March 22, 2008

Clank, clank go the Wildcats

OMAHA, Neb. -- When boiled down to its very basics, the game of basketball is really remarkably simple. It's about putting the ball in the basket. On Saturday in the NCAA Tournament's second round of the Midwest Regional, the sixth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers did that most primal task much better than the Kansas State Wildcats.

Period. End of story. End of season for K-State.

Wisconsin, a team that averages 5.7 3-pointers per game this season hit seven in the first half and nine in the game. The Badgers shot 52.2 percent from the field, while the Wildcats groped their way to a 39.6 average in the game, including a 34.6 average in the second half.

Other than those crucial shooting statistics, a review of the stats sheet really doesn't point to any other key pieces of data that led the Badgers, the champions of the Big 10, to such a comfortable 72-55 victory.

"We just couldn't make a shot and they made all of their shots. It's pretty simple," K-State freshman point guard Jacob Pullen said.

Pullen was one of the greatest sufferers in the contest. He broke down the Wisconsin defense in his typical manner, but then missed the runners and floaters and scoops that make Pullen so hard to stop.

Pullen wasn't alone in his struggles as the Wildcats scored a season-low point total.

It goes without saying that Michael Beasley was good. Of course. Beasley finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds in what was surely his final college basketball game. Fellow freshman Bill Walker was also solid, going for 18 points and six rebounds in what also was most likely his final collegiate game.

Put together, K-State's dynamic duo was 15 of 30 from the field.

The rest of the Wildcat roster was 6 of 23. Clank.

"We felt we could make a run that we never made. We just couldn't get a shot to fall," Pullen said. "I wouldn't say it was their defense, either. The ball just wasn't going through the rim. Even at the five-minute mark, we still felt like we were going to make a run. At about two or three minutes, that was it."

The worst of the shooting came from behind the 3-point arc. K-State was a miserable, dreadful, pathetic, anemic, hapless 0 for 13. Yes, ofer.

Wisconsin also missed 13 3-point attempts in the game. Unfortunately for K-State, the Badgers also hit nine to be 9 of 22.

The last time a K-State team went without a 3-pointer was 347 games ago. It came during a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the 1996-97 season. Ironically, that was the season that started K-State's 12-year drought without an NCAA Tournament.

"That's the big key, especially when you're playing Wisconsin," senior guard Clent Stewart. "They want to pack it down inside, so if you hit a few they have to come out to you."

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