One-time UNLV recruit Kelly relaxes, produces for K-State

Junior forward tallies 13 points, helps spark pivotal second half run

Kansas State vs #18 UNLV

The Wildcats' sharp shooting, along with the Rebels' sloppy play led to UNLV suffering its first loss of the season, 95-80, to Kansas State Saturday at the Orleans Arena.

UNLV vs. Kansas State Basketball

UNLV head coach Lon Kruger gets after his bench during the game Saturday as the Rebels take on Kansas St. at the Orleans Arena.  UNLV dropped their first game of the season 95-80
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The Rebel Room

K-STATE POSTGAME: An unfriendly reunion for Kruger & Co.

Ryan Greene and Christine Killimayer delve into what was No. 18 UNLV's 95-80 loss to Kansas State on Saturday at the Orleans Arena. The Wildcats shot the lights out, while the Rebels had a hard time doing much of anything in their first loss of the 2009-10 season. Plus, a look ahead at a week which favors a UNLV team with wounds to lick.

Kansas State junior forward Curtis Kelly won't admit whether he was playing with a proverbial chip on his shoulder Saturday night.

It sure appeared that way, though. The same holds true for his Kansas State teammates.

Kelly, who picked the Manhattan, Kan., school over UNLV in the summer of 2008 when transferring from Connecticut, had 13 points in 33 minutes and helped lead the Wildcats to a 95-80 victory against the No. 17 Rebels at the Orleans Arena.

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward from Bronx, N.Y., added two blocked shots and was a force inside, helping Kansas State (9-1) to its sixth straight victory and what likely should be a spot in the top 25 when the polls are released Monday.

"I was pretty relaxed and just played my game," Kelly said. "I didn't think of going after them. There was no personal motivation."

The Wildcats connected on 10 of their initial 12 shots of the second half in building their advantage to more than 20 points. They had led 42-34 at halftime.

Part of the outburst included Kelly converting a 3-point play — and showing some emotion in the process.

He dribbled through the lane and made a layup while being fouled, then proceeded to hit his chest twice while yelling in the direction of the nearby UNLV student section in celebration.

Still, he says there is no animosity toward UNLV.

Jacob Pullen hit 7 of 10 on 3-point attempts, posting a game-high 28 points, and backcourt mate Denis Clemente added with 22 points and nine assists.

"Jacob and Denis got hot. Too hot if you ask me," Kelly said. "That was (the game) in a nut shell."

Kansas State shot 67 percent in the second half and the duo of Pullen and Clemente seemingly scored at will. Pullen described a conversation with UNLV's Oscar Bellfield mid-game when the Rebels' guard commented on how Pullen and Clemente couldn't miss a shot.

"But I would have said the same thing if No. 0 (Bellfield) was doing that to me," he jokingly said.

It was the type of performance that has become commonplace for the Wildcats. They were equally impressive in an 86-69 win against Washington State on Dec. 5 and a 71-56 victory against Xavier on Tuesday.

"They are pretty good, especially when you make as many shots as they did," UNLV's Tre'Von Willis said.

Kansas State hopes the effort will be rewarded when the polls are released. The Wildcats received 59 votes this week in the Associated Press rankings — four spots shy of No. 25.

"This should be the game that puts us in the rankings," Kelly said. "At least, I hope so."

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  1. Lets see. Kansas State or the High School of Las Vegas??? No brainer here!

  2. By the way you call that 7 foot light foot bryce a center? He cant even jump an inch. Worse center i have seen in my 64 years living. Rebels will be 500 this year in conference and i think sufferin can back that!

  3. Ray, why would he play with a chip on his shoulder? We offered, he visited, and he ended up choosing KSU, so am I missing something?

  4. gorebs97,

    Big-time players always look for anything possible to grab at in trying to get pumped up for a game, and I think it was clear that Kelly wanted to make a good impression at UNLV, no matter what happened in his recruitment. He clearly took pleasure in performing well. I think that's probably what he's getting at here.

  5. If we had one player like Curtis Kelly, we could be a very good team. Unfortunately, we have the foul machine Massamba as our starting center. It's embarrassing to see him out there against guys like Curtis Kelly. Maybe Quintrell Thomas will help next yr, but our big man situation is pathetic. We can keep padding our record against Holy cross and Weber St, but it means nothing in the long run.

  6. 1 loss and everyone falls off the wagon...