Kansas State's Jacob Pullen praised his teammates for how they played after he and fellow senior Curtis Kelly were suspended.
The 17th-ranked Wildcats won't have Kelly in the lineup for three more games, but are expected to get Pullen back for Monday night's non-conference finale against visiting Savannah State.
Kansas State (11-3) penalized Pullen, the team's leading scorer and first preseason All-American, for three games and later handed Kelly a six-game suspension for receiving impermissible benefits in the form of clothing at a local department store.
Coach Frank Martin's team was first notified of the suspensions just before a 63-59 loss to UNLV on Dec. 21 in Kansas City, the Wildcats' second straight defeat following a 9-1 start. Martin has refused to answer questions about Pullen, who is averaging 16.5 points and had previously started 82 consecutive games, or Kelly, who is averaging 10.3 points.
Pullen, though, apologized when he spoke to the media for the first time before a 100-76 win over North Florida on Friday.
"I had a lapse in judgment and I violated a few NCAA rules. I take full responsibility for my actions," Pullen said. "The guys in the locker room did a great job of not letting what happened affect them. The last three games, they went out and played their hearts out."
In Friday's victory, Jamar Samuels scored a season-high 26 points and finished one shy of matching his career-best performance. Wally Judge had a personal-best 22 points and was one rebound short of consecutive double-doubles.
Former walk-on Victor Ojeleye and Juevol Myles each added a career-high 12 points.
"Wally is starting to play with confidence, and that carries over," Martin said. "And I'm happy for Jamar because he's played well the last couple games but the ball didn't go in the basket. Today, it did."
Along with Pullen's return, the Wildcats could get starting forward Freddy Asprilla back from illness against the Tigers (2-14), who are 0-11 on the road this season.
Savannah State is also one of the nation's lowest-scoring teams (54.4 ppg) but is giving up an average of 60.9 points.
The Tigers used that defense to snap a 13-game skid with a 74-65 win over Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday, but fell 64-54 to Southern Miss the next night in the fourth of seven straight games away from home.
Senior swingman Jovonni Shuler, averaging a team-best 16.9 points, scored 19 in that loss. Freshman forward Joshua Montgomery followed up a career-best, 22-point performance in Wednesday's game by scoring 17.
Pullen had six points off the bench in an 85-25 rout of the Tigers on Jan. 7, 2008. The Wildcats won 92-51 in their inaugural meeting with Savannah State on Jan. 10, 2004.