By: Matt Blanchette
For the third time in school history, K-State beat a No. 1 ranked team. On Monday it was 17-0 Texas suffering it's first loss of the season at a sold out and raucous Bramlage Coliseum. What a tremendous win for K-State, which is proving to be as tough and gritty team as there is in America. Playing like this, no team wants to face them, and certainly not in Manhattan, Kansas.
KSU plays a physical, grind it out type of game. The exact type of game finesse teams like Texas and Kansas are not accustomed to playing. The cats like to take their opponents out of what it is that they do. I am not ready to give the Big 12 title to them, and I certainly do not think Texas is "overrated" as the Bramlage faithful chanted at the end, but it's an impressive win, perhaps the best in school history.
What stood out to me was obviously the play of Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly. The pair combined for 37 points and 20 rebounds against one of if not the best frontcourts in America in Texas' Dexter Pittman and Damion James. It was a career-high 20 points for Samuels who is one of the best 6th men in the country. That duo more than made up for the terrible, and erratic play from Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen. Those two were a combined 4-24 from the field, 0-8 from 3 point land and 9-17 from the free throw line. If you had told me before the game that's how they'd perform, and still win, I would have argued you to the death.
Another note on Rodney McGruder. He has wedged himself into the 7-8 man rotation, and has earned Frank Martin's trust to play at crunch time. In the last two games McGruder played 25 minutes against Colorado, backed up by 23 against Texas. In those minutes, he has averaged 11.5 points and 6 rebounds. Really, the guy is becoming a key part to the Cats success.
One final note on Frank Martin. Love him or hate him, he's been tremendous at K-State. ESPN's Bobby Knight was critical of some of Martin's coaching, particularly in play calling and in-games decisions, and he may have a point at times. But I know this is true: Martin has instilled a mental fortitude in the K-State team that allows to play in any type of game. As he said, "they've grown up." They have grown up into a serious contender, and a team that just beat the No.1 team in the nation.