10/11 K-State Heads North Tuesday
10/11 K-State Heads North Tuesday
10/11 KANSAS STATE (17-4, 4-3 Big 12)
vs. Nebraska (13-8, 1-5 Big 12)
Date: Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Tipoff: 7:05 p.m. CT
Location: Lincoln, Neb. | Arena: Devaney Sports Center (13,595)
Television: Big 12 Network/ESPN Full Court (Mitch Holthus, play-by-play; Rich Zvosec, analyst; Doc Carothers, producer) | Channel Directory: Metro Sports (Kansas City), KMCI (Kansas City), KSNT (Topeka), KSAS (Wichita) | Internet: www.ESPN360.com
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 130
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International '93) is 60-28 (.681) in his third season at K-State. Nebraska - Doc Sadler (Arkansas '82) is 68-48 (.586) in his fourth season at Nebraska and 116-66 (.637) in his sixth season overall as a head coach.
Last Time Out: K-State lost to No. 2/2 Kansas, 81-79, in overtime, while Nebraska knocked off Oklahoma, 63-46, both at home on Saturday.
Series: K-State leads 123-93 (Nebraska leads 60-34 in Lincoln) | Last time: K-State won 77-72 in Manhattan on Feb. 28, 2009 | Series Trend: K-State has a 3-10 record in Lincoln in Big 12 era | Frank Martin is 2-2 vs. Nebraska, while Doc Sadler is 3-3 all-time vs. K-State.
Rankings: K-State is ranked No. 10 in AP Top 25 and No. 11 in USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25. Nebraska is not ranked in either poll.
Tickets: $10 (Bench), $15 (Upper Back) by calling the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office at 800.8BIGRED or online at huskers.com.
K-State begins a two-game road swing with Nebraska Tuesday
Kansas State (17-4, 4-3 Big 12) begins a stretch of four road games in a six-game stretch on Tuesday, as the Wildcats head to North to face Nebraska (13-8, 1-5 Big 12) at the Devaney Sports Center at 7 p.m. CT. It will be the first of back-to-back road games for the squad, as they venture to even further north to Ames, Iowa, on Saturday for a 1 p.m. match-up with Iowa State (13-8, 2-4 Big 12) at Hilton Coliseum. Tuesday's game will be a contrast of styles with the Wildcats averaging 81.3 points per game, which ranks fourth in the Big 12, while the Cornhuskers are holding foes to a Big 12-best 60.2 points per game. It will be the 217th meeting between K-State and Nebraska, including the 95th in Lincoln. The Wildcats own a 123-93 edge in the series, which dates back to 1906, however, the Cornhuskers are 60-34 all-time at home in the series, including wins in 16 of the last 20 meetings. K-State has not won at the Devaney Sports Center since posting a 66-64 win over the Huskers on March 1, 2006. The contest will be televised regionally on the Big 12 Network and nationally on ESPN Full Court with Mitch Holthus (play-by-play) and Rich Zvosec (analyst) on the call.
K-State returned to the Top 10 for the third time this season on Monday, as the Wildcats just one spot to a tie for 10th with Duke in The Associated Press poll. The squad moved two spots to No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. It marks the first time that the program has ranked among the AP Top 15 for five 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.
On a day highlighted by a College Gameday record-crowd of 8,159 fans at Bramlage Coliseum, K-State dropped an 81-79 overtime to archrival and No. 2 Kansas on Saturday night before a sold-out crowd. The Wildcats couldn't convert on a steal at the end of regulation, as the Jayhawks claimed their 21st win in the last 22 meetings in Manhattan. It was just the 12th meeting between the two teams when both were ranked in the Top 25 and just the ninth when both squads were ranked in the Top 15. It was also the first overtime game in the series since the teams first met in Bramlage Coliseum in 1989. Despite the loss, the Wildcats still has their best record under head coach Frank Martin with its current 17-4 overall record, including their best mark since the 1961-62 squad opened the year with 19-2 overall mark. It marks just the seventh time that the team has won 17 of their first 21 games.
