K-State faces Xavier Wednesday on ESPN2

Game 14

Kansas State (10-3) vs. Xavier (9-4)

Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2007

U.S. Bank Arena (16,202) in Cincinnati, Ohio

 

Game Information:

Tipoff: 6:02 p.m. Central

Series: Tied 2-2 (First meeting since Dec. 29, 1996)

TV: ESPN2

Talent: Mark Jones (Play-by-Play) and Fran Fraschilla (Analyst)

Radio: K-State Sports Network (31 affiliates), Yahoo! Radio

Talent: Wyatt Thompson (Play-by-Play) and Stan Weber (Analyst)

Tickets: Available for $28, $32 at arena box office at 513.562.4949

 

Huggins makes return trip to Cincinnati as Cats face Xavier on Wednesday on ESPN2

Kansas State (10-3) begins the New Year in a familiar place for coach Bob Huggins, as the Wildcats face Xavier (9-4) at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Wednesday, Jan. 3.  The contest is the first of a three-game series with the Muskateers, which includes another meeting at U.S. Bank in 2008 before the game in Manhattan in 2009.

The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2 with Mark Jones (play-by-play) and Fran Fraschilla (color) calling the action.  It will be the second of a school-record six national broadcasts for the Wildcats this season, which includes two games each on ABC Sports and ESPN’s “Big Monday” and one apiece on ESPN2 and ESPNU.  The audio broadcast of the game can also be heard on the 31-station K-State Sports Network (or on the internet at http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaab/teams/kab) with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (color) on the call.

           

Fresh off its first in-season tournament title since 1995, Kansas State is riding a six-game winning streak into Wednesday’s contest.  The Wildcats were thoroughly dominating in winning the Findley Toyota Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Dec. 23, averaging 75.2 points on 49.3 percent shooting, while holding its four opponents to just 55.8 points on 36.9 percent shooting from the field.  It was the program’s first in-season tournament title in over 10 years since winning the Otis Spunkmeyer Classic in Oakland, Calif., on Dec. 28-29, 1995.  The Wildcats, which has their longest winning streak since 2004, has won 10 games before Jan. 1 for the first time since the 1998-99 season.       

 

A Quick Look at the Wildcats

Kansas State is riding its longest winning streak since collecting eight consecutive victories to start the 2004-05 season.  The Wildcats have been impressive on both ends of the floor during the streak, averaging 79.5 points on 51.4 percent shooting with 17.7 assists, while holding its opponents to just 60.7 points on 37.9 percent shooting, including just 20.0 percent from 3-point range.  Overall, the squad is averaging 73.5 points on 43.6 percent shooting and has four players averaging in double figures led by senior forward Cartier Martin’s 15.8 points per game.

 

Projected Starters

No.     Name                                                                         PPG        RPG      

5       Clent Stewart (G, 6-4, 190, Jr.)                   4.2        1.9

15     David Hoskins (F, 6-5, 230, Jr.)                  13.0       5.2

12     Bill Walker (F, 6-6, 225, Fr.)                      14.5       5.0

20     Cartier Martin (F, 6-7, 225, Sr.)                  15.8       3.8

34     Akeem Wright (G, 6-6, 210, Sr.)                 6.9        5.5

 

Key Reserves

No.      Name                                                                         PPG        RPG      

2       Blake Young (G, 6-2, 190, Jr.)                    7.3        2.1

3       Lance Harris (G, 6-5, 205, Sr.)                   10.8       3.9

14     Serge Afeli (F, 6-9, 235, Sr.)                       2.0        2.4

23     Jermaine Maybank (G, 6-4, 180, Sr.)           3.2        2.5

42     Darren Kent (F, 6-10, 215, So.)                   1.0        1.5

50     Luis Colon (C, 6-10, 275, Fr.)                      2.9        2.5

55     Jason Bennett (C, 7-3, 255, Fr.)                  3.0        3.8

 

Viva Las Vegas

*With its 72-56 win over New Mexico on Dec. 23, Kansas State captured its first in-season tournament title in over 10 years with the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Holiday Classic title... The Wildcats’ last tournament title came at the Otis Spunkmeyer Classic on Dec. 28-29, 1995 in Oakland, Calif.

