K-State Looks to End Skid at CU Saturday

Game Information
Kansas State (11-7, 0-4 Big 12) 
at Colorado (8-9, 0-3 Big 12)

Date: Saturday, January 24, 2009
Tipoff: 5:05 p.m. CT
Location: Boulder, Colo.
Arena: Coors Events Center (1979)
Capacity: 11,064
Series: K-State leads 93-43
(Colorado is 31-30 at home)

Television: Big 12 Network/ESPN Full Court/ESPN360
Mitch Holthus (play-by-play)
Rich Zvosec (analyst)
Doc Carothers (producer)
Jeff Montoni (director)
Channels: Metro (Kansas City), KSNT (Topeka), KMTW (Wichita)

Radio: K-State Sports Network; Powercat Passport Internet Audio; Yahoo! Internet Radio
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play)
Stan Weber (analyst)

Tickets: Available by calling (800) 872.8337 or online at www.cubuffs.com.             

Kansas State Wildcats
Record: 11-7 (0-4 Big 12)
Ranking (AP/Coaches): --/--
Coach: Frank Martin
Alma Mater: Florida International, 93
Career Record: 32-19/1
School Record: 32-19/1
vs. Colorado: 2-0
07-08 Record: 21-12 (10-6 Big 12)
Last game: Jan. 21, 2009
Lost to No. 23 Baylor, 83-65
SID: Tom Gilbert
Website: www.k-statesports.com

Colorado Buffaloes
Record: 8-9 (0-3 Big 12)
Ranking (AP/Coaches): --/--
Coach: Jeff Bzdelik
Alma Mater: Illinois-Chicago, 76
Career Record: 95-75/6
School Record: 20-29/2
vs. Kansas State: 0-2
07-08 Record: 12-20 (3-13 Big 12)
Last game: Jan. 20, 2009
Lost at Texas Tech, 63-55
SID: Andrew Green
Website: www.cubuffs.com

Projected Starters
Kansas State (11-7, 0-4 Big 12)
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 - #15 Luis Colon (6-10, 265, Jr.)

Colorado (8-9, 0-3 Big 12)
G - #1 Nate Tomlinson (6-2, 180, Fr.)
G - #11 Cory Higgins (6-5, 175, So.)
G - #12 Dwight Thorne II (6-3, 180, Jr.)
F - #31 Jermyl Jackson-Wilson (6-6, 220, Sr.)
F - #33 Austin Dufault (6-8, 210, Fr.)

Game Preview
Kansas State (11-7, 0-4 Big 12) hits the road for the third time in the last four games on Saturday when the Wildcats travel to Boulder, Colo., to face Colorado (8-9, 0-3 Big 12) at the Coors Events Center at 5 p.m.  K-State is 1-3 on the road this season, but has won back-to-back games against the Buffaloes in Boulder for the first time since the 1987-88 and 1988-89 season.  The Wildcats have won five straight in the series for the first time since winning nine in a row from 1985-89.  Last season, the team won 72-56 in Boulder on Jan. 23 before capturing a 78-72 victory at home on March 4.

Kansas State dropped to 0-4 in league play for the first time since 1996-97 on Wednesday, as Baylor used a barrage of 3-pointers to post an 83-65 win.  Sophomore LaceDarius Dunn tied the school-record with nine triples to pace four Bears in double figures with 33 points.  The team connected on 56 percent from the field, including 59.1 percent from 3-point range, to become just the second team to score 80 or more points against the Wildcats.  K-State’s struggles on the offensive end continued against the Bears, as the squad scored 65 points on 40.6 percent shooting, including 26.7 percent from 3-point range.  After averaging 81.5 points on 45.8 percent shooting during non-conference play, the Wildcats are averaging just 60.0 points on 38.4 percent shooting in its four Big 12 contests.

Junior Denis Clemente led three Wildcats in double figures with a team-high 17 points, while sophomore Dominique Sutton and senior Darren Kent added 12 and 11 points, respectively.  Clemente has led the team in scoring a team-high seven times this year, including three times in Big 12 play.  Sutton broke out of his recent slump with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while Kent posted back-to-back double figure games for the first time in his career with 11 points.  Junior Luis Colon had a near double-double with eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds in a career-best 34 minutes of action.

K-State remains the definition of balance with seven different leading scorers, nine different assist leaders and seven different rebounding leaders.  Right now, six players are averaging eight or more points, while five players are averaging four or more rebounds.  There have been 62 double-digit scoring games by 10 players.  Of the 10 players, six have registered double figures seven or more times.  

Despite their difficulties in Big 12 play, the Wildcats have still been a solid team defensively this season.  The squad is allowing just 64.3 points on 40.8 percent shooting, including 33.7 percent from 3-point range.  Since holding No. 5 Oklahoma to 20 points under its  season average on 41.4 percent shooting, the team has allowed 81 points on 54.8 percent shooting in its last three losses.

