Aside from a few shaky moments at the beginning, No. 2 seed Kansas State easily defeated No. 15 seed North Texas 82-62 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday at the Ford Center.
With the victory, the Wildcats advanced to the field of 32, where they will take on No. 7 seed BYU on Saturday.
Against the Mean Green, K-State was led by Denis Clemente, who scored 17 points. Curtis Kelly and Jacob Pullen each added 15, while Dominique Sutton chipped in 12.
North Texas guard Tristan Thompson led all scorers with 28 points. But the Mean Green needed a lot more than that.
After falling behind 8-7 in the opening moments, K-State owned the game. It turned up its intensity on defense, started getting easy points in transition and pulled away for a 41-25 lead.
In the second half, it led by as many as 24 points. By the time North Texas went on a run to cut the score to 69-55, the game was already in doubt.
From there K-State coach Frank Martin emptied his bench, and the K-State fans on hand began celebrating the Wildcats’ first NCAA Tournament win since 2008.
K-State 71, North Texas 55, 4:59 2nd Half
North Texas has outscored K-State 13-5 in the last few minutes to make a run at covering the spread.
Jacob Pullen has also returned to the game and is playing at full speed. He looks fine.
K-State 67, North Texas 47, 7:45 2nd Half
Jacob Pullen just returned to the floor with K-State fans cheering behind him. Doesn’t look like he’s going to go back into the game. Why would he at this point? But he’s walking around, drinking some water now. He looks OK.
Most of the energy has been sucked out of the Ford Center by now. Probably won’t hear another loud cheer until the final moments when Wildcats fans celebrate the win.
K-State 66, North Texas 47, 8:08 2nd half
Jacob Pullen is not on the court, and has been taken to the locker room. Likely won’t know anything concrete about his injury until after the game.
K-State 62, North Texas 38, 11:17 2nd half
Jacob Pullen just suffered a hard fall, and needed to be helped off the court, but it looks like there won’t be any lingering effects from the spill. Just a great deal of initial pain.
Rodney McGruder and Wally Judge just made K-State’s last two buckets. The Wildcats are starting to get contributions from all over.
It’s looking like Kansas State will comfortably move on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Behind a balanced scoring attack, and sensational defensive effort, the Wildcats are leading North Texas 56-38 with less than 13 minutes to play.
In the next round, the Wildcats will face BYU, which is led by amazing guard Jimmer Fredette. Should be a good matchup.