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Samuels sparks K-State in Kelly's return

POSTED January 15, 2011 7:52 p.m.
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Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels (32), left, ...


MANHATTAN — This was supposed to be the game where Curtis Kelly made a big splash in his return after serving an NCAA-imposed six-game suspension, right?
But junior forward Jamar Samuels stole the spotlight from his senior teammate as No. 21-ranked Kansas State throttled Texas Tech 94-60 Saturday afternoon in Big 12 Conference action at Bramlage Coliseum.
Samuels scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in an energizing first half and Martin, saying he has let his team down, vowed to do a better job coaching as the Wildcats (13-5 overall) improved to 1-2 in conference play.
“He has to play that way,” Martin said of Samuels, who also had nine rebounds and five assists. “Jamar isn’t fully healthy right now, but it still isn’t an excuse. That’s what I told him after the Colorado game. I said, ‘I realize you’re not healthy. You want to be a good player, you have to play through it. You’ve got to give to the team what you can in a positive way.’ ”
After Pullen hit a pair of 3s during the opening two minutes for a 6-3 K-State lead, Samuels started leaving his imprint on the game. Over the next 2:56, Samuels sank two free throws, made a swing pass to Rodney McGruder for an open 3-pointer, had a basket in the paint, a breakaway dunk and a jump hook as Kansas State built a 17-4 lead at the 14:40 mark.
For all practical purposes, Texas Tech (8-10, 0-3) had already started reeling at that juncture.
Samuels capped his opening-half flourish by swishing a 3 from the left wing with 55 seconds left in the half to give the Wildcats a 52-26 lead at halftime.
“Once again, it goes back to me,” Martin said. “It’s my job to get (Samuels) to play that way. That’s what he is capable of giving, and I’ve failed him like I have failed the other kids for the last couple months and that’s not taking place anymore.”
Senior point guard Jacob Pullen added 21 points, including 4 of 9 3-pointers. Sophomore swingman McGruder added 16 points, hitting 4 of 5 3s, and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Wildcats doubled up on Texas Tech, leading 52-26 at halftime.
It only got worse for the Red Raiders in the second half. Guard John Roberson led Tech with 19 points.
Kelly’s return couldn’t have come at a better time for Kansas State, which had lost to Oklahoma State and Colorado in successive games in the last week. Kelly, a 6-8, 245-pound senior, was a preseason all-conference selection, along with Pullen, a preseason All-American selection.
Kelly finished with 12 points, hitting 6 of 8 shots, and had five rebounds in 28 minutes of action.
“His focus has been good,” said Martin, who took it upon himself to berate Kelly just before halftime after he was whistled for a technical foul with one second left in the half after slamming the basketball down in frustration. “I usually don’t share what I tell players to the public, but I told him, ‘I’m not going to get off of you now.
‘I am going to push you harder than you have ever been pushed because we’re going to finish your senior year the way you deserve it to finish.’ ”
More than anything, Martin shouldered the blame on Saturday for his team’s struggles. The Wildcats were ranked No. 3 in the nation in the preseason, but have slowly fallen in the poll.
“We lost consecutive conference games,” said Martin, whose team travels to Missouri on Monday. “That’s not acceptable around here. I haven’t done my job the right way. If you have watched us play for the last three years, that’s how we play.
“We attack people, we run and share the ball. That’s what has made us a good team. I have failed this team. I haven’t done my job the right way, so we have played the way I have allowed them to play. That’s not taking place anymore.”
GAME NOTES — Shane Southwell, a 6-6 freshman guard from Harlem, N.Y., drew his first start for the Wildcats. … Freddy Asprilla, a 6-10, 275-pound junior forward, has left the squad. Martin said Asprilla quit the team on Friday night.

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