Junior Jacob Pullen led five players in double figures with a game-high 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-11 from 3-point range, to go with a game-best five assists. Backcourt mate Denis Clemente posted 13 points, while super sub Jamar Samuels added 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting. Rookie Wally Judge had his best game of the Big 12 season with a near double-double against the Jayhawks with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
A Quick Look at Kansas State
K-State is averaging just over 80 points per game (81.3 ppg.) on 45.9 percent shooting (561-of-1221), including 35.9 percent from 3-point range (139-of-387), with 40.0 rebounds, 15.2 assists, 7.1 steals and 5.1 blocks per game. The squad has topped 80 or more points in 13 of 21 games (for the first time in school history), while hitting on 45 percent or better from the field on 11 occasions. The 1,707 points scored are the second-most through 21 games, just behind the 1986-87 team who scored 1,722 in that span. The 81.3 points per game average is on pace to possibly break the school-record of 81.4 points averaged during the 1952-53 campaign. The 76.9 points per game average through the first seven league games are most for K-State since the start of Big 12 play and most in league play since averaging 82.7 points per game to start Big Eight play in 1986-87. The team is averaging nearly 35 points (34.7) per game in the paint, while ranking first nationally in most personal fouls drawn (26.1), free throws made (21.2) and free throws attempted (32.4) per game. The defensive effort has also been solid, holding foes to 69.4 points on 41.6 percent shooting while averaging 20.9 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 12 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 nine teams to 70.6 points on 42.5 percent shooting, including just 28.3 percent from 3-point range, while posting a +8.1 rebounding edge.
Despite the loss to No. 2 Kansas on Saturday night, the Wildcats' 17-4 overall record is still the best start under head coach Frank Martin and the best since the 1961-62 squad opened at 19-2. Only five other teams have fared better after 21 games in Kansas State history, as the 1957-58 and 1958-59 squads started 20-1, the 1961-62 team opened at 19-2 and 1947-48 and 1950-51 squad posted 18-3 marks to start the year. This is just the seventh time in school history that the team has won 17 of their first 21 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 19.3 points per game on 41.9 percent shooting from the field to go with team bests in field goals (113), 3-point field goals (64), free throws (115), free throw percentage (79.3) and steals (32), while backcourt mate Denis Clemente is second in scoring at 14.6 points per game on 37.1 percent shooting from the field and is tops on the team in assists (84) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.21). The duo has combined for over 40 percent of the scoring (712) 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 1,196 points in 88 career games ranks 11th all-time in school history, while he has scored in double figures in all 21 games. His team-best 60 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 61.1 percent shooting from the field. Samuels, who has come off the bench in 19 of 20 games, ranks third on the squad in rebounding at 4.9 per game. He has scored in double figures in 16 of his 20 games played, including his second double-double against No. 1 Texas with 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Dubbed the "X-Factor" for his ability to change the game off the bench, 30 of Samuels' 31 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve. Junior transfer Curtis Kelly is the only other player averaging in double figures at 11.1 points per game. Kelly, who is tied with Dominique Sutton with two double-doubles each, is shooting 56.6 percent from the field and ranks first with 6.3 rebounds per contest. One of the Big 12's top defenders, Sutton is averaging 7.6 points on 50.4 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 7.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in Big 12 play.
Postgame Notes vs. Kansas
--With its loss to Kansas, Kansas State fell to 91-177 all-time against its archrival... It was the Jayhawks' 31st win in the last last 33 meetings in the Big 12 era, including the 13th in the last 14 games in Manhattan... Kansas is 21-1 all-time against the Wildcats in Bramlage Coliseum... It was just the 12th meeting between the two schools when both are ranked in the Top 25, including just the ninth when both were in the Top 15.
--The overtime game was the 14th in the series and the first since the Jayhawks posted a 75-74 win in Bramlage Coliseum (first-ever game in the building between the two rivals) on Jan. 14, 1989... Kansas is now 9-5 in those overtime match-up... Overall, it was the 101st overtime game in school history and the first in 2009-10... The Wildcats are 64-37 all-time in overtime, including 29-10 in Manhattan.
--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 ninth time this season the team has used this starting combination... Pullen has now started in 55 straight games for the Wildcats, extending his streak as the team's leader in most consecutive games played to 88... In addition, Sutton, who is second on the team with 62 consecutive games played, has started 38 consecutive games for the Wildcats.
--K-State sent a message to the entire nation earlier in the day on Saturday, as nearly 8,200 fans showed up to Bramlage Coliseum to set a new record for ESPN's College Gameday show... The previous mark of 6,700 was set just a week prior at Clemson... The appearance in Manhattan was just the first for the basketball edition of College Gameday... K-State is one of 15 schools to host the show for both football and basketball.