*Kansas State’s current six-game winning streak is the longest for the program since the team collected eight consecutive victories to start the 2004-05 season (Nov. 19 to Dec. 21, 2004)... The streak is even more impressive when you consider that only three of the games came at home... It marked the first time since 1995 that the Wildcats have put together a winning streak of more than five games when half of the games have come away from home.


*Kansas State were impressive on both ends of the court in the winning the tournament... The Wildcats averaged 75.2 points on 49.3 percent shooting with 36.0 rebounds and 15.8 assists, while holding their opponents to just 55.8 points on 36.9 percent shooting, including just 19.7 percent from 3-point range... The team held four straight opponent to 60 points or less for the first time since doing it in the first four games of the 2005-06 season.


*Kansas State started its eighth different lineup this season against New Mexico, including its seventh different in a row... The Wildcats have gone small with junior Clent Stewart and senior Akeem Wright in the backcourt and junior David Hoskins, senior Cartier Martin and freshman Bill Walker in the frontcourt... Hoskins has been the only constant in the lineup this season, starting all 13 games.


*Senior forward Cartier Martin was named the most valuable player of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic after averaging 16.8 points in four games... He scored a team-high 23 points against the Lobos... Junior David Hoskins was named to the Classic’s all-tournament team after averaging 15.8 points.


Huggins Effect

Although he has been Kansas State’s head coach for less than a season, the impact head coach Bob Huggins has had on the Wildcat program has been nothing short of monumental.  Huggins has not only gained the school widespread attention by media outlets, he has helped guide it to milestones not seen by the historically-rich program in some time. 

 

For his efforts, his hiring was dubbed the 2006 sports story of the year in the state of Kansas by The Associated Press in late December.  Below are a few of the milestones achieved by Huggins in barely his first season at the helm.           


*For the first time in the 19-year history of Bramlage Coliseum all available season ticket packages have been sold... Season tickets went from 6,500 in 2005-06 to 13,000 in 2006-07... The last time K-State could boast a sellout of season tickets was during the 1982-83 season when the Wildcats played in Ahearn Field House, while the previous high for season tickets in Bramlage Coliseum was 11,700 during the inaugural 1988-89 season.


*In addition to the season ticket sales, the school offered courtside seats for the first time in its history and sold out of the available 25 seats at $4,400 apiece with a waiting list... There are also plans in the works for loge boxes in the arena as well as other improvements, including a practice facility.


*Kansas State has or will play six nationally-televised games this season, including two as apart of ESPN’s “Big Monday” package and two on ABC Sports (both are firsts for the program)... It is the most nationally-televised games in a single-season for the Wildcats in school history.


*Kansas State earned its first in-season tournament title in more than 10 years by winning the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Dec. 23... The win in the championship game gave the program 10 victories before Jan. 1 for the first time since the 1998-99 season (its last postseason appearance).

           

*Kansas State attracted the consensus No. 1 recruiting class in the country in November according to Scout.com, Rivals.com and Sports Illustrated... The class referred to as the greatest-ever for the school included consensus top 10 prospects Michael Beasley and Bill Walker.

 

Improvement Made

Kansas State can point to the improvement it has made since the start of the season after earning a 72-56 win over New Mexico on Dec. 23.  The same squad that dropped a 78-54 decision to the Lobos almost a month to the day in Albuquerque, N.M. on Nov. 21 can point to a 40-point turnaround to illustrated the improvement it has made thus far.  The Wildcats, who posted season-lows for both field goal percentage (28.6) and assists (10) in the earlier loss, were a completely different team in the last meeting.  The team scored 72 points on 54.9 percent shooting with 34 rebounds, while holding the Lobos to a season-low 56 points on 36 percent shooting, including just 20 percent from beyond the arc, with just 26 rebounds.

