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Bellfield's 3-pointer, foul shots sink Cats

POSTED December 21, 2010 9:01 p.m.
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Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels (32) and UNL...

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Guard Oscar Bellfield chuckled with UNLV teammate Tre’Von Willis during the postgame conference with the media.

Bellfield had good reason for a laugh after nailing a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws in the final 1:09, propelling the Runnin’ Rebels to a 63-59 upset of No. 11 Kansas State Tuesday night at the sold-out Sprint Center.

A majority of the 18,442 fans in attendance were clad in purple, cheering on the Wildcats in a game where they were seeking some bounce-back after losing to Florida last Saturday, dropping five spots in the poll from No. 6.

Yet Kansas State already faced the obstacle of being down two players before tipoff — senior guard Jacob Pullen and senior forward Curtis Kelly were unavailable for the game as school officials complete their review of a secondary violation of NCAA rules and seek reinstatement of the student athletes.

Moreover, it was learned prior to the start of Tuesday’s game that Pullen will be required to miss a total of three games as a result of a ruling by the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement staff. Kelly’s future status is unclear.

“These young men have worked hard to represent themselves and Kansas State in a positive manner,” according to Kansas State head coach Frank Martin in a prepared statement. “Having said that, they made a mistake in judgment and have to pay the price for that decision.”

It was the second straight loss for the Wildcats (9-3), who could be in danger of plunging to the bottom of the top 25 poll.

“We’re not about losing, man,” Martin said when asked of his team’s effort. “We’re not about playing hard and coming up close and moral victories.

“It’s not what we built our program about. We lost, so it wasn’t good enough.”

The real stinker was Kansas State’s free-throw shooting. UNLV won this one at the free-throw line, sinking 19 of 24 for 79.2 percent, while the Wildcats shot a miserable 14-for-26 from the foul line for a woeful 53.8 percent

“If you’ve got any secrets, I’m telling you I will take any opinions, any help I can get on that one,” Martin said.

Despite losing two of their senior leaders and despite shoddy foul shooting, the Wildcats still had a chance late.

Kansas State guard Will Spradling hit a step-back 3-pointer from the right wing, and Rodney Magruder threw down a dunk off a Rebels turnover, carving a 52-46 lead down to 52-51 with 7:31 remaining.

But UNLV guard Anthony Marshall answered by converting a three-point play off a baseline drive to make it 55-51 with 7:05 remaining.

Kansas State got it down to two points on two occasions — 55-53 and 56-54, the second time after Jamar Samuels made 1 of 2 free throws at the 2:30 mark.

But Bellfield answered by draining his trey.

“We were kind of struggling to get points,” Bellfield said. “I got the ball, and I didn’t even think about it. I just let it go.”

Kansas State trailed the entire first half  before Nick Russell swished a leaning 3-point heave at the halftime buzzer for a 34-32 Wildcats lead.

Russell scored 11 first-half points, and  the Wildcats used a 12-0 run late in the half to go ahead at the break.

Kansas State returns to action Thursday night, when it entertains Missouri-Kansas City at 7 in Bramlage Coliseum.

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