'Cats Open Big 12 play with Sooners

Game Information

Kansas State (11-3) vs. 6/6 Oklahoma (14-1)

Date: Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tipoff: 12:47 p.m. CT

Location: Manhattan, Kan.

Arena: Bramlage Coliseum (1988)

Capacity: 12,528

Series: Oklahoma leads 101-89 (K-State is 54-33 at home)

Television: Big 12 Network/ESPN Full Court/ESPN360

Dave Armstrong (play-by-play)

Rich Zvosec (analyst)

Doc Carothers (producer)

Kevin Shank (director)

Channels: KMCI (Kansas City), KSNT (Topeka), KMTV (Wichita)

Radio: K-State Sports Network; Powercat Passport Internet Audio;                       

Yahoo! Internet Radio; Sirius Satellite 121

Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play)

Stan Weber (analyst)

Tickets: Sold out      


Kansas State Wildcats

Record: 11-3 (0-0 Big 12)

Ranking (AP/Coaches): --/--

Coach: Frank Martin

Alma Mater: Florida International, 93

Career Record: 32-15/1

School Record: 32-15/1

vs. Oklahoma: 1-0

07-08 Record: 21-12 (10-6 Big 12)

Last game: Jan. 5, 2009

Defeated Chicago State, 99-68

SID: Tom Gilbert

Website: www.k-statesports.com


Oklahoma Sooners

Record: 14-1 (0-0 Big 12)

Ranking (AP/Coaches): 6/6

Coach: Jeff Capel

Alma Mater: Duke, 97

Career Record: 132-69/7

School Record: 53-28/3

vs. Kansas State: 0-2

07-08 Record: 23-12 (9-7 Big 12)

Last game: Jan. 5, 2009

Defeated Md.-Eastern Shore, 100-64

SID: Mike Houck

Website: www.SoonerSports.com


Projected Starters

Kansas State (11-3)

G - #0 Jacob Pullen (6-0, 200, So.)

G - #21 Denis Clemente (6-1, 175, Jr.)

F - #23 Dominique Sutton (6-5, 210, So.)

F - #42 Darren Kent (6-11, 230, Sr.)

F - #50 Luis Colon (6-10, 265, Jr.)

Oklahoma (14-1)

G - #5 Tony Crocker (6-6, 206, Jr.)

G - #13 Willie Warren (6-4, 207, Fr.)

G - #20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 176, Sr.)

F - #23 Blake Griffin (6-10, 251, So.)

F - #32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 238, Sr.)


Game Preview

Kansas State (11-3) concludes its six-game homestand with its biggest test to date on Saturday, as the Wildcats host No. 6 Oklahoma (14-1) in the Big 12 opener at Bramlage Coliseum beginning at 12:47 p.m.  It marks the second straight season the two teams have met in the conference opener with the Wildcats earning an 84-82 win over the Sooners in Norman, Okla., last season.  It marks just the fifth home conference opener in the Big 12 era for K-State and the first since hosting No. 23 Texas Tech on Jan. 11, 2003.  The team is 32-16  in home league openers, including a 3-1 mark during the Big 12 era. 

K-State ran its winning streak to a season-best six games on Monday, as the Wildcats again used its offensive prowess to earn a 99-68 win over Chicago State.  The team broke open the game with a 26-4 run over a seven-minute stretch midway through the first half to take a 49-31 halftime lead en route to their eighth win of 20 or more points.  The Wildcats converted 16 Cougar turnovers into 24 points, marking the 11th time in the first 14 games that K-State has scored 20 or more points off opponent turnovers.  

Sophomore guard Fred Brown led a season-high six players in double figures with a career-high 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting, while senior Darren Kent grabbed his fourth double-double with 13 points and a career-tying 12 rebounds.  The 26 points tied for the most by a player this season and most since sophomore Jacob Pullen had 26 against Oakland on Nov. 25.  Pullen added 12 points for his team-leading 10th game with double-figure scoring and sophomore Ron Anderson nearly had a double-double of his own with 11 points and nine rebounds. 

