3:00 PM ET, March 9, 2007
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kansas State players Lance Harris and Cartier Martin heard the rumblings that the Wildcats might not merit a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and they determined to do everything they could Friday to make sure their team isn't left out.Harris finished with 20 points and Martin added 17 as the Wildcats polished their tournament credentials with a 66-45 win over Texas Tech in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals.Kansas State (22-10) advanced to play No. 2 Kansas in a Friday semifinal. The Wildcats lost twice to their in-state rival this season, and Kansas has won 34 of the last 35 games in the series dating to February 1994.Despite a fourth-place finish and 10-6 league record, skeptics remain about whether Kansas State deserves what would be its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996. Some had labeled the game between the Wildcats and Texas Tech (21-12) as a de facto elimination game for an NCAA berth, although league coaches have insisted that shouldn't be the case."We just knew that we had our backs against the wall and we needed another win, you know, to help us get in the NCAA Tournament," Harris said. "We came out and just played like that."After the game, both Kansas State coach Bob Huggins and Texas Tech coach Bob Knight campaigned for each other's teams to join the Big 12's top three finishers -- Kansas, Texas A&M and Texas -- in the 65-team NCAA field."It was very difficult for me to imagine a tournament that could put 65 teams together that were better than Kansas State," said Knight, whose team went 9-7 in league play and finished fifth."If you finish ... in the first division of this league, or certainly in the upper five spots, and you have a winning record, then you, unless you have just screwed up unbelievably in your pre-conference season, you're a team that should be in the NCAA Tournament," Knight said.Huggins returned the favor, saying "I don't think there is any question" about the Red Raiders' tournament credentials."Honestly, I don't know how anybody could say that there's not at least five teams in this league deserving to get in," Huggins said. "I have been in a whole bunch of leagues. This is a heck of a league."In the 11-year history of the Big 12, every team that has finished in the top four in the league standings and won at least 10 league games and 20 regular-season games has received an NCAA Tournament bid.Kansas State's win total this season -- its first under Huggins -- is its highest since its 1987-88 team won 25 games before losing to eventual national champion Kansas in the Elite Eight."We feel pretty confident," Martin said about the Wildcats' NCAA Tournament chances. "We think we are a good team and we are supposed to be in it. But, you know, it's not our decision. ... The next step is not up to us. We are going to try to continue to win."Against Texas Tech, the Wildcats dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Red Raiders 39-25. Of the Wildcats' total, 12 came on the offensive end, giving them numerous second and third chances. Kansas State also shot well from outside, going 10-of-23 from 3-point range."I thought we had a little bit of an advantage because we had four days to get ready for them," Huggins said. "Any time you have four days to get ready, you ought to be a little bit better prepared."Texas Tech -- which beat Kansas State 62-52 during the regular season -- struggled offensively, shooting 32 percent and posting its lowest point total of the season. Jarrius Jackson, who scored 28 points, provided the Red Raiders' only consistent offensive threat and had 10 of their 17 field goals. No other Texas Tech player scored more than five points."Kansas State really dominated the play with its defense, I thought," Knight said. "Even when the score was going pretty even or pretty tight for the first 12 or 13 minutes, their defense was going to wear us out."Kansas State didn't make its first basket until 5½ minutes into the game but heated up after that, shooting 52 percent in the first half, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range.Texas Tech's last lead came at 23-22, on a three-point play by Jackson with 6:12 left in the half. The Wildcats used an 11-1 run to take a nine-point lead and led 33-26 at halftime.Texas Tech proved unable to take advantage when the Wildcats started the second half sluggish on offense.Kansas State led 44-34 with 11:19 left, but a 17-5 run that included four 3-pointers -- two each by Martin and Harris -- pushed the Wildcats' advantage to 61-39 by the 5:24 mark, and Texas Tech came no closer than 20 points the rest of the way.Blake Young added 12 points for Kansas State, while David Hoskins had eight points and 12 rebounds.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||17-53 (.321)||25-52 (.481)|
|3P Made-Attempted||5-17 (.294)||10-23 (.435)|
|FT Made-Attempted||6-7 (.857)||6-12 (.500)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (0/0)||12 (0/0)|