11/13 K-State hosts 2/2 Kansas Saturday
11/13 K-State hosts 2/2 Kansas Saturday
11/13 KANSAS STATE (17-3, 4-2 Big 12)
vs. 2/2 Kansas (19-1, 5-0 Big 12)
Date: Saturday, January 30, 2010
Tipoff: 6:05 p.m. CT
Location: Manhattan, Kan. | Arena: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)
Television: ESPN Saturday Primetime (Dan Shulman, play-by-play; Dick Vitale, analyst; Erin Andrews, sideline reporter; Phil Dean, producer) | Channel Directory: DirecTV 73, Dish Network 140, AT&T U-Verse 602, Cox Cable 32 | Internet: www.ESPN360.com | ESPN Mobile TV
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst) | Live Stats: www.kstatesports.com
Local Stations: Sports Radio 1350 AM (KMAN; Manhattan), 101.5-FM (KMKF; Manhattan) | Satellite Radio: Sirius 123/XM 144
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International '93) is 60-27 (.690) in his third season at K-State. Kansas - Bill Self (Oklahoma State '85) is 188-41 (.821) in his seventh season at Kansas and 395-146 (.730) in his 17th season overall as a head coach.
Last Time Out: K-State beat No. 24 Baylor, 76-74, on the road on Tuesday, while Kansas knocked off Missouri, 84-65, at home on Monday.
Series: Kansas leads 176-91 (KU is 72-44 in Manhattan) | Last time: Kansas won 85-74 in Manhattan on Feb. 14, 2009 | Series Trend: Kansas has won 20 of the 21 meetings in Bramlage Coliseum | Frank Martin is 1-3 vs. Kansas, while Bill Self is 13-2 all-time vs. K-State.
Rankings: K-State is ranked No. 11 in AP Top 25 and No. 13 in USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25. Kansas is ranked No. 2 in both polls.
Tickets: Sold out.
K-State hosts archrival Kansas and College Gameday Saturday
Kansas State (17-3, 4-2 Big 12) renews one of the oldest rivalries in college basketball on Saturday, as the Wildcats play host to No. 2/2 Kansas (19-1, 5-0 Big 12) at Bramlage Coliseum at 6 p.m. CT. The rivalry is the seventh-most continuous played (103 consecutive seasons) in the country and the second-most continuously played west of the Mississippi River. The game's festivities will kick off early in the day, as the match-up will play host to ESPN's "College Gameday" on Saturday morning for the second time and for the first time in Manhattan, as the crew of Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Hubert Davis and Digger Phelps will broadcast live on the Bramlage Coliseum floor at 10 a.m. CT. The contest will be televised nationally on ESPN's Saturday Primetime with Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (analyst) and Erin Andrews (sideline reporter) on the call. A national audience will get a chance to view the rivalry at its highest level in more than 50 years, as the two teams will clash for the first time since 1958 when both are ranked in the nation's Top 15. Overall, this will be just the 12th meeting between the state's top two flagship universities when both are ranked in the Top 25, including the ninth when both are in the Top 15. Overall, the Jayhawks own a 176-91 advantage in the all-time series, including a 72-44 mark in Manhattan. This will mark the first time that two teams have met when ranked since No. 22 K-State knocked off No. 2 Kansas, 84-75, on Jan. 30, 2008.
K-State stayed in the Top 15 in both major polls for the fourth consecutive week on Monday, as the Wildcats dropped one spot to No. 11 in The Associated Press poll and four slots to No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. It marks the first time that the program has ranked among the AP Top 15 for four consecutive weeks since the 1961-62 squad was ranked among the AP Top 10 for 14 consecutive weeks from Dec. 19, 1961 to March 13, 1962. The squad rebounded from its first loss at Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 23 with a 76-74 win at No. 24 Baylor on Tuesday night. The victory improved the team's record to 17-3 overall, which ranks the fourth-best start after 20 games in school history and the best since the 1961-62 team opened with an 18-2 mark.
It marks just the sixth time in school history that a team has won at least 17 of their first 20 games.
