March 21, 2008

Beasley shows his greatness again

OMAHA, Neb. -- A pair of signs spotted in the middle of the purple pit opposite of the Kansas State bench said it all during the No. 11-seeded Wildcats' 80-67 win against sixth-seeded Southern California on Thursday night: "Beasley drinks O.J. for breakfast," one read, while the other proclaimed, "B-Easy on Mayo." Although a crop of young star power occupied the Qwest Center, Michael Beasley used his nation-leading 27th double-double to power himself and the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament second round.

And the National Freshman of the Year and Big 12 Player of the Year did so despite fighting early foul trouble and playing just 11 minutes in the first half.

First-year coach Frank Martin subbed Beasley in and out over and over again to get his team and superstar safely to halftime, using the same method he used several times this season.

"Mike has proven to me and I've developed unbelievable trust that he can play with those fouls," Martin said. "I just got to be careful how I sub him in and out. Mike is too valuable a player so I've got to maximize his minutes."

Beasley scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half. Imagine if he would have played 40 minutes like USC freshman superstar O.J. Mayo, the normally sweet-shooting 6-foot-5, 200-pound guard, who had 20 points but struggled mightily from the floor. In what was likely Mayo's last college game -- he's projected to go as high as fifth in June's NBA Draft -- he shot just 6 for 16 from the floor, including just 1 for 5 in the first half.

"(Mayo) didn't get frustrated," said Bill Walker, who scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half. "He's the type of player where if he gets a good look, he's on fire. I knew that. I just kept telling guys just get a hand in his face, force him into some tough shots. He's a guy who's been through the fire before. He's not going to lose his composure because he's not making shots."

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