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March 24, 2010

Curtis Kelly

Frank Martin

Jacob Pullen


THE MODERATOR: We welcome Kansas State student-athletes. Let's direct questions to Kansas State student-athletes.

Q. For both of you, can you take me back to that first meeting against Xavier, and what gave you the most success in defending Jordan Crawford the way you did?
JACOB PULLEN: Jake did a really good job of guarding the ball. Dominique did a good job of trying to deny him of getting a lot of touching, being comfortable. Helps our defense as a team. We really just worked on trying to make everything he do tough, like we do when we play any other good player.
CURTIS KELLY: I think it was a pretty good team effort. I think Dom started out on him, then we moved Jake on him a couple possessions also. I just think we did a great job on him.
He takes a lot of shots. He likes to put pressure on the defense. We made him take tough shots and we made him force a lot of things that he didn't want to do, so...

Q. Can you give me your first impressions of the building, what you think of the facility, the general feel of the building.
JACOB PULLEN: I haven't even been out there. I just walked into the locker room.
CURTIS KELLY: Well, we was in Oklahoma City, we stayed in the Oklahoma City Thunder team locker room. That was an experience. It's not like Oklahoma City's team locker room. But, you know, we going to get used to it, we going to make it our home.

Q. When you've played a team early in the year, but it was quite a while ago, then you're going to watch tape, how do you balance the two things of a team that may be different just as you guys are different?
JACOB PULLEN: Can't really worry about the last game. It's two different seasons. Last game means nothing. Records mean nothing at this point. It's just about who wants to win more.
Just got to study what they've been doing good lately. When you figure out what they've been doing good lately, you try to take that away from them, put them in a different situation, make them feel a little uncomfortable. That's what we succeed in doing.
CURTIS KELLY: Like [] Jake said, it's a different time of the year. More is at stake. To be honest, they're a real different team than when we seen them early. They share the ball more. I think they buying into what they coach is telling them, they run the plays a little harder and better.
They had a talent there when we played them, but they didn't mesh as a team as they are now.

Q. The top seed in the entire tournament was the Kansas Jayhawks. They've lost. Now you guys are still alive. Is this a chance that you can show that there's another team in Kansas that plays good basketball and it's Kansas State?
JACOB PULLEN: I think we've been trying to do that the whole year. Kansas has been a top team all season. You know, we've been behind all season. But we've actually showed that we can play with the best [] off-season. You know, we feel the more we win, the more people we get behind us. That's all it's about, showing that there's two good teams in the state of Kansas.
CURTIS KELLY: Yeah, I think Jacob is right. It's been hard for Kansas State living behind Kansas' shadow, to be honest. This is a little bit different year. I think this time we definitely trying to show that we have another good team in Kansas, but I think we did that early. I think we did things early in the season before we come to this point now that shows that it's another good team in Kansas.
But we just got to continue and try to do the best we can.

Q. As much as you've tried to make it one game at a time, as you go through the tournament, the excitement in the community, what have you had to do to balance the excitement that you're getting from outside sources and then still approach games the same way?
CURTIS KELLY: We try to keep each other humble. We know we accomplished a lot here. But it's the humble Coach Martin brings that we want more. We feel like we can go further, feel like we can get more. That carries over to everything we do: schoolwork, on and off the court. We just want more. We want to be a better team than we was the year before or the team we was early in the season.
I think we just try to keep each other humble. We try to have fun, relax, not worry about the hype, just worry about each other.

Q. Jacob, can you talk about the bigs on your team, what stands out to you about them, why they're such a good group down there.
JACOB PULLEN: They compete, you know. Sometimes they might be undersized or they might have to go against someone who is supposedly better than them. They didn't receive the hype all season long. They just really got after every team we played. They really helped me and Denis out a lot. I don't know if people understand it as much as we do. A year ago, we pressured teams the same way we do now, but we didn't have the athleticism that we have this year back there blocking shots, really helping us when we push people to play faster than they want to.
This year they just really controlled the glass. That's how we get in transition so well, because they challenge shots and they rebound and then they get in transition. So it makes easy opportunities for us to score the ball. That's just been the difference of our season from last year and this year.

