March 10, 2008

B-Easy proves he's Big 12's best

Michael Beasley remains on pace to average the most points and rebounds of any player in Big 12 history and has established 13 league records with several others within grasp. But ask Frank Martin to capture the essence of the star freshman and Big 12 Player of the Year and the first-year Kansas State coach points to a 68-59 loss to Notre Dame in the Jimmy V Classic at New York in early December.

Notre Dame star forward Luke Harangody had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Irish headed into the second half with a four-point lead. Martin tried just about everything to contain him. Then he tapped Beasley. Although Beasley finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, Martin remembered his performance for a different reason: He held Harangody to just four points and four rebounds on 2 for 7 shooting in the final 20 minutes.

"I was trying to guard him with all of these different guys and I made the choice that we had to put Mike on him," Martin said on Monday. "That kind of shows what he does. He sacrifices whom he is to give our team a chance to win. He shuts out Harangody, we come back and we've got the ball with under 30 seconds and a chance to tie the game. It didn't work out but that one game shows what Mike Beasley is all about.

"He's about winning. He's not about individual stats. He's about winning and he's going to do whatever he's got to do as a player to help his team."

Beasley followed close friend Kevin Durant into Big 12 lore as a tremendous freshman talent led the league for a second straight season. On the same morning in which the 6-foot-10, 235-pound Beasley toppled Durant's record by garnering an 11th weekly honor in the league, Beasley earned the league's Freshman of the Year award and joined Texas point guard D.J. Augustin as a unanimous selection to the first-team All-Big 12 team, as selected by the Big 12's league head coaches.

"I'm extremely happy and I'm proud for him," Martin said. "I know how hard he's committed himself to working to become a very good player, to represent our university the way he has and to continue to improve. The most important part (is) how hard he worked once we lost David Hoskins to lead our team with a bunch of first-year guys to compete at a high level in what I think is the hardest conference in the conference."

Beasley, who averages 26.5 points and 12.5 rebounds, helped to lead K-State, 20-10 overall and 10-6 in the Big 12, to the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. The Wildcats will face the Texas A&M-Iowa State winner and are considered a lock for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996.

Meanwhile, Beasley is on pace to become the first player in Big 12 history to finish in the top three nationally in scoring (third) and in rebounding (first) in a season. Kevin Durant finished fourth in both categories a year ago.

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