Manhattan With a few seconds to go in his last game in Bramlage Coliseum, Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen knelt down and kissed the floor.
The sellout crowd, already at an emotional pitch at the end of a hard-fought 67-55 victory over Iowa State on Saturday, stood and roared.
“It was just spur of the moment,” said the bearded senior guard, one of two players in Kansas State history to score 2,000 points.
With a few seconds left in Pullen’s last home game, coach Frank Martin pulled his star senior, who stopped on the “Power Cat” team logo and planted a kiss on the floor where he has starred for four straight 20-win seasons.
“This was the last time I was going to play on that Power Cat. The last time there were going to be three referees, a crowd full of 15,000 people ... Frank ... it was the last time I was going to be able to step on that Power Cat and shoot a three, get a rebound, get an assist,” he said. “It was an emotional game for me.”
Pullen was given a standing ovation when he and senior Curtis Kelly were introduced before the game, and again afterward when Martin presented him with a special game ball.
“I understood it was going to be an emotional game,” said Pullen, who ranks in the top five in 17 school statistical categories. “But the closer the game got, you get to thinking about how fast it went by. A lot of my family was here. It was just an emotional game. But at the same time, you’ve got to realize you’ve got a job to do and that you’ve got to win the game.”
Pullen recovered from a slow start and scored 17 points as the Wildcats (22-9, 10-6 Big 12) ended the regular season on a six-game winning streak. After starting the Big 12 season 1-4 and changing their offense, the Wildcats have won eight of nine. Their defense has also picked up, and they’ll go into the Big 12 tournament next week the hottest team in the league.
“When we were losing games early in the year, I told you guys that we were defending pretty well but we just had to clean it up a little bit,” Martin said. “Our guys continued to understand concepts better, and that takes time.”
Diante Garrett, breaking the Iowa State record with his 127th game played, led the last-place Cyclones (16-15, 3-13) with 18 points and had five assists.
“I think we picked our defense up and we shaded Jacob Pullen, one of their best guys, really well,” Garrett said. “I just tried to slow him down and rebound.”
The victory secured the No. 4 seed in the Big 12 tournament, meaning the Wildcats will get one of four first-round byes. Will Spradling and Kelly each had 13 points. The Wildcats, who struggled from the foul line during their ragged stretch earlier in the season, hit 16 of 22.
Jake Anderson had nine points for Iowa State, which has lost 10 of its last 11 meetings with Kansas State.
“I thought Dante played terrific,” Iowa Sate coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He did a very good job of getting into the paint and hitting shots. Our defense kept us in the game.”
No. 7 Texas 60, Baylor 54
Waco, Texas — Texas freshman Tristan Thompson had 19 points and 13 rebounds with some spectacular putback dunks, and the Longhorns pulled out a victory Saturday night at Baylor, whose NCAA Tournament hopes took another big hit.
The Longhorns (25-6, 13-3 Big 12), coming off consecutive losses for the first time this season, overcame a nine-point deficit in the second half. They go into next week’s Big 12 tournament as the No. 2 seed. Kansas is the No. 1 seed.
No. 24 Texas A&M 66, Texas Tech 54
College Station, Texas — David Loubeau scored 21 points to help Texas A&M beat Texas Tech.
Texas A&M (23-7, 10-6 Big 12) put together a 9-0 run to stretch its lead to 43-30 with just over 14 minutes remaining.
Colorado 67, Nebraska 57
Boulder, Colo. — Marcus Relphorde, Levi Knutson and Cory Higgins celebrated Senior Night by leading Colorado past Nebraska.
Relphorde scored 19 points, Knutson added 13, and Higgins chipped in 12 as the Buffaloes (19-12, 8-8 Big 12) kept alive their slim hopes for an NCAA bid.
With 10 points each, Toney McCray and Lance Jeter led the balanced Cornhuskers (19-11, 7-9), who were denied their first 20-win regular season since 1992-93.
Oklahoma 64, Oklahoma State 61
Norman, Okla. — Cade Davis scored 22 points in his final home game, and Oklahoma snapped an eight-game losing streak.
Davis hit a pair of free throws in the final minute after the Cowboys (18-12, 6-10 Big 12) had pulled within two.