Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wildcats must recover after classic

SALT LAKE CITY — Long after the jump shots stop falling and their ballyhooed beards go gray, Kansas State players will look back on the game as one of the best they ever played.

Same for the guys at Xavier, hard as it will be to appreciate.

Jacob Pullen, the guard who brought the phrase "Fear the Beard" to the Little Apple, hit two 3-pointers in the second overtime as the Wildcats outlasted the Musketeers 101-96 late Thursday in the West semis.

An instant classic.

"It was two teams that didn't want their season to end," Pullen said after the game.

It added another dramatic chapter to a tournament that has been crazy. This was the fifth game to go to overtime and second to double overtime.

A day later, Pullen, who scored 28, said he was much more excited than tired.

He said his thoughts were racing too much for him to fall asleep. He just stayed in his hotel bed, remembering what he and the Wildcats had just done and could do. If Kansas State beats Butler today, it will be its first Final Four berth since 1964.

"We're antsy to play. Any team would be antsy to play. It's a big game," said Pullen, whose school hadn't reached the region final since 1988. "At the same time, we're still focused. We're still calm."

Xavier sought its third trip to the region final in seven years. It missed, just barely, but it was hard to call anyone a loser.

"As good a game as I've ever coached or been a part of," coach Chris Mack said.

Trailing by three in regulation, Xavier's Terrell Holloway got fouled while heaving up a 30-footer with five seconds left and made all three free throws. Xavier was down by three late in the first overtime, but Jordan Crawford jacked up a 35-footer that hit nothing but net.

"It was just one of those moments," Pullen said after the game.

One that belongs on YouTube, right beside Crawford's dunk on LeBron James.

"When you make a couple of them shots, you do kind of start to think that it's meant to be," said Crawford, a sophomore who scored a career-high 32. "Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way."

For Kansas State, the victory might land in a more permanent archive.

It was the next great moment in a season that took on its personality in January, when Pullen let the beard he grows along his jaw turn into something Abe Lincoln could love. The school went along, giving fans fake beards at home games.

Now, the whole team has facial hair and fans wear T-shirts that read, "Fear the Beard."

Only entertaining if the team plays well, and at this point, there's no arguing that.

"I expected it to be a hard-fought game. I didn't expect it to be like this," Wildcats coach Frank Martin said after the win. "But (Xavier was) phenomenal.

"And our guys were pretty good, too."

Wildcats must recover after classic 03/26/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 26, 2010 10:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Joe Maddon on being back at Trop, Cash, a new stadium


    More to come later, but a couple of quick early highlights from former Rays manager Joe Maddon's return to the Trop with the Cubs:

    Joe Maddon, right, speaks with Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey before Tuesday's game at Tropicana Field.
  2. Former Lightning forward Brian Boyle diagnosed with cancer, expects to keep playing

    Lightning Strikes

    New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team's doctor said can largely be treated with medication.

    Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team's doctor says can be treated with medication, the Devils announced Tuesday. [AP photo]
  3. Lightning Strikes! podcast: Preseason storylines to watch


    In this episode of our Lightning Strikes podcast, Joe Smith and columnist Tom Jones set up the preseason with storylines to watch, as well as expectations for the season. Will defenseman Mikhail …

    Will defenseman Mikhail Sergachev make the Lightning?
  4. Florida Gators announce 2018 football schedule


    The Florida Gators announced their 2018 football schedule Tuesday, including an early SEC game against Kentucky and a matchup against Colorado State, which was part of coach Jim McElwain's buyout from the Rams.

  5. For starters: Rays vs. Cubs in Joe Maddon's return to Trop


    Joe Maddon's return to the Trop will be the main story tonight, but there is still a baseball game to be played, between a Cubs team surging toward another division title with six straight wins and a Rays team struggling to keep alive a longshot bid for the second AL wildcard spot.

    RHP Chris Archer will be on …

    Joe Maddon returns to Tropicana Field tonight for the first time since leaving the Rays to become manager of the Cubs.