--K-State shot just 43.3 percent from the field against Kansas, including 33.3 percent from 3-point range... The Jayhawks shot 50 percent from the field, including 80 percent in the overtime period, becoming just the fourth team to connect on 50 percent or better from the field this season... The Wildcats out-rebounded the Jayhawks, 38-37, but lost for the first time in 14 games (13-1) when out-rebounding an opponent.
--Junior Jacob Pullen led five Wildcats in double figures with his 10th 20-point outing of the season, while backcourt mate Denis Clemente added 13 points... Freshman Wally Judge, in his longest Big 12 outing, had a near double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
The Book on Nebraska
Nebraska enters Tuesday's game with a 13-8 overall record and a 1-5 mark in Big 12 play after earning a 63-46 win over Oklahoma on Saturday night at the Devaney Sports Center. The Cornhuskers shot 44 percent from the field, including 51.7 percent in the second half, while holding the Sooners to just 46 points on 34.9 percent shooting. The squad dominated the paint, 30-10, and held a 36-27 advantage on the boards. Brandon Richardson came off the bench to score 16 points, while Ryan Anderson and Jorge Brian Diaz added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Nebraska is averaging nearly 70 points per game (66.9) on the season on 45.3 percent shooting, including 39.2 percent from 3-point range, with 32.3 rebounds, 14.2 assists, 7.2 steals and 3.2 blocks per game. One of the Big 12's most balanced scoring teams, the Cornhuskers have eight players averaging six or more points on the season led by senior guard Ryan Anderson's 10.7 points per game average. Anderson is shooting 45.9 percent from the field, including 37 percent from 3-point range. He paces the squad in both rebounding (5.0 rpg.) and steals (2.1 spg.). Freshman forward Christian Standhardinger is second in scoring at 9.0 points after overcoming some eligibility issues five games ago, while sophomore guard Brandon Richardson and redshirt freshman forward Jorge Brian Diaz are averaging 8.9 and 8.3 points, respectively. Senior guard Sek Henry is averaging 7.7 points and 3.6 rebounds, while junior guard Lance Jeter is averaging 6.9 points and a team-best 4.0 assists.
Nebraska is led by head coach Doc Sadler, who has a 68-48 (.586) record in his fourth season at the helm. He had the most wins by a Nebraska coach in first three years with 55 and has led the squad to the NIT in two of the past three seasons. He has a 116-66 (.637) in six seasons as a head coach, which includes a stint at Texas-El Paso (2004-06).
Series vs. Nebraska
This will be the 217th all-time meeting between Kansas State and Nebraska on the hardwood, including the 28th since the inception of the Big 12, with the Wildcats holding a 123-93 advantage in a series that dates back to 1906. It is the third-most played rivalry (216) in school history, while the 123 wins are the second-most against one opponent behind the 132 against Iowa State. The two teams have played at least twice annually since 1922. The series has been very competitive of late with K-State holding a 15-12 edge since the inception of the Big 12, however, Nebraska has won 10 of the last 13 meetings in the Devaney Sports Center, including each of the last three. The Wildcats haven't won in Lincoln since a 66-64 win on March 1, 2006. Last season, the teams split their two meetings with each squad winning on their own homecourt. The Huskers posted a 73-51 win at the Devaney Sports Center on Jan. 17 before the Wildcats held on for a 77-72 win at Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 28. Nebraska shot 50 percent from the field in last year's win in Lincoln, including 58.3 percent in the second half, while holding K-State to a Big 12-low 51 points on just 41.5 percent shooting. Senior Paul Velander led a balanced scoring effort with 20 points off the bench, while Cookie Miller added 15 points. Guard Denis Clemente was one of only two Wildcats in double figures with 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting, while Darren Kent added 10 points.
'Cats in February
Kansas State will look to improve its play in the month of February of late where the Wildcats have won 13 of their last 24 games. The squad is 399-331 (.547) all-time in February with nine wins in their last 12 games at home in the month dating back to the 2006-07 season. The Wildcats have won 12 of their last 23 Big 12 games in February dating back to 2006-07, including a 4-8 mark on the road. K-State has won three or more games in the month in each of the last three seasons, including a 6-2 mark in 2008-09, the most wins in February since the 1987-88 season. The team has posted a winning mark in February 45 times in school history, but just once in the last 17 seasons.