The contest against Colorado will be televised on the Big 12 Network with Mitch Holthus (play-by-play) and Rich Zvosec (analyst) calling the action.  Fans will also be able to watch the game on the Full Court package as well as ESPN360.com. More information on these outlets can be found at http://proxy.espn.go.com/ncb/fullcourt/. It will be the fourth of eight appearances on the Big 12 Network 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) with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) on the call.

Ticket Information
Available by calling (800) 87.BUFFS (2.8337) or online at www.cubuffs.com.

Been Here Before
Kansas State is facing an 0-4 start to conference play for just the second time in the Big 12 era and the 11th overall time dating back to the start of Missouri Valley Conference play in 1913.  In those previous 10 seasons, the Wildcats have rebounded to win its fifth game two times, including the 1983-84 season when the squad beat Iowa State, 75-69, at home on Feb. 1, 1984.  The team’s best finish after starting a conference season 0-4 came in 1983-84 season when the squad finished Big Eight play with a 5-9 record.  The last time K-State started league play 0-4 - during the 1996-97 season - the team tied the school record by losing its first nine league games before winning three of its last seven to post a 3-13 record and a tie for 10th place in the inaugural Big 12 season and Tom Asbury’s last year.     

Cats in January
Kansas State is 360-303 (.543) all-time in the month of January, including wins in 14 of its last 21 games dating back to 2007.  The Wildcats saw their 14-game winning streak in January, including a nine-game homecourt winning streak, end with their 61-53 loss to No. 6 Oklahoma on Jan. 10.  It was the first loss in the month since a 62-52 loss to Texas Tech 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 Wildcats recorded wins over Savannah State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Colorado, Iowa State and Kansas.  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).

A Work in Progress
Despite its struggles so far in Big 12 play, K-State is still averaging nearly 77 points points per game.  The team has scored 70 or more points in 13 of 18 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 1,381 points are the fourth-most through 18 games in school history, trailing just the 1986-87 (1,496), 1997-98 (1,435) and 1952-53 (1,438) squads and just ahead of the 1976-77 (1,341) 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 18 games for the third time in its history.

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 (2,067) 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.

Solid D
K-State has shown the ability to play solid defense as well, holding its 18 opponents thus far to an average of 64.3 points per game.  The Wildcats have held 13 foes to less than 70 points, including eight to 60 points or less.  The 1,158 points yielded are the second-fewest through 18 games in the last 25 seasons and fewest since the 1998-99 team allowed just 1,137 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.  Prior to allowing 87 points at Kansas, the team had held the previous seven foes to just 56.1 points.
     
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 18 games, all 12 players have totaled double-digit points with seven scoring in triple digits.  Two players - sophomore Jacob Pullen and junior Denis Clemente - are averaging in double figures led by Pullen’s 13.4 points per game.  Six players are averaging eight or more points, including sophomore Fred Brown (9.2 ppg.), redshirt freshman Jamar Samuels (9.2 ppg.), senior Darren Kent (8.4 ppg.) and sophomore Dominique Sutton (8.1 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 18 games, including a league-best six players with 20-point outings.  In all, there have been 62 double-digit scoring games with Pullen doing it a team-best 11 times.  Ten players have scored in double figures with six of those players doing it at least seven times this season. 

Clemente has led the Wildcats in scoring a team-best seven times, while Brown, Pullen and Samuels are the only other players to repeat as a leading scorer.  Clemente has led in scoring against Florida A&M, Cleveland State, Oregon, Gardner-Webb, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Baylor, while Pullen paced in three straight games against Oakland, Kentucky and Iowa then again against Wagner and Kansas.  Brown led in games against SE Missouri State, Emporia State and Chicago State, while Samuels did it against Gardner-Webb and Idaho State.  

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 18 games, K-State is averaging 39.7 rebounds, including a Big 12-best 16.4 on the offensive end, with five players averaging four or more boards.  The team ranks among the best in the Big 12 in four rebounding categories, including first in offensive rebounds, margin (+7.3) and rebounding defense (32.4) and third in rebounding.  Four players - Ron Anderson, Luis Colon, Darren Kent and Dominique Sutton - have grabbed double-digit rebounds eight times with Anderson and Kent averaging a team-best 5.7 boards 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 386 points (almost 30 percent of season total of 1,381 points) off 326 opponent turnovers.  The squad has also outscored its foes, 198-126, on fast-break opportunities. 

Kansas State has scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 11 of the team’s 18 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 contrast, the team has been outscored 132-108 in points off turnovers in its seven losses.  In all, the Wildcats have forced seven foes into 20 or more turnovers.  The squad is averaging 7.4 steals per game with five players grabbing 10 or more this season led by sophomore Jacob Pullen’s 30 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 17 of 18 games, have combined for 458 points on 38.7 percent shooting (158-of-408), including 33.3 percent from 3-point range (63-of-189), with 111 of the team’s 259 assists.  Pullen ranks first on the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game on 37.1 percent shooting with team-highs in field goals made (79), 3-point field goals made (38), assists (62), steals (30) and minutes (519).  Clemente is second in scoring at 12.7 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting, while is also second in assists (49) and minutes (451) and third in 3-point field goals (25).

