FINAL, KSU, 74-59
Thirty-five for Mike. Maric has 14. Balanced scoring for NU, but I’m convinced balanced scoring is for chumps. As I predicted, Mike and Bill went for 50, and the Wildcats are going to win. Cookie is tough. And the fans make for the exits with 43 seconds left. Mike leaves to a standing ovation with 38 seconds left. He finished with 35 points and 13 rebounds – as Bob Huggins might say, “That’s just Mike being Mike.” Jake breaks double figures, hitting a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left. Crowd favorite James Franklin is in and he grabs a rebound. It’s over.
3:41 left, KSU, 67-54
DK misses a three. Mike can hardly walk, but he’s got the school single-season record for double-doubles. Cookie can ball. Mike is nice and all, but Maric – c’mon. Play some defense, bro. Bill from 17 feet, and it’s a nine-point game. Doc wants a TO. Mike finishes, misses the free throw. He’s got 33. Looks like he’ll have to “settle” for 40. Walker goes to work, and K-State is up 13. Place gets loud for the first time all night. Bad effort by the fans. Sorry, but it had to be said.
7:13 left, KSU, 59-52
With one more rebound, Beasley ties the single-season record for double-doubles – 18. Looks like Mike has re-aggravated his turf toe issue, and that’s not good. He’s on the bench adjusted his kicks. Big Sek hits a 3, and it’s down to five points. Mike is checking back in. Blake scores on a reverse. Mike is basically hopping around out there. Offensive rebound for NU. Great defensive sequence for Mike, who is favoring that toe. That’s going to be a major problem, methinks. Not inconceivable some foe might just stomp on his foot. I’m not advocating it, but you and I both know it’s possible. Good minutes from C-Merr. DK is back. Bill is still jacking threes – he’s now 1-for-7. Might be time to stop shooting those. Big Sek drives at Mike and finishes around him, and it’s a five-point game. Guess his toe doesn’t hurt too badly – Jake to Mike for an oop. Then Jake gets the steal and scoops up behind to Mike, but it’s knocked away. Frank burns a hole in Jake and calls him a couple of unflattering terms that our columnist would find offensive. I think Frank had a point, though. Not in terms of what he called Jake, but his anger.
11:57 left, KSU, 55-47
Ryan Anderson’s 3 cuts it to 7. Hmmm… Blake Young is tenacious, man. It might not look pretty, but he gets things done. He hits a pair of freebies and it’s a nine-point game. Cookie gets bailed out on what looked like a charge – but it’s a blocking foul on C-Merr (Thanks, Zac.) People just looked upset on K-State’s bench. It’s weird. Mike is brilliant. They’re triple-teaming the big fella, and he’s trying to stay patient. Offense rebound and he dunks it. Twenty-seven points with 12:20 left – plus he’s got nine rebounds now.
15:15 left, KSU, 51-41
The most points ever scored against Nebraska is 46. Just tossing that out there. Saw Andre Gilbert at the break. He’s in street clothes, and he was in with the team during halftime. He acted like he wanted to jog out on the court with the rest of the guys. Beasley gets two more – he’s at 25. Maric scores, and some chucklehead says, “You’re just tall.” Well, sure, there’s that, but he’s sorta skilled, too. Walker with a finish, a potential “and one,” and he flexes afterwards. One of the officials daintily picks up his headband and hands it back to Walker, who misses the free throw. Mike called for his second foul trying to defend Maric. Yep, he’s tall – and he hits both of free throws. A quick thought – is foul shooting going to be a serious problem with this team? Jake gives it up, and it turns into a quick deuce the other way for Cookie. Bill with a tip on the next possession. The 23 points for Mike in the first half was his best effort of the season, by the way. Mike misses a bunny – and wouldn’t you know it – Dagunduro answers.
HALFTIME, KSU, 45-30
Beasley is called for traveling, and the other assorted NBA scouts are laughing hysterically, as if to say, “Ha, he won’t be called for that next year!” And they’re right. Dave Hoskins walks off the court, dragging that leg.
:47.8 seconds left, KSU, 45-30
Beasley hits a pair, and he’s got 19. NU has 25. That’s pretty much the story so far. I can’t state this enough – if they play him long enough in the 2nd half, he’s going to get 50. It’s going to happen – only if NU keeps it close. Mike misses a free throw – he’s got 21 points and four rebounds. Driveway shooter throws up an airball – and Mike gets two more. He’s at 23. NU is still at 25. Randy Pfund can’t believe what he’s seeing. He’s been on the phone for the last five minutes – he’s got a huge championship ring on his finger. Luis Colon comes in for Mike, who might not see another minute of time in this half. I think he’s earned the rest. Dagunduro – there he is again – finishes as he absorbs contact from Luis. Good for Luis – offensive rebound and quick putback. I’m not sure whether this crowd likes him or just likes saying “LOOOUUUUU.” Anyway, I was wrong – Mike’s back in, along with Ron Anderson – his first action of the night. They come in for Luis and DK.
