K-State hits the road to face Missouri Saturday

Game 17

Kansas State (10-6, 0-2 Big 12)
at Missouri (11-4, 0-2 Big 12)

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2007

Mizzou Arena (15,061) in Columbia, Mo.

 

Game Information:

Tipoff: 3:01 p.m. Central

Series: Missouri leads 112-111
(MU leads 60-40 in Columbia, Mo.)

TV: ESPN Plus

Talent: Fred White (Play-by-Play) and Jon Sundvold (Analyst)

Channels: KMCI (Kansas City), KSAS, Eagle (Wichita), KSNT (Topeka

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

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

 

K-State returns to the road to face Missouri on Saturday

Kansas State (10-6, 0-2 Big 12) hits the road for the third time this month on Saturday, as the Wildcats travel to Columbia, Mo., to face Missouri (11-4, 0-2 Big 12) at the Mizzou Arena beginning at 3 p.m.  The team will be looking to snap a three-game winning streak and win for the fourth time in five tries against the Tigers, including the second time in three tries at the Mizzou Arena.  K-State has won its third Big 12 game each of the past three seasons after starting league play 0-2.  The Wildcats have not started 0-3 in conference play since 2001-02.

The game will be televised regionally on ESPN Plus (KMCI - Kansas City; KSAS - Wichita; KSNT - Topeka) with Fred White (play-by-play) and Jon Sundvold (color) calling the action.  It will be the second of 12 regional broadcasts on the Big 12’s television package for the Wildcats.  The audio broadcast can also be heard on the 31-station K-State Sports Network (or via the internet at http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaab/teams/kab) with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (color) on the call.

           

Kansas State is coming off its third straight defeat on Monday, as the Wildcats dropped a 62-52 decision to Texas Tech before a “Big Monday” crowd on ESPN.  The team struggled offensively against the Red Raiders, connecting on a season-low 16 field goals on just 30.2 percent shooting from the field.  After trailing by just a point at halftime, K-State could get no closer than two points the rest of the way as it dropped its first home game of the season.  Junior forward David Hoskins continued his impressive play of late with 23 points.

       

A Quick Look at the Wildcats

Kansas State dropped its third in a row on Monday night, as the Wildcats lost a 62-52 decision to Texas Tech at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.  Much of the blame for the team’s longest losing streak of the season falls to the offense, where the squad has averaged just 61.0 points on 38.1 percent shooting, including just 25 percent from 3-point range.  Overall, the Wildcats are averaging 71.2 points on 42.6 percent shooting and has three players averaging in double figures led by senior forward Cartier Martin’s 14.1 points per game.

 

Projected Starters

No.      Name                                                                         PPG        RPG      

3       Lance Harris (G, 6-5, 205, Sr.)                   9.8        3.6

5       Clent Stewart (G, 6-4, 190, Jr.)                   4.8        1.8

15     David Hoskins (F, 6-5, 230, Jr.)                 13.8       5.3

34     Akeem Wright (G, 6-6, 210, Sr.)                 7.6        5.8

55     Jason Bennett (C, 7-3, 255, Fr.)                 2.6        3.4

 

Key Reserves

No.      Name                                                                         PPG        RPG      

2       Blake Young (G, 6-2, 190, Jr.)                    6.6        2.1

14     Serge Afeli (F, 6-9, 235, Sr.)                      1.9        1.9

20     Cartier Martin (F, 6-7, 225, Sr.)                  14.1      3.6

23     Jermaine Maybank (G, 6-4, 180, Sr.)          2.7        2.5

42     Darren Kent (F, 6-10, 215, So.)                  0.8        1.2

50     Luis Colon (C, 6-10, 275, Fr.)                     3.1        2.3

 

Noting the Texas Tech game 

*Kansas State dropped to 10-11 in the all-time series with Texas Tech, including a 7-3 record in Manhattan... The Red Raiders have won five straight over the Wildcats, including back-to-back victories in Manhattan...  Head coach Bob Huggins fell to 0-3 all-time against Tech coach Bob Knight.

