SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Kansas State coach Frank Martin understands that physical play can sometimes lead to plenty of fouls. It's a delicate balancing act for a team that plays in the rugged Big 12.
The Wildcats bullied their way to an 83-75 victory over Dayton (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) on Sunday in the third-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, but Martin lamented sending the Flyers to the foul line 27 times -- even if most of the fouls were competitive ones.
"We've got to stop fouling," Martin said, "but that's what we do. That's the identity of our basketball team."
Don't think that the whistle was being blown in only one direction, though. The Wildcats went to the foul line 44 times.
"They're a really good team," Pullen said. "To be able to beat them shows we're committing."
With dueling chants of "Let's Go Flyers" and "Go State" reverberating through a less than full arena, the quicker Wildcats (4-1) built a 35-28 lead by halftime and managed to hang onto it during a physical second half.
Chris Johnson led the Flyers (2-2) with 16 points and six rebounds, while Marcus Johnson added 14 points and Paul Williams 10. The trip to the Carribean wasn't all bad for Dayton, though, which defeated Georgia Tech (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) in the first round of the tournament.
"We needed to play with a little more poise and we needed to play with a little more confidence," said Dayton coach Brian Gregory. "You can't play the way we played against a team of that caliber."
Clemente, a Puerto Rican, hit a 3-pointer with 13:57 left in the game to give Kansas State its biggest lead at 50-35. The Flyers answered with a 14-7 spurt, capped by Johnson's 3-pointer with 9:25 left, to get within striking distance.
Things got testy with under 4 minutes to play when Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels was given a technical foul for kicking Dayton's Kurt Huelsman in the head as he was trying to retain possession of a loose ball at the bottom of a pileup.
"That's not who I am, to go around kicking people in the head," Samuels said afterward.
Samuels shook hands with Huelsman after the altercation, and the two foul shots and a dunk moments later by Chris Wright made it 68-65 with 3:15 left.
Dayton closed the deficit to 78-75 on three straight free throws by Johnson with 45 seconds left, but the Flyers never could get all the way back. Pullen and Clemente each hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to seal the victory.
"We beat a team that plays at a high, high level," Martin said.