February 29, 2008

Wildcats vs. Jayhawks move to Round 2

The Michael Beasley Guarantee Tour will make its second stop Saturday when the National Player of the Year candidate and his Kansas State teammates arrive in Lawrence for the return game with No. 6 Kansas, who the Wildcats defeated 84-75 in Manhattan on Jan. 30. This time, however, the showdown will be held in KU's Allen Fieldhouse, which is regarded as one of the nation's toughest venues for visitors, but the reputation of the KU basketball team or the venue that it calls home hasn't stopped the confident K-State freshman from having a little more fun with the Jayhawks.

"I think we'll take it to Australia next," said a grinning Beasley, who infamously guaranteed wins over his team's rival in Manhattan, Lawrence and even Africa prior to the season. "I like Kangaroos. Maybe we'll do it there."

And while many would frown on the idea of rattling the cage of a beast that is yet to drop a game at home this season, there seems to be at least a slight method to Beasley's perceived madness.

"I think it makes them mad," Beasley said of the Jayhawks' reaction to his constant promising of wins. "I'm sure they don't like it very much."

"They'll play harder when they're mad, and that will make us play better, too," he added.

Whether you agree with Beasley's logic or not, it's hard to argue with the result. The always-confident freshman has already backed up his bold words up once this year, and he and his K-State teammates plan on doing so again this weekend despite looking less than stellar in recent road contests. But while Saturday's game in Lawrence is probably the most crucial of the season so far for the Wildcats, you wouldn't know it by hanging around them.

Throwing pressure to the wind after Thursday's workout, K-State forward Andre Gilbert spent his post-practice time handing out high-fives and roughhousing with reporters, while Beasley joked with ESPN's Dick Vitale over the telephone before modeling the school's new uniforms for those in attendance. Point guard Jacob Pullen crawled on the floor in an unsuccessful attempt to sneak past the pack of people waiting for an interview, while a group of other K-State players began to conduct impromptu interviews of each other just yards away. These are not the actions of a team that has lost four of their last five games and is in the process of playing itself onto the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Yet still, the term "loose" doesn't even scratch the surface of the mood in the locker room these days.

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