Wildcats top Alabama, 87-74
By JOHN ZENOR,
AP Sports Writer
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) Jacob Pullen hit six 3-pointers and scored a season-high 30 points, leading No. 17 Kansas State to an 87-74 victory over Alabama on Saturday night.
The Wildcats (10-1) dominated most of the game, shrugging off the Crimson Tide’s only second-half rally after building an 18-point halftime lead against a team guided by coach Frank Martin’s high school teammate and longtime friend, Anthony Grant.
The two clasped hands and embraced as the final seconds ticked off.
Wally Judge added 15 points for Kansas State, which has won seven straight for the first time in Martin’s two-plus seasons. Pullen’s previous season-best was a 28-point performance last weekend against UNLV, when he hit seven 3-pointers.
Denis Clemente scored 11 and dished out four assists for the Wildcats.
Mikhail Torrance led Alabama with 20 points and JaMychal Green added 17 before fouling out with 5:26 left. Senario Hillman added 11 points for the Tide.
They couldn’t keep up with Pullen, though, who stayed hot even after a weeklong layoff for final exams. At one point, he and Alabama were tied at 20-all. He made half of the game’s 12 3-pointers and accounted for all of the Wildcats’ makes.
Pullen also had four assists and three steals while committing six of the Wildcats’ 22 turnovers against Alabama’s full-court press.
The Wildcats overcame the turnovers by shooting 59 percent and dominating the boards, outrebounding the Tide 38-23.
With his fourth 3, Pullen became the 21st Kansas State player and only the eighth guard to reach 1,000 career points.
Martin and Grant have been friends since their 10th-grade year at Miami Senior High School 28 years ago, and worked together at their alma mater as young coaches.
Grant is trying to rebuild the Tide while Martin has his third Kansas State team riding high after last week’s 15-point win over then-No. 18 UNLV.
Alabama made a 10-0 run over a span of 1:16 to briefly get back into it. Green’s two free throws made it 61-53 with 6:33 left.
Kansas State’s answer was even quicker, a 67-second, eight-point surge that included four free throws. The Wildcats were 23 of 31 from the line.
Alabama couldn’t sustain anything in the first half, shooting just 31 percent.
The Tide had nearly as many turnovers (eight) as field goals (nine) in the half. Kansas State’s break didn’t cause any rust, as the Wildcats scored the game’s first seven points.
Updated December 19, 2009