Remember when after the Colorado game he insisted that he would not play in the NIT if Kansas State did not receive a Dance Card to the NCAA? Well, with that win over No. 1 Jayhawks K-State went from the bubble to solid tournament footing.
After scoring 38 points on Kansas, Pullen said, "It's a great opportunity for us. It's an opportunity to ride this streak and ride this game and keep this energy and emotion riding into the next game. It's been a long season, but we've been able to get through it with the people in the locker room. If we let down now, it can mean going to a different tournament (NIT) than the one we want to play in (NCAA)." Kansas State will continue its 2010-11 season ride on Saturday in a 3 p.m. tipoff against Oklahoma in Bramlage Coliseum with Pullen leading the way.
In case you missed it, Pullen has never played better than he did against KU. His 38 points were the most any individual has scored against a No. 1 team since Antawn Jamison of North Carolina punished Duke for 35 in 1998. The last time a player scored more than 38 against a No. 1 team was Houston's Elvin Hayes against UCLA in 1968.
For Pullen, it was a career high bettering last year's 34-point performance against BYU in the NCAA Tournament.
"Jake's been playing real good for a while," said KSU coach Frank Martin. "He's playing like a big-time point guard right now. I'm happy he had that type of game tonight."
Not happy, but equally impressed was Kansas coach Bill Self: "He's playing on national TV against the No. 1 team, although we didn't deserve it, and he has 38 points against his arch-rival, but defers not to shoot the ball to get 40 at the end of the game. That's class. That kid had it going on tonight."
Led by Pullen, K-State's play was class:
• It marked only KSU's fourth win ever against a No. 1 team … and it was Kansas, a team the Wildcats have beaten now only three times in the last 45 games.
• It was the second most lopsided victory for any unranked team over a No. 1 team since rankings started over 60 years ago.
• Only once in the Sunflower Showdown history has there been a greater swing in a given year. In 1975, K-State won 66-56 in Manhattan, but lost in Lawrence 91-53 for a 48-point swing. This year it was a 40-point difference as KU won at home by 24, and KSU on its home floor by 16.
• Jacob Pullen's 38 points were the 12th most ever scored by any player against any KU team, and second most by a Wildcat player. Mike Wroblewski had 46 in 1962, and Dick Knostman 38 in 1952.
• And, Pullen is the first Wildcat to enjoy at least two wins over the Jayhawks since the days of Askia Jones, Deryl Cunningham and Anthony Beane in 1993 and 1994.
As Pullen, also a winner over Kansas in 2008, said, "It's a feeling I only had once in my life, and it's a great feeling."
Taking a positive spin to the game, Self quipped, "The positive thing is we held them to 46 points if Jacob didn't play. But our play against him was very poor and he was fabulous." Pullen netted 9-of-17 from the field, but more amazingly got to the free throw line 19 times and made 15.
"I just tried to take good looks. I tried to be patient and not overly aggressive," said Pullen of his play that also included five assists, two steals and a blocked shot. "I tried to take the shots given to me. My teammates did a great job, and my coaches did a great job drawing things open to get me shots."
"We gave him too much leeway early and he was able to get shots off," said KU's Tyrel Reed. "When you get into a rhythm as a scorer like he is, it is hard to stop him after that."
Twenty-three of those points came in the first half when Martin said, "Jake was just in an attack mode on offense and we milked him. With the first half he had, he just gave everyone else a lot of confidence and we had all kinds of guys step up and make plays on both ends of the floor."
The result was a 16-point win lifting K-State to 5-6 in the Big 12 and in position to make a run at a first-round bye in the Big 12 Championships.
But at mid-week, Pullen reminded everyone within earshot about what happened a year ago: "We beat the No. 1 team (Texas, 71-62) and then lost our next home game (Oklahoma State, 73-69). We want to avoid that this year."