3:47 left in 1st half, KSU, 37-25
Maric gets 2 out of the timeout. Merriewether drives to the rack for a deuce. Big Sek gets two more. Kiss Cam was weak sauce – I need to see some people mugging down- for real. Need to see some people, as Wooly might say, “getting after it.” Dagunduro nearly slides head-first into the stanchion – great word, by the way. Blake hits a 3, and how good has he been? Driveway shooter alert – Paul Velander checks in for NU. He’s shooting 38 percent from 3. Gotta keep an eye on that cat. Walker scores down low. I think Sutton is still in the doghouse because Merriewether is seeing extended time. I kind of like it, though. I’ve never seen Mike this focused and aggressive this early in a game. Then again, he’s being covered by a couple of 6-foot-3 guards. He’s got 15 after another “and one.” I was just going to write that Cookie Miller does nothing for me at all, but then he hits a 15-footer as the shot clock expires. Mike again – now he’s got 17, and I’m honest when I say if they made a conscious effort to get him the ball the way NU does with Maric, he could get 50. Just sayin’. Now I love Cookie Miller. You have to root for the little guy. Wow, Chris Merriewether – I have to find something shorter and catchier to call him besides his given name – can deliver an entry pass. Who knew?
8:24 left, KSU, 25-15
The timeout didn’t help. Jake finds Mike on the break for a easy deuce, and Mike already has 12 points. That’s absurd, folks. Twelve points in less than 10 minutes. Kids, don’t try that at home. Sutton back on the floor. Maric camped deep in the paint, and he has position on Beasley. He scores, and he has six. Bill rains a 3 on the Huskers, and have I mentioned how much I like Doc Sadler? Dude works a sideline. Mike is feeling it. Everything is coming in rhythm – even his misses. He looks like he wants 50. Jake nails a 3, and the home team is up by 7. Frank just berated Sutton, more or less telling him to get off the floor as Chris Merriewether takes his place. Another 3 for Jake, who now has 8. Frank’s not happy. Timeout, NU.
11:37 left, KSU, 14-13
Has it come to this? Chris Merriewether, DK, Fred Brown, Blake and Mike. That’s not the five you dream about, now is it? Mike is so hot, though, it might not matter. David Hoskins is on the bench, chilling with some ice in his earlobes. That’s a cool dude. Mike twisted his ankle or something as Maric scores around him. Levi wonders what Maric might do on a good team, and it’s certainly a thought worth pondering. Bad entry to the big man, ball back to K-State. Uninspired ball right now, and Frank just sits on the bench, a hand propping his chin. He’s disgusted, probably figuring out how he’s going to rip the Wildcats at halftime. Blake misses a pair – K-State hasn’t scored since 14:49 on Bill’s pair of foul shots. The Wildcats have been settling for too many 3s, but then Bill drives and bricks a eight-footer. Meanwhile, someone named Sek Henry – I’m not making that name up – drills a 3, and NU is within one. Errant pass turns the ball back over to the Huskers, and K-State calls timeout. Wouldn’t want to be in that huddle…
15:36 left in 1st half, KSU, 12-4
Jake gets the start in Clent’s place. Pfund can’t take his eyes off Beasley, and it’s only the pre-game introductions. All of that stuff matters, I guess, when you’re about to invest millions of dollars in a teenager. No Andre Gilbert for this one – the third consecutive game he’ll miss – but it’s good to see Dalonte Hill back on the bench. The Wildcats are 0-1 without him as associate head coach. Dagunduro – I’m certain I’ll misspell that a few times tonight. Mike misses a 3, but Blake skies for the rebound. Somehow he’s tripped up and turns the ball over. Crowd is kind of lethargic. Takes Frank 64 seconds to get on ‘Nique’s case for being out of position on D. Maric on a follow, and quickly it’s 4-0, visitors. Jake with a smooth 13-footer. Ron Prince and the family is sitting behind us; I’m wondering if he pondered gray-shirting any of his children. I’m kidding, folks. Beasley with a follow, and then with a runner in the lane. He’s got four, and K-State is up, 6-4. Mike hits a 3, and Pfund loves what he’s seeing. Mike hits another 3, and he might get 40 tonight, folks. Sutton gathers to bang it, and it’s rejected. Bad decision by Jake on the break – that rhymes – and then Blake hacks Cookie. Gotta love that nickname – reminds me of Chris Rock… “What do you want? A cookie?”
A moment of silence observed for Vanessa Stewart, a nice gesture. Same goes for the pink T-shirts the Wildcats were sporting during shootaround. Miami general manager Randy Pfund is here – I’m tempted to ask him what he was thinking dealing Shaquille O’Neal, but then I realize he got the much, much better of the deal. Steve Kerr is the one who’s got problems, but I’m straying from the point of this blog, no? Actually, now that it looks like the Heat have the inside track on the No. 1 pick, he’s here to Mike, which makes sense. Big 12 commish Dan Beebe is also in the Bram, chilling court-side, talking to Casey Scott. Aleks Maric and the Huskers come out and are soundly booed. Not a great crowd tonight, but not bad, either. NU has a kid who looks just like – OK, kinda like – Tyronn Lue, who is a Nebraska alum. Weird, huh?