MANHATTAN — In the early moments of Kansas State's 85-56 blowout over Cleveland State on Tuesday night, it looked as if the Vikings were going to give the Wildcats a real test.
D'Aundray Brown started the game by making a mid-range jumper, and teammate Norris Cole made another easy shot moments later. Less than a minute in, Cleveland State owned a two-possession lead.
Over the past few years, Cleveland State has built leads on big-name opponents and made a name for itself by holding onto them. Last season alone, it defeated Syracuse, Butler and Wake Forest.
But the No. 12 Wildcats made sure their name would not be added to that list of victims, and quickly squashed the Vikings' dreams of pulling another marquee upset in a hurry.
Following Cleveland State's initial surge, K-State ran circles around the Vikings for 39 straight minutes. Much to the delight of the sellout crowd of 12,528, the Wildcats scored 18 straight points to break open the game and ended the first half on a 25-5 run.
Up 40-19 at halftime, the game was never close again. K-State led by as many as 35.
"We just wanted it more tonight," said junior guard Dominique Sutton, who scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds. "Coming in from off break we were trying to see how this game was going to turn out, and it turned out pretty good."
With the win, the Wildcats (12-1) won their ninth -straight game. It is their longest winning streak since starting 9-0 in 1997-98.
More than anything, K-State kept its hot streak going by rebounding with a purpose.
During the Wildcats’ eight-day layoff between games, Coach Frank Martin challenged his team to rebound better. Based on the 50-30 rebounding edge, the Cats responded.
Senior Luis Colon, who made his first start, had 12 boards to lead KSU.
"It's hard to say we can rebound that well every night, but we've gotta be closer to that than the inconsistencies that we've had other times out," Martin said. "We can be a real good rebounding team."
K-State can be an impressive defensive team, too. The Wildcats swarmed Cleveland State shooters and allowed 33.3-percent shooting.
The Wildcats were particularly strong during its 25-5 run at the end of the first half, when they held the Vikings to two baskets for nearly 11½ minutes.
"Frank stressed the fact that going into this game he wanted us to pick up where we left off at," guard Jacob Pullen said. "He didn't want us to come out and drag and not have energy. The first few days when we got back from break, all we did was run to get back to where we were before we left.
"As far as energy, I think we were there. We attacked them. We forced them into bad shots. We got out and ran like wanted to early."
On offense, they got going by attacking Cleveland State's zone defense.
Behind 18 points from Pullen, 17 from junior forward Curtis Kelly, 13 from Denis Clemente and 12 from Jamar Samuels, K-State spread out Cleveland State's defenders and found open shots.
With the Vikings trying to worry about K-State's rebounders and shooters, Pullen said they didn't stand a chance.
"I think they didn't know what to do," Pullen said. "We just really caused them problems with our athleticism."
The Wildcats are off until Sunday, when they host South Dakota. It will be their final game before Big 12 play begins.