SE: Women’s Basketball Opens Big 12 Play Tomorrow

K-State women’s basketball begins a new chapter of its 2015-16 season tomorrow evening. The Wildcats (10-1, 0-0 Big 12) open Big 12 Conference play with a matchup against Iowa State (8-3, 0-0 Big 12) at 7 p.m., in Bramlage Coliseum.

“I’m excited for it,” said junior forward Breanna Lewis yesterday morning. “We had a good non-conference season, so it’s exciting to know Big 12 play is so close and that we’re going to start up our conference season so soon. I’m ready to go; the whole team is ready to go.”

The Wildcats’ non-conference season was an exciting one as the team won 10 of its first 11 games for the second-consecutive season and registered its first 100-point scoring game – a 102-53 victory over Florida Atlantic on Dec. 13 – since the 2005-06 season. K-State defeated its non-conference opponents by an average of 21.7 points, and its only non-conference loss came on the road in Hartford, Connecticut, to the No. 1 Connecticut Huskies. 

“I think our non-conference was solid,” said K-State head coach Jeff Mittie. “I thought we improved; that was the main thing. I thought we were much better at playing to a higher standard. We saw some games where we kept the pedal on people, where we put them away and kept putting them away.”

While the Wildcats have been solid through their non-conference competition, the team knows nothing comes easy in the Big 12. 

As is the case every year, the Big 12 Conference is one of the nation’s top leagues for women’s basketball. The Big 12 is led by No. 4 Baylor (13-0, 0-0 Big 12) and No. 5 Texas (10-0, 0-0 Big 12), while No. 18 Oklahoma (9-2, 0-0 Big 12) is also ranked in the top 25. 

“I think (the Big 12) has had another solid non-conference season,” said Mittie. “Obviously Baylor and Texas have had a terrific run and are in the top five in the country, so that’s great for the league, but, overall, teams have had good success nationally.” 

Overall, K-State leads the Big 12 in both blocked shots per game (6.1) and steals per game (10.3). It is third in the league with an average of 18 assists per game behind Baylor (25.9 per game) and Oklahoma State (18.2 per game).

K-State has made a conference-best 92 three-point field goals with junior guard Kindred Wesemann leading the way with 31, which ranks third best among all players in the Big 12. Wesemann is averaging 13.7 points per game and, along with her solid shooting outside the arc, she’s been solid from the free throw line and leads the nation with a .970 percentage by making 32-of-33 free throws. 

Lewis leads K-State in scoring, averaging 17.4 points per game, and in blocks with 30 (the second-most in the Big 12), while she is averaging 6.9 rebounds and has 17 steals. 

“I feel like we really grew as a team in the non-conference season and that we’re continuing to grow through each practice,” said Lewis. “Everybody is ready to go. We’re all together and we’re excited to get going again.”

Iowa State suffered early losses to Idaho, No. 13 Duke and Drake, but despite their losses, the Cyclones enter tomorrow evening’s game on a six-game winning streak. The Cyclones have four players averaging double digits in scoring and are led by junior Seanna Johnson, who is averaging 16.8 points per game. 

“It’s kind of a new season,” said Mittie on starting up conference play. “It’s new competition, but it’s very familiar competition. We just want to keep playing to a higher standard, get better.”

For ticket information, game notes and more on tomorrow evening’s women’s basketball Big 12 opener, please click here

FOOTBALL ARRIVES IN MEMPHIS
Despite the winter weather, K-State arrived safe and sound in Memphis, Tennessee, and is ready to begin a busy week of Liberty Bowl preparation.

“Q “We are really happy to be here in Memphis,” said Morgan Burns. “The guys are dialed in and working hard, and it is fun to be here. The bowl atmosphere and being in a new place, it is very exciting and it is going to be a great week.”

The Wildcats are set to take on Arkansas in the 2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl at Memorial Stadium in Memphis at 2:20 p.m., on Saturday. The matchup will mark the Wildcats sixth-straight bowl game and the 17th under K-State head coach Bill Snyder.

Stay tuned to the K-State Sports Extra throughout the week for more stories and updates about the Wildcat football team’s trip in Blues City. 

For more information on this weekend’s Liberty Bowl, you can visit K-State Athletics’ Bowl HQ webpage by clicking here

MEN’S BASKETBALL HOSTS ST. LOUIS TONIGHT
K-State men’s basketball (9-2) plays its final game of 2015 tonight, as the Wildcats play host to Saint Louis (5-6) at 7 p.m. The team is in the midst of a three-game homestand, which began on Dec. 22, against North Dakota and will end in Saturday’s Big 12 opener vs. No. 19/17 West Virginia (10-1). This is the first game of a home-and-home series between K-State and Saint Louis.

Tonight’s game will be the 18th meeting between the Wildcats and Billikens in a series that dates to 1929, but this is the first meeting since the two completed a home-and-home series in 2004. The Billikens lead the all-time series, 9-8, while the Wildcats hold a 4-3 edge in games played in Manhattan.

The game will be aired on FOX Sports Midwest and K-StateHD.TV in addition to ESPN3 outside the state of Kansas. Fans can also listen to the game throughout the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play by play) and Matt Walters (analyst) on the call.

For ticket information, game notes and more on tonight’s men’s basketball matchup, please click here