 

Taking Advantage of Turnovers

One of the biggest factors in Kansas State’s current winning streak has been its ability to force its opponent into turnovers and then to capitalize with points off those miscues.  The Wildcats’ stifling defense has forced an average of 21.3 turnovers (128), including an average of 8.0 steals, during their six-game streak, while averaging 24.8 points off those turnovers. 

 

The team scored 65 points off a combined 51 turnovers in back-to-back wins over Kennesaw State and Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 17 and 19.  The 32 turnovers by UMES (which yielded 37 points) was just five short of the school record of 37 set by Vanderbilt in December 1969.  K-State continued with its pressure defense in the win over USC on Dec. 22, as the Wildcats forced a season-high 28 Trojan turnovers and converted those into 24 points.  The team then scored 19 points off 15 New Mexico turnovers en route to capturing its first in-season tournament title since 1995. 

 

The current average of 17.2 turnovers forced per game is the highest by a Wildcat squad in nearly 13 years since Dana Altman’s final squad forced an average of 18.4 turnovers en route to a 20-14 overall record and the NIT Final Four.  

 

Offense Taking Flight

After struggling much of the season on the offensive end, Kansas State is beginning to find its rhythm.  The Wildcats have averaged 80.0 points on 50.8 percent shooting (197-of-388) in the last seven contests after averaging just 66.0 points on 36.3 percent shooting in the first six games.  The 560 points scored during the seven-game stretch are the most by a K-State squad since totaling 606 points against Texas-San Antonio, Missouri-Rolla, Delaware State, Arkansas and Alabama State, Lamar and Temple to open the 1991-92 season. 

 

During the first part of the current streak the Wildcats scored 80 or more points in four consecutive games for the first time since the 1990-91 season.  In doing so, the squad has shot 50 percent or better from the field in 10 of their last 14 halves of basketball, including 60 percent or better in four times. 

 

Against Cleveland State on Dec. 9, K-State shot a season-high 61.5 percent from the field and topped the 90-point barrier for the second time this season.  It marked the first time in nearly two seasons that the squad shot 60 percent or better from the field since shooting 62.8 percent (27-of-43) against Nebraska on Feb. 4, 2004.

 

Lift From The Bench

Kansas State has gotten a nice lift from its bench this season with an average of 18.6 points coming from its reserves this season.  The impact has been even more telling in the last seven contests, where the Wildcats have averaged 29.9 points off the bench and have outscored their opponent by a 209-117 margin.  The streak came on the heels of being outscored 67-47 off the bench in the previous three games against New Mexico, Coppin State and California

 

The most telling aspect of the recent bench play has been its diversity.  The team has gotten significant scoring from nine players, while one player - senior Akeem Wright - earned a starting job after his impressive play off the bench.  Senior Serge Afeli collected a career-high 14 points against Colorado State on Dec. 2, while junior Clent Stewart and Wright added nine and seven points, respectively.  Wright then posted a season-high 13 points against Cleveland State on Dec. 5, while freshmen Jason Bennett and Luis Colon chipped in 11 and nine points, respectively.  In his first reserve play in more than two years, senior Cartier Martin scored 18 points against NDSU, while senior Jermaine Maybank added nine points on perfect shooting.  

 

Martin, who again starred off the bench against UMES with 23 points, has averaged 20.5 points on 48.4 percent shooting in two games off the bench.  In the win over USC, junior Blake Young scored nine points off the bench just 11 days after having knee surgery.

 

Getting Defensive

Kansas State has demonstrated trademark Bob Huggins’ defensive basketball in posting a 10-3 record to start the season.  The Wildcats rank among the top 5 in four defensive categories in the Big 12, including second in 3-point percentage defense (29.4), third in rebounding (39.1) and offensive rebounds (14.15) and fourth in field goal percentage defense (39.3).  The squad is just outside the top 5 in scoring defense (64.7; 6th) and blocked shots (4.69; 6th).  The team has held 10 of its first 13 opponents to 45 percent or less shooting, while grabbing an average of 39.1 rebounds.

