K-State/Tennessee To Air on ESPN2 at 1 pm CT

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State’s game with Tennessee as part of the fourth annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge Presented by Sonic will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday, January 28, 2017 at Thompson-Boling Arena, it was announced on Monday.

The game will be one of 10 contested between the two leagues for the fourth consecutive season with ESPN providing coverage of all games on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. All the contests will occur on Jan. 28 with matchups slated every two hours beginning at 11 a.m. CT.

The Big 12, which boasted the nation’s best non-conference winning percentage (.792/114-30) in 2015-16, has won the first three Challenge series, posting a cumulative 20-10 (.667) record. Overall, the league is 48-30 (.615) in its last four challenge series (vs. Pac-10 and SEC) dating back to 2007. 

The Big 12 has been the No. 1 RPI conference in four of the last seven years, including three in a row.

The matchup will mark the second time in the past three seasons that the Wildcats have played the Volunteers in the event, as Tennessee won the first and only meeting between the schools, 65-64, at home on Dec. 6, 2014.

“The Challenge series is a marquee event for our league and 2017 will be yet another exciting year,” said head coach Bruce Weber on the initial announcement on May 24. “Tennessee has always had tremendous tradition with great fan support and Coach (Rick) Barnes has won big everywhere he’s been. Add in the fact that Thompson-Boling Arena is a terrific venue and this game provides yet another challenging addition to our non-conference schedule.”

Overall, K-State is 162-148 all-time against teams from the SEC, which includes a 2-1 mark in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge series with wins over Ole Miss at home in 2013 (61-58) and 2016 (69-64) and the loss at Tennessee in 2014. The Wildcats have met at least one SEC opponent in each of the last eight seasons.

Although this will be just the second meeting between the programs, K-State has a long history with Volunteer head coach Rick Barnes, who earned 402 wins and 16 NCAA Tournament during his long tenure at Big 12 rival Texas. He posted a 12-11 record against the Wildcats during his 17-year stint in Austin, including a 7-4 mark at home.

The Wildcats returns a veteran roster in 2016-17 with nine returning lettermen and six players returning with starting experience, highlighted by All-Big 12 Third Team selection Wesley Iwundu and All-Newcomer honorees Barry Brown and Dean Wade. Overall, the squad returns five of their top six scorers from last season, along with nearly 70 percent of their rebounding, assist, steal and minute totals. Iwundu (11.9 ppg., 4.5 rpg.) is the team’s top returner in scoring, assists and steals, while rising senior D.J. Johnson (9.3 ppg., 5.2 rpg.) is the leader among three returning players (along with Iwundu and Wade) who averaged better than 4 rebounds per contest a season ago.

The squad will also be boosted by the return of a healthy Kamau Stokes, who started 20 of the first 21 games before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the year, as well as the continued development of redshirt freshmen Isaiah Maurice and Dante Williams, who measure at 6-foot-10 and 7-foot, respectively. 

K-State will embark Monday afternoon on a 10-day trip to Europe where the team will tour the Italian cities of Rome, Siena, Florence, Mestre, Venice, Verona and Lake Como as well as Vatican City before concluding the journey in Montreux, Lausanne and Lake Geneva, Switzerland on August 19. In addition to the cultural opportunities the tour will provide, the Wildcats will compete against various club, select and national teams, including LCC International University [August 10], BC Silute [August 11], Italian Select [August 13] the Kosovo National Team [August 16] and BBC Lausanne [August 18].

For more information and updates on the trip to Italy and Switzerland, check out our website.

Season tickets for the 2016-17 season are now available and can be purchased in a variety of ways, including toll free at (800) 221.CATS (2287), online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets and in-person at the Athletics Ticket Office located in Bramlage Coliseum.

2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge
Texas A&M at West Virginia, 11 a.m. CT (ESPN)
Florida at Oklahoma, 1 p.m. CT (ESPN)
K-State at Tennessee, 1 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
LSU at Texas Tech, 1 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
Texas at Georgia, 3 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Iowa State at Vanderbilt, 3 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Arkansas at Oklahoma State, 3 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
Kansas at Kentucky, 5 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Baylor at Ole Miss, 5 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Auburn at TCU, 5 p.m. CT (ESPNU)