a season-high 56.4-percent shooting and final-second heroics from their star freshman to outlast the Sooners in Norman, Okla., for the first time since 1996 and earn their first Big 12 opening win since 2001.

While K-State's 84 points was impressive for one reason (it was the Wildcats' most points scored in a 40-minute contest in Norman since a 112-95 loss to the Sooners on Feb. 13, 1988), it furthered a couple trends pleasing to first-year coach Frank Martin - trends he'd like to see continue when the Wildcats, 11-4 and 1-0 in the Big 12, face the Aggies, 15-2 and 1-1, in front of an ESPN audience and a sold-out Bramlage Coliseum.

Already with as many 80-point games (eight) as it posted a year ago, K-State's current streak of seven games in scoring at least 75 points is the program's longest stretch since 1976-77 and puts the Wildcats on the cusp of sharing a piece of history on Saturday. Only the 1960-61 Elite Eight squad that finished its season ranked No. 4 under Tex Winter reached 75 points eight straight times.

"We want to run," said Martin, whose team ranks third in the Big 12 in scoring (81.4). "We went to Oklahoma and we had 63 offensive possessions and we ran in 55 of them. We pushed the ball. It's what we do."

Until Texas A&M hit its Big 12 schedule, the Aggies hadn't particularly allowed it.

The Aggies, in yielding the second-fewest points (58.2) in the league, remain on pace to eclipse last season's school record (59.4) and until recently had cast a stifling presence against shooters in entering the week seventh nationally in allowing just 36.6 percent shooting from the floor. But outmanned Colorado even in an 86-69 loss last Saturday made a scalding 61.7-percent of its attempts against the Aggies ("We just weren't very good defensively and didn't give a lot of effort," first-year Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said) while Texas Tech, which led by as many as 24 points in the second half, finished 44.0 percent from the floor.

"With all the home games and playing the schedule we play, sometimes you can hide weaknesses," said Turgeon, whose team was also bludgeoned with a season-high 20 turnovers and 24 fouls against the Red Raiders. "I think a lot of our weaknesses came out tonight, all at the same time.

"We had so many fouls. You ask about the crowd (11,268 at United Spirit Arena) and maybe the crowd made us … we just had so many unbelievably dumb fouls."

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