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Beasley the beast
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The first time Missouri faced Kansas State's Michael Beasley, the Tigers swarmed the freshman forward, collapsing around him with double and triple teams.
Beasley wasn't much of a factor and the Tigers pulled out a tough win with just eight players in uniform.
The thing about Beasley, though, is this kid learns fast -- as teams in the Big 12 are quickly finding out.
"Beasley is about as balanced a college player as I've ever seen," Kansas coach Bill Self said Monday during the Big 12 coaches weekly teleconference. "Inside, outside, passing, handling it -- his hands are incredible -- and he can, of course, get easy baskets. That's the sign of a great player. They run stuff for him, but they also don't run stuff for him and he still comes away with points and rebounds."
What makes Beasley so difficult to defend is that there's no one way to approach it.
Try to take away his outside game with quickness and Beasley will move inside and overpower smaller defenders.
Nebraska got a taste of Beasley's power in a Feb. 6 game.
Matched against Shang Ping and Chris Balham after Cornhuskers center Aleks Maric picked up his second foul, Beasley screamed for the ball in the post, powering his way to 12 points in the final 5:41 of the first half. The Cornhuskers switched to a box-and-one against Beasley in the second half without much success, either; he finished with 35 points and 13 rebounds in Kansas State's 74-59 win.
It works the other way, too. Just ask Missouri.
The first time Beasley faced the Tigers, he was unable to escape the extra attention inside, playing most of the game in foul trouble, taking just 12 shots and finishing with 17 points -- eight below his average and his lowest total in the Big 12.
The second time around, Beasley got a few points on the break and drifted further away from the basket, shooting jumpers over smaller defenders. He also was quicker with his shot inside, getting the ball to the rim before the double and triple teams could get there.
Beasley, who had a double-double by halftime, finished with 40 points, including 16 straight for Kansas State in the second half, and 17 rebounds, helping the Wildcats to a resounding 100-63 victory.
"You're not going to stop him," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. "You just hope you make him work for it. The other night, it was just one of those nights where he wanted it and went out and got it."
Beasley was named the Big 12's rookie of the week for the fourth straight time on Monday, the first time any player has won four straight weekly awards in the conference.
He has 21 double-doubles, leaving him one short of Carmelo Anthony's all-time NCAA freshman record. He's tied with Kansas' Raef LaFrentz for second-most in Big 12 history, four behind Drew Gooden's all-time mark of 25 in one season.
Beasley also is the first Kansas State player to have two 40-point, 10-rebound games in the same season, and the nation's first freshman to do it since 1996-97.
He's done it by continuing to get better, adjusting his game to what his team needs and the opponents give him.
Beasley started the season as sort of a combo forward, splitting time between the post and the perimeter on defense and offense. The past few weeks, he's been primarily an inside player -- because that's what the Wildcats have needed from him in the powerful Big 12.
Beasley leads the nation in rebounding at 12.4 per game and is scoring a Big 12-best 25.1 points.