Cats Take Down No. 20 Missouri, 80-70

Jacob Pullen

Feb. 26, 2011

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - Jacob Pullen scored 24 points, hitting a career milestone in the process, and Kansas State pulled away in the final minutes to beat No. 20 Missouri, 80-70, on Saturday before a sold-out crowd in Bramlage Coliseum.

Curtis Kelly added 15 points and six rebounds for the resurgent Wildcats (20-9, 8-6), who have won six of seven and are battling Missouri (22-7, 8-6) for the fourth and final bye in the Big 12 tournament.

Pullen scored 11 quick points at the game's outset, becoming just the second Kansas State player to go over the 2,000-point mark. He picked up his fourth foul with 7:16 left and was on the bench when Missouri's Michael Dixon hit a 3-pointer for a 60-60 tie with 6:10 to go.

Will Spradling hit a 3-pointer, Rodney McGruder made a floater in the lane and Nick Russell had four free throws in a 9-0 run that gave the Wildcats an insurmountable lead over the foul-plagued Tigers.

Marcus Denmon had 22 points for Missouri, which fell to 1-6 in Big 12 road games. Laurence Bowers had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Tigers, who came in with a four-game winning streak but have only a conference road win against last-place Iowa State.

Pullen, one of the hottest shooters in the nation the past two weeks, hit his first three 3-pointers and had 11 points as the Wildcats bolted to an early 10-point lead. He and Mike Evans are the only Kansas State players to score 2,000 points.

The Wildcats took a 32-23 lead on Martavious Irving's second straight basket. But then, with Pullen on the bench with two fouls, the Tigers unfurled a 10-1 run, tying the game at 33-33 when Phil Pressey hit his second 3-pointer.

Bowers got the run started with a basket and Denmon sliced the lead to 28-23 with a three-point play. Dixon's 3-pointer was followed by Bowers' four made free throws.

Pullen came back into the game and immediately scored on a reverse layup.

Dixon's bucket tied it 35-all and the Tigers took the ball down court twice with a chance to take their first lead. But they could not get in front until Denmon drove in for a layup and converted a three-point play for a 47-45 lead early in the second half.

Kelly scored to put the Wildcats back in front 49-47 and Missouri, which beat Kansas State 75-59 on Jan. 17, never led again.

McGruder had 10 points for Kansas State and Spradling added nine.

Prior to Saturday's game, K-State held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Basketball Training Facility. The public ceremony featured President Kirk Schulz, Athletics Director John Currie, basketball coaches Frank Martin and Deb Patterson, and lead contributors Rand and Patti Berney and Jim and Laura Johnson.

Construction on the 50,000 square-foot facility is expected to begin immediately after the home basketball season concludes in early March. Last week, the project bids were opened and K-State has accepted a construction bid from MW Builders, a national construction firm with offices in Manhattan and extensive experience in the state of Kansas, which is in the process of finalizing contracts with the State of Kansas.