MANHATTAN, Kan.— Jamar Samuels was surprised when Frank Martin's wife, Anya, slid up next to him before Kansas State's game against Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Samuels was expecting his mother, Ernestine, to walk him onto the court on Senior Day. But her flight had been delayed, and she was stuck on the interstate, so Martin gave his wife a quick call and told her to pinch-hit until Samuels' family arrived.
They missed the pregame introductions. They saw most of his phenomenal performance.
Samuels finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds — committing just one turnover without a foul — and led the Wildcats to a 77-58 win over the shorthanded Cowboys.
“Not rattled, I was just like, sigh,” Samuels said. “When she said she'll be here soon as she can, I said all right. And the second half came and I saw her here, I got a little excited.”
By then the Wildcats were well on their way to victory.
Rodney McGruder finished with 24 points and Jordan Henriquez had 16 points and eight boards for Kansas State (21-9, 10-8 Big 12), which added another impressive win to its NCAA resume going into next week's Big 12 tournament.
Kansas State has won four of its last five games, including back-to-back road wins against Top 10 teams Missouri and Baylor, and has four victories over teams in the RPI Top 25.
“We have two objectives,” Martin said before tacking on a third. “To go win the Big 12, to go to the NCAA tournament and get a good seed, and then to make a run.”
Keiton Page hit six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points for the Cowboys (14-17, 7-11), who played without star freshman Le'Bryan Nash for the third straight game because of a fractured left hand. It's unclear whether he'll be able to play in the conference tournament.
They also lost Philip Jurick, their second-leading rebounder, to an apparent right foot injury early in the game. Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said he's out indefinitely.
Marek Soucek and Michael Cobbins fouled out in the second half.
“We hung in there at the beginning, doing some things we wanted to do to stay in the game the first half,” Ford said. “We got in some serious foul trouble, and then losing one of our players — we're not real deep to begin with — we had to improvise a bit.”