OKLAHOMA CITY — Jacob Pullen and Steve Henson are separated by more than 20 years in age, but they hold at least two things in common.
Both are record-setting Kansas State basketball players. And both were at the Ford Center on Wednesday.
Pullen was sitting in the Wildcats' locker room, getting ready to play against No. 15-seed North Texas today. Henson stood in the UNLV locker room, preparing to coach in the arena's next game against No. 9-seed Northern Iowa.
Henson, a Rebels assistant who played at K-State from 1986-90, is the Wildcats' career leader in steals with 190 and three-pointers with 240. He also ranks fifth in points with 1,655.
Pullen, a junior guard, ranks closely behind in all three categories. He has 147 steals, 208 three-pointers and 1,415 points. With another solid season as a senior, he could move past Henson in all three.
Does Henson feel threatened?
"Oh no," Henson said. "Not at all. That's all part of college basketball. It's great to see K-State win and it's great to see Jake playing so well. He's a very good player."
Henson does value his records, though. As an alum, he says he watches K-State play every chance he gets. The record he may hold onto longer than any other is his steals record.
"I don't know how I got so many," Henson said with a laugh. "But that could happen."
How did Henson record his other impressive stats? The same way Pullen may break them.
"I got to play a lot of minutes for four straight years. We went to the NCAA Tournament every year I was there, so I got to play even more games than most. A lot of those stats are longevity stats. When you're talking about career totals, they almost have to be."
Curtis Maximus — Kansas State junior forward Curtis Kelly began talking about the movie "Gladiator," which he and his teammates watched for inspiration on the bus trip to Oklahoma City, and somehow ended up talking about himself.
"The guy in the movie, the main character, he gets everything taken away from him," Kelly said. "And somehow he has to figure out a way to get any little piece of what he had back."
When told that statement seemed to echo Kelly's journey over the last two years since transferring to K-State from Connecticut after two disappointing seasons, he laughed.
"Man, this is like my sociology class," Kelly said. "I didn't know we were going deep like that."
Speaking from experience — North Texas coach Johnny Jones has regaled his team with tales of NCAA Tournament glory from two angles — Jones was a player on LSU's 1981 Final Four team and he was an assistant coach under Dale Brown when the Tigers made it back in 1986. Either way, they get his point.
"When he talks about that stuff, you listen because he's been there," North Texas point guard Josh White said. "You want to kind of touch that greatness, you want to experience what he's experienced."
Jones wasn't saying if he enjoyed playing or coaching better, but it was obvious he had fond memories of his playing days.
"That was such an exciting experience because I was a freshman and we really weren't expected to make it," Jones said. "You look back on what a great challenge it was and how we were all able to come together. Reaching that goal was tremendous."
Seeing things differently — BYU's Dave Jones made his reputation as a fiery coach, subscribing to the in-your-face school of getting things done. And it was hard to argue with the results as the Cougars won three straight Mountain West titles and found themselves in the NCAA Tournament each of the last three seasons.
But last June, Jones was diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cancer. Suffice to say, that changed things.
Jones is cancer-free as of September, but he's a different coach now. No more yelling, no more screaming. Jones also made a concerted effort to not get too high with each win or too low with each loss.
The result? More winning. The Cougars (29-5) face Florida today in Oklahoma City.
"After my diagnosis, we just kind of all waited to see if things were going to work out for me and the team," Jones said. "And then when I got the good news that I was going to be able to come back and coach, then we just kind of rolled from that spot.
"I'll always be grateful to this group because we've had such a good year and we won a lot of games, which made it easier for me and my health situation."