- Dana O'Neil, ESPN Senior Writer
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Too bad Jacob Pullen made that beard of his so famous.
He could use the disguise right about now.
This has not been the sort of season the Kansas State guard was hoping for. His team is good but not nearly as good as everyone thought. He’s scoring, but not shooting nearly as well as he can and now he’s headed to the bench for three games, because of an NCAA suspension for receiving impermissible benefits.
At least he’ll have company. The NCAA has also benched Curtis Kelly, K-State’s second leading scorer. The length of Kelly's suspension has yet to be determined.
Remember that Kelly started the season on the bench after earning a spot in coach Frank Martin’s doghouse. We’re presuming this doesn’t help Kelly’s cause and could, in fact, permanently freeze Martin’s face in a Kelly-directed glare.
The Wildcats haven’t been a train wreck, but they haven’t exactly been the bullet train, either.
Picked to win the Big 12 for the first time in program history, K-State instead is 9-3 after Tuesday night's 63-59 loss to UNLV. On the surface, the record doesn’t look so bad. Except, the Wildcats have played only two worthy opponents (no, we’re not counting Virginia Tech and Gonzaga, sorry) and have been thumped by both.
Pullen, a preseason All-American, is averaging a more than respectable 16.5 points per game, but toss out a 10-for-18 effort against Emporia State and the senior is just shooting 37 percent from the floor.
Even with the Emporia State game, Pullen is hitting only 31 percent from the arc.
Those numbers and an NCAA suspension, regardless of how minor the infraction was, means Pullen will have a lot of work to do if both he and the Wildcats are going to earn their preseason notoriety.
That’s the trouble with lofty expectations: When things start to crumble, there’s no place to hide. Not even with a beard.