The Wildcats got back on the winning track on Tuesday night, as they ended Baylor's 11-game homecourt winning streak (10-0 mark this season) with a 76-74 victory at the Ferrell Center. The squad shot 50 percent from the field, including 55 percent from 3-point range, to earn their first win over the Bears since 2007 and the first at the Ferrell Center since 2004. The backcourt tandem of junior Jacob Pullen (25) and senior Denis Clemente (17) combined for 42 points on 50 percent shooting, including 60 percent from 3-point range. It marked the 20th consecutive game that Pullen has scored in double figures, including the ninth 20-point outing of the season. Rookie Rodney McGruder scored in double figures for fourth straight game with 10 points off the bench.
A Quick Look at Kansas State
K-State is averaging just over 80 points per game (81.4 ppg.) on 46.1 percent shooting (532-of-1154), including 36 percent from 3-point range (133-of-369), with 40.0 rebounds, 15.3 assists, 7.2 steals and 5.2 blocks per game. The squad has topped 80 or more points in 13 of 20 games (for the first time in school history), while hitting on 45 percent or better from the field on 11 occasions. The 1,628 points scored are the second-most through 20 games, just behind the 1986-87 team who scored 1,635 in that span. The 81.4 points per game average is on pace to possibly break the school-record of 81.4 points averaged during the 1952-53 campaign. The 76.5 points per game average through the first six conference games are most for K-State since the start of Big 12 play and most in league play since averaging 88.0 points per game to start Big Eight play in 1986-87. The team is averaging 35 points per game in the paint, while ranking first nationally in most personal fouls drawn (26.2), free throws made (21.6) and free throws attempted (33.0) per game. The defensive effort has also been solid, holding foes to 68.8 points on 41.2 percent shooting while averaging 21.3 points off of 17.7 turnovers per game. The team has scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 10 games, including seven of the last 11 contests, while the 40 points off turnovers against South Dakota on Jan. 3 were the most-ever since the statistic began being kept in 2005-06. After allowing nearly 77 points in the previous three games, the Wildcats have turned up the intensity of late, holding the last eight teams to 69.2 points on 41.6 percent shooting, including just 26.6 percent from 3-point range, while posting a +9.0 rebounding edge.
With the win over No. 24 Baylor, the Wildcats' 17-3 overall record is the best start under head coach Frank Martin and the best since the 1961-62 squad opened at 18-2. Only three other teams have fared better after 20 games in Kansas State history, as the 1957-58 and 1958-59 teams started 19-1 and the 1961-62 teams opened at 18-2. The 17-3 record matches the 1947-48 amd 1950-51 squads for the fourth-best start in school history. This is just the sixth time in school history that the team has won 17 of their first 20 games.
Dubbed a mid-season second team All-American by both Yahoo! Sports and The Sporting News, junior Jacob Pullen leads four players in double figures at 19.2 points per game on 41.7 percent shooting from the field to go with team bests in field goals (105), 3-point field goals (60), free throws (113), free throw percentage (79.6) and steals (30), while backcourt mate Denis Clemente is second in scoring at 14.7 points per game on 37.6 percent shooting from the field and is tops on the team in assists (82) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.28). The duo has combined for over 40 percent of the scoring (677) this season, while historically, they are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 33.9) guard tandem since former NBA players Mike Evans and Chuckie Williams combined to average 38.9 points per game for the Wildcats between 1974-76. Clemente topped the 1,000-point plateau for his career (which includes his two-year stint at Miami) with a pair of free throws just over a minute into the IUPUI game on Nov. 28. Pullen became the 21st player in school history, including the eighth guard, to score 1,000 career points with his 30-point effort against Alabama on Dec. 19. His 1,174 points in 87 career games ranks 12th all-time in school history, while he has scored in double figures in all 20 games. His team-best 59 career double-digit scoring games rank 10th all-time in K-State history.
Sophomore Jamar Samuels ranks third in scoring at 11.8 points per game on a team-best 59.8 percent shooting from the field. Samuels, who has come off the bench in 18 of 19 games, ranks third on the squad in rebounding at 5.0 per game. He has scored in double figures in 15 of his 19 games played, including just his second double-double against Texas with 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Dubbed the "X-Factor" for his ability to change the game off the bench, 29 of Samuels' 30 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve. Junior transfer Curtis Kelly is the only other player averaging in double figures at 11.2 points per game. Kelly, who is tied with Dominique Sutton with two double-doubles each, is shooting 57.6 percent from the field and ranks first with 6.4 rebounds per contest. Sutton, arguably one of the Big 12's top defenders, is averaging 7.5 points on 51.4 percent shooting to go with 5.6 rebounds per game. He earned his second double-double of the season against Texas A&M with 12 points and a career-best 12 rebounds. Rookie Rodney McGruder has been solid of late, averaging 8.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in Big 12 play.
Postgame Notes vs. Baylor
--With its win over Baylor, Kansas State now leads the all-time series, 11-10... It was the first win in the series since a 69-60 win on Jan. 17, 2007 at home... It was also the first at Baylor (just the third-ever) since a 64-62 victory on March 3, 2004... The game was the first in the series when both teams were ranked... With the victory, Frank Martin has now beaten all 12 Big 12 schools... He had previously been 0-2 against the Bears.
--The Wildcats' starting lineup was junior guard Jacob Pullen, senior guard Denis Clemente, junior forward Dominique Sutton, junior forward Curtis Kelly and senior center Luis Colon... It marked just the eighth time this season the team has used this starting combination... Pullen has now started in 54 straight games for the Wildcats, extending his streak as the team's leader in most consecutive games played to 87... In addition, Sutton, who is second on the team with 61 consecutive games played, has started 37 consecutive games for the Wildcats.
--K-State earned its seventh win away from Bramlage Coliseum, including its third in a true road environment, with the win over Baylor... It was also the second over a ranked team on the road, following a 95-80 win over No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12... In addition, it was the fourth over a ranked team this season, marking the first time that the Wildcats have beaten four ranked teams in a regular season.
--K-State shot 50 percent from the field (28-of-56) against Baylor, including 55 percent (11-of-20) from 3-point range... It marked the sixth time this year that the Wildcats have shot 50 percent or better from the field, while it marked just the second time that the squad has hit on 50 percent or better from beyond the arc... The team connected on 11 3-point field goals in the contest, marking the third double-digit 3-point performance of the season and the first since posting 14 against No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12... The team out-rebounded the much-bigger Bears, 39-36, and now are 13-0 when out-rebounding its opposition... Baylor shot just 40 percent from the field, including just 20 percent from 3-point range.
--The backcourt tandem of senior Denis Clemente and junior Jacob Pullen combined for 42 points in the win on 50 percent shooting (14-of-28), including 60 percent from 3-point range... It marked the ninth time that the pair has combined for 40 or more points in 52 career games together... Freshman Rodney McGruder registered double-digit points for the fourth straight game with 10 points on the day... He has averaged 10.3 points on 57.1 percent shooting in the last four games with 5.3 rebounds per game... Sophomore Jamar Samuels led the team in rebounding with eight.
The Book on Kansas
Kansas enters Saturday's game with a 19-1 overall record and a perfect 5-0 mark in Big 12 play after earning an 85-65 win over Missouri on Monday night at Allen Field House. The Jayhawks shot 49.1 percent from the field, including 51.4 percent in the first half, and were dominant on the defensive end, holding the Tigers to just 27.9 percent shooting. Six players scored at least nine points in the contest led by forward Marcus Morris' 17 points. Guard Tyrel Reed had 14 points off the bench on 5-of-6 shooting, while center Cole Aldrich had a near triple-double with 12 points, a game-high 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Kansas is averaging nearly 85 points per game (84.9) on the season on 49.6 percent shooting, including 411 percent from 3-point range, with 41.8 rebounds, 18.4 assists, 9.0 steals and 6.5 blocks per game. The team is shooting a solid 71.3 percent from the free throw line. A near scoring threat at every position, the Jayhawks have four players averaging in double figures led by All-American candidate and senior Sherron Collins. He is averaging 15.5 points on 45 percent shooting, including 39.2 percent from 3-point range, with 4.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Arguably the nation's best freshman, Xavier Henry is second in scoring at 14.1 points on 44.1 percent shooting, including 40.4 percent from 3-point range, with a team-best 1.9 steals and 4.1 rebounds per game. Marcus Morris is third in scoring at 12.6 points per game on 59 percent shooting with 5.8 rebounds per game, while Cole Aldrich is fourth at 11.3 points per game on 56.8 percent shooting to go with a team-best 10.3 rebounds per game.
Kansas is led by head coach Bill Self, who has a 188-41 (.821) record in his seventh season at the helm. He has led the Jayhawks to five straight Big 12 Championships as well as the 2008 NCAA Championship. He has a 395-146 (.730) in 17 seasons as a head coach, which includes stints at Oral Roberts (1993-97), Tulsa (1997-2000) and Illinois (2000-03).
Series vs. Kansas
This will be the 268th all-time meeting between Kansas State and Kansas on the hardwood, including the 33rd since the inception of the Big 12, with the Jayhawks holding a 176-91 advantage in a series that dates back to 1907. It is the seventh-most played rivalry (267) and the seventh-most continuously played rivalry (103) in the country, including the second-longest west of the Mississippi River (behind Idaho-Washington State). Kansas has controlled the rivalry of late, winning 30 of the 32 meetings in the Big 12 era, including 12 of the last 13 in Bramlage Coliseum. The Jayhawks are 20-1 all-time against the Wildcats in Bramlage Coliseum with the lone loss coming exactly two years to the day on Jan. 30, 2008 when No. 22 K-State posted an 84-75 win over No. 2 Kansas. Last season, KU swept the season series with an 87-71 win in Lawrence on Jan. 13, 2009 and an 85-74 win in Manhattan on Feb. 14, 2009. Center Cole Aldrich led four players in double figures in the win at Bramlage Coliseum a year ago with 21 points, while guard Sherron Collins added 19 points and six assists. The backcourt tandem of Denis Clemente (26) and Jacob Pullen (22) combined for 48 points on 48.3 percent shooting, including 47.1 percent from 3-point range, in the loss.
Top 25 Meetings a Rarity
Saturday's game will be the 12th meeting between K-State and Kansas when both are ranked in the Top 25, including the just the ninth when both squads are ranked in the nation's Top 15. It is the first meeting since Jan. 30, 2008 (when No. 22 K-State knocked off No. 2 Kansas, 84-75, in Manhattan) when both teams have been ranked, while it is the first with both in the Top 15 since No. 10 Kansas defeated No. 1 K-State, 61-44, on March 8, 1958. The previous eight meetings pitting Top 15 teams in the series came between Dec. 1951 and March 1958, including seven when both were in the Top 10. The Jayhawks hold a slight 7-4 edge with both teams in the Top 25, including a 6-2 mark in match-ups of Top 15 teams.
Knocking Off No. 1
With its 71-62 win over top-ranked Texas on Jan. 18, Kansas State knocked off a No. 1 team for just the third time in school history and the first time since beating No. 1 Kansas, 68-64, at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 17, 1994. It was the second win over a No. 1 team on the Bramlage Coliseum floor (including the first match-up of Top 10 teams in the arena's 22-year history) and the first since defeating No. 1 Missouri, 65-58, on Feb. 8, 1990. The contest against the Longhorns was 16th in the program's history against the No. 1 team and the first since losing to top-ranked Kansas on Feb. 27, 2002. The Wildcats are now 3-12 (.200) all-time against No. 1 teams with all three wins coming in the last seven meetings with a top-ranked squad. The game was also just the third match-up with a No. 1 team when K-State was also ranked, including just the second time when ranked in the Top 10. Those other occasions were both losses, as the then fourth-ranked Wildcats lost to top-ranked Kentucky in the NCAA Championship in Minneapolis on March 27, 1951 and when No. 14 K-State lost at home to No. 1 Missouri on Jan. 30, 1982.
Kansas State has shown the ability to be a solid rebounding team, as the Wildcats rank fourth in the Big 12 with an average of 40.0 rebounds per game. The squad is tops in the league at 15.8 offensive boards per game, while they are fourth in rebounding margin (+6.3). The Wildcats have grabbed 40 or more rebounds 10 times, including in five of the last eight games, while they have tallied 20 or more offensive boards in three of the last eight contests. The team posted 50 or more rebounds in back-to-back games against Cleveland State and South Dakota for the first time in consecutive games since the 2007-08 season, while the squad grabbed 50 against the Big 12's top rebounding team (Texas) on Jan. 18, including 19 offensive boards which translated into a 23-10 edge in second chance points. The offensive rebound chances have helped the team average over 15 points per game (15.7) in second chance points, including 20 or more second chance points in three of the last seven games.
Seizing on its Opportunities
Kansas State has capitalized this season on its opportunities from the free throw line, where the Wildcats rank first nationally in fouls drawn per game (26.2), free throws made (21.6) and free throws attempted per game (33.0). The team is tied with Wyoming for tops nationally in free throws made (21.6) and just ahead of the Cowboys in free throws attempted (30.7) per game. The Wildcats have connected on 20 or more free throws in 14 of their 20 games, including 10 of the last 13 contests, while they have attempted at least 30 free throws in 14 games. The team set near records for both categories against Colorado on Jan. 16 with 38 makes on 54 attempts. The 38 free throws are the fourth-most in school history (and the most-ever in a true road venue) and the second-most in the Big 12 era behind the 39 against Baylor at home on Feb. 13, 1999. The 54 attempts are the third-most in school history (and the most-ever in a conference game as well as a road venue) and the most in a game since the Wildcats set the school record with 56 attempts against Purdue at home on Dec. 1, 1958. The team has at least 40 attempts in six games.
Points Off Turnovers
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent's miscues. Since he became K-State's head coach in 2007, the Wildcats have scored 1,665 points off of 1,468 turnovers in 87 games, an average of 19.1 points per game. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past three years have come off of offense generated from opponent turnovers. In 2007-08, the Wildcats scored 18.9 points per game off of 16.2 turnovers per game, while in 2008-09, the team scored 25.7 points off of an average of 17.0 turnovers. This year has not been any different with the squad averaging 21.3 points off of 17.7 opponent mistakes per game. K-State has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers 10 times, including 40 against South Dakota, which is the most since the stat began being kept in 2005-06. The Wildcats also scored 20 or more off of miscues against Loyola (29), IUPUI (28), Washington State (39), UNLV (26), Alabama (22), UAPB (29), Cleveland State (30), Texas A&M (23) and Colorado (23). The team has a 36-5 record when scoring 20+ points off turnovers under Frank Martin, including a 10-0 mark this season.
Quite A Duo
Senior Denis Clemente and junior Jacob Pullen have become quite the scoring duo for the Wildcats in their two seasons together. The two have combined to score 1,629 points in just over one season together, including finishing first and second on the team in scoring in 2008-09. They have combined to average 33.9 points per game through 20 games this season, including Pullen's team-leading 19.2 points per game. The 33.9-point combined average is the third-highest by a guard duo in school history, trailing Chuckie Williams and Mike Evans in 1974-75 (39.1) and 1975-76 (38.8) and just ahead of Askia Jones and Anthony Beane in 1993-94 (33.5) and Steve Henson and Jean Derouillere in 1989-90 (33.1). As a pair, Clemente and Pullen are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 30.4) guard tandem in school history since former NBA players Mike Evans and Chuckie Williams combined to average 38.9 points per game for the Wildcats between 1974-76. They have combined to score 20 or more points 46 times in 52 games dating back to last season, including 30 or more points on 31 occasions. After a recent slump, in which, the two combined to shoot just 22.6 percent from the field against No. 1/1 Texas and Oklahoma State, the duo seemed to get back on track against No. 24 Baylor, connecting on 50 percent from the field, including 60 percent from 3-point range, with a combined 42 points. It marked the ninth time the pair has combined to score 40 or more points (in 52 career games together). They were perhaps at their best in the win over No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12, as the two combined for 50 points on 57.1 percent shooting (16-of-28) from the field, including 55.6 percent (10-of-18) from 3-point range, in the win. The game against the Rebels was just the fourth in which both players have topped 20 or more points in the same contest following Kansas on Feb. 14, 2009, No. 18/21 Dayton on Nov. 22, 2009 and Washington State on Dec. 5, 2009.
