KANSAS CITY – Explode or implode? Both were equally likely for Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
Therein lies the burden of streakiness.
The No. 2 Kansas St. Wildcats positively exploded for 51 first-half points as the Oklahoma State Cowboys imploded early, all to the delight of the largely pro-Wildcat crowd at Sprint Center on Thursday evening. Kansas State rolled to a 83-64 victory
In a win against No. 10 Oklahoma on Wednesday, the Cowboys couldn't miss early in the first half. OSU stormed the Sooners to take a 28-5 lead in its first round game, but the Cowboys saw the karma swing violently the other way on Thursday. The first half numbers bear testament to that fact.
Kansas State ended the first half on a 22-3 run, 11 points of which were part of Jamar Samuels' 21-point first half. KSU outscored Oklahoma State 22-6 in the paint, 17-5 off of turnovers, 9-0 on second chances, and 9-3 on the fast break. It all added up to a 25-point halftime advantage for the 'Cats.
The game was all but over by the time the second half tipped off, and Oklahoma State's body language served notice. The Cowboys left the locker room looking visibly defeated, as if they were a pawn in Kansas State's sadistic effort to atone for losses to Kansas and Iowa State last week.
At one point in the first half, it looked like the game might come down to the walk-ons. Both teams entered the bonus less than eight minutes into the game. The game deteriorated into a war of attrition in the paint, as early fouls plagued forwards Luis Colon, Matt Pilgrim and Wally Judge, as well as guard Obi Muonelo. Oklahoma State found itself in enough foul trouble to warrant playing time for freshman Jarred Ford, who had seen only 59 minutes of playing time all season prior to his insertion in the first half.
Big 12 Player of the Year James Anderson was largely contained early, but finished with 27 points thanks to a 19-point second half. Anderson forced several shots in the process, as Kansas State focused their defensive efforts on containing him in isolation in the half-court.
The man of the hour was clearly Samuels, who finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds despite coming off the bench. Veteran guards Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen combined for 31 points, but Clemente's biggest contributions on the night were generally in transition. Clemente finished with 10 assists.
With the win, Kansas State moves on to face the win of tonight's nightcap game at the Sprint Center between Baylor and Texas. The Wildcats were 2-0 against those opponents this season, earning a two-point win in Waco, as well as a win over then-No. 1 Texas in Manhattan, a win that has become far less impressive in hindsight.