Friday, March 26, 2010
Final: Kansas State 101, Xavier 96 (2OT)
By Mark Schlabach
SALT LAKE CITY -- No. 2-seeded Kansas State did everything it could to lose Thursday night's West Regional semifinal against No. 6-seeded Xavier at EnergySolutions Arena.
The Wildcats blew a 15-point lead. They fouled Xavier's 3-point shooter with a three-point lead with five seconds left, which sent the game into overtime.
But Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen refused to let his team lose in two overtimes, leading the Wildcats to a 101-96 victory. Kansas State advanced to play No. 5-seeded Butler in Saturday's West Regional finals. The winner of that games goes to the Final Four in Indianapolis next week.
Pullen's 3-pointer put Kansas State ahead 94-93 with 1:09 left in the second overtime. He made another 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 97-94 lead with 31.2 seconds to play. After the Musketeers pulled to within 97-96 with 25.1 seconds to go, Pullen made two foul shots to make it 99-96.
Pullen finished with 28 points on 9-for-20 shooting, and Denis Clemente had 25 points on 10-for-24 shooting.
Pullen and Xavier guard Jordan Crawford traded big shot after big shot down the stretch. With the Musketeers trailing 87-84 late in the first overtime, Crawford made a 30-foot 3-pointer to tie the score at 87.
Crawford finished with 32 points on 13-for-29 shooting, and Holloway added 26 points with six assists.
During an NCAA tournament filled with indelible moments, this game will surely be remembered as one of the best. Kansas State had a 72-69 lead with less than 10 seconds to play. But Wildcats senior Chris Merriewether, who went into the game for defensive purposes, fouled Xavier's Terrell Holloway on a 3-point shot with five seconds to go.
Holloway made three foul shots to tie the score at 72. The Wildcats had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but Pullen missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds.