K-State faces big test vs. Nebraska Saturday

Game 21

Nebraska (12-6, 1-3 Big 12)

at Kansas State (14-6, 3-2 Big 12)

Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007

Bramlage Coliseum (13,340) in Manhattan, Kan.

 

Game Information:

Tipoff: 5:07 p.m. Central

Series: Kansas State leads 120-90

(K-State leads 69-30 in Manhattan)

TV: Fox Sports Midwest

(Available only in Kansas City and state of Kansas)

Satellite Channels: DirecTV 659, Dish Network 445

Talent: Ben Boyle (Play-by-Play)

and Stan Weber (Analyst)

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

Yahoo! Radio

Talent: Wyatt Thompson (Play-by-Play) and Matt Walters (Analyst)

 

K-State faces major test with visit from Nebraska on Saturday

Kansas State (14-6, 3-2 Big 12) returns to Big 12 play this Saturday, as the Wildcats play host to north rival Nebraska (12-6, 1-3 Big 12) at Bramlage Coliseum beginning at 5:07 p.m.  The Wildcats are riding a four-game winning streak, including a three-game streak in Big 12 play, after Monday’s 73-36 dismantling of Chicago State.  The team’s current three-game conference winning streak ties for the longest in the Big 12 era and the longest since the Wildcats rattled off five in a row during the 1989-90 season in the Big Eight.  The streak will be put to the test on Saturday, as K-State faces a Nebraska squad that ended a four-game losing streak in Manhattan last season with a 57-42 victory.

There will be a dual broadcast of the game by Fox Sports Midwest with Ben Boyle (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (color) calling the action throughout the state and the Kansas City area, while Greg Sharpe (play-by-play) and Matt Davidson (color) will call the game throughout the state of Nebraska. The audio broadcast of the game 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 Matt Walters (color) on the call.


K-State ended non-conference play with a bang, as the Wildcats held Chicago State to the fewest points and lowest field goal percentage (22.2) by an opponent in Bramlage Coliseum history.  The win gave the team its most non-conference wins (11) since the 1998-99 season.    

 

A Quick Look at the Wildcats

Kansas State pushed its winning streak to four games on Monday with a 73-36 win over Chicago State.  The Wildcats set school records for opponent futility in the contest, as the Cougars’ 36 points and 22.2 percent shooting from the field both represented record-lows for an opponent in Bramlage Coliseum.  The team also compiled a coliseum record 12 blocked shots, including both a school and arena record eight blocks by freshman center Jason Bennett.  K-State also connected on 50.8 percent of its field goals and had four players in double figures.  For the season, the team is averaging 71.8 points on 43.2 percent shooting and has three players averaging in double figures led by senior forward Cartier Martin’s 14.9 points per game.

 

Projected Starters

No.      Name                                                                         PPG        RPG      

3       Lance Harris (G, 6-5, 205, Sr.)                   11.1       3.8

5       Clent Stewart (G, 6-4, 190, Jr.)                   5.5        2.0

15      David Hoskins (F, 6-5, 230, Jr.)                 14.4       5.9

34      Akeem Wright (G, 6-6, 210, Sr.)                 7.3       6.0

50      Luis Colon (C, 6-10, 275, Fr.)                     2.8        2.2

 

Key Reserves

No.      Name                                                                         PPG        RPG      

2       Blake Young (G, 6-2, 190, Jr.)                    6.2        2.1

14      Serge Afeli (F, 6-9, 235, Sr.)                      1.5        1.6

20      Cartier Martin (F, 6-7, 225, Sr.)                  14.9       4.1

23      Jermaine Maybank (G, 6-4, 180, Sr.)          2.3        2.3

42      Darren Kent (F, 6-10, 215, So.)                  0.7        1.3

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

 

Noting the Chicago State game 

*With the win, Kansas State finished non-conference play with an 11-4 record, including a perfect 7-0 mark at Bramlage Coliseum... The 11 non-league wins are the most by the Wildcats since the 1998-99 squad produced an 11-2 mark in the preseason... The team finished non-conference play with an undefeated record for the second consecutive season... The Wildcats have won 18 consecutive games against non-league foes dating back to Dec. 2004.

