Kansas State and its senior guard got just what they needed Monday night- a career-high 38 points by Jacob Pullen sparked the Wildcats. In desperate need of a marquee win to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive, Kansas State stunned the newly-anointed No. 1 team in the land and in-state rival Kansas.
Not much had gone right for the Wildcats or Pullen all season long. Kansas State was tabbed the pre-season pick by the media for the first time ever to win the Big 12 and Pull was selected as the conference player of the year. Since then, Kansas State was taken down by Duke, Florida, UNLV and crashed and burned near the end of non-conference play; ;last season's two leading scorers, Pullen and forward Curtis Kelly, were suspended for improper benefits (3 games for Pullen, 6 for Kelly). That's an additional suspension for Kelly, who had previously served a team-imposed three-game suspension to start the season. The frontcourt suffered another hit when starting forward Wally Judge decided to quit the team 17 games into his sophomore year.
Things were looking pretty dismal for K-State who was on the verge of missing this year's NCAA tournament just a game ago. But things turned around in a hurry as Pullen and the Wildcats erased their misfortune with an 84-68 romp of top-ranked Kansas. Pullen dropped a career-high 38, making five of six 3s in the process and 15-of-19 from the foul line. The Jayhawks had no answer for the senior guard as their dominant duo of Marcus and Markieff Morris were sent to the bench early with foul troubles. Kansas, the Big 12's top offensive team, was held to 44 percent shooting from the floor, including 3-of-15 from 3 and 18 turnovers.
This victory should serve as a huge stepping stone for the Wildcats and Pullen who now exhibit the confidence and offensive potency we knew they were hiding all season. The loss also drops Kansas a game-and-a-half back of Texas for the top seed in the Big 12 and make it unlikely that the Jayhawks will win their seventh straight league title.