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February 22, 2011

Pullen captures national honor

Senior Jacob Pullen was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week on Tuesday after averaging 32.5 points in wins over No. 1 Kansas and Oklahoma last week. The weekly honor is presented by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.

Pullen, who was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks on Monday, becomes the second Wildcat in as many seasons to earn the USBWA's national honor. Former backcourt mate Denis Clemente earned the award on Feb. 9, 2010 after averaging 26.5 points in road wins against Nebraska and Iowa State. In all, he is the third Big 12 student-athlete to earn the distinction this season, following Texas A&M's Khris Middleton (Dec. 19) and Texas' Jordan Hamilton (Jan. 23).

Pullen averaged 32.5 points on 48.6 percent shooting (17-of-35), including 66.7 percent (8-of-12) from 3-point range, in the wins over top-ranked Kansas and Oklahoma with 4.0 assists, 3.5 steals and 2.5 rebounds in 37 minutes per game. He also connected on 85.2 percent (23-of-27) from the free throw line.

Pullen started the week with a memorable performance against the Jayhawks, scoring a career-best 38 points to go with a game-high five assists, three rebounds and two steals in 37 minutes of action. He went 9-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, to go with a career-high 15-of-19 effort from the free throw line. The 38 points were the most by a winning squad over a top-ranked team since Houston's Elvin Hayes scored 39 against UCLA in 1968. It was the 12th-most points scored by any player against the Jayhawks and tied for the second-most by a Wildcat player.

Pullen continued his impressive play in the 77-62 win over Oklahoma on Feb. 19, posting a game-high 27 points on 8-of-18 shooting with a season-best five steals, three assists and two rebounds in 37 minutes of action. He also went a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. It marked his 37th 20-point game of his career, including his 12th this season. With his five-steal effort, he became the first Wildcat to tally 1,800 points, 400 assists, 300 rebounds and 200 steals in a career.

Pullen is averaging a team-best 19.2 points on 41.9 percent shooting, including 35.8 percent from 3-point range, with 3.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 32.3 minutes per game. In Big 12-only games, he is averaging a league-best 21.2 points per game. He ranks among the Top 5 in 17 career categories in school history, including records for games played (128), 3-point field goals (279) and steals (203). He needs 34 points to become just the sixth player in the Big 12 era with 2,000 career points.

Kansas State (18-9, 6-6 Big 12) plays a pivotal game on the road on Wednesday night, as the Wildcats travel to Lincoln, Neb., to play surging Nebraska (18-8, 6-6 Big 12) for the final time as conference foes at the Devaney Sports Center at 8 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.


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