 

*Kansas State went on the defensive in the win against Chicago State, holding the Cougars to new lows for shooting futility in Bramlage Coliseum... The 36 points (half the team’s season average of 72.2 ppg.) tied the 1998 Coppin State team for the fewest in the arena’s 19-year history, while its 22.2 percent shooting from the field was the lowest-ever in the building, surpassing the 24.5 percent by Coppin State on Dec. 21, 1998.


*In addition, the Wildcats set Bramlage Coliseum records for blocked shots by a team and individual... The squad’s 12 blocked shots were the most ever recorded in the arena, surpassing the 10 against UMKC on Dec. 19, 1998 and the 10 Colorado registered against K-State on Feb. 11, 2003... Freshman center Jason Bennett also established both the school and Bramlage Coliseum record with his eight blocks... His eight swats broke the school mark of six that he already shared with two others, while it surpassed the coliseum marks of six by Diarra and seven by Nebraska’s Kimani Ffriend (Jan. 30, 2001).


*Kansas State was also solid from the offensive end, shooting 50 percent from the field in both halves to connect on 50.8 percent for the game... It marked the seventh time this season that the Wildcats have connected on 50 percent of their field goals in a game and the first time since the New Mexico game on Dec. 23, 2006... The team has compiled a 10-1 record (including 4-0 when scoring in the 70s) when scoring 70 or more points this season.


*Senior Cartier Martin came off the bench for the third consecutive game to post a game-high 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting... It marked the 21st time in his career that he has had at least 20 points in a game, including the sixth time this season... Martin has scored in double figures in four straight.


*Junior David Hoskins made it back-to-back double-doubles with 15 points and a team-high 10 rebounds... He posted his first career double-double against Iowa State on Jan. 20... Hoskins has scored in double figures in 13 consecutive games dating back to Cleveland State on Dec. 5.


*Senior Lance Harris continued his impressive play of late with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting against Chicago State... He had at least two 3-pointers in the game for the 10th time this season... Harris has averaged 16.0 points during the winning streak on 50 percent shooting.

 

Block Party

Kansas State broke nearly every single-game block record on Monday, as the Wildcats posted a Bramlage Coliseum-record 12 blocked shots, including an individual mark of eight by freshman Jason Bennett, in a 73-37 victory.  The 12 blocks surpassed the previous highs of 10 against UMKC on Dec. 19, 1998 and the 10 Colorado registered against K-State on Feb. 11, 2003 for the most in the building’s 19-year history.  Bennett’s eight swats not only broke the school mark of six that he already shared (at California on Nov. 29, 2006) with Tony Kitt (vs. Kansas on March 3, 1999) and Dramane Diarra (vs. Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 26, 2005), but it also surpassed the arena marks of six by Diarra and seven by Nebraska’s Kimani Ffriend (Jan. 30, 2001). 


The team’s 89 blocks this season are just six short of the 95 recorded all of last season, while it already surpasses the totals of the 2003-04 (76) and 2004-05 (63) seasons.  The Wildcats are on pace for 138 blocks (4.45 per game) during the regular season, which would be the second-most in a single-season in Kansas State history behind the 146 recorded in 1998-99.  On the other hand, Bennett’s 39 blocked shots this season have already established a freshman school record, shattering the previous mark of 24 by Shawn Rhodes in 1995-96.  He needs one block to crack the school’s single-season top-10, while he is 10 swats away from the career top-10.  Bennett is on pace for 64 blocks this season, which would break Gerald Eaker’s single-season mark of 59 set during the 1995-96 season.  He has recorded at least one block in 11 of 17 games, while his 2.29 per game average ranks first in the Big 12. 

 

Getting Defensive

Kansas State has demonstrated trademark Bob Huggins’ defensive basketball in posting a 14-6 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 (27.9), third in rebounding (38.0), fourth in field goal percentage defense (39.3) and fifth in scoring defense (64.2).  The squad has been even more impressive in league play, where they rank first in 3-point percentage defense (25.3), third in field goal percentage defense (40.6) and fifth in rebounding margin (+1.6).  The team has held 17 of its 20 opponents to below 80 points, including nine of its last 11 under 70 points.  Only six opponents have shot better than 45 percent from the field.


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 in the last 13 games.  The team has held its opponents to just 62.2 points on 38.7 percent shooting (273-of-706), including just 22.7 percent (49-of-216) from 3-point range, during the stretch.  In addition, K-State has forced an average of 17.6 turnovers and tallied an average of 6.5 steals during the stretch. 


During the course of the season, the defensive effort has produced marks that the Wildcats haven’t seen in years and even decades.  Against Chicago State, the Wildcats held the Cougars to just 36 points on 22.2 percent shooting, which tied or set new marks for lows by an opponent in Bramlage Coliseum.  It marked the fewest points allowed an opponent since Coppin State also scored 36 on Dec. 21, 1999.  In the win over Rutgers on Nov. 15, the team held the Scarlet Knights to 41 points on just nine field goals and 19.1 percent shooting.  The nine field goals were the fewest allowed since the Wildcats held Washburn a school-record seven in a 23-15 win on Dec. 6, 1940, while the 41 points are the fewest allowed an foe on their home court since 1984.

 

Dissecting The Streak

It is easy to determine the reasons for Kansas State’s recent four-game winning streak, as the Wildcats have relied on their stars and stifling defense to post its second victory streak of four or more games this season.  The team’s top three scorers - Cartier Martin (18.0 ppg), David Hoskins (17.0 ppg.) and Lance Harris (16.0 ppg.) - have combined to score 204 of the Wildcats’ 296 points during the streak on 47.8 percent shooting (69-of-145).  The trio has also connected on a stunning 89.7 percent (52-of-58) of their free throw attempts.  The team has also held its last four foes to a combined 59.2 points per game on just 34.8 percent shooting (81-of-233), including just 22.1 percent (19-of-86) from 3-point range, while holding a +7.8 rebounding margin.  


Home Sweet Home

Kansas State has continued to make Bramlage Coliseum one of the toughest home venues in the Big 12, as the Wildcats have posted an 8-1 mark at home this season, including a perfect 7-0 mark in non-conference games.  The team has posted an impressive 69-24 (.742) mark at home since the start of 2001-02 season, including 10 or more wins each of the past five years.  With six home games remaining this season, the Wildcats have already clinched a winning record at home for the 61st consecutive season, which has spanned three arenas and nine head coaches dating back to the 1946-47 season.  The team has registered an 837-322 (.722) record in home games all-time, including a 209-81 (.721) mark in Bramlage Coliseum since its opening in 1988.

 

Clutch Shooting

Kansas State has taken advantage of its opportunities at the free throw line in the past four games, as the Wildcats have combined to sink 78.2 percent (79-of-101) from the charity stripe.  The team posted season-highs in free throws (37), free throws attempted (43) and free throw percentage (86.0) in the win over Missouri on Jan. 13.  The 37 free throws and 43 attempts are the most in a game since the Wildcats collected 39 makes on 51 attempts against Baylor on Feb. 13, 1999.  The total (37) was also just five shy of school-record of 42 set against Purdue on Dec. 1, 1958.  In addition, the Wildcats have been particularly effective in the last five minutes from the free throw line, knocking down 77.5 percent (31-of-40), including 87.5 percent against Missouri.

   

It’s Hard to Project this Line-up 

In an effort to find the right combination, head coach Bob Huggins has started 11 different line-ups this season, including a different one in 10 of the last 14 contests.  He has used all types of positional line-ups from three guards (Stewart, Harris and Wright against North Dakota State on Dec. 9, Baylor on Jan. 17, Iowa State on Jan. 20 and Chicago State on Jan. 22) 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 41 consecutive contests, including all 19 games this season.  The line-up variety is in stark contrast to the past two seasons when there were just six different line-ups (in 29 games) in 2004-05 and eight (in 28 games) in 2005-06.

              

The Book on Nebraska

Nebraska enters Saturday’s contest with a 12-5 overall record and 1-3 mark in Big 12 play after dropping a heartbreaking 62-61 decision to Texas on Wednesday night at home.  Trailing by one with less than a minute remaining, the Huskers had two chances to hit the game-winning shot, but neither would fall as Nebraska lost for the first time at home.  The team shot 45.7 percent from the field, including 50 percent in the second half, and had three players score in double figures led by senior guard Marcus Perry’s 17 points.  The Huskers have dropped three of their last four after running off four straight victories in late December to early January.  The team has dropped all four of its road games this season.


Nebraska
is averaging 71.1 points on 49.9 percent shooting with 28.8 rebounds and 16.8 assists on the season.  The Huskers have six players averaging seven or more points, including three in double figures.  One of the Big 12 Conference’s top big men, junior center Aleks Maric leads the squad in several categories, including scoring (18.0 ppg.), rebounding (7.9 rpg.), field goal percentage (63.7) and blocks (1.2 bpg.).  The team also has seven players who have registered double-digit 3-point field goals led by senior guard Marcus Perry’s 35.  Freshman guard Ryan Anderson is second in scoring at 11.2 points on 50.8 percent shooting, while sophomore guard Jamel White and Perry add 10.6 and 8.9 points per game, respectively.  Senior guard Charles Richardson, Jr., paces in both assists (6.0 apg.) and steals (2.2 spg.), while adding 7.9 points per game.  


Nebraska is led by first-year head coach Doc Sadler, who became coach in August after guiding Texas-El Paso to back-to-back postseason appearances and a 48-18 overall record in two seasons as head coach.  This will be his first meeting with both Kansas State and Bob Huggins in his career.

  

Series versus Nebraska

This will be the 211th meeting between Kansas State and Nebraska in a series that dates back to 1906.  The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 120-90, including a 69-30 advantage in games played at home.  K-State holds an 12-9 edge since the inception of the Big 12, including an 8-2 mark at home.  The teams split their two meetings last season with each winning on the other’s home court, as the Huskers earned a 57-42 win to end a four-game losing streak in Manhattan on Jan. 11 before the Wildcats held on for a 66-64 victory in Lincoln on March 1.  K-State has won 10 of the last 12 meetings at home.


In its last meeting in Manhattan, the two teams played to the lowest-scoring men’s game ever played at Bramlage Coliseum, as Nebraska snapped an 11-game home winning streak by Kansas State with a 57-42 victory on Jan. 11, 2006.  The Huskers, who led 24-20 at the break behind 11 points and 13 rebounds from center Aleks Maric, opened the second half with a 19-2 run.  Nebraska held K-State without a field goal for more than 11 minutes in the late first half and first 9:38 of the second.  A late 10-2 run, capped by forward Cartier Martin’s free throws with 3:01 to go, cut the gap to 54-42.  But they did not score again.  Maric led four players in double figures with 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.  Martin led all scorers with 20 points.  


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 a team-leading 16.4 points in the last 13 games on 48.9 percent shooting (65-of-133) with 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals.  His torrid play of late has enabled him to rank among the Big 12’s top 20 in four categories, including ninth in free throw percentage (77.6), 13th in scoring (14.4 ppg.) and 16th in rebounding (5.9 rpg.).  Hoskins’ numbers are even better in Big 12 play, where he is pacing the squad in both scoring (17.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg). 

 

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 was team’s leading scorer against Xavier with 17 points before adding 11 points in a loss at Texas A&M.  Hoskins came through in a big way offensively against Texas Tech on Jan. 8, posting 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting in 33 minutes.  After solid efforts against Missouri and Baylor, he stepped his game even more in the last two games with the first of back-to-back double-doubles in wins over Iowa State and Chicago State, posting 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting against the Cyclones with a career-high 11 rebounds in a season-high 36 minutes before totaling 15 points and 10 rebounds against the Cougars on Monday. 

 

In addition, Hoskins has been impressive from the free throw line during the 13-game streak, connecting on 81.3 percent (78-of-96), including 79.2 percent (19-of-24) in the last five minutes. 

    

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 17.6 turnovers (229), including an average of 6.5 steals, in the last 13 games, while averaging 20.1 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 next four games by scoring 18 points off 19 Xavier turnovers, 22 points off 16 Texas A&M miscues, 19 points off 15 Texas Tech turnovers and 23 points off 16 Missouri miscues. 

 

The current average of 16.2 turnovers forced per game is the highest by a 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 22.9 points coming from its reserves this season.  The impact has been even more telling in the last 14 contests, where the Wildcats have averaged 24.7 points off the bench and have outscored their opponent by a 346-213 margin.  The streak came on the heels of being outscored 67-47 off the bench in 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 off the bench.  Senior forward Cartier Martin has seemed to relish his opportunity coming off the bench.  He has scored in double figures in five of the seven games he has not started for the Wildcats, including an 18-point effort against North Dakota State on Dec. 9, a 23-point output against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 19 and a 17-point effort against Iowa State on Jan. 20 and most recently a 25-point output against Chicago State on Jan. 22.  Martin is averaging 15.7 points on 48.1 percent shooting (39-of-81) in seven games off the bench this season with 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists in over 28 minutes per game.

 

Road Warriors

After struggling for most of the past decade on the road, Kansas State has taken a step forward this season with a Big 12-leading six victories away from Bramlage Coliseum for the first time since the 1995-96 season.  The team also has four true’ road wins - at Rutgers, North Dakota State, Missouri and Iowa State - already this season for the first time since the 1995-96 season when the Wildcats also captured five victories.  K-State has also won back-to-back conference road games for the first time since 1995-96.  This is contrast to the previous seven seasons, in which, the team posted no more than four wins away from Manhattan in a season and compiled a 15-72 overall record, including a 10-63 mark in a true’ road venue.     

     

Trio of Prolific Scorers

Kansas State has three players on its squad - seniors Cartier Martin and Lance Harris and junior David Hoskins - who rank among the school’s top 75 scorers.  Martin, who entered the school’s all-time top-10 with 15 points against Missouri on Jan. 13, became just the 10th player in school history to top 1,200 career points with his 15-point effort against Baylor on Jan. 17.  He now has 1,245 points after his 25-point effort against Chicago State on Monday.  Harris now ranks 28th all-time with 879 points in his four-year career after scoring 12 points against Chicago State and needs just 57 points to crack the school’s top 25.  Martin (130) and Harris (129) rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in school history in career 3-point field goals.  Hoskins already ranks 64th on the all-time scoring list with 655 points and can move into the top 50 with just 74 points.  It marks the first time since 1987-88 season (Mitch Richmond, Will Scott and Charles Bledsoe) that the Wildcats have had a 1,000-point scorer and a pair of 500-point scorers on the same team. 

  

Non-Conference Play A Success

Kansas State capped another stellar non-conference season in 2006-07 with its 73-36 win over Chicago State on Jan. 22.  The Wildcats posted at least 10 wins during the non-conference portion of their schedule for the 17th time in their history and for the first time since the 2004-05 season.  The 11 non-league victories are the most by a Wildcat squad since the 1998-99 squad also produced 11, while the program produced 10 wins before January 1 for the first time in nearly seven seasons.  K-State has now earned a winning record in non-conference play in 35 consecutive seasons dating back to 1972-73 and has totaled at least eight non-conference wins in 22 of the last 26 seasons, including each of the last five seasons.  The Wildcats have won 29 of their last 37 games against non-conference opponents, including a remarkable 25-1 (.961) mark at home.              

 

Offense Taking Flight

Kansas State broke out of a three-game scoring slump against Missouri on Jan. 13, posting 80 or more points for the sixth time this season and the first time since scoring 82 against Kennesaw State on Dec. 17.  Just 20 games into the season, the six 80-point games by Wildcats equal the season totals of the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons, while it surpasses the totals of five other recent seasons (4 in 2005-06 and 3 each in 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2002-03).  The last time K-State posted more than six 80-point contests in a single-season was the 1998-99 season when the team collected seven such games.  

           

Despite scoring less than 70 points in six of seven games this month, the team has still averaged averaged 74.2 points on 46.6 percent shooting (359-of-771) in the last 14 contests after averaging just 66.0 points on 36.3 percent shooting in the first six games.  In doing so, the squad has shot 50 percent or better from the field in 15 of their last 28 halves of basketball, including 60 percent or better in four times.  During the first part of the streak, the Wildcats scored 80 or more points in four consecutive games for the first time since the 1990-91 season.  Against Cleveland State, Kansas State shot a season-high 61.5 percent from the field and topped the 90-point barrier for just 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 against Nebraska on Feb. 4, 2004.

 

Martin Joins 1,000-Point Club; Cracks School’s Top 10

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. 

 

Martin cracked the school’s top-10 list for scoring on Jan. 13 with his 15-point effort against Missouri, topping All-American Jack Parr (1,184; 1955-58).  He became the 10th player with 1,200 career points against Baylor and is now within seven points of Tyrone Adams (1,251; 1979-82) for ninth place after scoring 25 against Chicago State.  He is just the fifth player in school history to top 1,200 points and 400 rebounds in a career, joining Ed Nealy (1,304 points, 1,069 rebounds), Bob Boozer (1,685 points, 824 rebounds), Rolando Blackman (1,844 points, 607 rebounds) and Askia Jones (1,834 points, 463 rebounds).  Martin has scored in double figures 14 times in the last 18 games, including six 20-point outings. 