Clemente Dishes Out the Dimes
Known for his scoring ability, senior Denis Clemente has shifted his focus this season to set others up for scoring opportunities. The team leader in assists at 82 through 20 games, Clemente ranks 43rd nationally and fourth in the Big 12 with a solid 2.28 assist-to-turnover ratio. He has had fewer than two turnovers in all but seven games this season, while dishing out at least four assists in 11 games. His assist-to-turnover ratio has been even better in the last 14 games, where he has handed out 67 assists to just 29 turnovers for a solid 2.31 ratio. He posted a season-high nine assists in the win over No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12, while he tallied eight against both South Dakota on Jan. 3 and No. 1/1 Texas on Jan. 18 and seven against Cleveland State on Dec. 29. Clemente has tallied five more assists in eight games this season, including twice in six Big 12 games.
Pullen Moving Up the Charts
Junior Jacob Pullen is nearing several career milestone as he is in the midst of his third season. After his game-high 25-point effort in the win over No. 24 Baylor, he currently ranks 12th on the all-time scoring chart with 1,174 points, just 10 points short of Jack Parr (1,184, 1955-58) for 11th place. He became just the 13th player in school history to top 1,100 career points against Texas A&M on Jan. 12 and the first to do so since current Golden State Warrior Cartier Martin (1,546; 2003-07) in 2006. At his current career pace (13.5 ppg.), He could jump into the school's all-time Top 10 by season's end, where he is 77 points short of 10th-place Tyrone Adams (1,251; 1978-82). He would have to average over 22.2 points over the course of the rest of this season (11 regular-season) and next season (typically 31 regular-season games) to come close to topping the all-time mark of 2,115 points set by Mike Evans from 1974-78. He became the 21st player to tally 1,000 career points, including the eighth guard, with his fourth 3-point field goal of the first half against Alabama on Dec. 19. He finished the contest with his third career 30-point game.
Pullen ranks in the top 5 in both 3-point field goals made and attempted in school history, ranking third in attempts with 498 and fourth in makes with 175. After moving past Cartier Martin (446; 2003-07) in attempts against South Dakota on Jan. 3, he now sets his sights on eclipsing two of the best 3-point shooters in school history in Askia Jones (237/624 attempts; 1989-94) and Steve Henson (240/537 attempts; 1987-90). He still needs four 3-point field goals to move past Cartier Martin (178; 2003-07) for third place all-time in makes before challenging the 3-point field goal records set by Jones and Henson. Pullen has connected on at least two 3-pointers in 16 of the last 18 games this season, including a career-best seven treys against UNLV on Dec. 12. In that span, he is connecting on 43.6 percent (58-of-133) of his shots from beyond the arc.
More on Pullen
In addition to moving up several scoring charts, Jacob Pullen is also ascending the school's record book in both assists and steals. He became the sixth player in school history to top 100 steals in a career with his three steals against Boston on Nov. 19 at the Puerto Rico Tip-off. With his two steals against Colorado on Jan. 16, he is now all alone in third place in school history in the category and needs just 10 to move ahead of Askia Jones (133, 1989-94) for second place and is 66 back of leader Steve Henson (190; 1986-90). Pullen moved into the career Top 10 in assists with his 248th vs. Washington State on Dec. 5 and is now in sixth place with 284 assists. He is seven away from passing Anthony Beane (290; 1992-94) for fifth place, while he needs 16 more to become the fifth Wildcat with 300 or more assists and the first since Clent Stewart (395; 2004-08) in 2007. Henson is all-time leader in assists with 582 from 1986-90. Pullen needs just 25 3-pointers to join Steve Henson (1987-90) and Askia Jones (1989-94) as the only players in school history with 1,000 points, 200 3-pointers, 250 assists and 100 steals.
Although he slipped slightly below his 20-point average, Pullen has the opportunity to become just the second Wildcat to average 20 points in the last 25 seasons, following Michael Beasley, who set the school record with his 26.2-point average in 2007-08. Prior to Beasley, the last Wildcat to average 20 points was Askia Jones in 1993-94 at 22.1 points and prior to that, it was Mitch Richmond in 1987-88 at 22.3 points per game.