*With the loss, the Wildcats fell to 0-2 in Big 12 Conference play for the fourth consecutive season... The team has not won either their first or second league contest since posting a 68-44 win over Texas Tech in the Big 12 opener on Jan. 11, 2003.


*Kansas State scored 52 points on 30.2 percent shooting from the field against Texas Tech... The point total was the second-lowest this season and the lowest since scoring 48 against California on Nov. 29, while the shooting percentage was third-lowest and the lowest since shooting 28.6 percent in the first meeting with New Mexico on Nov. 11... The Wildcats’ 16 field goals are a season-low and lowest since posting 11 against Nebraska on Jan. 11, 2006.


*Junior forward David Hoskins topped the 20-point barrier for the second time this season and the sixth time in his career with a team-high 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting against Texas Tech... He has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games dating back to the Cleveland State on Dec. 5... It is the longest double-digit scoring streak for Hoskins in his career... He has scored in double figures in 33 games in his two-year Wildcat career.


Your Guess is as Good as Mine 

In an effort to find the right combination, head coach Bob Huggins has started 10 different line-ups this season, including a different one in nine of the last 10 contests.  He has used all types of positional line-ups from three guards (Stewart, Harris and Wright against North Dakota State on Dec. 9) to three forwards (Hoskins, Walker and Martin against New Mexico on Dec. 23 and Xavier on Jan. 3).  The only constant in the line-up has been junior David Hoskins, who has started 37 of the last 38 contests, including all 16 games this season.  The different line-ups are in start contrast to the past two seasons, where there were just six different line-ups (in 29 games) in 2004-05 and eight (in 28 games) in 2005-06.

   

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.

 

Taking Advantage of Turnovers

One of the biggest factors in Kansas State’s improved play of late 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 19.8 turnovers (178), including an average of 7.2 steals, in the last nine games, while averaging 23.1 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 scored 19 points off 15 New Mexico turnovers en route to capturing its first in-season tournament title since 1995.  K-State continued the trend in the last three games by scoring 18 points off 19 Xavier turnovers on Jan. 3, 22 points off 16 Texas A&M miscues on Jan. 6 and 19 points off 15 Texas Tech turnovers on Jan. 8. 

 

The current average of 17.1 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.  

           

Lift From The Bench

Kansas State has gotten a nice lift from its bench this season with an average of 23.1 points coming from its reserves this season.  The impact has been even more telling in the last 10 contests, where the Wildcats have averaged 26.0 points off the bench and have outscored their opponent by a 260-167 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 10 different 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.  In the win over USC, junior Blake Young scored nine points off the bench just 11 days after having knee surgery.  Before earning his starting job back against Texas Tech, senior Lance Harris had averaged 8.0 points on 56.3 percent shooting in reserve roles against New Mexico, Xavier (Ohio) and Texas A&M.  Stewart turned in season-high 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting off the bench against Texas A&M on Jan. 6.

 

Hoskins Emerging As A Leader

One of the biggest reasons for Kansas State’s improved play of late has been due to the emergence of junior David Hoskins.  He has averaged 16.1 points in the last nine games on 56.4 percent shooting (44-of-78) with 5.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals.  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.  He was team’s leading scorer against Xavier with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting.  After scoring 11 points in the loss at Texas A&M, Hoskins came through in a big way offensively against Texas Tech on Monday.  He topped 20 points for the second time this season with 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting against the Red Raiders to go with with six rebounds, three steals, one assist and one block in 33 minutes.

Walker Out for Season with ACL Injury

Tests revealed on Jan. 8 that freshman forward Bill Walker has sustained a complete rupture of the anterior crucial ligament (ACL) in his left knee and he will be out for the remainder of the season, according to head coach Bob Huggins.  Surgery has not yet been scheduled, but it is expected to take place in the next 7-14 days.  The rehabilitation process will begin immediately following surgery and is expected to take between six and eight months.

