Kansas State Cruises Past Cleveland State

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly sparked a take-charge run in the first half to lead No. 12 Kansas State past Cleveland State 85-56 on Tuesday night, the Wildcats' ninth straight victory.

Pullen had 18 points and Kelly added 17 as the Wildcats (12-1) closed out an unbeaten December with their first nine-game win streak since 1997. Denis Clemente and Dominique Sutton each had 13 points for the Wildcats.

Kansas State, unbeaten since dropping an 86-74 decision to Mississippi on Nov. 20, outscored the Vikings 25-5 in the run that led to a 40-19 halftime lead. The Vikings (4-10), facing a ranked team for the school-record third straight game, went almost 8 minutes without a field goal and never got back in a game that was so physical Jeremy Montgomery knocked Pullen to the floor twice within a few seconds but got only one foul.

Montgomery had 20 points for Cleveland State and Norris Cole had 17.

After Montgomery's two free throws sliced the Wildcats' lead to 15-14, Clemente canned a long 3-pointer that got a roar from the big crowd and then stole the ball on the other end and made two foul shots to get the run going.

Pullen added a 3-pointer, Kelly made two free throws and suddenly Kansas State held a 25-14 lead and the Vikings were en route to their 33rd loss in 38 games against ranked teams.

Kansas State, with its highest ranking since 1973, quickly built the lead to 30 points in the second half when Wally Judge canned two free throws after a rough foul beneath the Wildcats' basket. Montgomery answered with a 3-pointer but Pullen got the lead back to 30 a few minutes later when his pull-up jumper made it 58-28.

Showing his athletic ability, the 6-foot Pullen reached in to steal the ball in front of the scorer's table at one point, lost his balance and jumped flat-footed onto the table, then back onto the court.

Kansas State had all reserves on the court with about 2 1/2 minutes left. But after two straight turnovers, coach Frank Martin ordered his starters back out.

Cleveland State's aggressive defense forced 19 turnovers and each team had nine steals.

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