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 16.0 offensive boards per game, while they are fourth in rebounding margin (+6.0). The Wildcats have grabbed 40 or more rebounds 10 times, including in five of the last nine games, while they have tallied 20 or more offensive boards in four of the last nine 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 eight 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 (26.1), free throws made (21.2) and free throws attempted per game (32.4). The team ranks ahead of Wyoming in both free throw categories nationally, as the Cowboys average 20.9 free throws made and 29.9 free throws attempted per game. The Wildcats have connected on 20 or more free throws in 15 of their 21 games, including 11 of the last 14 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 league 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 1,678 points off of 1,485 turnovers in 88 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 20.9 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 1,664 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 21 games this season, including Pullen's team-leading 19.3 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 47 times in 53 games dating back to last season, including 30 or more points on 32 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 53 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 84 through 21 games, Clemente ranks 43rd nationally and fourth in the Big 12 with a solid 2.21 assist-to-turnover ratio. He has had fewer than two turnovers in all but eight 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 15 games, where he has handed out 69 assists to just 31 turnovers for a solid 2.23 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 Big 12 play.
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 22-point effort in the loss to No. 2 Kansas, he passed All-American Jack Parr (1,184, 1955-58) for 11th place all-time on the scoring chart with 1,196 points. He needs 56 points to pass Tyrone Adams (1,251; 1978-82) and jump into the school's all-time Top 10. He needs four points to eclipse 1,200 for his career and become the first do so since current Golden State Warrior Cartier Martin (1,546; 2003-07) did so in 2006. He would have to average over 23 points over the course of the rest of this year (nine 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 both attempts with 509 and makes with 179. After moving past Cartier Martin (178/437 attempts; 2003-07) in both makes and attempts in the past eight games, 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). Pullen has connected on at least two 3-pointers in 17 of the last 20 games this season, including a career-best seven treys against UNLV on Dec. 12. In that span, he is connecting on 43.1 percent (62-of-144) 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 eight to move ahead of Askia Jones (133, 1989-94) for second place and is 64 back of leader Steve Henson (190; 1986-90). He moved into the career Top 10 in assists with his 248th vs. Washington State on Dec. 5 and is now in sixth place with 289 assists. He is two away from passing Anthony Beane (290; 1992-94) for fifth place, while he needs 11 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 21 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 Factor 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 21 games this season, Kelly is fourth on the team in scoring at 11.1 points per game on 56.6 percent shooting to go with team-bests in both rebounds (6.3) 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 13 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 17 games, including two or more in 11 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 16 times with 15 of those coming off the bench, including in 11 of the last 13 games. For his career, 30 of Samuels' 31 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve. He is averaging 9.6 points on 56.3 percent (166-of-295) in 51 career games off the bench, including 11.8 points per game on a team-best 61.6 percent shooting this season. He has been solid since the start of league play, averaging 11.7 points on a team-best 63.8 percent shooting (30-of-47) and 4.6 rebounds per game. His 30 field goals in Big 12 play trail only Denis Clemente (36) and Jacob Pullen (32) through seven games.
McGruder Off the Bench
Freshman guard Rodney McGruder has become a real spark off the bench for the Wildcats in the last five games, averaging 9.0 points on 58.6 percent shooting (17-of-29), including 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from 3-point range, with 5.4 rebounds per game. He has also averaged right at 22 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, Colorado's Alec Burks and Kansas' Xavier Henry, Sutton has held his opponents to a collective 42 shooting percentage (58-of-138), 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 Colorado's Alec Burks to just 4-of-11 shooting from the field with 14 points (including six from the line) and three miscues, while freshman phenom Xavier Henry scored just six points on 3-of-5 shooting with four turnovers. 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 2.2 points and 3.8 rebounds, has started eight of the last nine games, including seven 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 in the win on Jan. 18.
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 787 points his two-year career on 39.1 percent shooting (270-of-690) from the field, including 33.4 percent (99-of-296) from 3-point range, in 53 games. He has a chance to break into the school's top-10 of career points by a transfer, needing just 16 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 third Top 10 ranking of the season on Monday, has the team off to the sixth-best start in school history and the best since the 1961-62 season with their current 17-4 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 14.6 points per game and has scored in double figures in 18 of the team's 21 games. The team leader in assists at 4.0 per game, he is second in field goals (103) and 3-point field goals (40). He ranks fourth in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2), 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 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.