 

He began the streak by posting a career-high 28 points against Tennessee Tech, while he has also turned in 20-point efforts against Colorado State (21), Cleveland State (21), UMES (23) and New Mexico (23), which earned him MVP honors at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Dec. 23.  Martin came off the bench to post 25 against Chicago State on Jan. 22.

        

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 11.1 points on 48.5 percent shooting, including a team-best 40.5 percent from 3-point range, this season to go with a 3.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 0.6 steals per game.  He paces the squad in both 3-point field goals (34) and 3-point field goal percentage (40.8), while he is in the top-4 in scoring, field goal percentage and rebounding.  Harris has scored in double figures in 10 contests, including three 20-point efforts.  He opened the year with 22 points against William & Mary on Nov. 11 before posting a career-high 26 points against Coppin State on Nov. 25.  His 24 points 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 seven games. 

 

A constant in the line-up, Harris is moving up several K-State career charts, including ranking third in 3-point field goal attempts (366), fifth in 3-point field goals (129), 10th in minutes (2,225) and 28th in scoring (879), while he is just outside the top 10 in career games played (104).

 

The 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 7.3 points on 42.9 percent shooting to go with a team-high 6.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.7 steals in 25.4 minutes per game.  He ranks among the top-15 in two Big 12 categories, including 13th in defensive rebounds and 15th in rebounding.  Known more for his defensive prowess, Wright spent the summer working on his jumpshot to complete his all-around game.  Wright has scored in double figures in five 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 seven games this season.  Wright has grabbed six or more rebounds in seven of the last nine games.  For the season, he has totaled six or more boards in 11 contests. 

 

During the last 13 games, Wright has topped his season average seven times with three 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.

 

Stewart Manning the Point

Junior guard Clent Stewart has been a steadying force for the Wildcats this season since emerging as the team’s primary point guard against North Dakota State on Dec. 9.  During that span, Stewart has averaged 6.7 points on 42.9 percent shooting with 2.9 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 0.6 steals in 26.1 minutes per game in guiding the team to nine wins.  He has been even more impressive in Big 12 play, averaging 10.0 points on 48.6 percent shooting (17-of-35), including 40 percent from 3-point range (6-of-15), with 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 29.4 minutes per game.  Stewart has scored in double figures in three of the last six games, including tying his career-high with 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting against Missouri on Jan. 13.


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 15 minutes in each of the last 10 games, including 25 against Xavier on Jan. 3. 

 

A NJCAA honorable mention All-American as a sophomore in 2005-06, he averaged 6.2 points, a team-best 2.5 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 21.6 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 five contests. 

                  

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.


Walker Out for Season with ACL Injury

Tests revealed on Monday, Jan. 8 that freshman forward Bill Walker sustained a complete rupture of the anterior crucial ligament (ACL) in his left knee and leaving him out for the remainder of the season, according to head coach Bob Huggins.  Surgery was successfully performed on Friday, Jan. 19 and Walker has already begun his rehabilitation process.  It is expected to take between six and eight months.

 

The highly-touted freshman averaged 11.3 points on 40.0 percent shooting in six games this season with 4.5 rebounds in 23.2 minutes per game.  He began his career by posting 15 points on 6-of-10 field goals against Kennesaw State on Dec. 17 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 in the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Holiday Classic 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.   


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.

 

K-State appears on “Inside College Basketball”

Kansas State is one of four schools in the country to appear on the new ABC series, “Chase Card Services Presents FREE Ticket: Inside College Basketball,” which began Saturday, Jan. 13.  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. 

 

Up Next: Missouri (12-6, 1-4 Big 12)

Kansas State will look to sweep the season series from Missouri for just the second time since 1984, as the Wildcats play host to the Tigers to conclude the month on Wednesday, Jan. 31.  K-State earned just its second win in Columbia since 1984 with an 85-81 win on Jan. 13 in a game that started the team’s current winning streak.  Missouri improved to 12-6 overall and 1-4 in Big 12 play and ended a four-game losing streak in league play with a 79-65 win over Colorado on Wednesday.  The team is averaging 78.8 points on 46.3 percent shooting with 35.9 rebounds and has a balanced scoring team with three players averaging in double figures.  Newcomer of the Year candidate Stefhon Hannah paces the team in a number of categories, including scoring (15.3 ppg.), assists (4.8 apg.) and steals (3.2 spg.), while Matt Lawrence and Marshall Brown add 12.3 and 10.9 points per game, respectively.