Pullen,Clemente Lead 'Cats

Kansas State went 2-1 over the weekend at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Tipoff in Puerto Rico, which included a victory over No. 18 Dayton for third place. Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen each earned all-tournament honors for the now 4-1 Wildcats.

Summing up the weekend, Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin said, "We grew up. We're coming home a better team than when we landed and got off the plane."

Kansas State posted a 2-1 record in Puerto Rico with an 80-70 opening win over Boston University and a third-place 83-75 win over No. 18-ranked Dayton, to go along with an 86-74 loss to Mississippi.

The win over Dayton was the first non-conference victory over a ranked team dating back to an 86-78 win over No. 19 Iowa on Dec. 23, 2000.

"It's the first time this group has ever faced adversity, and I think they showed that they have some fight to them," Martin said of both trailing Boston early in the game and finding a way to win, losing for the first time this year.

"We lost, but then we responded to that. We had a very good practice on Saturday, and then came out and played with enthusiasm and energy on Sunday."

After opening the season shooting below 30 percent from 3-point range, Martin was also pleased to see the 8-of-19 accuracy from afar against Dayton.

Denis Clemente hit four treys and Jacob Pullen added another two as they scored 21 and 26 points, respectively. Both made the all-tournament team.

"The shooting is going to come. I'm not worried about that," Martin said. "Those two are good players, who work their tails off. Denis is playing on a bad ankle and Jake has a thigh bruise, but they didn't use that as an excuse. Those two guys are fighters and the spirit of this team."

Now with a 4-1 record, Pullen leads the team in scoring at 16 points per game, followed by Curtis Kelly and Clemente at 14, while Jamar Samuels is the fourth twin-figure scorer at just over 10 per game.

Kelly is tops in rebounding averaging eight per game.

Also pleasing in the three-game tournament was the fact that Pullen had 12 assists to five turnovers, and Clemente four hand-outs and only two give-aways.

"This team is working hard. They have a tremendous desire," Martin said. "We have freshmen who are having highs and lows, but that's just part of the growth process." K-State's next challenge will come Saturday in a 3 p.m. tipoff against IUPUI in the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

After that will be six more games before the Christmas break: Dec. 1 vs. Fort Hays State, Dec. 5 vs. Washington State, Dec. 8 vs. Xavier, Dec. 12 at UNLV, Dec. 19 vs. Alabama in Mobile, and Dec. 21 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

"We're looking for consistency," Martin said of the next mission statement for the team. "We need to continue to move forward and build from the lessons we learned this week."

Purple Pride Top Stories