Kansas State University

Pullen shoots K-State to win

MANHATTAN — Jacob Pullen found a way to make the night special.

During fifth-ranked Kansas State's easy 85-61 victory over Emporia State on Monday night at Bramlage Coliseum, the senior guard brought a subdued crowd to its feet late in the first half by shooting his way into Wildcats history.

Pullen sank four three-pointers and scored a game-high 26 points against the NCAA Division II Hornets, allowing him to set a school record for three-pointers with 241. He passed Steve Henson's 240, completed in 1990.

When the achievement was announced during a timeout, he smiled for all the cameras pointed his way, but — in vintage Pullen fashion — otherwise didn't celebrate.

"I didn't hear which record I broke," Pullen said. "But I'm just happy about the win. I'll deal with all of the records and stuff like that at the end of the season."

A wise approach. Monday was just the beginning for Pullen.

Coming into the season, he was already climbing the K-State career charts in assists, steals and points. He'll undoubtedly continue his assault on individual K-State records.

"He might rewrite that whole record book the way he's going," Wildcat coach Frank Martin said. "I couldn't be happier for him. He's earned it."

He also earned an easy scoring performance. During K-State's first six games, he struggled to find his shooting touch, and Martin criticized him for providing less leadership as a senior than he did as a junior.

That all ended Monday when he set a season high in points and dished out five assists to go with three steals.

"He's back to being the guy that we had the first two weeks of the season as far as out there demanding that people do their jobs and him doing his," Martin said. "He reacted the way exactly the way you trust that your senior guy that you've been through the ropes with for four years should."

Behind him, K-State put this one away early.

With Pullen making outside shots, the Wildcats broke the game open with a 19-2 run and held a 31-13 lead with 6 minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the first half.

"Their aggressiveness and the way they're coached and the way they get after it," said Emporia State coach David Moe. "It's tough for us to match up physically."

Junior forward Freddy Asprilla was a big reason why. The junior-college transfer scored a career-high 17 points to go along with eight rebounds and three assists.

"He's a very talented offensive player," Martin said. "He will continue to get better for us. He's starting to understand things defensively better. He's defending the post better than any other big on our team."

Rodney McGruder helped him out inside by grabbing six rebounds on top of scoring 17 points. Jamar Samuels came off the bench to score eight points and grab six rebounds. As a team, the Wildcats shot 52.3 percent and forced 21 turnovers.

K-State (5-1) has won two straight games since falling to top-ranked Duke in the championship game of the CBE Classic last week. It will face a more difficult opponent at Washington State on Friday.

"When we play the right way, you can see the ability of this basketball team," he said. "We are not a very good team right now, but I like that our room for growth is phenomenal."