On any night, beating a top-20 team and keeping one of the nation's most prolific scorers relatively in check is cause for celebration. When it's in the NCAA tournament, it's becomes an even bigger deal. When it comes just a couple of hours after the consensus #1 team in the country, who just happens to be a rival and a squad that beat you three times this season, is knocked out at the hands of a no-name team from Cedar Falls, Iowa, it's the type of day the Kansas State Wildcats will likely never forget.
With BYU guard Jimmer Fredette and his rapping brother emerging as the sexy Saturday story and with Kansas and Villanova going down in the afternoon, Kansas State again appeared to be a secondary team of interest. Much as they were on a Thursday full of upsets, Frank Martin's team was again anonymous for the most part in the eyes of the nation.
Thanks to Jacobham Pullen, his beard and a career-high 34 points, Kansas State sent a nationally televised message to the nation (they're for real) and their fellow Kansans (they run the state - for now) Saturday night. Throughout this season, the Wildcats' success has a pretty consistent trend to go as Pullen's shooting does. When he's off, they struggle. And when he's on like he was against the Cougars (7-12 on threes, 11-11 from the line), they're nearly impossible to beat. And Jacobham knows it.
"Sometimes people forget how good we are," Pullen said in a fake interview. "We think we can beat any team on any night, but we like to let our play do the talking for us. So far that has worked for us. Maybe we might have gotten more attention if I would have called out John Wall in the preseason like Sherron (Collins) did, but that's not my style. Plus, that's incredibly stupid."
In Oklahoma City Saturday night, the game of Pullen and his teammates spoke loudly as they beat BYU in every single statistical category, finding a potent offensive attack to match their stoutly physical defense. Denis Clemente, the fastest player in the tournament not playing in New Orleans Saturday night, put in 19 while Wally Judge added 8 points, 8 rebounds and dished out two testicle tattoos on the foreheads of BYU players.
Frank Martin and company will now move on to play the winner of third-seeded Pitt and sixth-seeded Xavier next weekend in Salt Lake City, where you could assume they won't receive a warm welcome. It probably won't bother the Wildcats too much, though. After all, they're already the kings of Kansas.