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January 19, 2008

Wildcats pull away in second half for 75-54 win

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- Michael Beasley scored 21 points and Bill Walker added 19 for Kansas State, which broke a close game open in the second half and went on to beat No. 10 Texas A&M 75-54 on Saturday.

The win gave the Wildcats (12-4, 2-0 Big 12) their first 2-0 start to a conference season in 15 years.

The win gave the Wildcats (12-4, 2-0 Big 12) their first 2-0 start to a conference season in 15 years.

Walker and Beasley, Kansas State's standout freshmen, both played most of the second half with three fouls but led the getaway run as the Wildcats shot 52-percent against a defense that had been allowing opponents only 37-percent from the field.

After Joseph Jones hit two free throws to bring the Aggies within 41-39, Beasley returned from the bench and hit a quick basket. Clent Stewart scored five points on consecutive possessions, Walker then scored five straight points and Jacob Pullen, another member of Kansas State's impressive freshman class, hit a runner to give Kansas State a 54-42 lead.

Jones scored inside and converted it into a three-point play on the first field goal in almost 11 minutes for A&M. Then Beasley heated up, drilling two 15-footers in a 10-point spurt.

Josh Carter had 13 points for the Aggies while Jones added 12 and Donald Sloan 10.

Stewart had 10 points for Kansas State, which outrebounded the taller visitors 32-29. Texas A&M came in with a nation-leading rebounding margin of 11.5 and had not been outrebounded all year.

The Aggies seemed to be taking charge with an early 8-0 run in the first half, but Kansas State answered immediately with an 8-0 run and wound up with a 35-33 halftime lead after Walker hit consecutive 3-pointers and fed Blake Young with a bounce pass for the go-ahead basket.

The 6-foot-10 Beasley, saddled with two early fouls, played only 9 minutes in the first half and picked up his third foul less than a minute after halftime, again forcing first-year coach Frank Martin to put him on the bench.

Walker was whistled for his second and third fouls within a one-minute span early in the second half, leaving both freshmen in foul trouble and the Wildcats clinging to a two-point lead.

But Kansas State's outside shots began falling, drawing the Aggie defenders away from the basket and giving Kansas State a few easy opportunities.

Stewart worked inside for a field goal with 11:18 left and then pulled up and canned a 3-pointer for a 52-41 lead.

Beasley, held to nine points in the first half, connected from 3-point range for a 67-48 lead and Stewart's 3 capped the game for the Wildcats, who had lost five straight at home to ranked opponents.

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