           

After giving up an average of 81 points in back-to-back losses to California and Colorado State, the Wildcats have clamped down on defense during its current six-game winning streak.  The team has held its opponents to just 60.7 points on 37.9 percent shooting (124-of-327), including just 20.0 percent from 3-point range (20-of-100), during the stretch.  In addition, K-State has forced an average of 21.3 turnovers and tallied an average of 8.0 steals during the winning streak.  The team forced 32 turnovers against UMES, just five short of the school record of 37 set by Vanderbilt in December 1969. 

           

In the win over Rutgers, the Wildcats were even more impressive on defense.  In addition to holding its second straight opponent to 60 points or less and to below 40 percent shooting from the field, the team held the Scarlet Knight to a meager 41 points on just nine field goals and 19.1 percent shooting.  The nine field goals allowed are the fewest since the Wildcats allowed Washburn a school-record low seven in a 23-15 K-State win on Dec. 6, 1940, while the 41 points are the fewest since Arkansas-Pine Bluff managed just 39 on Dec. 4, 2002.  It was the fewest points allowed an opponent on their own floor since the introduction of the shot clock in 1986-87 and fewest since a 41-39 win over Nebraska in Lincoln on March 6, 1984. 

              

Road Reversal

After struggling for most of the past five seasons on the road, Kansas State has taken a step forward this season with victories in two of the first five non-conference road contests.  The Wildcats were a dismal 1-12 in non-conference road games heading into the 2005-06 season and now the team has doubled that total in just five games this season.  It also marks the first time since the 1997-98 season that the program has won two non-conference road tilts.  K-State snapped a five-game losing streak in a 55-41 win over Rutgers on Nov. 15.  It was the program’s first non-league road victory since a 79-66 win over Wichita State on Dec. 14, 2002 and the first in a true’ (on an opponent’s home court) road opener since a 71-50 win over UMKC on Dec. 3, 1997.
       

The Book on Xavier

Xavier enters Wednesday’s contest with a 9-4 record after earning an impressive 65-59 win over Illinois at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati on Dec. 29.  The Musketeers began the season with seven wins in their first eight games before dropping three of their last five, including close losses on the road against Creighton (73-67) and Cincinnati (67-57) and a home tilt with Bucknell (68-67).  Although the team shot just 36 percent from the field, Xavier overcame a one-point halftime deficit to hand the Fighting Illini just their second loss of the season.  The squad forced 17 turnovers, while managing just nine of their own, in outscoring Illinois, 40-33, in the second half.  Junior point guard Drew Lavender paced the squad with 17 points and five assists, while senior forward Justin Doellman and senior forward Justin Cage added 15 and 13 points, respectively.


Xavier is averaging 72.7 points on 46.5 percent shooting with 35.4 rebounds and have a very balanced scoring team with four players averaging in double figures.  Senior forward Josh Duncan paces the squad in scoring at 11.9 points per game on 46.8 percent shooting, while junior guard Stanley Burrell follows with an 11.2 points per game average to go with a team-high 22 3-point field goals.  Seniors Justin Cage and Justin Doellman each average 10.2 points per game, while the duo ranks 1-2 on the squad in rebounding with Doellman averaging a team-best 6.4 boards and Cage 5.5.  Junior and Oklahoma transfer Drew Lavender averages a team-best 3.8 assists to go with 7.2 points. 


Head coach Sean Miller has a 47-27 record in his third season as a head coach since taking over for Thad Matta prior to the 2004-05 season.  Regarded as one of the best point guards to play in the Big East, Miller guided the Musketeers to the NCAA Tournament last season after winning the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament with a 21-11 overall record.  He spent three years as associate head coach under Matta before becoming head coach in 2004, helping the squad to a 78-23 overall record and three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament.


Series versus Xavier

This will be the fifth all-time meeting between Kansas State and Xavier in a series tied at 2-2.  The two teams first met in 1961 at the Kentucky Invitiational in Lexington, Ky., with the fourth-ranked Wildcats posting a 75-67 win in the first round of the tournament.  The team did not meet again for almost 30 years until their match-up in the first round of the Midwest Regional on March 16, 1990 in Indianapolis, Ind.  Playing in front of the largest crowd to ever watch a Wildcat basketball game (39,417) in the Hoosier Dome, the 11th-seeded Wildcats fell to the sixth-seeded Musketeers, 87-79. 

