Pullen leads Kansas State past Nebraska 61-57
The Wildcats (19-9, 7-6) won for the fifth time in six games and took sole possession of fifth place in the Big 12. Nebraska (18-9, 6-7), coming off its weekend upset of No. 5 Texas, lost for the first time in four games and had a dent put in its NCAA tournament hopes.
Eshuante Jones’ 3-pointer pulled the Cornhuskers within 58-56 with 7.1 seconds left. Martavious Irving made one of two free throws on the other end to give the Wildcats a three-point lead.
Lance Jeter went to the line for Nebraska with 4.7 seconds left. He made the first free throw, then intentionally missed the second but didn’t hit the rim, giving possession to K-State.
Pullen made both free throws to seal the win. The Wildcats made 7 of 10 from the line in the last 1:01. Nebraska was 3 of 9 on free throws in the last 4 minutes.
Rodney McGruder added 11 points for K-State. Jeter led the Huskers with 11 points.
The game, in style, resembled the choppy first meeting between the teams in Manhattan, Kan., on Feb. 2. The Huskers committed 22 turnovers in that game and lost 69-53.
The Wildcats held the Huskers to 35-percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers in the rematch.
Nebraska looked nothing like the team that upset Big 12-leading Texas here on Saturday. In that game, four players scored in double figures and the Huskers flummoxed the Longhorns with a double low-post offense in the second half.
But the Huskers’ big men didn’t come through Wednesday. The 6-foot-10, 310-pound Andre Almeida was just 1 of 5 for four points, and he had only two rebounds. The 6-11 Jorge Brian Diaz was 2 of 11 for five points with one rebound.
Kansas State used an 8-1 run to turn a 38-37 deficit into a 45-39 lead, and the Wildcats never trailed again in beating Nebraska for the fifth straight time.
Pullen started the key spurt when he leaned into Diaz as he shot from above the key to draw a three-shot foul. He made all three, then hit a 3-pointer before Jamar Samuels made a strong baseline move to put the Wildcats up by six.
The Wildcats survived a technical foul on coach Frank Martin, who went too far in arguing a foul call. Brandon Richardson made two free throws and Brandon Ubel hit two more to pull the Huskers within 48-47 and bring the crowd of 11,832 to its feet.
K-State lost its two big men late, with Curtis Kelly fouling out with 3:43 left and Jamar Samuels with 2:05 to play.
Nebraska went on an 11-4 run to tie it 27-27 in the last 2 minutes of the half. Pullen put the Wildcats back in front 29-27 at half with a left-handed layin that ended his team’s 6-minute field-goal drought.
Pullen struggled the first half. He opened the game with a 3-pointer from the right corner, then missed four shots in a row and finished 3 for 8 in the half.
Brandon Richardson was assigned to guard Pullen, with Jeter and Caleb Walker also taking turns on him.
On three straight possessions Pullen was called for charging, dribbled out of bounds and had a jump shot blocked by Jorge Brian Diaz.
It was the final regular-season meeting between the teams as members of the Big 12. They’ve met 219 times in a series that dates to 1906, and they’ve played every season for 88 years. The Wildcats lead the series 126-93.