February 6, 2008

Beasley helps Cats fend off Huskers

As the Kansas State Wildcats let a 15-point halftime lead wither down to just five in the second half of Wednesday night's contest against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, one could not have blamed all 9,174 fans in attendance at Bramlage Coliseum for experiencing flashbacks of the Cats' battle in Columbia, Mo. just four days earlier. The previous Saturday, a similar lead slowly morphed into a three-point loss. This time around, the No. 20 Wildcats rode a 35-point effort by freshman phenom Michael Beasley to a 74-59 victory.

"We didn't want (to give away a double-digit lead) two times straight," Beasley said.

Beasley's point total marked his eighth 30-point effort this season, breaking a single-season school record previously set by Bob Boozer and Norris Coleman. His total came despite continued efforts by the Huskers to eliminate him from the offense, hounding him with an array of defenses.

"We tried a box-and-one, a triangle-and-two, and a zone. That's something we haven't done all year," Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said. "… I don't know how many points he had, seems like six or eight, but in reality he had 30. He didn't force a thing. That's what a great player does."

Beasley also grabbed 13 rebounds, giving the 6-10 forward his 18th double-double of the season, which ties a K-State single-season record.

"I was real proud of him," Wildcat coach Frank Martin said. "He didn't just stand around and watch the game. He had a guy on him at all times and he continued to work."

Absent from the Wildcat lineup was point guard Clent Stewart, who remained in Oklahoma with family after the passing of his mother, Vanessa, on Tuesday. In memory of Vanessa Stewart, who had fought a long bout with bone cancer, the Wildcats had black patches with the initials "VS" stitched in white on their jerseys. They also sported pink shooting shirts in warm-ups and on the bench.

"I think we definitely just had to come out here and try to get a big win for her," said guard Chris Merriewether. "I think we were playing for her tonight."

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