Trojans Fall to Wildcats

March 20, 2008

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Kansas State's Kiddie Corps carried the Wildcats to their first NCAA tournament win since 1988, beating O.J. Mayo and USC 80-67 in the opening round of the Midwest Regional on Thursday night.

'Everybody was so focused on the individual matchup,' Jacob Pullen said. 'We just tried to make it into Kansas State winning the game. That's what we were focused on.'

Beasley overcame early trouble to have another big game, scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Walker, a redshirt freshman, scored 22 points. True freshmen Pullen and Anderson also reached double figures. And don't forget the old man of the bunch, 21-year-old freshman Sutton, who stuck to Mayo like a nagging cold.

'The key was the defense,' said Sutton, who got a late start on his college career because of academic problems.

Others chipped in so Sutton didn't have to carry the load by himself against Mayo.

'They're a team that has a chance to advance and go to the regional final,' USC coach Tim Floyd said. 'They've got great, great talent.'

Walker carried the load in the early going, scoring 17 in the first half and hitting a dagger of a 3-pointer in the closing minutes. Pullen, a lightning-quick guard, scored 11 points and doled out five assists. Anderson, averaging only 3.1 a game, scored 10 and grabbed eight rebounds to help the Wildcats dominate the boards.

Beasley put off his expected jump to the pros for at least one more game. The Wildcats moved on to face either No. 3 seed Wisconsin or No. 14 Cal State Fullerton in the second round Saturday.

Walker, who missed most of last season after tearing up his left knee, stepped up for the Wildcats after Beasley picked up two early fouls and would up spending nearly half the opening period on the bench, handing out towels, slapping hands with teammates as they came off the court and checking out the scoreboard from his seat.

Walker accounted for nearly half of Kansas State's points, hitting 6 of 8 from the field--including both 3-point tries--and going 3-for-3 at the foul line to push his team to a 37-27 lead at the break.

Beasley, playing only 11 minutes in the first half as coach Frank Martin subbed him in and out trying to avoid that third foul, managed only five points.

Mayo simply couldn't shake Sutton and the rest of the Wildcats' defenders, who played defense with an intensity that belied their youth. And the inside game evaporated when Davon Jefferson and Taj Gibson piled up one foul after another trying to stop Beasley; both of them wound up fouling out.

'The man-to-man defense was aggressive,' said Mayo. 'They got us out of the flow of our offense. Maybe certain shots we took were rushed, and give credit to Kansas State. They did a great job on the defensive end.'

Jefferson had 15 points and Gibson 10, but they were manhandled on the boards. Kansas State had a 44-27 rebounding lead, including 21 at the offensive end to set up 22 second-chance points. The Trojans had three second-chance points.

USC rallied in the second half, actually pulling ahead for the first time since the opening minute when Mayo stole a pass from Clent Stewart, drove in for the layup and was fouled. The free throw gave the Trojans a 48-47 lead with 13:06 remaining.

It was short lived. The Wildcats went right back to Beasley, who drew the foul and made both free throws to reclaim the lead for Kansas State. Pullen scored on a drive and Beasley followed with his fourth three-point play of the game, pushing the margin to 54-50.

The Wildcats pulled away from there. Walker hit a 3 from the corner for his first points of the second half, making it 67-58 with just under 5 minutes left. Beasley finished off the Trojans with a 3-pointer of his own that made it 72-60.

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