The two have scored in double figures six times in the same game with a combined 36 points against Florida A&M, 31 against both Cleveland State and Kentucky, 45 against Oakland, 34 against Gardner-Webb and 39 against Wagner.  Clemente has led the squad in scoring a team-best seven times with a season-high 20 points against Gardner-Webb, while Pullen, who has scored in double figures a team-best 11 times, posted a career-best 26 against Oakland.

Samuels A Spark off the Bench
Redshirt freshman Jamar Samuels has provided a spark off the bench, averaging just over 20 minutes per contest despite just two starts this season.  He is third in scoring at 9.2 points on a team-best 59.1 percent shooting with 4.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 blocks in 20.1 minutes per game.  He ranks second in the number of double-figure scoring games with 10, including a season-high 20 points against Gardner-Webb on Dec. 14.  He scored in double figures in four consecutive games to start the year and has collected 10 or more points in six of the last 12 contests.  He has five or more rebounds 11 times, including a season-best eight on three occasions.  He was solid all-around in his first start against Centenary on Dec. 20 with eight points, eight rebounds, six assists and a career-tying three blocks.

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, tying for first with 5.7 rebounds per game.  He is also averaging 8.7 points on 41 percent shooting (48-of-117) to go with 1.2 assists and 0.6 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.

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 (1.3 spg.), third in minutes (21.5 mpg.), fifth in rebounds (4.7 rpg.) and sixth in scoring (8.1 ppg.).  He has also scored in double figures seven 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 ranks second on the squad in both  3-point field goals (34) and 3-point field goal percentage (42.0).  He has at least one 3-pointer in 14 of 18 games, including two or more on 10 occasions.  He ranks third on the team in scoring (9.2 ppg.), field goals (59) and field goals attempted (140), while he is second among reserves in minutes (19.7 mpg.).  Almost 60 percent of his made (34) and attempted field goals (81) have come beyond the arc.  He has scored in double figures seven times, including a pair of 20-point outings against SE Missouri State (21) and Chicago State (26).

Colorado Update
Colorado enters Saturday’s game with an 8-9 overall record and 0-3 mark in Big 12 after falling to Texas Tech, 63-55, on Tuesday night in Lubbock, Texas.  The Buffaloes have lost six of its last seven games, including three straight in conference play.  The team closed to within 51-49 against the Red Raiders with 3:28 remaining in the second half before Mike Singletary caught fire and out-scored the Buffaloes, 12-6, down the stretch for the victory.  Sophomore Cory Higgins led a pair of Colorado players in double figures with 21 points and a team-high seven rebounds and junior Dwight Thorne II added 13 ponts.   

The disciplined Buffaloes are averaging 66.2 points through 17 games on 46.9 percent shooting, including 34.4 percent from 3-point range, with 28.8 rebounds, 12.6 assists, 5.9 steals and 1.8 blocks per game.  The team averages nearly six 3-pointers per game. 

Youthful Colorado, which has 10 freshmen and sophomore on the team, is led by guard Cory Higgins, who averages 17.8 points on 51.5 percent shooting with a team-high 6.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.9 steals in 36.5 minutes per game.  Junior Dwight Thorne II is second in scoring at 11.9 points on 52.8 percent shooting with 3.3 rebounds per contest.  Freshman Austin Dufault averages 9.1 points to go with 3.8 rebounds, while fellow freshman Nate Tomlinson adds 8.3 points per game with a team-high 3.3 assists per game. 

Colorado returns seven lettermen, including two starters, from a team that finished the 2007-08 season with a 12-20 record, including a 3-13 mark in Big 12 play.  

The Buffaloes are led by second-year head coach Jeff Bzdelik, who has posted a 20-29 mark at the helm.  He has a 95-75 record in six years as a college head coach, which includes stints at Maryland-Baltimore County (1986-88) and the Air Force Academy (2005-07).

Series Information
K-State and Colorado will be meeting for the 137th time on Saturday with the Wildcats holding a 93-43 edge in the series. The Buffaloes are 31-30 in the series at home, but the Wildcats have won back-to-back games in Boulder for the first time since the 1987-88 and 1988-89 season.  The Buffaloes own a 14-12 edge since the start of Big 12 play, including a 8-4 mark at home.  K-State’s five-game winning streak is the longest since winning nine straight from 1985-89. 
 
Last 5 meetings:
2/18/06 K-State 72-60 Manhattan
2/10/07 K-State 78-59 Manhattan
2/24/07 K-State 87-71 Boulder
1/23/08 K-State 72-56 Boulder
3/4/08 K-State 78-72 Manhattan

Solid Non-Conference Season
Kansas State’s win against Chicago State on Jan. 5 gave the team 11 non-conference wins for the second consecutive season.  It marks the first time the team has posted consecutive seasons of at least 10 non-conference wins since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons.  The squad still has one more non-conference game on Feb. 17 against North Carolina Central.  The Wildcats have won at least 10 non-league contests four times in the last five seasons. 

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.