Kansas State is the definition of balance with seven different leading scorers, eight different assist leaders and six different rebounding leaders.  Right now, six players are averaging eight or more points, while four players are averaging five or more rebounds.  There have been 52 double-digit scoring games by 10 players.  Of the 10 players, six have done it six or more times this season.  

The Wildcats have also been stout on the defense end, allowing just 60.5 points per game on 38.3 percent shooting.  The team has held eight of its 13 opponents to 60 points or less, while holding its foes to below 40 percent shooting nine times.  Each of the last five opponents have been held to 60 points or less for the first time since the first of five games of the 2005-06 season.

The contest against Oklahoma will be televised on the newly-branded Big 12 Network with Dave Armstrong (play-by-play) and Rich Zvosec (analyst) calling the action.  Fans will also be able to watch the contest on the Full Court package as well as ESPN360.com.  More information on the Full Court package as well as ESPN360.com, can be found at http://proxy.espn.go.com/ncb/fullcourt/. It will be the first of eight appearances on the Big 12 Network for the Wildcats this year. 

Fans will also be able to listen to the audio broadcast on the 29-station K-State Sports Network (Powercat Passport Internet Audio; Yahoo! Internet Radio; Sirius Satellite 121) with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) on the call.

Ticket Information

Saturday’s game is sold out.

K-State in Conference Openers

Kansas State boasts a 49-45 record in conference openers since the formation of the Missouri Valley Conference in 1913, including a 32-16 mark when opening league play at home.  The squad is 5-7 in league openers since the inception of the Big 12, including a 3-1 mark in home games.  It will mark the second straight season that K-State has opened conference play with Oklahoma and the first time at home since toppling the No. 3 Sooners, 69-62, on Jan. 16, 1988.  The team is 6-7 against Oklahoma in league lifters, including an 5-3 mark in games played at home.  The program will be looking to win back-to-back league openers since the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons.

Cats in January

Kansas State is 360-299 (.546) all-time in the month of January, including wins in 18 of its last 27 games dating back to 2006.  The Wildcats have won 14 consecutive games in January, including their current nine-game homecourt winning streak, dating back to an 85-81 win at Missouri on Jan. 13, 2007.  The team’s last loss in the month came at home to Texas Tech, 62-52, on Jan. 8, 2007. 

Last season, K-State posted its seventh perfect mark in the month of January and first since 1970 by turning in a 6-0 mark.  The squad opened the month with an 85-25 win over Savannah State then earned five straight Big 12 wins against Oklahoma (84-82), No. 10 Texas A&M (75-54), Colorado (72-56), Iowa State (82-57) and No. 2 Kansas (84-75).  The team also went undefeated in 1919 (4-0), 1951 (5-0), 1952 (5-0), 1958 (4-0), 1959 (6-0) and 1960 (6-0).

Explosive Offense...

Kansas State has shown the ability to score early and often, as the Wildcats have totaled 1,141 points in their first 14 games, an average of just over 81 points per game.  The team has scored 70 or more points in 12 of 14 games, including 80 or more points eight times.  The squad has posted three games of 90 or more points, including a 107-point output against Gardner-Webb on Dec. 14, which ranks as the most in a non-conference game since 1994 and the highest point total since the Wildcats scored 111 against Missouri on Jan. 3, 1998.  The three 90-point games are the most since the 1997-98 season.

The 1,141 points are the third-most through 14 games in school history, trailing just the 1986-87 (1,170) and 1997-98 (1,147) squads and just ahead of the 1952-53 (1,120) team.  This year’s edition is the fourth fastest team in school history to collect 1,000 points in a season.  The Wildcats have scored 80 or more points in eight of their first 14 games for just the third time in its history, which also includes the 1952-53 and 1986-87 teams.

Since Frank Martin’s arrival in 2007, K-State has shown the ability to score points, totaling two of the most prolific scoring teams in school history.  Last year, the Wildcats set the school mark with 2,574 points, while also posting the second-most field goals attempted (2067) and the third-most field goals (916) and 3-point field goals made (210) as well as the third-highest scoring average (78.0).  The 2,467 points in 2006-07 rank as the fourth-most in school history.

