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No. 9 Kansas waits for in-state rival

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Jeremiah Massey did not just want the
ball. He insisted upon it.

Fueling a key surge in the second half, Kansas State's senior
leader wound up with 18 points Thursday night and led the Wildcats
to a 68-62 victory over Texas A&M in the first round of the Big 12
tournament.

"I felt me, being a senior, that I wanted to do something to
win the game," Massey said. "I demanded the ball and it went in.
Everyone was tired but we had to pull it out."

It was the first tournament win since 2002 for the Wildcats
(17-11), who suffered through a frustrating regular season, losing
twice on last-second shots and twice in overtime.

The victory also may take pressure off embattled coach Jim
Wooldridge and put Kansas State in line for its first postseason
appearance in Wooldridge's five years.

"We're not the best team in the league," said Wooldridge. "I
never said we would be. I said we'd be a good team and a team that
could seize on opportunities, and we did that tonight."

Antoine Wright had 28 points for the Aggies (19-9), whose
12-game turnaround in the regular season tied for the biggest in
Division I and made first-year man Billy Gillispie a near-unanimous
choice for Big 12 coach of the year.

The Aggies and Wildcats both figure they should receive an NIT
bid.

"I would think we're still going to be playing," said
Gillispie. "I think we'll be a fun team to watch play. We've never
really talked about that stuff. I would assume we're still going to
be playing."

In Friday's second round, Kansas State will meet Kansas,
the regular-season co-champion which has beaten the Wildcats 30
straight times.

"I'm sure [Kansas] will be confident," said Wooldridge. "Our
challenge is to get these guys to another gear, get them charged-up
again."

Acie Law sank a 3-pointer -- his only bucket in 13 shots -- that
gave the Aggies a 46-41 advantage. But then Massey led the Wildcats
on an 14-4 run for a 55-50 lead Texas A&M could never overcome.

The 6-7 Massey, guarded by 6-5 Chris Walker, worked inside for
six straight points, capping the run with a short jumper over
Walker.

After Wright put in two free throws for the Aggies, Massey drove
the lane, drew Walker's fourth foul, then sank two free throws for
a 57-52 lead.

When Justin Williams drilled a 14-footer, the Wildcats led 59-52
with 3:51 to play.

"We couldn't stop him," said Gillispie. "It wasn't because we
weren't trying. Chris did a great job as far as fighting him all
day long. He made his biggest plays when the game was right on the
line."

Texas A&M, still winless in the tournament since the inception
of the Big 12 nine years ago, never got closer than five points.
Going back to the old Southwest Conference, the Aggies have lost 12
straight postseason games.

Lance Harris and Fred Peete each had 13 points for Kansas State
and Peete's 14 rebounds were a school record for a Big 12
tournament game. Justin Williams had 12 for the Wildcats and
provided solid defense inside against Joseph Jones, the Aggies'
standout freshman center who totaled nine points and 12 rebounds.

Wright had 19 points in the first half and led a 16-2 run with a
pair of 3-pointers and a big dunk that gave the Aggies a 31-27
halftime lead.

"We have had close games before, and we knew if we stuck to it
and rebounded that we could win," Peete said.