 

The squads played their first home-and-home series in back-to-back seasons in 1995-96 and 1996-97 with K-State earning a 73-67 win in Manhattan on Dec. 20, 1995 and Xavier posting a 95-54 victory in Cincinnati on Dec. 29, 1996.  The last meeting is significant because it ties five other squads for the second-worst loss in school history. 

 

Head coach Bob Huggins is 8-8 all-time against Xavier with all 16 meetings coming during his time at Cincinnati (1989-2005).  He is 1-0 all-time against Sean Miller with Huggins’ Bearcats posting a 65-54 win over Miller’s Muskateers on Feb. 10, 2005.  Of note, Huggins is 6-0 all-time in games played at U.S. Bank Arena, including a run to the 2002 Conference USA Tournament Championship.

 

K-State to retire jersey of Blackman, Knostman

Kansas State Director of Athletics Tim Weiser announced on Dec. 27 that the Wildcats will retire the jerseys of basketball greats Rolando Blackman and Dick Knostman in a halftime ceremony during the Colorado game on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2007.  The duo becomes the third class of jersey retirements at K-State following those of Bob Boozer, Ernie Barrett and Jack Parr in 2005 and Mike Evans, Lon Kruger and Chuckie Williams in 2006. 


A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Blackman is one of just two players to earn first team All-America honors in consecutive seasons in Kansas State history and one of just three (joining fellow retirees Mike Evans and Lon Kruger) to be named Big Eight Conference Player of the Year (1980).  He is also just one of three players to earn first team all-conference honors three times (joining Bob Boozer and Mike Evans) in the program’s history.  The school’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,844 points, Blackman was the last Wildcat to be selected as a first team All-American when he was named to the Helms Foundation, The Sporting News, Converse Yearbook and John R. Wooden Award All-American squads as a senior in 1981.   

           

The 6-foot-6 native of Wamego, Kan., Knostman is one of just 12 players in Kansas State history to be named a first team All-American.  He earned this recognition from the Helms Foundation, Look magazine and the Newspaper Enterprises Association as a senior in 1953 after averaging 22.7 points in helping the Wildcats to a 17-4 record and a final ranking of No. 12 in the AP poll.  One of the few Wildcats to average a double-double for his career with 14.6 points and 10.5 rebounds, Knostman still ranks among the top 5 in 17 single-game, season and/or career statistical categories in school history.

         

Impressive Debut

Highly-touted freshman forward Bill Walker has certainly lived up to high expectations so far this season.  With just two practices under his belt, he posted 15 points on 6-of-10 field goals against Kennesaw State on Dec. 17 with four rebounds and one assist in 22 minutes of action.  It was the most points by a true freshman in his debut since Marques Hayden scored 20 points against BYU on Nov. 23, 2002.  After another day of practice, he came back on Tuesday to score 11 points with two steals against Maryland-Eastern Shore.  He came through with perhaps in his best performance of the year on Dec. 22 against USC when he scored a season-high and game-tying 19 points.  He single-handedly rallied the team from its halftime deficit by scoring the first nine points of the second half en route to posting 15 points on 4-of-5 field goals and 7-of-8 free throws in 18 minutes.  Walker made it four straight double-digit scoring games to start his career with 13 points on 5-of-10 field goals against New Mexico to go with a season-high eight rebounds. 


Walker, who signed a financial aid agreement with the university on Nov. 3, was only able to join the squad on Dec. 16, the first day that a mid-year athlete can become eligible for athletic aid, practice and competition at K-State.  He joins the program after exhausting his athletic eligibility at North College Hill High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he guided the Trojans to back-to-back Division III state titles.  He enrolled in an accelerated program through North College Hill and received his diploma this fall.    


