March 12, 2010
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Dominique Sutton had a double-double and a key offensive rebound that led to Jacob Pullen's 3-pointer with 2:02 left, helping No. 9 Kansas State survive for an 82-75 win over No. 21 Baylor on Friday night in the Big 12 tournament semifinals.
Sutton provided the early spark for listless Kansas State (26-6) early and finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds to send the second-seeded Wildcats into their first Big 12 championship game against rival Kansas. Pullen had 26 points and Denis Clemente added 24 to give Kansas State a school single-season record for wins.
Baylor (25-7), the third seed, shot 54 percent and got 26 points from LaceDarius Dunn, but gave up 17 offensive rebounds, including the late grab by Sutton. Ekpe Udoh added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Bears.
After dismantling Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals, Kansas State found itself in a steel-cage match against a Baylor team with similar traits: long, athletic, aggressive.
The Bears had the edge early, the Wildcats responded and the two latched on like rottweilers the rest of the way, neither willing to back down.
Kansas State grinded out a win, but it doesn't get any easier from here.
Next up for the Wildcats is a shot at Kansas on Saturday in a super Sunflower Showdown that will likely go down in the annals of Kansas City sports, up there with the 2007 Border War at Arrowhead Stadium, the 1988 national title game at Kemper Arena and the 1985 "Show Me" World Series.
The top-ranked Jayhawks swept the season series, so, yeah, the Wildcats will be up for it.
Baylor made an improbable run in last year's tournament, winning three straight games to reach the title game as the No. 9 seed. The Bears had a better season that led to a better seed this year, and had won five straight after beating Texas for the third time this season in Thursday's quarterfinals.
The Bears are done in the Big 12 tournament, but are sure to get a good seed in the NCAA tournament after their tense battle with K-State.
Baylor had no trouble with Kansas State's overplaying man defense early, hitting eight of its first nine shots.
Of course, the offense was pretty simple: get the ball to Dunn.
The Big 12's second-leading scorer hit a postup and a 3-pointer in the first 60 seconds, and had 10 points in five minutes -- even with Pullen waving a hand in his face like a windshield wiper.
Sutton put an end to Dunn's run, hounding him all over the court for a scoreless final 15 minutes. But like any good shooter, he kept firing, finishing 9 of 17 from the floor.
Kansas State needed a little time to figure out Baylor's 1-3-1 zone, keeping it close with nine offensive rebounds -- four by Sutton -- in the first 9 1/2 minutes. Pullen and Clemente then solved the Bears' zone; Pullen by shooting over it (four 3-pointers) and Clemente with his barely-in-control sprints through it.
They combined for 27 of Kansas State's 36 points, leaving the Wildcats just one behind at halftime, and kept firing in the second half to set up one of the biggest games in program history.