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K-State’s living up to preseason expecations (finally)


Everyone you seeing jumping off the Texas bandwagon? They’re hopping on with Notre Dame.

And the really brave ones just hitched a ride with Kansas State.

The Wildcats (21-9, 9-6) handled No. 7 Texas Monday night, 75-70, for their fifth straight win and seventh of their last eight. It’s a streak that started two weeks ago by beating then-No. 1 Kansas. But Monday may have been better – it was K-State’s first road win over a Top 10 since 1994.

Not bad for a team that opened Big 12 play 1-4.

“Everybody wrote us off. They cast our season down the drain,” guard Jacob Pullen said afterward. “People say we’re a good team again but we can’t let things like that get into our locker room and we can’t let down our guard. Our morale is to the sky.”

Is K-State finally playing like the preseason No. 3 team? Not quite. But it’s close.

The defense is physical and keeping foes off the boards. The offense is shooting well -- the Wildcats’ Achilles’ Heel – and playing more efficiently than it has all season. (Getting to the free-throw line helps.

Coach Frank Martin lauded his team’s overall play after Saturday’s victory vs. Missouri, and Texas was another example of that. The whole team got it done. Curtis Kelly hit shots and was effective inside. Rodney McGruder continues to be a reliable scoring option. And Will Spradling was solid off the bench.

And what can you say about Pullen? He dumped 20 on Texas, 16 of which came after falling on his wrist. He’s averaging 27 points during their win streak, up from his season average of 19.7.

Before the win, K-State was slotted as an 8 seed in our latest NCAA tournament projections. The highest they’ll likely go is a 6, but that’s probably ideal. It’s low enough to make them an under-the-radar darkhorse and high enough to give them some confidence.

And that’s what this season as supposed to be about, right?

“At the beginning of the year everybody thought we could beat everybody, nothing has changed,” guard Shane Southwell told the Kansas City Star. “We just struggled at the beginning of the year. But isn’t this what everybody expected?”

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.