OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -Michael Beasley vs. O.J. Mayo? Hardly.
The expected showdown between the two super freshmen was a mere sideshow in Kansas State's upset of USC to start the NCAA tournament. Sure, Beasley had his usual big game for the Wildcats with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Mayo managed 20 points for the Trojans.
But it was Beasley's supporting cast - all of them freshmen just like the two stars - who made the difference in the Wildcats' 80-67 victory at the Midwest Regional on Thursday night.
Call them the new Fab Five.
``Everybody was so focused on the individual matchup,'' said Jacob Pullen, one of those super rookies. ``We just tried to make it into Kansas State winning the game.''
Bill Walker, a redshirt freshman, scored 22 points for 11th-seeded K-State (21-11). True freshmen Pullen and Ron Anderson also reached double figures. And the old man of the bunch, 21-year-old Dominique Sutton, stuck to Mayo like a nagging cold.
USC's freshman star signaled his intentions by wearing socks with the NBA logo, but he hardly looked ready for the pros on a 6-for-16 shooting night. Mayo needed a couple of garbage baskets at the end to reach 20, not nearly enough for the sixth-seeded Trojans (21-12).
``The man-to-man defense was aggressive,'' said Mayo, who never got in much of a groove after missing his first three shots. ``They got us out of the flow of our offense. Maybe certain shots we took were rushed, and give credit to Kansas State. They did a great job on the defensive end.''
In other Midwest games at Omaha, it was top-seeded Kansas 85, No. 16 Portland State 61, No. 3 Wisconsin 71, No. 14 Cal State Fullerton 56, and No. 8 UNLV 71, No. 9 Kent State 58.
Kansas State earned his first NCAA tournament win since 1988 - before Beasley, Pullen and Anderson were even born. The Wildcats advanced to face Wisconsin in Saturday's second round.
``They're a team that has a chance to advance and go to the regional final,'' USC coach Tim Floyd said. ``They've got great, great talent.''
Walker carried the load in the early going, scoring 17 in the first half before hitting a dagger of a 3-pointer in the closing minutes. Pullen, a lightning-quick guard, scored 11 points and doled out five assists. Anderson, averaging only 3.1 a game, scored 10 and grabbed eight rebounds to help the Wildcats dominate the boards, 44-27.
Beasley came on strong in the second half.
``I just kept my composure, stayed in the zone and it worked out,'' he said, putting off his expected jump to the NBA for at least one more game.
Kansas State, which finished third in the rugged Big 12, slipped all the way to an 11th seed after losing six of its last nine games heading into the NCAAs.
But the Kiddie Corps grew up just in the nick of time.
Kansas 85, Portland State 61, Midwest Region
Kansas looked every bit like a No. 1 seed determined to end its frustration in the NCAA tournament. Brandon Rush scored 18 points to lead the Jayhawks past overmatched Portland State.
Less than 4 minutes into the game, the Jayhawks already had three dunks - two of them by Darrell Arthur, another by Darnell Jackson. They would spend most of the afternoon playing above the rim, while their overmatched opponents were stuck below it.
``I thought we'd have some first-game jitters,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ``But all in all, I thought we played pretty well.''
Kansas' five seniors and Rush, a junior star who might be headed to the NBA, are determined to go out in style after some bitter disappointments in the tournament. The Jayhawks lost opening-round stunners to Bucknell in 2005 and Bradley in '06, then came up one win short of the Final Four a year ago.
The Jayhawks (32-3) advanced to face UNLV on Saturday.
Portland State (23-10) was led by 5-foot-6 Jeremiah Dominguez, who scored 13 points but was largely smothered by Kansas' bigger guards.
Wisconsin 71, Cal State Fullerton 56, Midwest Region
Brian Butch scored 14 points and Joe Krabbenhoft and Jason Bohannon 13 apiece for the Badgers (29-4), who won for the 24th time in 26 games.
The Titans (24-9) hung around for most of the second half, largely because of a career night by Josh Akognon. He scored 31 points, including five 3-pointers that always seemed to come just when it looked as though Wisconsin was about to pull away.
The Badgers shot 42 percent and committed 17 turnovers, but they blocked seven shots and outrebounded the Titans 50-27.
The win was a relief after the last two tournaments. In 2006, Wisconsin lost to Arizona by 19 points in the opener. A year ago, as a No. 2 seed, the Badgers were upset by UNLV in the second round.
Fullerton was in the tournament for the first time since 1978, when it made a run to the final eight.
UNLV 71, Kent State 58, Midwest Region
UNLV took advantage of Kent State's miserable first half. The Golden Flashes scored only 10 points in the first 20 minutes, the fewest in an NCAA tournament half since Wake Forest scored that many against Butler in 2001.
At least the Golden Flashes avoided the worst performance ever: Brown's 7-point half against Villanova in 1939, long before anyone had heard of a shot clock.
The Golden Flashes averaged a turnover a minute the better part of the first half, went almost eight minutes without a point and trailed 31-10 at half. And that was with UNLV shooting under 40 percent and committing nine turnovers of its own.
Joe Darger made four 3-pointers and had 18 points for the Runnin' Rebels (27-7). Wink Adams added 17 and Rene Rougeau had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Mike Scott paced Kent State (28-7) with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

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