Pullen catches KU by surprise

? Mario Chalmers doesn’t anticipate being caught off-guard by Jacob Pullen when Kansas University entertains Kansas State on March 1 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Chalmers and the rest of the KU guards came to that resolution the hard way in Wednesday’s 84-75 loss to KSU in Bramlage Coliseum.

“Yeah, he definitely surprised us tonight,” Chalmers said. “We really didn’t expect him to do that much tonight. We knew he was an OK player and that he could get to the paint anytime he wanted to. Tonight he just had a good night.”

A ‘good night’ was probably a somber understatement from the KU junior.

In the biggest game to date in his collegiate career, the K-State freshman point guard used the stage to have a coming-out party. Pullen finished with a career-high 20 points, highlighted by a calm-yet-deadly 10-of-10 showing at the charity stripe. He entered the game with averages of 9.6 points and 3.4 assists a night.

“It was our fault,” KU sophomore guard Sherron Collins said. “He just did stuff that we couldn’t guard or couldn’t deal with. We just made stupid plays. We fouled him, put him on the line, and he went 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. And that’s a good percentage there. Just making bad reach-ins, just making bad plays.”

Pullen was viewed by many as the X-factor coming in. He had gone relatively unnoticed much of the year as the team’s No. 3 scorer, being overshadowed by probable future NBA first-rounders Mike Beasley and Bill Walker.

The 6-foot-1 Proviso East (Ill.) High product was deadly across the stat sheet. On top of the freebies, he hit two of K-State’s 12 three-pointers and recorded four assists to just one turnover.

He nearly had a perfect highlight to cap the night – which would have gone as a fifth assist, too. When bringing the ball upcourt at full speed late in the game, he applied a crossover which faked out both Chalmers and KU senior Russell Robinson simultaneously. The nifty pass went to Blake Young, who missed a layup. That miss was followed by a deuce from Walker.

Still, the four dishes to just one giveaway gave Pullen 19 total assists in five Big 12 games compared to just four turnovers.

By the time the two teams meet again to kick off the month of March, Pullen may be a bit more publicized in both Big 12 country and around the nation.

But Chalmers get fooled twice? He’s not counting on it.

“That meeting will be a totally different meeting,” he said defiantly. “When we meet them at our place, we’ve played them once already, we know what to expect, and we know how to take care of them.”