A 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward from Huntington, W. Va., Walker is one of the most highly-regarded high school recruits to ever join the Kansas State program.  A three-year starter at North College Hill, he helped the school to a 26-1 overall record, the state title and a No. 3 final ranking in the USA Today Super 25 High School rankings as a junior in 2005-06.  He averaged 21.7 points and 10.1 rebounds en route to earning recognition to the Parade magazine All-America Boys’ Basketball second team.  He was also named to the USA Today All-USA High School Boys’ Basketball All-Junior team and to the EA Sports High School Boys’ Basketball First Team.  He was named the most valuable player of the 2006 Ohio Division III state tournament, as he averaged 22.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game en route to helping the Trojans to the title. 

     

Hoskins Emerging As A Leader

One of the biggest reasons for Kansas State’s current win streak has been due to the emergence of junior forward David Hoskins.  He has averaged 15.7 points in the last six games on 68.2 percent shooting (30-of-44) with 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals.  Hoskins has scored in double figures and has shot 60 percent or better in each of those contests. 

 

The streak began with a 17-point effort on 6-of-9 shooting against Cleveland State on Dec. 5 and continued with 14 points against North Dakota State on Dec. 9.  Hoskins continued his impressive play in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic, where he was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 15.8 points on 70 percent shooting to go with a team-best 5.8 rebounds.  He began the tournament with 17 points against Kennesaw State on Dec. 17 and 16 points against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 19 before posting a team-high 19 points against USC in the semifinals to go with six rebounds and a team-best four steals.  Hoskins added 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting against New Mexico in the title game. 

 

His play of late is in stark contrast to that of his play in the previous four games against New Mexico, Coppin State, California and Colorado State, where he averaged just 4.8 points on 31.8 percent shooting (7-of-22) as the Wildcats posted a 1-4 record.


The Martin of Old

After averaging just 5.5 points on 33.3 percent shooting in the first two games, senior forward Cartier Martin has seemed to return to his old shooting touch that made him a second team All-Big 12 selection a year ago.  He has averaged 17.7 points in the last 11 games on 46 percent shooting (69-of-150), including 37.3 percent from 3-point range, to bring his season average to a team-best 15.8 points.  Martin has scored in double figures in 10 games during the stretch, including five 20-point outputs.  He began his current scoring streak by posting a career-high 28 points on a career-best 10-of-19 field goals against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 18.  Martin has also turned in 20-point performances against Colorado State (21), Cleveland State (21), Maryland-Eastern Shore (23) and most recently against New Mexico (23), which earned him most valuable player honors at the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Dec. 23.  His effort against the Lobos marked the 20th time in his career he has eclipsed the 20-point plateau, which places him within two of cracking the school’s career top-10 list for 20-point games. 


Against Coppin State on Nov. 25, Martin became the 19th player and the first in almost 15 years to score 1,000 career points.  After struggling for most of the game, he caught fire in the last seven minutes to score 11 points with 3 3-pointers.

 

Martin Joins 1,000-Point Club

Senior forward Cartier Martin joined an elite fraternity at Kansas State in the win over Coppin State on Nov. 25, as he became the 19th player in school history and the first in the Big 12 era to score 1,000 career points.  The Houston, Texas, native hit the milestone at the 6:48 mark of the second half against the Eagles with a 3-pointer from the left corner to beat the shot clock.  It was the first of 11 points scored by the senior in the last seven minutes of the game.  Martin became the first Wildcat to eclipse the 1,000-point since Askia Jones did it during the 1992-93 season. 

           

He enters Wednesday’s game against Xavier with 1,153 career points, which now ranks 11th in school history, and needs just 32 points to top All-American and jersey retiree Jack Parr (1,184; 1955-58) and crack the school’s top-10.  A second team All-Big 12 performer by numerous media outlets last season, Martin became the third player since 1990-91 to top 500 points in a single-season, while his 18.0 scoring average was the highest by a Wildcat since Askia Jones averaged 22.1 points in 1993-94. 

After recording his 20th 20-point contest against New Mexico on Dec. 23, he needs just three more such efforts to displace former teammate Jeremiah Massey (22; 2004-05) for 10th place on the school’s career list.  In addition to his impressive scoring touch, Martin has been incredibly durable for the Wildcats, fighting through countless injuries to play in 83 straight games dating back to Jan. 28, 2004.  

