February 25, 2008

Cats' win totals are all that matter

The records are beginning to mount for Kansas State superstar freshman Michael Beasley, and in the process he is beginning to erase the names of some of his basketball heroes from the record books. The latest record to fall for the 6-foot-10 freshman was for the most double-doubles in a season by a freshman.

Former Syracuse one-and-done freshman, and current star with the NBA's Denver Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony owned the record at 22; Mike Beasley topped it with his 23rd of the season for the Wildcats with an astonishing 44-point and 13-rebound performance at Baylor on Saturday. By the way, that was the most points in a game by a player in Big 12 history, breaking his own record, which he stole earlier in the season from good friend Kevin Durant.

Most points in a half by a Big 12 player? Got it, removing Durant's name once again from the books with his 28 points in the first half Saturday.

And the latest school record to find Beasley's name associated with it was his 10th 30-plus-point and 10-plus-rebound game tied the mark held by Bob Boozer, who was probably the greatest K-State player in history until Michael Beasley showed up in Manhattan. Oh, and Boozer accumulated those 10 big games in a career. Beasley has done it in just 26 games.

There are plenty of other marks and superlatives that can be highlighted for Beasley, but as the Wildcats return home from Saturday's 92-86 loss at Baylor to take on the Texas Longhorns in an ESPN Big Monday showdown, there are just two records that really matter.

K-State is now 8-4 in Big 12 play and 18-8 overall.

The so-called experts still place K-State comfortably into the NCAA Tournament based on a strong non-conference schedule, a much-improved Big 12 RPI rating and key wins over Kansas at home and Oklahoma (the Big 12's third-best RPI team) on the road.

Still, winning another nationally televised game against a prominent opponent -- Texas was ranked 7th last week and will likely move up at least one spot when the new rankings are released later Monday -- would probably lock down that NCAA Tournament bid and begin rebuilding the Wildcats' potential seeding.

The key for the Wildcats may not come on the offensive end -- Beasley scoring 44 and Bill Walker adding 31 for the Wildcats in a defeat may prove this is not all about offense -- but on the defensive end of the floor.

K-State has allowed teams to shoot 58 percent from the field in the second half of their four Big 12 road losses, but those defensive lapses have not happened at home. K-State is now unbeaten in six Big 12 home games, and that may be a factor crucial against the Longhorns.

Big 12 home teams seem to make the most of their crowds and familiar surroundings. That may be most true for the Wildcats, where Bramlage Coliseum has become a pit of despair for visiting teams.

"Our last two roads losses, I haven't been very happy with our defense, but I would think the average person who pays attention knows how hard it is to win on the road in this league," K-State coach Frank Martin said. "There's not another league that's as good top to bottom. It's impossible to win on the road in this league."

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