November 14, 2008

Wildcats smother FAMU in opener

To Florida A&M fans, the scene inside Bramlage Coliseum Friday night must have looked a touch uglier than the lavender throwback jerseys Kansas State took the court in, as the Wildcats, mismatched uniforms and all, disposed of the overmatched Rattlers 96-57. K-State's season-opening blowout victory saw 11 Wildcats crack the scoring column, but it was the backcourt of Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente who stole the show.

K-State's speedy guard combination accounted for 36 of the Wildcats' 96 points, as Pullen poured in 17 to complement Clemente's game-high 19. So if there was any doubt that this year's K-State tem would rely heavily on guard play, a glance at the opening-night boxscore should erase it.

"(Clemente and Pullen) played really well," said sophomore forward Ron Anderson, who was the only K-State player made available following the game due to a mandatory film session. "We did a really good job executing our offense and most of our points came from transition. … Jake and Denny did a really good job at getting the ball up the court."

A pair of authoritative dunks from sophomore forwards Dominique Sutton, who scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Friday's game, and Jamar Samuels helped fuel a game-opening 17-2 run from which the Wildcats never so much as glanced back. The visiting Rattlers managed just 11 points in the game's first 14 minutes, turning K-State's first win of the season into a laugher from the get-go.

K-State head coach Frank Martin has been on record saying this year's team is better defensively than the superstar-infused squad he coached a year ago, and as is becoming a trend, his team backed up their coach's words on the court. The Wildcats forced 13 turnovers and held the Rattlers to an abysmal 33 percent shooting in a game during which A&M managed just 20 first-half points.

Martin wants his players to pressure every pass, and he got what he asked for Friday. Well, for the most part anyway.

"We were a lot better (defensively) in the first half than we were against Washburn," Martin said. "We got a little sloppy at the end of the first half. In the second half, we played like a young team with a lead. I don't know the foul total in the second half, but I think we fouled them every, single time.

"I think the first half showed this team has a chance to be pretty good defensively."

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