MANHATTAN — Jacob Pullen understands how easy it is to feel sorry for the Nebraska basketball team right now.
The Cornhuskers have resided at the bottom of the Big 12 standings since league play began, and after stringing together a pair of commendable losing efforts against No. 1 Kansas and No. 22 Baylor, they fell into a snake pit on Saturday with a 91-51 loss at No. 15 Texas.
It was far and away the worst conference defeat suffered by a Big 12 team all season.
Pullen has kept up on Nebraska every step of the way, but that doesn't mean he will be showing sympathy today. Quite the contrary.
"That's what happens in the Big 12," Pullen said. "They go some place and lose by 40. We're trying to beat them by 40, too."
K-State's largest win of the season was by 38 points in the season-opener against Loyola Chicago; in Big 12 play the Wildcats haven't won by more than 23.
But maybe K-State could use a lofty goal. Players didn't have blowout on their minds when Colorado came to town on Saturday, and the Wildcats needed a big second half to finally pull away from the Buffaloes. They didn't have blowout on their minds when Oklahoma State visited Manhattan either, and the Cowboys ended up stealing that game 73-69.
Freshman guard Martavious Irving said thinking big against Nebraska is simply K-State's way of avoiding another letdown.
"Most teams would probably take Nebraska for granted, but we won't," Irving said. "We know they're coming off a 40-point loss to Texas, and they've been having hard practices lately. We have to be ready to play."
Coach Frank Martin is preparing for Nebraska's best shot. He expects Cornhuskers coach Doc Sadler to get more out of his team than he has all season.
"I know the pride he's got, and I know those kids are going to have pride," Martin said. "If those kids don't have pride when they step on the floor, don't expect them to have a uniform the next day."
K-State players agreed that Nebraska will likely have something to prove today.
"I'd hate to be in our gym after we lost by 40," Pullen said.
"I would definitely come out with a bigger motivation," Curtis Kelly said, "and be thirsty to get a win."