Utah State basketball: 'Old' Aggies impress K-State coach
TUCSON, Ariz. — Kansas State coach Frank Martin believes experience, age and maturity are factors in favor of Utah State in tonight's NCAA Tournament game against Utah State.
Asked to point out what concerned him about USU, he said, "Their discipline offensively. You look at their roster. They got six seniors, a couple of juniors. They're old. They've been through it. They understand.
"They've got a championship culture in their program. They expect to win games, they play regardless of who the opponent is."
Asked about senior Tai Wesley's defense, Martin said, "Grown man. When you see a kid play, you immediately see weaknesses. You see where you can crack him.
"But when you watch a grown man play, the game is played a little slower. They understand angles, they understand where to defend, where not to defend. They know when to go and not to go. With (Wesley), you see it, he rarely makes a mistake."
Martin went on to say younger players sometimes try to play too fast — something Wesley doesn't do.
"He has both arms around their system," he added.
A 'BATTLE OF WILLS': It's not going to be a track meet. It won't be an afternoon tea, either.
Tonight's Utah State-Kansas State NCAA first-round match-up will be "a battle of wills," according Martin.
Martin said KSU's pressure defense vs. USU's disciplined offense will be key in the outcome.
"That's the battle of wills right there," he said. "Our willingness to be disciplined without fouling and Utah State's ability to deal with our pressure and stay in their place and get the shots that they want."
Martin added that rebounding will also be a major factor.
FROM THE ARC: Utah State had a fine defensive season, holding 19 teams to under 40 percent shooting, but tonight's matchup will present a challenge. Kansas State has totaled 200 or more 3-point shots in each of the last four seasons.
Though the Wildcats didn't match last year's school-record 253 treys, it did make an average of 7.1 per game. It ranked fourth in the Big 12 with 226 this year, connecting at a 37.5 percent rate.
KSU made 10 or more treys seven times this year, including 14 against Iowa State on Feb. 5. In that game, the Wildcats made nearly 52 percent of their attempts.
PULLEN HIS WEIGHT: KSU guard Jacob Pullen is the sixth player in Big 12 history to score more than 2,000 points, with 2,072 over a 133-game career. He ranks in the top 10 in six Big 12 career categories, including second in free throws made and fifth in scoring, 3-point field goals attempted and free throws attempted, and seventh in 3-point field goals made and attempted.
MARTIN GETS IT DONE: Martin's success last year — a trip to the regional finals — gained him a new contract during the off-season, which will keep him in Manhattan through the 2014-15 season. The school's 94 wins in four seasons is the most by any KSU coaching staff.
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