           

The highly-touted freshman had averaged 11.3 points on 40.0 percent shooting (26-of-65) in six games this season with 4.5 rebounds in 23.2 minutes per game.  His scoring and rebounding averages rank third on the team.  Walker began his career by posting 15 points on 6-of-10 field goals against Kennesaw State on Dec. 17 to go with four rebounds and one assist in 22 minutes of action after just two practices under his belt.  It was the most points by a true freshman in his debut since Marques Hayden scored 20 points against BYU on Nov. 23, 2002.  Walker came through with perhaps in his best effort 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 against New Mexico to go with a season-high eight rebounds.

 

K-State to appear on “Inside College Basketball”

Kansas State will be one of four schools in the country to appear on the new ABC series, “Chase Card Services Presents FREE Ticket: Inside College Basketball,” which begins Saturday, Jan. 13 beginning at 2 p.m. CT.  Created and produced by Intersport, the production team followed the Wildcats for a seven-day stretch beginning with their preparations for the Xavier game on Wednesday, Jan. 2 and concluding with the “Big Monday” game with Texas Tech on Monday, Jan. 8.  The team was given complete access to all practices and meetings and performed one-on-one interviews with Bob Huggins and numerous players and staff. 

In addition to its premiere on ABC Sports on Saturday, Jan. 13, the show involving K-State will also be broadcast on four other times, including Thursday, Feb. 1 at 1 p.m. on ESPN2 and Saturday, Jan. 20 at 9:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 21 at 10:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 4 a.m. on ESPNU.  Created as an extension of Chase Card Services’ Freedom campaign, the series will offer fan unprecented access behind otherwise closed doors, capturing all aspects of the college basketball experience from practice and meetings to team travel and campus life.  The series, which will consist of eight half-hour episodes, will also chronicle Connecticut, Indiana and Texas A&M in later shows.


K-State to play Oregon as part of Big 12/Pac-10 Series

Kansas State will play Oregon on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007, as apart of a a four-year deal reached by the Big 12 and Pacific-10 Conferences on Jan. 11.  The agreement between the conferences provides a series of 12 annual games, starting with the 2007-08 season.  Other games set for next season include Oklahoma at USC (Nov. 29), Washington State at Baylor (Nov. 30), Iowa State at Oregon State (Nov. 30), Washington at Oklahoma State (Dec. 1), Missouri at California (Dec. 1), Arizona State at Nebraska (Dec. 2), Stanford at Colorado (Dec. 2), Texas at UCLA (Dec. 2) and Texas A&M at Arizona (Dec. 2).

           

“This series of games with the Pac-10 will showcase some of the best college basketball in the country,” Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg said. “Our two conferences annually produce highly rated teams and multiple NCAA Tournament teams. This series will provide quality match-ups that will help to build the strength of our teams’ non-conference schedules. We are excited to have the opportunity to do this with the Pac-10.”

           

The series will continue in 2008, with games slated for Dec. 4-7. The contests scheduled will be return games of the match-ups from 2007, but may not be scheduled for the same day. The games in the series in 2009 will be played Dec. 3-6, 2009, while matchups in 2010 will be played Dec. 2-5, 2010. 

 

The Book on Missouri

Missouri enters Saturday’s contest with an 11-4 overall record and 0-2 mark in Big 12 Conference play after dropping an 88-68 decision to No. 25 Texas on Wednesday night in Austin, Texas.  The Tigers are just one win shy of equaling their entire win total from the 2005-06 season (12-16).  The team began the season with nine straight wins, including an impressive 86-64 victory over 2006 NCAA Tournament participant Arkansas on Nov. 30 in Columbia, Mo.  However, Missouri has dropped four of its last six games, including back-to-back to Iowa State (66-65) and Texas (88-68) to begin Big 12 play.  