And Stellar Defense

K-State has shown the ability to play solid defense as well, holding its 14 opponents thus far to an average of 61.0 points per game.  The Wildcats have held 12 foes to less than 70 points, including eight to 60 points or less.  The team ranks among the best in the Big 12 in several categories, including first in 3-point field goal percentage (29.2), second in field goal percentage (37.9) and fourth in scoring defense.  During its current streak, the squad has held its opponents to just 55.3 points on 34.6 percent shooting, including 26.5 percent from 3-point range, while forcing an average of 18.8 turnovers.  The 854 points yielded are the fewest through 14 games in the last 25 seasons and fewest since the 1982-83 team allowed just 731 points.  This year, 10 foes have been held to below 40 percent shooting, while eight have been held to below 30 percent from 3-point range.

Diverse Offense

Unlike last season when consensus All-American Michael Beasley paced the squad at 26.2 points per game, the 2008-09 team has shown a lot more diversity with its scoring output thus far. 

Through 14 games, all 12 players have totaled double-digit points with six scoring in triple digits.  Three players - sophomore Jacob Pullen,  junior Denis Clemente and sophomore Fred Brown - are averaging in double figures led by Pullen’s 14.7 points per game.  Six players are averaging eight or more points, including freshman Jamar Samuels (9.8 ppg.), senior Darren Kent (9.2 ppg.) and sophomore Dominique Sutton (8.9 ppg). 

Since statistics became available during the 1950-51 season, there has been just six teams to have four players average in double figures with the last coming in 2004-05.  Just one team - the 1955-56 squad - has had six players average eight or more points in a season. 

There have already been seven different leading scorers in 14 games, including a league-best six players with 20-point outings.  In all, there have been 52 double-digit scoring games with Pullen doing it a team-best 10 times.  Ten players have scored in double figures with six of those players doing it at least six times. 

Clemente and Pullen have each led the Wildcats in scoring four times, while the duo joins Brown and Samuels as the only players to repeat as leading scorer.  Clemente has led the team against Florida A&M, Cleveland State, Oregon and Gardner-Webb, while Pullen paced the squad in three consecutive games against Oakland, Kentucky and Iowa then again against Wagner with 20-point outings.  Brown led the team in games against SE Missouri State, Emporia State and Chicago State, while Samuels did it against Gardner-Webb and IdahoState.

Rebounding Still a Strength

Most critics wondered how Kansas State would replace two of the best Big 12 rebounders - Michael Beasley and Bill Walker - after the duo helped the program average 41.3 rebounds a year ago.  The duo plus departed seniors Clent Stewart and Blake Young averaged over 25 boards per game.  Despite their absence, rebounding continues to be a strength with seven players averaging at least two boards per game.

Through 14 games, K-State is averaging 40.9 rebounds, including a Big 12-best 16.6 on the offensive end, with four players averaging five or more boards per game.  The team ranks among the best in the Big 12 in four rebounding categories, including first in rebounds, offensive rebounds and margin (+8.5) and second in rebounding defense (32.4).  Four players - Ron Anderson, Luis Colon, Darren Kent and Dominique Sutton - have grabbed double-digit rebounds eight times with Kent averaging a team-best 6.3 rebounds per game. 

Kent has a team-leading four double-doubles thus far with 15 points and 12 rebounds against SE Missouri, 14 points and 10 rebounds against Cleveland State, 24 points and 10 rebounds against Centenary and 13 points and 12 rebounds against Chicago State.  Anderson, Colon and Sutton each have one with Anderson tallying 10 points and 10 rebounds against Emporia State, Colon grabbing his first one against Southern Miss with 18 points and 11 rebounds and Sutton capturing his first with 21 points and 10 rebounds against Wagner.


Pressure is the Key

The core of Frank Martin’s coaching philosophy is pressure, whether its on the offensive or defensive end of the floor.  His theory is the more pressure you apply on a team, the more difficult you make it for your opponent.  In other words, pressure causes breakdowns.

