for this game

Kansas State beats No. 18 Dayton 83-75

Nov 23, 2009 - 2:57 AM By DAVID McFADDEN Associated Press Writer

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico(AP) -- Kansas State coach Frank Martin understands that physical play can sometimes lead to plenty of fouls. It's a delicate balancing act for a team that plays in the rugged Big 12.

The Wildcats bullied their way to an 83-75 victory over No. 18 Dayton on Sunday in the third-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, but Martin lamented sending the Flyers to the foul line 27 times - even if most of the fouls were competitive ones.

"We've got to stop fouling," Martin said, "but that's what we do. That's the identity of our basketball team."

Don't think that the whistle was being blown in only one direction, though. The Wildcats went to the foul line 44 times - 28 of them in the second half.

Junior guard Jacob Pullen scored 26 points, including 12 of 14 free throws, while fellow backcourt mate Denis Clemente made four 3-pointers and finished with 21 points.

The Wildcats turned a 44-32 advantage on the glass into 15 second-chance points, and although their speedy guard tandem lit up the scoreboard, they also had a 38-24 advantage scoring in the paint. Jamar Samuels led the way with 12 points and seven boards.

"They're a really good team," Pullen said. "To be able to beat them shows we're committing."

With dueling chants of "Let's Go Flyers" and "Go State" reverberating through a less than full arena, the quicker Wildcats (4-1) built a 35-28 lead by halftime and managed to hang onto it during a physical second half.

Chris Johnson led the Flyers (2-2) with 16 points and six rebounds, while Marcus Johnson added 14 points and Paul Williams 10. The trip to the Caribbean wasn't all bad for Dayton, though, which defeated No. 21 Georgia Tech in the first round of the tournament.

"We needed to play with a little more poise and we needed to play with a little more confidence," said Dayton coach Brian Gregory. "You can't play the way we played against a team of that caliber."

Clemente, a Puerto Rican, hit a 3-pointer with 13:57 left in the game to give Kansas State its biggest lead at 50-35. The Flyers answered with a 14-7 spurt, capped by Chris Johnson's 3-pointer with 9:25 left, to get within striking distance.

Things got testy with under 4 minutes to play when Samuels was given a technical foul for kicking Dayton's Kurt Huelsman in the head as he was trying to retain possession of a loose ball at the bottom of a pileup.

Samuels shook hands with Huelsman after the altercation, and the two foul shots and a dunk moments later by Chris Wright made it 68-65 with 3:15 left.

"That's not who I am, to go around kicking people in the head," Samuels said afterward.

Dayton closed the deficit to 78-75 on three straight free throws by Chris Johnson with 45 seconds left, but the Flyers never could get all the way back. Pullen and Clemente each hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to seal the victory.

"We beat a team that plays at a high, high level," Martin said.