The Tigers are averaging 78.7 points on 46.5 percent shooting with 36.5 rebounds and have a balanced scoring team with six players averaging six or more points and five connecting on 45 percent or better from the field.  Big 12 Newcomer of the Year candidate Stefhon Hannah paces the squad in three categories, including scoring (16.0 ppg.), assists (4.8 apg.) and steals (3.6 spg.).  The junior college transfer has connected on a team-best 85 field goals on 45.9 percent shooting from the field, including 41.9 percent from beyond the arc.  Sophomore guard Matt Lawrence posts 12.2 points per game on 53 percent shooting to go with a team-best 44 3-point field goals on 51.2 percent shooting.  Junior forward Marshall Brown averages 9.9 points on a team-best 53.6 percent shooting, while junior center Kalen Grimes adds 8.7 points per game to go with a team-best 6.4 rebounds per game.  


Missouri
is led by first-year coach Mike Anderson, who has compiled an 11-4 record in his initial season in Columbia and has a 100-45 record in his fifth season as a head coach.  He came to the Tigers from UAB, where he spent the previous four seasons as head coach.  Anderson is 1-2 all-time against Bob Huggins.  Huggins’ Cincinnati squad topped Anderson’s UAB team on two occasions on their homecourt, including 87-70, on March 5, 2003 and 72-69 on Feb. 19, 2005 in between an 80-69 setback in Birmingham, Ala., on Feb. 18, 2004.


Series versus Missouri

This will be the 224th all-time meeting between Kansas State and Missouri in a series that dates back to 1907.  The Tigers led the all-time series, 112-111 in the all-time series, including an 60-40 advantage in games played in Columbia.  Last season, the squads split their season series with each team winning on their own homecourt.  The Wildcats earned a 79-64 win over the Tigers in Manhattan on Jan. 21, 2006, as forwards Cartier Martin and David Hoskins combined for 38 points on 13-of-24 shooting.  With both teams led by interim coaches, Melvin Watkins helped Missouri snap a three-game losing streak to K-State and coach Jimmy Elgas with a 74-71 win in Columbia on Feb. 12, 2006.  Hoskins and Martin once again led the Wildcats, as the duo combined for 39 points on 15-of-25 shooting, while guard and Columbia, Mo., native Lance Harris chipped in 18 points on 6-of-8 field goals.

 

Getting Defensive

Kansas State has demonstrated trademark Bob Huggins’ defensive basketball in posting a 10-6 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 (29.8), third in offensive rebounds (14.13) and fifth in field goal percentage defense (40.5) and rebounding (37.8).  The squad is just outside the top 5 in scoring defense (65.5; 6th) and blocked shots (4.25; 6th).  The team has held 12 of its first 16 opponents to 45 percent or less shooting, while grabbing an average of 37.8 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 the last nine games.  The team has held its opponents to just 63.4 points on 40.6 percent shooting (192-of-473), including just 23.1 percent from 3-point range (30-of-130), during the stretch.  In addition, K-State has forced an average of 19.8 turnovers and tallied an average of 7.2 steals during the stretch. 


The defensive effort is nothing new for the Wildcats this season.  In the win over Rutgers on Nov. 15, 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 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 on an opponent’s court since the shot clock and fewest since allowing Nebraska 39 on March 6, 1984.


Offense Taking Flight

Despite its struggles in the last three games, the Kansas State offense is still making progress on the season.  The Wildcats have averaged 74.3 points on 46.9 percent shooting (261-of-556) in the last 10 contests after averaging just 66.0 points on 36.3 percent shooting in the first six games.  The 743 points scored during the 10-game stretch are the most by a K-State squad since totaling 781 points against Texas-San Antonio, Missouri-Rolla, Delaware State, Arkansas, Alabama State, Lamar, Temple, Southern Miss, Wyoming and Oklahoma State 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 11 of their last 20 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.


