MANHATTAN (AP) — Kansas State star Jacob Pullen insisted he didn’t really have an answer, but his wry smile told a different story.
After torching top-ranked Kansas for 38 points Monday night, Pullen poured in 27 more Saturday to lead Kansas State past Oklahoma 77-62. Ten came in a late 14-0 run that put the game away.
So Pullen’s 65 points and two wins made for a pretty good week. As for explaining his hot streak, Pullen was less effective.
“I don’t know, man,” he said. “The ball’s just going in for me. Just finding a rhythm.”
Rodney McGruder had 20 points, including five 3-pointers, for Kansas State (18-9, 6-6 Big 12), which kept itself in the NCAA tournament at-large conversation.
Oklahoma (12-14, 4-8) lost its fifth straight despite 21 points from Cade Davis and 10 each from Carl Blair and Andrew Fitzgerald.
Davis, the Sooners’ lone senior, did his best to get his team back into the game after being down 15 at halftime. It was exactly what Wildcats coach Frank Martin had warned his team about at halftime.
“I told our guys Davis was going to fight, that he does it every day,” Martin said.
Davis rainbowed in three 3-point shots in the first 4:08 of the second half, cutting Kansas State’s lead to 43-33.
Some of his teammates chipped in after that, including three points by Fitzgerald in a 5-0 run. Davis then converted a three-point play, pulling Oklahoma within 48-41 with 11:45 remaining.
Davis was 8 of 9 from the floor at that point and had more than half of Oklahoma’s points.
“It wasn’t me trying to do it personally,” Davis said. “I was just getting open in the offense, and it definitely felt like every shot was going to go in.”
Just 87 seconds later, though, Davis was called for his fourth foul, putting him on the bench with 10:18 left. He did not attempt another shot.
The Sooners did not fold, though. With Kansas State off to a 4-for-16 start in the half, Oklahoma kept chipping away. Blair’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to 55-50 with 6:16 remaining, the closest the Sooners had been since midway through the first half.
But then on a dead ball, Blair was called for a technical foul. The momentum changed as Pullen walked to the free throw line. He hit the two free throws, and Kansas State exploded for 14 straight points in 92 seconds.
“It had a huge effect, a huge effect,” Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said of the technical. “It’s a five-point game, they hadn’t scored in a while ... huge effect. I still can’t tell you what happened. I wish I knew.”
During the run, Pullen made two free throws, hit two 3-pointers and made a steal for a layup.
“He’s that type of player,” Wildcats forward Jamar Samuels said. “He can put a team on his back anytime. I’m proud of him.”
McGruder also hit a 3-pointer, and Will Spradling’s free throw made it 69-50 with 4:20 remaining.
“I haven’t seen a game turn that many times,” Davis said. “We’re a team that has to stay close. When that happened, it was too much.”
Kansas State finished 10 of 19 from 3-point range. The teams were a combined 32 of 36 from the free throw line. Other than Davis, the Sooners shot 13 of 48.
The Sooners did not look like losers of four straight early. They put together a 9-2 run featuring five points by Fitzgerald and led 13-11 with 11:25 to play in the first half.
But K-State responded behind Spradling, a freshman reserve who hit two 3-pointers to spark a 13-0 run over the next four minutes. McGruder capped the run with a 3-pointer for a 24-13 lead with 8:13 remaining before halftime.
Davis finally snapped the drought with a tough turnaround jumper from the baseline and scored five more points in the next four minutes, helping the Sooners recover to a 30-24 deficit.
The Wildcats, though, ended the half with nine straight points, the final five coming from McGruder on a 3-pointer and a 19-foot jumper that just beat the buzzer and gave K-State a 39-24 halftime advantage.
“Rodney really stepped up and made shots, especially in crucial situations,” Martin said.
Pullen became Kansas State’s career leader in games played with 128. He also recorded his 200th career steal in the first half, making him the first player in school history with 1,800 points, 400 assists, 300 rebounds and 200 steals.
BIG 12 CONFERENCE BASKETBALL
Kansas St. 77, Oklahoma 62
Fitzgerald 2-8 6-7 10, Pledger 2-10 0-0 4, Blair 4-8 0-0 10, Clark 3-8 0-1 6, Davis 8-9 1-1 21, Franklin 0-0 0-0 0, Washington 0-0 2-2 2, Newell 1-3 0-0 2, Neal 1-1 4-4 7. Totals 21-47 13-15 62.
KANSAS ST. (18-9)
Kelly 4-7 1-1 9, Samuels 2-6 2-2 6, Pullen 8-18 8-8 27, Southwell 1-2 0-0 2, McGruder 6-10 3-4 20, Peterson 0-0 0-0 0, Irving 1-2 0-0 2, Myles 0-0 0-0 0, Russell 0-0 2-2 2, Henriquez-Roberts 0-1 0-0 0, Potuzak 0-0 0-0 0, Spradling 2-7 3-4 9. Totals 24-53 19-21 77.
Halftime — Kansas St. 39-24. Three-point goals — Oklahoma 7-18 (Davis 4-5, Blair 2-4, Neal 1-1, Newell 0-1, Clark 0-2, Pledger 0-5), Kansas St. 10-19 (McGruder 5-7, Pullen 3-6, Spradling 2-5, Samuels 0-1). Fouled out — Newell, Samuels. Rebounds — Oklahoma 25 (Davis 7), Kansas St. 31 (Southwell 6). Assists — Oklahoma 9 (Blair 4), Kansas St. 15 (Southwell 5). Total fouls — Oklahoma 20, Kansas St. 18. Technical — Blair. A — 12,528.