MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Frank Martin was determined to stick with his new offense against Colorado's 1-3-1 zone. Even as his team threw the ball away and struggled to get good shots, Kansas State's coach didn't back off his plan.
Martin is stubborn that way. He's also smart enough to realize when he's wrong.
Uncomfortable with Martin's new offense in the first half, the ninth-ranked Wildcats reverted to their aggressive, effective style in the second to turn an ugly game into a 68-51 rout over Colorado on Saturday night.
"I was trying to force us to do something obviously they weren't comfortable with because I'm stubborn," Martin said. "These games are too big to continue to fail at something, so we had to go back to what we did well, what we understand well. That's on me in the first half."
Kansas State (20-4, 7-3 Big 12) seemed to get the hang of Martin's new scheme with a week off to work on it in practice. Once live action started, the Wildcats seemed out of sorts, fumbling and throwing the ball away during a tentative first half against Colorado.
Kansas State pulled it together after switching back to its old offense, starting the second half with an impressive run and dominating the rest of the way to win its ninth straight over Colorado (11-13, 2-8).
Jacob Pullen found seams in Colorado's zone to finish with 15 points and 10 assists, and Curtis Kelly had 12 points and 11 rebounds to help Kansas State dominate inside. Jamar Samuels added 12 points to give the Wildcats 20 wins in four straight seasons for the first time.
"We understood what we were doing wrong in the locker room," Kelly said after his first Big 12 double-double. "Frank came in and simply said we could either make our season or break our season by losing a game like this. A lot of us upperclassmen understood what he was saying and took it to another level in the second half."
Colorado was uncharacteristically loose with the ball in a sloppy first half and struggled defensively in the second to lose its 34th consecutive Big 12 road game.
Alec Burks had 21 points and Cory Higgins added 17 for the Buffaloes, who have lost 26 straight road games against Division I teams and seven of eight overall.
"We've got to play harder, play with heart and execute," Burks said. "No more turnovers. We turned the ball over a lot today when we played one-on-one. We just need to regroup and get this out of our system."
These teams played a brutal game in their last meeting, combining for 68 fouls in Kansas State's six-point win in Boulder on Jan. 16.
The sequel was uglier -- at least in the first half.
The teams combined for nine turnovers -- many on passes that were never going to be completed -- and nine free throws in the first six minutes. Kansas State shot seven of those and clanked six, not much of a surprise for a team ranked No. 262 in the nation from the line.
The fouls tapered off after that, but not the turnovers.
Kansas State was flustered by Colorado's extended zone and Martin's new plan, forcing passes in traffic, lobbing others up for grabs. The Wildcats had 11 turnovers by halftime -- four shy of their season average -- including one after consecutive passes that looked like eephus pitches.
The Buffaloes are one of the Big 12's best teams at taking care of the ball, yet kept trying to dribble through Kansas State's athletic man-to-man defense, leading to easy strips and breakaways for the Wildcats. Colorado had 13 turnovers by halftime, already more than its season average.
By the time they were done throwing the ball away, Kansas State clinged to a 28-26 lead after a first half that featured three more turnovers than field goals -- an ugly game that favored the Buffaloes.
"I thought we put ourselves in a good position after the first 20 minutes," Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik said.
After that, the Wildcats got better. Colorado didn't.
Sparked by Luis Colon's quick six points, Kansas State hit 10 of its first 13 shots of the second half, going up 51-34 on Pullen's 3-pointer from the wing. The Wildcats never let up, shooting 14 of 25 in the half with just six turnovers.
The Buffaloes kept throwing the ball away, finishing with a season-high 22 turnovers.
"We tried to make a statement in the second half, show people that we're not that first-half team," Samuels said. "Everybody got after it."