Kelly Becoming a Force Down Low
Junior Curtis Kelly is starting to develop his game down low for the Wildcats after sitting out the 2008-09 season after transferring from UConn. A starter in all 19 games this season, Kelly is fourth on the team in scoring at 11.5 points per game on 58.3 percent shooting to go with team-bests in both rebounds (6.4) and blocks (1.9) per contest. He had perhaps his best all-around game in the win over No. 1 Texas on Jan. 18, scoring 17 points on 6-of-10 field goals with eight rebounds and two blocked shots in 32 minutes of action. Kelly was also the principle defender of Texas' Damion James, holding the national and Big 12 Player of the Year candidate to just nine points on 3-of-12 field goals with seven rebounds and four turnovers. He is tied for the team lead with two double-doubles, including an 18-point, 10-rebound effort against current Top 25 foe Ole Miss on Nov. 20 and an 11-point, 11-rebound effort against IUPUI on Nov. 28. Kelly has scored in double figures 12 times, including in back-to-back games in key wins against Xavier (15) and UNLV (13), while he has led the team in rebounding in eight contests. He has shot over 60 percent in 10 games, including connecting on 81.8 percent (9-of-11) in the opener against Loyola Chicago with a career-best 22 points. The team leader in blocked shots, he has at least one block in 16 games, including two or more in nine games with a career-best six against South Dakota.
Sophomore Jamar Samuels is emerging as an early candidate to become the second Wildcat to earn the Big 12's Sixth Man of the Year award, as he boosts the team off the bench at nearly 12 points and five rebounds per outing. Samuels, who is third in scoring at 11.8 points per game, had a breakout game in the win over No. 1 Texas on Jan. 18, posting just his second double-double with 20 points and a career-best 12 rebounds against one of the best frontcourt tandems (Damion James and Dexter Pittman) in the country. The 20-point outing was the third of his career (second this season) and just one point off his career-best of 21 scored against Fort Hays State (No. 3 team in Division II) on Dec. 1, while his 12-rebound effort was just the second double-digit rebounding game of his career. This season, he has scored 10 or more points 15 times with 14 of those coming off the bench, including in 10 of the last 12 games. For his career, 29 of Samuels' 30 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve. He is averaging 9.6 points on 55.7 percent (162-of-291) in 50 career games off the bench, including 11.9 points per game on a team-best 60.3 percent shooting this season. He has been solid since the start of league play, averaging 11.8 points on a team-best 60.5 percent shooting (26-of-43) and 4.8 rebounds per game. His 26 field goals in Big 12 play only trail Denis Clemente's team-best 32 through six conference games.
Another Spark Off The Bench
Freshman guard Rodney McGruder has become a real spark off the bench for the Wildcats in the last four games, averaging 10.3 points on 57.1 percent shooting (16-of-28), including 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from 3-point range, with 5.3 rebounds per game. He has also averaged nearly 23 minutes per contest during the span, including a season-best 25 minutes of action against Colorado on Jan. 16. The stretch began with a 10-point, five-rebound effort in a win over the Buffaloes and continued with a solid all-around outing (11 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) in a win over top-ranked Texas on Jan. 18. He combined to shoot nearly 73 percent in games against Oklahoma State and Baylor, including 66.7 percent from beyond the arc, with back-to-back 10-point efforts. McGruder opened the season with three straight double-digit scoring efforts, including a 20-point performance against Boston University in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Nov. 19. He connected on 5-of-6 from the field against the Terriers, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Often overlooked by high school teammate Wally Judge, he was named the 2009 Florida Times-Union Player of the Year as a senior at Arlington Country Day in Jacksonvile, Fla., where he averaged nearly 23 points on 51.5 percent shooting. He had a career-high 34 points in the Class 2A state title game and single-handedly out-scored the opposition, 24-23, in the first half of the contest.
The D Stands for Defense
Junior Dominique Sutton is starting to state his case as one of the premier defenders not just in the Big 12 but nationally. Sutton, who has been regularly assigned the opponent's top offensive performer for much of his career, has really established himself as a top-line defender this year. During a stretch that has included the likes of Washington State's Klay Thompson, Xavier's Jordan Crawford, UNLV's Derrick Jasper, Alabama's Senario Hillman and Colorado's Alec Burks, Sutton has held his opponents to a collective 41.4 shooting percentage (55-of-133), including a 26.5 percent (9-of-34) mark from 3-point range. Thompson, who entered the game on Dec. 5 as the nation's second-leading scorer at 26.4 points per game, shot just 5-of-15 from the field, including 1-of-4 from long range, with one assist and nine turnovers. Although Thompson scored 22 points in the contest, 11 of those came from the free throw line. Crawford, another pro prospect, managed 16 points (five from the line) against Sutton, but shot just 5-of-13 from the field, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range, with one assist and three turnovers. Jasper was held scoreless for the first time in his UNLV career, going 0-of-3 from the field. Sutton held Hillman to just 3-of-9 shooting with just one 3-point field goal with 11 points, while Colorado freshman phenom Alec Burks went 4-of-11 from the field with 14 points (including six from the line) and three miscues. He also played a role in the defense of Texas A&M star Donald Sloan, who was held to just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting with three turnovers.
