MANHATTAN, Kan. - Jacob Pullen led four Wildcats in double figures with 15 points and No. 9 Kansas State controlled the second half of play to knock off the visiting Buffaloes, 68-51, Saturday evening at Bramlage Coliseum.
With the win, the Wildcats improved to 20-4 overall and 7-3 in Big 12 play, while Colorado dropped to 11-13 and 2-8. Not only did the win give K-State its 20th of the season, but it marked the first time in school history that it reached the 20-win plateau in four consecutive seasons. In addition, Frank Martin became the first head coach in school history to win 20 or more games in his first three seasons.
Pullen led the Wildcats in scoring for the 15th time this season on Saturday, while Curtis Kelly chipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double this year. Jamar Samuels added 12 points, while Denis Clemente scored 10. Cory Higgins led Colorado with 21 points.
K-State shrugged a sluggish first-half performance and jumped out to a 36-28 lead as Louis Colon scored the Cats' first six points of the second half and Pullen's fast-break layup following a turnover extended the margin to eight.
Following Dominique Sutton's driving basket, Clemente stole the in-bounds pass and banked in a runner from the lane to give the Wildcats a 10-point lead at 42-32. Pullen's three from the corner at the 13:24 mark capped a 23-8 K-State run to give the Cats a 17-point lead at 51-34.
A Samuels' dunk on a fast break gave K-State an 18-point lead at 56-38, while the Wildcats recorded their largest lead of the game at 19 on a Samuels free throw on the next possession. Colorado would only get as close as 14 points the rest of the way as K-State dominated the final 20 minutes of play.
The Wildcats struggled against Colorado's zone and from the free throw line in the first half as the Buffs held a 9-5 advantage through the first seven minutes. But, a Kelly dunk and a Clemente three-pointer gave the lead back to Cats at 10-9 with 11:37 left.
Colorado held leads of 18-14 and 20-16 until Pullen's three-point play with 4:14 left pulled the Cats to within one at 20-19. The two teams then traded baskets and Samuels' put-back with 3:33 remaining kept the deficit at one, 22-21, before Pullen's runner in the lane at the 2:22 mark gave K-State the lead back at 23-22.
The Wildcats scored 12 of the final 18 total points in the opening half to take a 28-26 lead into intermission. K-State shot 42.3 percent in the first half but had 11 turnovers and was just 5-of-12 from the free throw line. Colorado's 51 points were its lowest total in a game this season.
K-State returns to action Wednesday when it hosts Nebraska at Bramlage Coliseum. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be televised by FSN.