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WILDCAT HOOPS TEAM GOES TO ITS FANS

Also See: Wildcats Begin Spring Football Practice

By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - It will be the pupil versus the teacher when Frank Martin's Kansas State Wildcats and Bob Huggins' West Virginia Mountaineers collide during the upcoming basketball season.

Mark, circle and star your calendars for Dec. 8, 2011, as the two collegiate basketball powers will meet in the Wichita Wildcat Classic in the INTRUST Bank Arena.

K-State will also play in Kansas City's Sprint Center on Dec. 17, 2011, against NIT runner-up Alabama.

The West Virginia game will mark the Wildcats' first regular season neutral site game in Wichita since playing in the NCAA Tournament in March 1968, and will mark the fourth consecutive season that the Wildcats have played a regular season contest in the Sprint Center.

"As we strive to have the best fan experience in the Big 12, we want to continue to take Kansas State to K-State fans whether that's via the internet, via "Sports Extra" or taking our games where our fans can see us play," said athletics director John Currie. "We have unbelievable support in Manhattan and Bramlage Coliseum, and we're going to have nine Big 12 home games this year, but this is an opportunity to play in a really, really high-level marquee game in the beautiful INTRUST Bank Arena, which will be tremendous for our University."

Overall, it will be the school's 20th all-time contest in Wichita, which includes 15 games against Wichita State and four in the NCAA Tournament. The school's last regular season game in Wichita came in a 79-66 win over the Shockers at the Kansas Coliseum on Dec. 7, 2002.  

"As long as we earn the support of our fans, we want to continue to do this in at least one of the two locations every single year," said Currie. "It gives our fans of south-central and southwestern Kansas, or in the Kansas City area, the opportunity to cheer on coach Frank Martin and our student-athletes, who perhaps otherwise couldn't get to Bramlage Coliseum."

Currie indicated that the format is similar to that of Duke and North Carolina, which annually play games in Greensboro and Charlotte so their fans who cannot get tickets in those sold out home arenas the opportunity to see their teams play.

"We want all the people in the state of Kansas to be able to be a part of Kansas State," said Currie. "With K-State's '2025 Program,' President (Kirk) Schulz talks about the importance of the leadership responsibility and service responsibility K-State has for the entire state, and we want athletics to be a part of that. To play 16 to 18 games in Manhattan at Bramlage Coliseum, plus one in Wichita and one in Kansas City ... that's a pretty good coverage of the state and gives a lot of people the opportunity to be a part of K-State basketball."

In 2012-13 K-State will play Florida in either Kansas City or Wichita, but Currie said that was the only definite game for the future that will be played at a date yet to be determined.

"In all of our sports we want to have a tremendously strong impact in Manhattan ... this is our home. But we also want to be visible in the alumni concentrations that are most important to K-State, and those are places like Wichita, Kansas City, Denver, Dallas, and others."

HUGGINS VS. MARTIN: It will be the first meeting between Huggins and Martin, who served as an assistant to Huggins at Cincinnati (2004-05) and K-State for one season before being elevated to head coach on April 6, 2007.  

In his only season at K-State in 2006-07, Huggins led the Wildcats to a 23-12 overall record, including a 10-6 mark in Big 12 play, and its first trip to the postseason (NIT) in eight years before returning to his alma mater.   

Both teams are coming off 20-win seasons and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2010-11. K-State posted its fifth consecutive 20-win season before losing to Wisconsin in the third round of the NCAA Tournament to conclude its season at 23-11 overall.      

West Virginia, just a year off a trip to the Final Four, posted a 21-12 overall record and an 11-7 mark in Big East play. The Mountaineers lost to Kentucky in the third round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

This will be the second overall meeting between K-State and West Virginia on the hardwood and the first since the Wildcats earned a 49-44 win in Morgantown, W.V., on Dec. 12, 1949. The return of the two-game series will be played at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, W.V., in 2012-13 on a date to be determined.

TICKET INFORMATION: Ticket prices for the game at INTRUST Bank Arena include a $2 facility fee and are as follows: $153 courtside, $73 premium lower level, $58 lower level sidelines, $28 lower level ends and upper level sideline and $18 for upper-level ends.

Tickets will be available for purchase to K-State's men's basketball season ticket holders through their season ticket renewals this summer, while general public tickets will go on sale on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. through Select-a-Seat at www.selectaseat.com or by phone at (316) 755-7328. Group ticket rates will be available through Idol Sports at (408) 635-8720.

Fans can sign up for additional game information and ticket sales alerts at paintwichitapurple.com.  

It will mark the second men's college basketball game in the 15,194-seat arena, following the Dec. 21, 2010 contest between Wichita State and Tulsa.  The arena recently hosted the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship.

VOTING IN, 'CATS NO. 24: The final votes have been tabulated and Kansas State's basketball team ends the 2010-11 season ranked No. 24 in the nation.

The No. 24 ranking marks the second straight season that the Wildcats have finished in the Coaches' Top 25 poll, following the program's highest final ranking in 50 years a season ago at No. 7. The team has not been ranked in the final poll in back-to-back seasons since finishing No. 16 in 1971-72 and No. 7 in 1972-73. 

Also from the Big 12, Kansas finished the year No. 4 and Texas No. 16 as the only other ranked teams. Receiving votes were Texas A&M and Missouri.

Connecticut, Butler, Kentucky, Kansas and Ohio State made up the top five teams.

KSU WOMEN BEAT THE BEST! Congratulations goes out to Texas A&M for winning the NCAA Championship in women's basketball with its win over Notre Dame.

Don't forget that Kansas State defeated this same Texas A&M team, 71-67, in Bramlage Coliseum on March 2, when Brittany Chambers poured home 35 points!


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