Colon Back To Action
Senior Luis Colon made his long awaited debut against No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12, scoring one point and grabbing five rebounds in 11 minutes of action off the bench. Colon, who was also hurt in the preseason, missed the first nine games off the season due to an off-the-court issue that has since been resolved. A key cog to the Wildcat attack last season, he was one of two players (along with Jacob Pullen) to start all 34 games a year ago, averaging 4.4 points on 47.7 percent shooting with 4.7 rebounds per game. Colon, who is averaging 2.4 points and 4.0 rebounds, has started seven of the last eight games, including six consecutive games dating back to the Missouri game on Jan. 9. His biggest impact has been on the defensive end of the court, where he played a huge role in limiting Texas' Dexter Pittman to six points and seven rebounds.
Clemente Tops 1,000
Senior Denis Clemente eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier with a pair of free throws just over a minute into the IUPUI game on Nov. 28. Clemente, who transferred to K-State after playing two seasons at Miami (Fla.), has totaled 774 points his two-year career on 39.4 percent shooting (266-of-675) from the field, including 33.7 percent (98-of-291) from 3-point range, in 52 games. He has a chance to break into the school's top-10 of career points by a transfer, needing just 29 points to tie Elliot Hatcher (803; 1994-96) for 10th place. He scored 450 points in his two years as a Hurricane, connecting on 38.7 percent (167-of-432) of his field goals, including 31.5 percent (57-of-181) from beyond the arc, in 61 games.
Clemente Among 20 Finalists for Bob Cousy Award
Senior Denis Clemente was named one of 20 finalists for the 2010 Bob Cousy Award, which recognizes college basketball's top point guard, on Jan. 5. The annual award, which is named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic great Bob Cousy, is presented by The Hartford Financial Services and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. Clemente was one of 72 candidates originally nominated for the award in early December, which included players from all three divisions. Clemente made the cut to the final 20, which includes only one other player from the Big 12 (Kansas' Sherron Collins). The list also includes Ole Miss' Chris Warren, Cincinnati's Deonta Vaughn, South Carolina's Devan Downey, Maryland's Greivis Vasquez, Harvard's Jeremy Lin, Cal's Jerome Randle, Kentucky's John Wall, Duke's Jon Scheyer, Michigan State's Kalin Lucas, Connecticut's Kemba Walker, Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney, Michigan's Manny Harris, Gonzaga's Matt Bouldin, Arizona's Nic Wise, Siena's Ronald Moore, Villanova's Scottie Reynolds, Penn State's Talor Battle and Wisconsin's Trevon Hughes.
Clemente, who helped guide K-State to its second Top 10 ranking of the season on Jan. 18, has the Wildcats tied for the fourth-best start in school history and the best since the 1961-62 season with its current 17-3 overall record. The season has included a 10-game winning streak, which tied five other teams for the ninth-longest in school history and the longest since the 1993-94 team also won 10 in a row. He is the team's second-leading scorer (and 14th in the Big 12) at 14.7 points per game and has scored in double figures in 17 of the team's 20 games. The team leader in assists at 4.1 per game, he is second in field goals (99) and 3-point field goals (39). He ranks fourth in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3), while he is ninth in assists and 14th in 3-point field goals made per game (2.0). The list of 20 candidates for the award will be narrowed down to a final 10 by Feb. 1 and a final five by March 1. A Hall of Fame appointed screening committee will be narrowing down the candidates from 20 to 10 to 5 prior to the Blue Ribbon Selection Committee evaluating the final five candidates and ultimately choosing the winner. The award winner will be presented at the Hall of Fame's Class Announcement on Monday, April 5 in Indianapolis as part of the NCAA Final Four weekend.