Jacob Pullen

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Throwback Thursday: Jordan Crawford vs. Jacob Pullen in the Sweet 16 (VIDEO)

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The 2010 NCAA tournament was a memorable one if, for no other reason, it kickstarted the trend of mid-major programs making a run to the Final Four.

MORE Throwback Thursdays: Jimmer Fredette | Stephen Curry | Wildest college hoops comeback

Butler made their first of two back-to-back national title game appearances that year, setting the stage for VCU and Wichita State to do the same in the coming seasons. All three programs have since been launched to the high-major level, even if Butler is trying to survive with Brad Stevens now at the NBA level.

There were plenty of moments during that tournament that should stand out to college hoops fans: Gordon Hayward’s half-court, national title-winner that bounced off the front of the rim; Omar Samhan’s shot to relevance; Ali Farokhmanesh with the dumbest, most glorious three you’ll ever see; Cornell’s run to the Sweet 16.

What I’ll always remember, however, was the battle that No. 2 seed Kansas State and No. 6 seed Xavier had in the Sweet 16 that year as Xavier’s back court of Jordan Crawford (32 points) and Tu Holloway (26 points, six assists) came up just short as K-State’s Jacob Pullen (28 points) and Denis Clemente (25 points, five assists) made just enough plays down the stretch to earn the win.

The most memorable moment in that game? Crawford’s bomb to force the second overtime, which was punctuated by Gus Johnson screaming … well, nothing of note, but that doesn’t matter.

Because look how deep that three Crawford hit was:

Seniors rule our preseason All-America team

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Who says everyone jumps early to the NBA? Our 2010-11 college basketball preseason All-America team is filled with upperclassmen.

Among the five teams (25 spots), there are 10 seniors – four of whom are on the first team – and eight juniors. What can I say? I’m a believer in experienced players.

Who on it? Click here to see the spiffy slideshow.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

Pullen's beard rounding into form for season

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Love Jacob Pullen’s game. Love the defense, the shooting range, the drive and the intangibles. It’s all why the Kansas State senior’s among the national player of the year candidates.


But mostly? I love the beard.

I’m not alone in this regard. Jacob Pullen’s Beard has 1,225 Facebook fans. Fans wore beard replicas for the Texas game last season. At one point, you couldn’t avoid the phrase “Fear the Beard.”

Then … Pullen trimmed it this summer. He’s a brave man, that Pullen. Samson was never the same after his locks were shorn. Why mess with a good thing?

Well, there’s good news for K-State and Wildcats fans. Pullen’s rounding his game into shape for the season. Same for the beard. From the Kansas City Star:

Your beard was so popular last year, but you trimmed it for a while this summer and it’s short now. Were you surprised the way Manhattan melt down when you were seen around town without facial hair?
It’s growing back, so the town is going to be OK. It’s amazing. That’s why when people ask me if I ever get tired of signing autographs or taking pictures with fans I always say, ‘No.’ The morning you take it for granted is the morning you could wake up and it could all be gone. …

Did you shave the beard all the way off?
No, I just trimmed it a little bit. I got tired of it and needed a change. But it will be back. This is the beginnings of it. As the season goes deeper, it grows longer. As the games get tougher, it gets tougher. I feel like if I didn’t have it, people would be wasting signs and people would be mad at me. So I just feel like I can do it one more year for the fans.

So here’s Pullen’s plan for the season: Win the Big 12, reach the Final Four, cut down the nets and jump to the NBA clean shaven.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

All hail the rise of K-State athletics

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Kansas State hoops hit a huge “first” Tuesday – coaches tabbed the Wildcats as the team to beat in the Big 12. And Bill Snyder couldn’t be happier.

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Snyder staged one of the all-time football turnarounds (K-State had two winning seasons in 34 years and lost 27 straight games before he guided it to 136 wins and a Big 12 title from ’89-2005) and turned everything West of Topeka into Wildcat Nation.

Meanwhile, the once-proud basketball program made just three times during that 17-year stint. Now? He loves what Frank Martin’s built.

“Frank has had a tremendous impact on the program in a variety of different ways,” Snyder told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “They’ve recruited extremely well.”

The ‘Cats are headed for another  big season behind Jacob Pullen and that tough K-State frontcourt. Snyder’s football team is 4-0 and atop the Big 12 North standings.

So can they co-exist?

“I think so,” Snyder said. “I think it helps the university, and that’s what we’re all here for. Every entity that can add to that just makes it that much better.”

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

Sharpie pranks, by Michael Beasley

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Fear the Beard? Not Michael Beasley.

The former Kansas State star is always up for a prank. So on a recent trip to Manhattan, Kan., he paid tribute to current Wildcats guard Jacob Pullen – and his glorious facial hair. From the Topeka Capital-Journal:

Beasley, whose best gags always seem to involve Sharpies, grew envious after hearing about former teammate Jacob Pullen’s famous facial hair. So before he left, Beasley scribbled a black beard everywhere his image appeared in Kansas State’s basketball offices.

Sounds to me like Beasley hit upon the perfect player of the year campaign for Pullen. Sharpie beards everywhere!

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.