FINAL, KSU, 73-69
Pullen with the game of his life. Unbelievable take. Wow. Guess that answers the questions about his confidence being shaken. Another goaltending call on Bill, which Frank didn’t care for. Clock is ticking, fans are getting louder. Mike misses his shot, and the Clones have possession with 22 seconds left and down 3. McDermott calls timeout. Terrific energy in here right now. Wonder if McDermott is drawing up something for a two or if he’s going for the dagger. A quick hitter and then the foul? We’ll see… Garrett dribbles around, gets in the lane and launches a runner. He misses, and I don’t think that’s what McDermott drew up. Walker rebounds and is fouled. He misses, and K-State gives a foul on Garrett. Smart call – up 3, the Clones have to make and intentionally miss. The guard makes the first, and you know what’s coming. Iowa State burns a timeout. The K-State coaches are imploring their guys to box out. Mike corrals the rebound. He’s fouled, and the fans make for the exits. Frank looks relieved. All of the Wildcats do, really. With 1.9 left, he gets No. 1. And No. 2 makes it official. He walks over to the bench. It’s over. K-State wins. Barely.
1:23 left, KSU, 69-66
Jake’s 3 is long, and the ball skips off Mike’s hands and out of bounds. Clones ball. ‘Nique does it again – intercepting a pass and throwing it down on the other end. This is what they were envisioning, no? Bill with a goaltend on the other end. Man, Ron Anderson missed a two-footer. Nice coaching by Underwood, who tells the freshman to keep his head up. Bill is called for a foul on Brackins. He makes both free throws, and the lead is down to three points. Full-court pressure which the Cats handle easily. Frank burns a timeout with 1:23 left in regulation and with six seconds on the shot clock. Drama, folks. Drama.
3:58 left, KSU, 67-62
Turnover… off Bill’s hands. Is this slipping away? Wes is fouled in the paint by DK, who can’t deal with Johnson right now. Wes hits his first foul shot. And his second. Place is rocking right now. Great atmosphere – and Bill slices into the middle and silences everyone with a lay-up. And then Jake goes coast to coast for a deuce. Garrett answers after K-State fails to get back in transition. Brad Underwood is upset. No idea how this one is going to end. Seriously.
5:20 left, KSU, 63-58
Blake gets domed by a pass from Stew. It looked like Wes was going to try to bang it on DK, who wasn’t having it – but he fouled Mr. Johnson. Mike’s back with 5:53 left, replacing ‘Nique. Will we see some zone? Lead down to eight and Wes makes a pair. No zone – offense/defense with Sutton. ISU goes high-low with Clark to Brackins, who crams it home as he’s fouled. He hits the free throw and now it’s a five-point game. K-State burns a timeout as the crowd, once again, comes to life. Hilton magic?
7:06 left, KSU, 63-53
Haluska just got owned by Mike. Petersen at the line. Hits a couple. ‘Nique bricks his first free throw. He hits the second, and he’s got 7. Mike picks up his 4th with 8:19 left, and this is going to be the ultimate test. Hubalek gets the 3-point play the old fashioned way, and it’s down to 10. Place is starting get loud again, and Jake jacks up a 3. Lucky defensive stop as DK’s head gets in the way of a pass to Hubalek. Two jump-ball calls for Walker, and all of the officials want to know what happened – they’re just not being that polite or cordial about it. Probably need to wait a couple of minutes before Mike can come back.
10:09 left, KSU, 62-48
Nice ball movement. Still doing this without Mike and Bill, who have been on the bench since 14:39. Stealing a lot of minutes right now, and “the supporting cast” has not only held things together, but increased the lead. Jake drives and finishes with his left hand. Mike and Bill come back at 10:30, meaning K-State was OK for 4:09 without its two leading scorers. How many times could that have been said this year? ‘Nique is a weapon right now, folks. Steal by shooting the passing lane – which might be his go-to offensive move right now – and finishes on the other end.
11:34 left, KSU, 56-48
Mike picks up his second foul with 15:00 left. And then his 3rd with 14:39 left. A mini-run for the Clones. Frank burns a timeout. Stop me where you’ve heard this before – Frank is hot with Jake. I was just going to say a tough lineup on the court for the Cats, but Ron Anderson made me look foolish – and that wasn’t the first time. He converts a turnaround but misses the free throw. I just noticed the lines on the back of Wes Johnson’s head in his cut. He just drilled a 3 as I was typing that – go figure. The Hilton is getting loud. And then DK puts it on the deck and goes glass with the finish.