It's Over But Still a Big Accomplishment
--Kansas State saw its 10-game winning streak end against Missouri on Jan. 9, ironically the same opponent that ended its last 10-game streak in 1993-94. During the streak, K-State averaged 84.1 points on 47.8 percent shooting, including 39.1 percent from 3-point range. The team scored at least 70 points in all 10 games and connected on 45 percent or better in six contests. The Wildcats held their foes to 68.8 points during the stretch on 43.2 percent shooting, including 31.9 percent from 3-point range. The team also held an impressive averaging rebounding margin of 8.0.
--During the winning streak, the Wildcats earned wins over six teams with RPI ratings in the top 100, including four in the top 50 (according to RealTimeRPI.com). Also included in those wins are two over Top 25 opponents (No. 18/21 Dayton and No. 18/17 UNLV), marking the first time in over 50 years that a Wildcat team has beaten two Top 25 foes during the non-conference season and first since the 1958-59 squad defeated No. 4 N.C. State (69-67) and No. 14 St. Joseph's (68-55) on consecutive days on Dec. 19-20, 1958 in Kansas City, Mo.
--Junior Jacob Pullen paced three players in double figures during the 10-game streak at 22.5 points per game. He connected on 49.2 percent from the field, including 51.4 percent from the 3-point range, while adding highs in both field goals (65), 3-point field goals (38) and steals (13). Senior Denis Clemente averaged 15.1 points on 40.7 percent shooting with a team-high in assists (47). The two combined to average 37.6 points per game during the stretch. Sophomore Jamar Samuels also scored double figures at 12.3 points per game on a team-best 60 percent shooting.
Martin Earns Coaching Honor From CollegeInsider.com
Head coach Frank Martin was honored for Kansas State's terrific start to the season on Dec. 30, as CollegeInsider.com named him the Jim Phelan award winner as the mid-season National Coach of the Year. Martin has K-State off to its best start since the 1961-62 season and the sixth-best start in school history with its current 17-4 record. Only five other teams - 1947-48, 1950-51, 1957-58, 1958-59 and 1961-62 teams - have a better record after 21 games in school history. The team earned its third Top 10 ranking of the season in The Associated Press poll on Feb. 1, as the Wildcats jumped one spot to a tie for 10th with Duke. Also on Monday, the Wildcats climbed two spots to No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll. It is the second-highest ranking (ranked ninth on Jan. 18) in the AP since being ninth on March 13, 1973. On Jan. 18, Martin guided K-State to just third-ever win over a No. 1 team and the first since 1994 with a 71-62 victory over then No. 1 Texas. The win over No. 24 Baylor on Jan. 24 gave the Wildcats four wins over Top 25 teams for the first time ever in the regular season.
Although it was ended at Missouri on Jan. 9, K-State posted its longest winning streak in more than 15 years earlier this season when the team won 10 straight from Nov. 22, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010. The 10-game winning streak was the longest since also winning 10 in a row during the 1993-94 season and just the 15th double-digit winning streak in school history. The squad completed the month of December perfect for just the eighth time and the first time since the 1998-99 season with their 85-56 win over Cleveland State on Dec. 29. During the streak, the team knocked off two ranked non-conference teams (No. 18/21 Dayton on Nov. 22 and No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12) for the first time since the 1958-59 season (beat No. 4 N.C. State and No. 14 St. Joseph's on consecutive days on Dec. 19-20, 1958). The 13 non-conference wins tie for the 1993-94 team for the most in school history, while the .928 non-league winning percentage is the best in school history. He became the third-fastest head coach to 50 wins with the win over Washington State on Dec. 5, trailing just Zora Clevenger (1916-20; 59 games) and Lon Kruger (1986-90; 71 games).
The Jim Phelan award is presented annually to the top Division I coach in college basketball by Collegeinsider.com. Prior to the 2003 season, the award was known simply as the CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year. It was renamed to honor longtime Mount. St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan who retired following the 2002-03 season. Previous winners of the award include John Calipari (Memphis, 2009), Bo Ryan (Wisconsin, 2008), Tony Bennett (Washington State, 2007), Ben Howland (UCLA, 2006), Tubby Smith (Kentucky, 2005), Phil Martelli (St. Joseph's, 2004) and Mark Slonaker (Mercer, 2003). The 2010 award will be presented on April 2 at the Final Four in Indianapolis.