K-State Headed to Big 12 Title Game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente combined for 50 points as ninth-ranked Kansas State advanced to its first-ever Big 12 Conference championship game with an 82-75 win over 20th-ranked Baylor Friday in semifinal action of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.

With the win, the Wildcats (26-6) set a new school record for wins in a season and advanced to the title game of a conference championship for the first time since 1993.

Pullen and Clemente were clutch for the Wildcats as they each scored 20 or more points in the same game for the fifth time this season and the sixth time in their careers. Clemente finished the contest with 24, while Pullen went for a game-high 26 points. Dominique Sutton was also a difference-maker in the game for K-State as he collected a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Down two at the half, the Wildcats opened the second half with a 6-2 run as a steal by Pullen and a three-point play from Sutton gave K-State a 43-39 edge.  Sutton's jumper then made it 49-41, but the Bears (25-7) scored six straight to make it a two-point contest at 49-47.

Clinging to a 56-54 lead, Clemente hit a fading jumper and completed the three-point play following a foul to push the lead back to five at 59-54. Baylor scored six straight to take the lead at 60-59 before a Samuels' layup put the Cats back up by one.

With the game knotted at 64, Curtis Kelly hit a turnaround jumper to give K-State the lead again. After Baylor regained the lead on a LaceDarius Dunn three-pointer at 67-66, K-State answered as two Kelly free throws and Clemente's three-pointer in transition gave the Wildcats a 71-67 advantage. At 71-69, Pullen drained a three and converted two free throws following a foul as K-State pushed the lead to 76-69. Pullen hit two late free throws and Clemente converted a layup on a full-court pass on an inbounds play to seal the win.

K-State shot 46 percent from the floor, but hit on 56 percent of its shots in the second half and converted 18 Baylor turnovers into 22 points. The Wildcats also crashed the offensive boards, grabbing 17 in the contest, eight of which came from Sutton.

Baylor took the early momentum in the first half as Dunn scored eight of the Bears' first 11 points for a four-point advantage.  Pullen and Clemente each registered early three-pointers but the Bears extended their lead to 21-14 as they hit nine of their first 10 field goals to start the game.

Clemente brought the Cats back to within 23-19 with four straight points before two Pullen free throws made it 23-21 with just over eight minutes left. Kelly then hit a jumper to make it 24-23 and a Clemente runner as the shot clock expired gave K-State its first lead of the game at 25-24 with 6:08 left.

Pullen answered a 6-0 Baylor run with a pair of three-pointers as K-State pulled back to within 32-31 and Pullen's fourth three-pointer of the half cut the Baylor lead to 37-36 at the break. The Wildcats shot just 38 percent from the floor and 37 percent from the free throw line in the opening half, while Baylor hit on 68 percent of its shots.