Bob Lutz

This effort left no room for glaring

MANHATTAN — Anybody who has played basketball for Kansas State coach Frank Martin has been the focus of his glare.

It's menacing and can be maniacal.

So when the Wildcats' Jamar Samuel saw a K-State student in the stands during Tuesday's game against Texas A&M holding a cardboard cutout of Martin's face in full glare-mode, he did a double take.

"I'll probably have dreams about that,'' Samuel said.

Martin glares. He screams. He commands. And he almost always gets his players to give every ounce of effort. But after a lackluster rebounding performance during a loss at Missouri on Saturday, Martin took it up a notch during practices preceding the A&M game.

Rebounding was his favorite topic. And the players got the message, beating A&M badly, not just on the boards but also on the scoreboard during an 88-65 win.

The 13th-ranked Wildcats out-rebounded the Aggies 47-30. Dominique Sutton led with 12 rebounds.

"Rebounding is effort,'' a content Martin said after the game. "Guys on the offensive end who don't go rebound are either selfish because they're upset they didn't get the shot or they're not trying. I'm not going to sit there and tolerate that.''

K-State is so long and athletic in the frontcourt that there's no reason for those guys — Sutton, Samuels, Curtis Kelly, Luis Colon, Wally Judge — not to attack the glass. But at Missouri, K-State was out-rebounded 35-30.

There are a lot of things that set off Martin. When he perceives a lack of effort, I'd rather be caught in a swamp full of alligators than endure his wrath.

Samuels and Sutton talked about how upset Martin was after the Missouri game and neither wanted a repeat.

K-State was the aggressor from the opening tip Tuesday. Behind senior guard Denis Clemente, whose offensive credo is that you can't score if you don't shoot, the Cats bolted to a 13-4 lead and after a brief Texas A&M recovery, Clemente and his teammates put the hammer down again.

"We played well in the first half, I thought, and we were still down 12 at halftime,'' A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "That shows you how good Kansas State is. If they continue to shoot the ball like they did tonight, they're going to be tough to beat.''

K-State is going to be tough to beat regardless of how it shoots because of the way Martin emphasizes other, less glorious aspects of the game.

Clemente needed 16 shots in the first half to score his 20 points. He made some amazing shots, but also fired up some he shouldn't have.

There were, though, a couple of impressive daggers.

He nailed a high-arcing three-pointer just as the shot clock sounded with 9:02 left in the first half after K-State's set offense had been in disarray.

Less than a minute later, he pulled up on the break from nearly 23 feet away and scored three more.

Clemente, Martin said, was particularly put off by Saturday's loss.

"I think you saw by the way he came out tonight that he was going to put this team on his back,'' Martin said.

Clemente took only six shots in the second half and finished with 24 points. Samuels added 19, Jacob Pullen 15 and Sutton 12.

Impressive balance. An impressive team.

The only thing that threatened to spoil the home cooking were 53 fouls — 30 for Kansas State — that resulted in rhythm-altering 70 free throws. The second half had the pace of a high school kid learning to drive.

Texas A&M, despite a 12-3 record going into the game, was out of its league. Turgeon, who grew up in nearby Topeka and coached for seven years at Wichita State, hasn't been treated well in his return trips to Kansas during his three seasons as the Aggies' coach.

Two years ago, K-State beat A&M 75-54 at Bramlage.

Last season in Lawrence, the Jayhawks thumped the Aggies 73-53 in a game that was nowhere near that close.

Then there's Tuesday's lopsided K-State win.

"I really like the environment here,'' Turgeon said. "I think the fans were fantastic tonight and I like for our guys to be around that. The thing about Kansas basketball fans is that they get after it, they're into it and they help their teams.

"But it hasn't gone well for our teams back here and, quite frankly, if I never had to come back here to play it would be OK. But I have to come back to Kansas once a year.''

It's not just playing at Kansas State or Kansas. It's almost impossible to win on the road anywhere in the Big 12. K-State's win gave the conference a 107-1 record in home games, an almost unthinkable statistic. The only blemish is a Northern Iowa win at Iowa State.

Winning at K-State will be particularly hard. The Wildcats have won 13 consecutive home games and have top-ranked Texas on Monday night.

First, though, comes a road test at Colorado on Saturday. When a reporter asked Martin if he might start preparing for Texas while also getting ready for CU, I feared the glare.

Instead, Martin calmly said it's not his style to worry about any opponent other than the next one. Colorado, he assured the reporter, would get his full attention, even if it means only one day to prepare for the Longhorns.

Clearly, he was a satisfied man.