15:38 left in regulation, KSU, 52-41
K-State attempted 18 threes in the first half. Blake with a jump-stop. Petersen with a 3. Beasley with a 3 in Hubalek’s mug. “The guy shows no emotion,” a ISU fan says. Wes Johnson answers on the other end, but it’s just a two – his first two points of the game. ‘Nique has done a fine job on Johnson, one of the Big 12′s most underrated players. Blake with a charge. Seriously, and this isn’t a knock, but how do the Clones expect to compete with their present set of guards? Mediocre at best. Oh my God… Bill’s follow was stupid. He punched in some dude’s face. Silly, silly stuff. Disgusting – from a standstill, no less.
HALFTIME, KSU, 42-33
The cheerleaders here wear ankle braces. That’s amusing to me. Jake with a 3 – he’s playing well. Bill picks up his 2nd foul at 2:39. Stew got his shot rejected. Frank takes out Bill, who was teetering close to getting his third. Man, when Jake plays with confidence, he’s something else. He’s got 10, Mike has 9. Went to halfcourt trap, which resulted in a turnover. Jake drills another 3, and there are remnants of boos – directed at the officials, I assume. Garrett hits a 7-footer in the lane with 1.7 seconds left.
3:30 left in 1st half, KSU, 33-28
Bill nails a 3 out of the timeout. Then there’s another timeout. Jiri slips around the White Tiger. Mike’s still struggling, but he drives to the hole and finishes while being hacked. He gets the 3-point play. Clark is making his last home game one to remember – he’s got seven already. That drive got Mike going. The fans are trying to get Mike’s attention, and he actually looked when one of them yelled, “Beasley!” Now he’s hit three shots in a row. Brackins is having a game as well, probably trying to get some shine of his own with NBA types watching. He’s got 12.
7:25 left in 1st half, KSU, 23-22
Jake with a nice take. Garrett with a nice finish. Jake again, this one from 15 feet. DK with an offensive board and a nice follow. Wow, didn’t know he had it in him. Mike is a little off his game, and Dalonte just stood and looked at him as if to wonder, “What’s wrong?” Brackins hits a short jumper over Mike. Jake nearly throws the ball away, and he’s quickly yanked. Now Dalonte is urging Mike, who’s on the bench, to keep playing. Petersen, who hasn’t done anything all night, rips an open three-pointer, and these fans come alive. This place is a different kind of electric when it’s hopping like this.
11:56 left in 1st half, KSU, 17-15
Early appearance for Fred Brown. Driveway shooter alert – that Haluska kid just knocked one down. After Brown hits a 3 at the other end, the P.A. guy calls him “Jacob Pullen.” DK hits a 15-footer, and honestly, K-State looks pretty sharp. On offense, anyway. Defensively, things have been a little suspect. It’s going to be tough going for Wesley Johnson against ‘Nique, who isn’t giving an inch in that matchup.
14:19 left in 1st half, KSU, 12-9
Dominique with the start. Iowa State will be either the 11th or 12th seed in the Big 12 tournament, so there’s plenty at stake for the Clones. That’s a welcome sight – Stew drilling a 3 to open the night. Brackins answers after Bill comes to help Mike on Jiri. Don’t think that’s going to be necessary, but it’s a nice thought. The fans are yelling “tinkler” every time he touches the ball. Clever. Hubalek is way, way too excited. Too hyped up. Looks like the guards have been challenged to shoot early and often – Blake and Stew have tossed up three 3s already. Sutton with an offensive board and follow; he’s shadowing Wesley. Walker just abused Brackins on the block. Gilbert in for ‘Nique. Mike with a finish. Crowd here is rather quiet. Clark bulls past Stew for a deuce. Andre drills a 3, and suddenly it’s 12-4. Brackins with a nice jump hook. Clark with a 3 after Mike turns the ball over on a drive, and then Mike is whistled for a foul on the other end.
Plenty of good seats still available at the Hilton, even though it’s Senior Night. The P.A. announcer just said Jiri Hubalek was one of the Big 12′s best post players, which is accurate in a vague kind of way. We’ll allow it, but we’re reminded of Mike talking about how everyone of the Wildcats is the best at something, like Andre being the best at being funny. Guess that’s what they mean with Hubalek, who’s a nice player. More media seating in front of the student section, which seems to be the trend these days. A lot of love for Rahshon Clark, who was just recognized along with his mother, his fiancee and his fiancee’s mother. Wow, sounds like someone is a little whipped. I mean, it was a nice moment, but c’mon. A weird vibe here tonight with the Cats. They seemed kind of mellow as the national anthem was played. Oh, T-Bone said Matt Figger is out recruiting, which means he’s probably in Wichita – I think there’s a junior college tournament going on at Koch Arena – and I’m here in Ames, which is dreadful. Life isn’t fair – we should have traded assignments for the day… Oh, the athletic director by committee – Bob Krause and Jon Wefald – just rolled into the Hilton. Krause shook Frank’s hand before taking his seat in the front row. Have you ever seen him during games? How animated he gets? Has an athletic director – even one on an acting basis – been tossed from a game before? These are things to ponder.