57 total fouls. That's the type of game this one was. The refs made it clear very early on that they weren't going to let this game get too physical. As a result, five Kansas State players fouled out along with two OSU players. If you weren't a fan of either team, this would have been a difficult game to watch. The refs basically all but killed any flow either team tried to generate. Two and a half hours later, the Pokes prevailed 76-62 in a game that was closer than the score indicated. In fact, with ten minutes remaining in the game, OSU was down eight to the Wildcats. But then came a huge run for OSU led by Jean-Paul Olukemi. The guy is simply a baller. He led the team with 22 points and 11 boards. Along with his play, there were other key factors to the game. Click the jump to read more brilliance.
Although he scored 20 points, it was clear that he is not yet 100% after recently coming back from suspension. He looked tired through most of the game and then exhausted near the end. K-State coach, Frank Martin definitely didn't seem pleased with his effort as he sat Pullen for the last two minutes of the game when the Wildcats still had a chance to win it. While I don't think the coach was conceding defeat, I do believe he was trying to send a message to his players and the captain of his team.
OSU forced 21 turnovers while K-State only forced 10. That was the difference in the game. As a result OSU saw a lot of easy buckets in transition and/or got to the foul line as well. In transition, I don't think I would ever want anybody but Olukemi dribbling the basketball. When he finds a path in the paint, he is nearly unstoppable without fouling him--and even then sometimes he'll still make the basket.
Clutch free throws
For the first thirty minutes of the game, OSU was struggling to hit the free ones from the charity stripe. During the last ten minutes however, the Pokes sank nearly every single one they put up including Ray Penn who went 8 for 8 during that time. Page also finished perfect at the line sinking 7 of his own. The two small guards struggled with scoring throughout the game (1 for 7 between the two of them from beyond the arc) but when it mattered most, they helped seal the win by hitting clutch free throws.
In summary, it was a hard fought victory that required patience from the players, coaches, and fans alike. The Cowboys definitely needed this one for the resume and hopefully K-State will go on to win a lot of games. The schedule definitely doesn't get any easier as OSU next travels to A&M on Wednesday and then Colorado on Saturday. If the Pokes can somehow pull out victories in both games it would make capturing a bid to the NCAA tournament a whole lot easier.