BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Kansas State senior forward Jamar Samuels didn't enjoy halftime Sunday night at Virginia Tech.
With two fouls, two points and one rebound, he wasn't doing what Wildcats coach Frank Martin expects, and he heard about it.
"He came out and challenged me," Samuels said. "He knows I love challenges."
Samuels responded, scoring 15 of his 17 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the second half as the Wildcats used a 10-0 run to take command and beat the Hokies 69-61.
"I'm just trying to put the team on my back and prove to everyone that I can be a leader," the Washington, D.C., native said, in the wake of missing the Wildcats' exhibition and first two games of the season while serving a suspension for violating team rules. "It's working so far."
The Wildcats (5-0), who were playing their first road game of the season and first at an ACC school since 1959, missed often from in-close in the first half, shooting 27.6 percent. But they attacked the basket in the second half behind Samuels, who scored the first three baskets.
Samuels got the Wildcats off to the quick start after halftime and Martavious Irving made a reverse layup, the bulk of a 12-2 run that gave them a 34-30 lead with 15½ minutes to play. The Hokies, in the meantime, missed 10 of their first 12 shots, including several open jumpers.
Martin's message at halftime, Shane Southwell said, was "attack, rebound and make free throws."
In the opening 20 minutes, they missed 8 of 12 from the line, and trailed 28-22 at the intermission.
Robert Brown scored 15 points and Erick Green had 14 for Virginia Tech (5-3), but the Hokies got no closer than eight after Kansas State finished its 10-0 run with 5:31 remaining.
"Right from the beginning in the second half, we were a step behind them," said Hokies coach Seth Greenberg.
"That's very disappointing."
A 3-pointer by Brown pulled them even at 36 with 13:14 to play, but Samuels' putback and a 3-pointer by Will Spradling made it 41-36, and the Hokies again had to fight back.
They drew even again at 43 on a free throw by Victor Davila, but two baskets by Southwell around a stick-back by teammate Rodney McGruder, two free throws by Samuels and then his basket inside capped a 10-0 run. The spree gave the Wildcats their largest lead and they beat the Hokies for the second year in a row. Last year, it was 73-57 at Bramlage Coliseum.
"A grind-it-out road game," Southwell said. "That's our program."
Southwell added 11 points for the Wildcats, who outscored the Hokies 38-32 in the paint.
The game was another missed opportunity by Virginia Tech to get the kind of quality victory it has been found to be lacking in each of the last four seasons when they were snubbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee. The Hokies were coming off another of those, Wednesday at Minnesota. But they lost that, too, 58-55, with the help of a blown call with 9.9 seconds to go.
The Hokies used a 12-2 run to open a 16-10 lead with 8 minutes left in the first half. Kansas State made only one field goal over a span of 8½ minutes during the burst, and finished the half shooting just 8 of 29. Many of the misses came from close to the basket.
KANSAS STATE (5-0)
Samuels 7-8 3-6 17, Gipson 4-9 1-3 9, Irving 1-3 4-4 6, McGruder 2-8 3-5 7, Spradling 2-8 3-4 9, Southwell 3-6 4-6 11, Ojeleye 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 0-2 0-0 0, Rodriguez 0-4 1-2 1, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Henriquez 4-6 1-3 9. Totals 23-55 20-33 69.
VIRGINIA TECH (5-3)
Davila 0-2 1-2 1, Finney-Smith 3-7 0-1 6, Eddie 1-5 2-2 4, Hudson 3-9 0-0 7, Green 4-17 6-8 14, Brown 6-17 1-2 15, Raines 3-6 0-0 6, Rankin 1-1 0-2 2, Barksdale 1-1 4-4 6. Totals 22-65 14-21 61.
Halftime—Virginia Tech 28-22. Three-Point Goals—Kansas St. 3-13 (Spradling 2-4, Southwell 1-2, Rodriguez 0-3, McGruder 0-4), Virginia Tech 3-18 (Brown 2-10, Hudson 1-5, Green 0-3). Fouled Out—Finney-Smith, Raines. Rebounds—Kansas St. 42 (Samuels 14), Virginia Tech 45 (Finney-Smith, Green 7). Assists—Kansas St. 10 (Rodriguez 4), Virginia Tech 6 (Green 3). Total Fouls—Kansas St. 18, Virginia Tech 27. A—8,782.