After steady diet of lightweights, Cougs ready for Kansas State

All-American guard Jake Pullen leads fifth-ranked Kansas State into Pullman on Friday night. The Wildcats pasted the Cougars 86-69 in Manhattan last December. GETTY IMAGES

Click the tab below to read part of my KSU-WSU game advance. Tribune subscribers can click here for the full preview.

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“It’s similar to last year, but at least we’ve seen them before this time,” Bone said. “We can just put in the film and show clips of them taking it to us – it was not a good night.”

Not that Bone will actually put his club through a film session of the rout.

“(We) won’t watch tape of last year’s game at KSU. I can remember it,” he said. “It’s like watching a bad movie, and I don’t care to see it again.”

Jacob Pullen, KSU’s lightning-quick, sure-handed guard, has been the bearded face of the program’s rise the past couple of seasons. A preseason first-team All-American, Pullen is putting up 16 points and four assists.

“He’s really, really good … he does a little bit of everything,” Bone said of Pullen.

The Wildcats’ star is aided inside by a skyline of bigs, most notably Curtis Kelly, a 6-foot-8 banger who’s also one of the Big 12’s best.

Rodney McGruber, a 6-foot-4 wing, has also been key cog at 11.3 points and 6 rebounds a night.

While it’s easy to see what Kansas State has in its arsenal, third-year coach Frank Martin’s hallmark has been creating a wealth of points from turnovers. The Wildcats are limiting the opposition to a paltry 64 points a game, and scoring almost a quarter of their points via giveaways.

“They’re quick, they’re aggressive, they’re physical, they’re strong,” Bone said. “They play 94 feet. They’ll get into you defensively.”

Washington State would know. Last year, KSU took advantage of 26 turnovers and converted them into 39 points.

Kansas State (6-1), which advanced to the Elite Eight last spring, has already been battle-tested, having beaten then-No. 12 Gonzaga and Virginia Tech. The Wildcats lost to No. 1 Duke.

Those games were at home and neutral sites, so this will be the Wildcats’ first true road game.

Aden, who has yet to play against a ranked opponent at the NCAA Division I level, is relishing the opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Aden said. “We should have a big crowd and we’ll find out how good we are. Kansas State’s a good team.”

Bone’s also ready to see how his grip of youngsters stacks up.

“We don’t have a lot of time to get tough,” Bone said. “We’re either tough enough now and can try to compete or we’re just not there yet.

“That’s why I’m really anxious for Friday night, just to be able to gauge where we are as a team.”

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