 

Harris Stepping Up His Game

Bob Huggins has always been a coach that has gotten the most out of his talent and senior guard Lance Harris has been a prime example of that influence.  Harris has averaged 10.8 points on 48.6 percent shooting, including a team-best 40.4 percent from 3-point range, this season to go with a 3.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.6 steals per game.  He paces the squad in both 3-point field goals (23) and 3-point field goal percentage (40.7), while he is fourth in scoring, field goal percentage and rebounding.  Harris has scored in double figures in six contests, including three 20-point efforts.  He opened the season with 22 points against William & Mary on Nov. 11 before posting a career-high 26 points against Coppin State on Nov. 25.  His 24-point game against North Dakota State helped the Wildcats to a come-from-behind win on Dec. 9.  He has connected three or more 3-point field goals in five games.

    

Young Undergoes Successful Knee Surgery

Junior guard Blake Young underwent successful knee surgery on Dec. 11 at Mercy Regional Health Center in Manhattan, Kan.  He suffered a partial tear of the medial meniscus in his right knee during the Wildcats’ scrimmage in late October.  With no risk of further damage, Young had been playing with the injury throughout the first nine games.  After combining for just 13 minutes against Kennesaw State and UMES, he has recovered nicely from the surgery in averaging just over 20 minutes in the wins over USC and New Mexico at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.

           

Young has made an immediate impact for the Wildcats this season after transferring from Daytona Beach (Fla.) Community College, where he was an honorable mention All-American as a sophomore in 2005-06.  The Orlando, Fla., native is averaging 7.3 points, a team-best 2.9 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 23.9 minutes per game this season.  After ranking third in NJCAA in scoring at 23.2 points as a sophomore at Daytona Beach, Young displayed his offensive potential with a big scoring effort against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 21 with a season-high 24 points on 6-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, to go with four assists, two steals and one block.   He has scored in double figures in four contests. 

    

Block Party

At no surprise, freshman center Jason Bennett, the tallest player in school history at 7-foot-3, has made an immediate impact on the defensive end of the court with a freshman-school record 27 blocked shots this season, including a season record-tying six in a loss at California on Nov. 29.  He tied the mark set first by Tony Kitt against Kansas on March 6, 1999 and then accomplished by Dramane Diarra against Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 26, 2005. 

 

With his three-block effort against Kennesaw State, Bennett broke the freshman mark for blocks in a season (24) set by Shawn Rhodes in 1995-96 and now is just 33 away from eclipsing the school record of 59 set by Gerald Eaker in 1995-96.  He has recorded a blocked shot in eight of 13 games this year, while his 2.5 per game average ranks him second in the Big 12.  Bennett’s four blocks against William & Mary were the most since Dramane Diarra had his school-tying six against S. F. Austin, while it was the most by a true freshman since Travis Canby registered four against Kansas on Feb. 27, 2002.


Through 13 games, Kansas State is averaging 4.69 blocked shots per game, including eight-block performances against William & Mary on Nov. 11 and Cleveland State on Dec. 5. The eight blocks were the most by a Wildcat team since blocking nine shots against Longwood on Dec. 5, 2005.   The Wildcats, whose block average is sixth in the Big 12, have recorded three or more blocks in 11 of their 13 games, including six or more on seven occasions.


Up Next: #11 Texas A&M (11-2)

Kansas State begins Big 12 Conference play on Saturday, Jan. 6 with a daunting road trip to 11th-ranked Texas A&M (11-2) at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas.  Winners of four straight by an average of 41 points, the Aggies are averaging 78.8 points on 52.4 percent shooting with 36.3 rebounds and have four players scoring in double figures.  The squad is led by senior point guard Acie Law’s 14.6 points and 5.6 assists per game, while junior forward Joseph Jones adds 14.0 points per game and a team-best 5.7 rebounds. 

 

K-State has posted a 35-24 record in conference openers, including a 12-17 mark when opening league play on the road.  The Wildcats have not won a league road opener since beating the Aggies, 53-48, on Jan. 6, 2001.