Pressure has been a big key for the Wildcats so far, as the team has scored 334 points (30 percent of their season total of 1141 points) off 270 opponent turnovers.  The squad has also outscored its opponents 167-80 on fast-break opportunities.

Kansas State has scored 20 or more points off opponent turnovers in 11 of the team’s 14 games, including 30 or more points twice with a season-best 41 against Gardner-Webb.  In its 11 wins, the squad has outscored its foes, 278-120, in points off turnovers.  In all, the team has forced seven opponents into 20 or more turnovers.  The team is averaging 7.8 steals per contest with eight players grabbing at least five led by Jacob Pullen’s team-high 25 steals.

Dynamic Duo

After dominating the paint a year ago with the likes of Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, Kansas State’s strength has shifted to the backcourt where the Wildcats start two of the best at their positions in junior Denis Clemente and sophomore Jacob Pullen.

The duo, which has started 13 of 14 games, have combined for 364 points on 41.6 percent shooting (126-of-303), including 37.1 percent from 3-point range (53-of-143), with 92 of the team’s 223 assists.  Pullen ranks first on the team in scoring at 14.7 points per game on 40.2 percent shooting with team-highs in field goals made (68), 3-point field goals made (33), assists (52), steals (25) and minutes (394).  Clemente is second in scoring at 12.2 points per game on 43.3 percent shooting, while is also second in assists (40), minutes (322) and free throw percentage (78.6) and third in 3-point field goals (20).

Ironically, the two have scored in double figures six times in the same game with a combined 36 points against Florida A&M on Nov. 14, 31 against both Cleveland State on Nov. 22 and Kentucky on Nov. 28, 45 against Oakland on Nov. 25, 34 against Gardner-Webb on Dec. 14 and 39 against Wagner on Dec. 30.  Both have led the team in scoring four times with Clemente posting a season-best 20 points against Gardner-Webb and Pullen totaling career-best 26 against Oakland.

Kent Stepping up as a Senior

One of the bright spots for the Wildcats this season has been the play of senior forward Darren Kent.  Kent, the team’s only senior, has been a force on the boards, ranking first with 6.3 rebounds per game.  He is also averaging 9.2 points on 40.7 percent shooting (37-of-91) to go with 1.3 assists and 0.7 blocks in 20.4 minutes per game.  Kent, who entered the season averaging 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in his career, has totaled a team-best four double-doubles this year.  He had 15 points and 12 rebounds against SE Missouri before posting 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds at Cleveland State.  He grabbed his third one on a career day against Centenary with career-best 24 points with 10 rebounds.  He turned in his fourth double-double against Chicago State with 13 points and a career-tying 12 rebounds.

Samuels an Impact off Bench

An unknown but talented player, redshirt freshman forward Jamar Samuels has become an impact player off the bench for the Wildcats.  Despite starting only one game this season, he is fourth in scoring at 9.8 points on 59 percent shooting with 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 blocks in 19.9 minutes per game.  Samuels ranks second in the number of double-figure scoring games with nine, including a season-high 20 points against Gardner-Webb.  He scored in double figures in four consecutive games to start the year and has collected 10 or more points in five of the last eight contests.  He has five or more rebounds eight times, including a season-best eight on three occasions.  He was solid all-around in his first start against Centenary with eight points, eight rebounds, six assists and a career-tying three blocks.

Sutton Steals the Show

After getting a late start to his time at K-State, sophomore Dominique Sutton has become an all-around factor for the Wildcats this season.  He is one of four players that have hit on 50 percent or better from the field, while he is second in steals (1.5 spg.) and third in rebounds (5.2 rpg.) and minutes (22.5 mpg.) and sixth in scoring (8.9 ppg.).  He has scored in double figures six times.  Sutton tied the school single-game record for steals against Idaho State with eight, matching a mark set by Lynn Smith against South Dakota on Nov. 29, 1986 then followed by Elliot Hatcher against Wichita State on Jan. 2, 1996.  He also posted a career night against Wagner on Dec. 30, collecting highs in six categories, including points (21), rebounds (10), field goals (7), field goals attempted (11) and free throws (6).