Wright Stuff

One of the biggest reasons for the Wildcats’ success this season has been the play of senior guard Akeem Wright.  The Philadephia, Pa., native has averaged 7.6 points on 41.7 percent shooting to go with a team-high 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.7 steals in 25.3 minutes per game.  Known more for his defensive prowess, Wright spent the summer working on his jumpshot to complete his all-around game.  It has worked so far, as he is averging nearly two points higher (7.6 ppg. from 6.2 ppg.) and shooting nearly five percent higher (41.7 percent from 36.3 percent) than he did as a junior in 2005-06.  Wright has scored in double figures in four games this season, including a career-high 18 points against Texas A&M on Jan. 6.  He has also kept up his defensive effort, pacing the team in rebounds in four games this season. 

 

During the last nine games, Wright has topped his season average five times with two double-digit efforts.  He played perhaps in his best game of his career against Texas A&M on Jan. 6, as he posted a career-high 18 points on 8-of-15 field goals to go with a team-high eight rebounds, three assists and a career-best three steals. 

 

The Martin of Old

Senior forward Cartier Martin joined an elite fraternity at Kansas State in the win over Coppin State on Nov. 25, 2006, 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 Martin in the last seven minutes of the game.  He became the first Wildcat to eclipse the 1,000-point since Askia Jones did it during the 1992-93 season. 

           

He enters Saturday’s game against Missouri with 1,173 career points, which now ranks 11th in school history, and needs just 12 points to top All-American and jersey retiree Jack Parr (1,184; 1955-58) and crack the school’s top-10. 

 

After averaging just 5.5 points on 33.3 percent shooting in the first two games, 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 15.4 points in the last 14 games on 42.9 percent shooting to bring his season average to a team-best 14.1 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 against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 18.  Martin has also turned in 20-point efforts 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. 

   

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 9.8 points on 47.9 percent shooting, including a team-best 40.0 percent from 3-point range, this season to go with a 3.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.5 steals per game.  He paces the squad in both 3-point field goals (26) and 3-point field goal percentage (40.0), 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 13 minutes against Kennesaw State and Maryland-Eastern Shore, he has recovered nicely from the surgery in averaging over 20 minutes in the four of the last five games, including 25 against Xavier on Jan. 3.  He 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 6.6 points, a team-best 2.6 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 22.3 minutes per game this season.  After ranking third in NJCAA in scoring at 23.2 points as a sophomore, he displayed his offensive potential with a big effort against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 21 with a season-high 24 points on 6-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range.   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 28 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 32 away from eclipsing the school record of 59 set by Gerald Eaker in 1995-96.  He has recorded a blocked shot in nine of 16 games this year, while his 2.00 per game average ranks him third 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.


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 six-game winning streak was 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 was 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.


*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.

     

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.

Up Next: Baylor (10-5, 0-2 Big 12)

Baylor enters Saturday’s tilt against Texas Tech with a 10-5 overall record and 0-2 mark in Big 12 play.  The Bears have already eclipsed their win total of the past two seasons of nine in 2004-05 and four in 2005-06.  The team saw its four-game winning streak come to an end with back-to-back defeats at the hands of Oklahoma State (81-77) and Texas A&M (61-51) to begin conference play.  Baylor averages 78.7 points on 48.7 percent shooting with 36.5 rebounds and has five players averaging in double figures.  Sophomore forward Kevin Rogers paces the team in both scoring (13.6 ppg.) and rebounding (6.6 rpg.), while sophomore guards Henry Dugat and Curtis Jerrells add 12.0 and 11.6 points per game, respectively.  Junior guard Aaron Bruce

averages 10.4 points to go with a team-best 4.2 assists per game, while freshman guard Tweety Carter chips in 10.3 points along with a team-best 33 3-point field goals.  Head coach Scott Drew has a 51-69 record in his fifth season as a head coach, including a 31-58 mark in his fourth season at Baylor.