Jamar Samuels sulked off the court at Bramlage Coliseum Monday night with his hands above his head and a blank stare on his face. He took Kansas State’s 59-53 loss to Kansas as hard as anyone could.
The fifth-year senior, who has seen the Wildcats knock off their fiercest rival twice since joining the K-State basketball program, did everything he could against the Jayhawks. In a game where points were hard to come by for both teams, he found the bottom of the net better than anyone else in a gray uniform. He scored a season-high 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and made all four of the Wildcats’ three-pointers.
Nothing has brought out the best in K-State players like facing Kansas in front of a wild home crowd in recent years, and when the lights shined brightest with national television audience looking on, Samuels was at his best.
It was arguably his finest game since his fabulous sophomore season, when he was allowed to roam the perimeter and attack the paint at his own discretion, regularly made exciting plays on his way to being named the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year.
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“He gave it his all,” K-State junior Rodney McGruder said. “You can tell that. He played like a grown man. He was doing everything he could to keep his team in the game.”
Because of the final score, Samuels couldn’t appreciate the standout effort the way he would have liked.
“I wanted to beat Kansas,” Samuels said. “Going into their home we just got beat up on the glass, it wasn’t an exciting game. The ball just went in for me today.”
If it continues to go in, this could be something he can build on as the season goes forward.
He came into Monday’s game averaging 9.6 points and 6.1 rebounds, but has been up-and-down all season. He scored 11 points at Iowa State, helped K-State beat Oklahoma State with a double-double and led the Wildcats beat Virginia Tech on the road by scoring 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, but for every highlight there has been a forgettable moment.
He has scored a total of 12 points in the past three games and was a non factor against Texas and Texas Tech.
But KU coach Bill Self had a feeling Samuels would rise to the occasion.
“He always makes shots against us,” Self said. “The thing he did in the first half was keep them in the game. I thought he played very well. I think he’s a really good player.”
While his teammates missed 37 of 50 shots, Samuels made seven of 15 to keep things close until the end. No one was happier to see that than K-State coach Frank Martin.
“Jamar is one of my guys,” Martin said. “Jamar has been awesome. I have done him a disservice because I haven’t run enough basketball plays through him. I’ve tried to change that here in the last two weeks.”
That noticeably changed against Kansas. If he continues to take advantage, the K-State will undoubtedly be a better team down the stretch.
“I’ve just got to keep the same focus I had to tonight,” Samuels said, “and stay positive.”