Brown from Outside

Sophomore Fred Brown has emerged as a dangerous threat from the outside for the Wildcats, as he paces the squad in 3-point field goal percentage (42.6) and is second in 3-point field goals (29).  He has at least one 3-pointer in 11 of 14 games, including two or more on nine occasions.  He ranks third on the team in scoring (10.1 ppg.), field goals (50) and field goals attempted (116), while he is second among reserves in minutes (19.6 mpg.).  Almost 60 percent of his made (29) and attempted field goals (68) have come beyond the arc.  He has scored in double figures six times, including a pair of 20-point outings against SE Missouri State (21) and Chicago State (26).

Oklahoma Update

Oklahoma enters Saturday’s game with a 14-1 overall record after capping its non-conference season with a 100-64 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Monday night.  The Sooners already have an NCAA Tournament-worthy resume with impressive wins over Davidson (82-78), UAB (77-67), Purdue (87-82), USC (73-72), Tulsa (69-44), Utah (70-52) and VCU (81-70) this season.  The team has topped 80 or more points nine times, including its season-high 100-point effort against UMES, and has held eight opponents under 65 points.

The high-flying Sooners are averaging 81.7 points through 15 games on 47.8 percent shooting, including 34 percent from 3-point range, with 40.3 rebounds, 14.9 assists, 8.8 steals and 4.7 blocks per game.  The team averages over seven 3-point field goals per game. 

Oklahoma is led by preseason All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year candidate Blake Griffin, who ranks among the top-15 nationally in three categories, including scoring (22.1 ppg., 13th), rebounding (14.0 rpg., first) and field goal percentage (66.1, eighth).  He is one of four players averaging nine or more points for the Sooners, including freshman phenom Willie Warren, who is second in scoring at 16.2 points per game on 50 percent shooting.  Junior Tony Crocker is the other player in double figures at 10.7 points per game, while senior Taylor Griffin adds 9.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest.

Oklahoma returns seven lettermen, including three starters, from a team that finished the 2007-08 season with a 23-12 overall record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The team is led by third-year head coach Jeff Capel, who has posted a 53-28 mark at the helm.  The former Duke standout has a 132-69 overall record, which includes a four-year stint at VCU (2002-06).

Series Information

K-State and Oklahoma will be meeting for the 191st time on Saturday with the Sooners holding a 101-89 mark in the all-time series.  The squad is one of just three Big 12 schools to hold an edge in the all-time series with K-State.  Oklahoma is 9-4 since the inception of the Big 12, including splitting its six meetings at Bramlage Coliseum.  Regardless of the site, the two teams have played some tight contests with five of the last nine games being decided by two points or less.


Last 5 meetings:

1-24-04     Oklahoma 61-49    Norman

2-19-05     Oklahoma 69-68    Manhattan

2-25-06     Oklahoma 71-70    Norman

 3-3-07     K-State 72-61     Manhattan

1-12-08     K-State 84-82     Norman

Most November Wins

Kansas State finished the month of November with a 5-2 record, which tied the 1998-99 (5-2) and 2007-08 (5-2) squads for the most in the month in school history.  In all, the Wildcats are 76-23 (.768) in the month, including wins in 25 of its last 31 games.  The team has won 21 of its last 22 games at home in November dating back to the 2003-04 season.  The team saw its 17-game homecourt winning streak in the month end in an 80-77 overtime loss to No. 17 Oregon on Nov. 29, 2008.  It was the first November home loss since 2002.

Recruiting Class Praised

The four-man recruiting class that Kansas State pulled down on Nov. 12 has been rated among the best in the country.  The class, which includes ESPNU100 prospect and power forward Wally Judge, has been rated the 17th-best class by ESPN Scouts, Inc., as well as 21st- best class by Rivals.com.  The quartet includes Judge, fellow high school teammate Rodney McGruder, Dallas (Texas) point guard Nick Russell and prep school forward Jordan Henriquez. 

