From The Couch – 2010 NCAA Tournament Part Three – K-State vs. Xavier

From The Couch – 2010 NCAA Tournament Part Three – K-State vs. Xavier

Today is the 10th anniversary of the classic Sweet 16 game between Kansas State and Xavier.  Let’s take a look at what some in the media and those involved in the game had to say back then.  And now.

“Pullen’s 3-pointers put Kansas State in Elite Eight,”…headline on ESPN, March 26, 2010

JM:  Pullen deservedly got a lot of the credit in this one, but there’s more to the story.

“Jacob Pullen — the guard who brought the phrase “Fear the Beard” to the Little Apple — hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second overtime to help K-State outlast Xavier 101-96 on Thursday night in the West Regional semifinals.  An instant classic.”…Associated Press, March 26, 2010

JM:  This was definitely an “instant classic.”  Probably the most exciting K-State basketball game I’ve ever watched.

“After knocking off one so called mid-major, the second-seeded Wildcats (29-7) will play another — fifth-seeded Butler — on Saturday to try to make their first Final Four since 1964.”…Associated Press, March 26, 2010

JM:  It’s been since 1964 since K-State was in the Final Four.  This team was good enough but fell short.

“”As good a game as I’ve ever coached or been a part of,’ (Xavier) coach Chris Mack said.”…Associated Press, March 26, 2010

JM: ‘Nuff said. 

“Trailing by three at the end of regulation, Xavier’s Terrell Holloway got fouled while heaving up a 30-footer with 5 seconds left and calmly made all three free throws. Xavier was down by three again at the end of the first overtime, but Jordan Crawford jacked up a 35-footer that hit nothing but net.”…Associated Press, March 26, 2010

“Clemente and Chris Merriewether were hacking away at Holloway (26 points), but no whistle came — until Holloway, feeling the slaps, heaved up a shot from 30 feet and got the whistle with 5 seconds left. Hit all three free throws — and the first overtime was on.  ‘Denis tried to foul beforehand, but the ref didn’t see it,’ Pullen said. ‘And then Chris went to foul again, and Holloway made a smart play and put the ball up.'”…Associated Press, March 26, 2010

JM:  If you remember this game and this play, it was clear to me, wearing my purple colored glasses of course, that Holloway was fouled before he was in the act of shooting, which would have most likely resulted in a victory in regulation.

“Real proud of our guys to find the courage and character to figure out a way to overcome some of our mistakes and some of the shots that Xavier made,” K-State coach Frank Martin said…Associated Press, March 26, 2010

JM:  In researching newspaper articles and quotes about these games, it’s interesting to me that Frank Martin was quoted as little as he was.  He’s a quote machine, but the media didn’t really quote him much in articles at the time.

‘”It was an emotional roller-coaster,’ Pullen said. ‘I hit a shot at the end of the game, I’m thinking, `That’s game. That’s the nail in the coffin.'”…Associated Press, March 26, 2010

JM:  I guarantee he didn’t think that again until the final buzzer sounded in the second overtime.

“Xavier led 93-91 with 1:23 left in the second overtime. Exhausted and in foul trouble, the Musketeers had no answer for Pullen at the end. He hit an open 3 from the top of the key for a 94-93 lead with 1:09 left. Jason Love made one of two free throws on the next possession, then Pullen hit the next 3 to make it 97-94.”…Associated Press, March 26, 2010

JM:  Two straight threes for Pullen.  Huge!

“’It was eerily similar to Ali-Foreman,’ said Xavier Coach Chris Mack of a game which had 17 lead changes and 13 ties. ‘Unfortunately, they landed the last punch.”’…Billy Witz, New York Times, March 26, 2010

JM:  High praise comparing it to Ali-Foreman, but that’s sure what it felt like.

“Clemente, who played 48 minutes, spoke with reporters in the locker room, while taking sips of a sport drink. In his other hand, he carried seven other bottles, which he intended to drink before going to sleep.  ‘I’m going to sleep like a baby,’ he said.”….Billy Witz, New York Times, March 26, 2010

JM:  Have you ever tried to drink a sugary drink prior to going to bed?  If Clemente really drank all of those sports drinks, I’m sure he didn’t get much sleep!

“The stars of the game—Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen were the stars for Kansas State, while Jordan Crawford and Terrell Holloway were the stars for Xavier; between these four players, 110 of the points were scored.”…Marcus Session, Bleacher Report, March 26, 2010

JM:  Four players scored 110 points.  Insane.

“I’m telling you, man. The best back court in the country is Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente.”…Johnathan Tillman, 2010, The SportsFanJournal

JM:  Anyone wanna argue with that one?  Maybe Xavier fans would.

“I remember Brad Underwood saying at the end before the first overtime when we were at the bench, I remember we were sitting there, and we felt like we should’ve won the game already, and I remember Brad saying, ‘You’re going to play this hard to lose the game right now?’ At the end of the first overtime, we walked to the huddle and Brad said, ‘Get your effing heads up! You’re a part of something that’s amazing right now! It’s going to be a classic! Now what end of the classic do you want to be on? You want to win the classic, or do you want to lose the classic?’  We all walked out like, ‘We’ve got to go win this (stuff)'”…Jacob Pullen, March 25, 2020, in an interview with D Scott Fritchen of

JM:  Pullen recalls this 10 years later.  Looks like Brad Underwood may have given them the motivation they needed to finish the game with a victory.

Another thing that made this game great was the call of Gus Johnson.  You can hear some of his epic calls by watching the video above.  If you’re a degenerate like me, you can watch the entire game on YouTube here.  There’s also a rumor that one of the television stations is replaying the game on Friday and Frank Martin will be live tweeting it!

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