Q. Tomorrow, 22 years ago, was the last time Kansas State played in the Sweet 16. They played Purdue. You guys are going to be playing tomorrow to represent Kansas State again. Talk about the sense of pride you have in bringing this program back to where it is, reaching this point.
CURTIS KELLY: I think it's been a real blessing. I think we deserve it. We worked hard in the summer. We worked hard all year. The things we doing here is phenomenal. I think the things we doing here, the people starting to appreciate also.
But it's a lot more to be done. K State is a growing program now. People see our growth, see how much we trying to get better and trying to do more. So, you know, we just got to keep going and keep staying focused and try to keep breaking records and breaking standards.
JACOB PULLEN: Good answer, Curtis (smiling).

Q. Curtis, can you talk a little bit about when you were at Rice, how you ended up here, the path you took, how that helped you?
CURTIS KELLY: It been a long road. I always tell people, my favorite quote was that I went from something to nothing, and now I'm trying to go back from nothing to something. It's been a hard fruition. Thanks to Jake and the rest of my teammates and Coach Martin, I ended up at a great place here. I'm starting to do better. I'm starting to do more.
Most people know about my past with UConn. I don't hold no grudges. I don't feel no pain anymore. I'm just trying to do better and get better. By the grace of God, I've been doing that. I think it's just been a great process and great growth for me.

Q. Jacob, you've been on a good roll with your shot. How has that come along? How are you feeling with your outside shot?
JACOB PULLEN: It's my teammates, Denis and Frank do a great job of calling the sets. Curtis and the rest of the bigs do a great job of setting the screens. We a real physical team. We feel like if we can out-physical teams, it gets us where we want to be.
Like I said, when we get in transition, it's hard to guard us because we can get to the basket, and we can create opportunities, and we can also spot up and make shots. Like I said, Denis been doing a great job. Curtis when they double him in the post, they doing a great job of finding me. I'm just trying to square my body and shoot the ball in.

Q. The games against Xavier have been not real close and they've been pretty physical. Was there ever any kind of bad blood going on there or just a couple teams?
CURTIS KELLY: Jake has been here and had a little bit more experience playing Xavier thank I do, so he can answer that (smiling).
JACOB PULLEN: You know, they beat us bad my freshman year. You know, you don't forget things like that, especially when it was New Year's Eve. They just really did what they wanted. They laughed on the court, played around. You just don't forget things like that.
So when you get the opportunity to play against a team like, that you always remember that, no matter if it's one person from that team on that or 10 people from that same team.
A little physical, you know, there's some bad blood, but it's nothing serious, nothing to start a fight about.

Q. Beasley forget his shoes.
JACOB PULLEN: Mike forgot his shoes. Bill lost his phone, I think. Clint didn't have his shoes neither. It wasn't the greatest trip we had made all season. But we still went out there and played and we got beat. It was a memory for us.

Q. Jake, before the BYU game, you characterized your team as a team with a chip on its shoulder. Has that carried over here to Salt Lake?
JACOB PULLEN: No, I think we brought it on the plane with us. A lot of people still undermine us. They think we're not that good, we shouldn't be here, we got lucky. Whatever it is, we still feel like we have a lot to prove. We feel we're playing to prove things to other people.

Q. Curtis, you said you didn't hold a grudge. Did it make you a better player? Was it good for you to get away from the city?
CURTIS KELLY: It definitely made me a better player. It's life-learned lessons I had to learn, and I didn't learn as fast when I first got to UConn about the college basketball game is a different atmosphere for me, and I struggled. I struggled a lot.
But the main thing that happened was my personality. When I was there, I was above the clouds. I was a cocky young kid coming from high school. It grounded me a little bit and it made me more humble and appreciate the game more.
When I got here, you know, the space from home and from people close to me helped me out a lot. I got to focus on school and playing hard and working on my game a little bit more.
I just started to grow to a better person and a better ball player. So that's about it.

Q. Curtis, you mentioned keeping each other humble. How has Jake been handling national stardom? Have you had to manage him at all?

CURTIS KELLY: Uhm, Jake is going to be Jake. You know, Jake has a shining personality. He has a charm to him to make people know that, My name is Jake. That's how he shines, My name is Jake. He been holding it

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