Young Cats

Kansas State enters the 2008-09 season with one its youngest teams in recent history, as senior forward Darren Kent is the lone senior on a roster of 13 players.  When you factor in that four of the six juniors are either transfers from another Division I school or a junior college, the Wildcats are one of the youngest teams in its history.  Dating back to the 1981-82 season, there has been just one team - the 1983-84 squad which had no seniors - with fewer seniors on its roster.  The 1996-97 also had just one senior on its roster.

Martin inks Stellar Class

Kansas State head coach Frank Martin announced the signing of four high school seniors to National Letters of Intent on the second day of the fall signing period on Nov. 13.


The four-man recruiting class, which was ranked 16th nationally by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and 21st by Rivals.com, includes prep school standout Jordan Henriquez (Winchendon [Mass.] School/Port Chester, N.Y.) and high school seniors Wally Judge (Arlington (Fla.) Country Day/Washington, D.C.), Rodney McGruder (Arlington (Fla.) Country Day/Washington, D.C.) and Nick Russell (Grace Preparatory Academy/Arlington, Texas).


The headliner of this class, Wally Judge is a 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward originally from Washington, D.C., who is entering his second year at Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla.  Considered one of the top power forwards in the high school ranks, Judge was rated as a top 25 recruit by several recruiting services, including the No. 17 prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 23 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com.  He was also rated as an ESPNU Top 100 recruit.  In addition, he is ranked among the top-10 at his position, including No. 6 by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 9 by Rivals.com.   


Judge is in his second year at Florida powerhouse, Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, where he helped the Apaches to their fourth consecutive Class 2A state title with a 24-6 record in 2007-08.   Judge averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds and was named second team Class 2A All-State by the Florida Sports Writers Association.


A teammate of Judge at Arlington Country Day, Rodney McGruder is considered one of the best shooting guards in the country.  The 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard is rated among the top players in the country,including the No. 89 overall prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 91 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com.  McGruder is also ranked among the top-35 at the position by a number of outlets, including No. 23 by Rivals.com and No. 31 by ESPN Scouts, Inc. 


McGruder transferred to Arlington Country Day in the off-season from Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C.  As a junior, he averaged 21.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.1 steals in leading the Lions to a 16-10 overall record and an appearance in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) semifinals in 2007-08.  He was named to the Washington Post All-Met first team. 


One of the top point guard prospects in the country, Nick Russell comes to K-State from Grace Preparatory Academy in Arlington, Texas.  The 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard is rated among the top players in the country, including the No. 89 overall prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 114 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com.  Russell is also ranked among the top-40 at his position by a number of outlets, including No. 20 by Rivals.com and No. 36 by ESPN Scouts, Inc.  In addition, he is rated the No. 4 player in the state of Texas for the Class of 2009 by Texashoops.com.


Russell helped Grace Prep to a 26-12 overall record, including a 7-3 mark in league play, as a junior in 2006-07.  He helped the Lions to a runner-up finish at the TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parachial Schools) Class 5A state tournament, where they lost to Midland Christian, 74-60.  Russell averaged 23 points, six assists and five rebounds as a junior.  He was named first team TAPPS Class 5A all-state as well as co-most valuable player of the District 1-5A and first team all-district. 


Jordan Henriquez comes to Kansas State from The Winchendon School in Winchendon, Mass., where he is playing a postgraduate year in 2008-09.  The 6-foot-11, 220-pound center from New Rochelle, N.Y. signed with the Wildcats this past May after finishing his career at Port Chester High School in Port Chester, N.Y.  As a senior, he led the team to an 18-6 record and an 8-0 mark in league play en route to a runner-up finish at the Section I Championship.  In averaging a team-best 15.3 points, Henriquez scored in double figures in 21 of 22 games in 2007-08, including six 20-point contests. 


The recruiting class will join a loaded Kansas State squad in 2009-10, as the Wildcats will return all but one player.  They will be joined by junior forward Curtis Kelly, who is sitting out the 2008-09 season after transferring from University of Connecticut this past summer.