9/9 K-State Returns Home To Face CU Saturday
9/9 K-State Returns Home To Face CU Saturday
9/9 KANSAS STATE (19-4, 6-3 Big 12)
vs. Colorado (11-12, 2-7 Big 12)
Date: Saturday, February 13, 2010
Tipoff: 5:05 p.m. CT
Location: Manhattan, Kan. | Arena: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)
Television: Big 12 Network/Full Court (Mitch Holthus, play-by-play; Paul Splittorff, analyst; Rich Zvosec, analyst; Steve Kurtenbach, producer) | Channel Directory: Metro Sports (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 122/XM 102
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International '93) is 62-28 (.689) in his third season at K-State. Colorado - Jeff Bzdelik (Illinois-Chicago '76) is 32-54 (.372) in his third season at Colorado and 107-101 (.514) in seventh season overall as a head coach.
Last Time Out: K-State beat Iowa State, 79-75, on the road on Saturday, while Colorado lost at home to Missouri, 84-66, also on Saturday.
Series: K-State leads 96-44 (K-State leads 53-10 at home) | Last time: K-State won 87-81 in Boulder on Jan. 16, 2010 | Series Trend: K-State has won eight straight in the series | Frank Martin is 5-0 vs. Colorado, while Jeff Bzdelik is 0-5 all-time vs. K-State.
Rankings: K-State is ranked No. 9 in AP Top 25 and No. 9 in USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25. Colorado is not ranked in either poll.
Tickets: Sold out.
K-State starts two-game homestand with Colorado Saturday
Kansas State (19-4, 6-3 Big 12) returns home for a two-game homestand on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats play host to Colorado (11-12, 2-7 Big 12) at Bramlage Coliseum at 5 p.m. CT. It will be the first contest for the squad in six days since knocking off Iowa State, 79-75, last Saturday at Hilton Coliseum and the first of back-to-back home games, which continues on Wednesday against Nebraska (13-10, 1-7 Big 12). The Wildcats will be looking to make history with a win against the Buffaloes, as it would represent not only the 20th of the season, but would give the squad four consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time in school history. In addition, the win would make Frank Martin the first head coach in school history to post 20 wins in his first three seasons. It would also be the fastest 20-win season since the 1961-62 squad won 20 in just 22 contests. The game will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Network as well as nationally on ESPN Full Court with Mitch Holthus (play-by-play), Rich Zvosec and Paul Splittorff (analyst) on the call.
Saturday's contest will match two of the better backcourts in the Big 12, as the Wildcat tandem of Jacob Pullen (18.8 ppg.) and Denis Clemente (15.7 ppg.) will match-up with the Buffalo pair of Cory Higgins (18.0 ppg.) and Alec Burks (16.8 ppg.). The quartet each rank among the top 15 scorers in the league in both overall and conference-only games. It will be the 141st meeting between K-State and Colorado, including the 64th in Manhattan. The two teams have met at least twice annually since 1948. The Wildcats own a 96-44 advantage in the series, which dates back to 1933, and have won eight straight over the Buffaloes, including four in a row at Bramlage Coliseum. It is the longest winning streak by either team in the series since K-State won nine consecutive from 1985 to 1989, while it is the longest winning streak in Manhattan for the Wildcats most since winning 29 straight from 1965-94.
K-State continued its move in the polls on Monday, as the Wildcats jumped into the Top 10 in both major polls for the second time this season, ranking ninth in both The Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. It is the highest AP ranking since also placing ninth in the poll more than 35 years ago on March 13, 1973, while it matches the highest ranking in the Coaches' poll since USA Today took over ownership of the poll in 1991-92. It marks the first time that the program has ranked among the AP Top 15 for six consecutive weeks since the 1961-62 squad was ranked among the AP Top 10 for 14 consecutive weeks, while the team has ranked among the AP Top 25 for nine straight week since the 1972-73 team was ranked for 16 weeks in a row.
The Wildcats claimed their eighth straight win over the Cyclones, including its fourth in a row in Ames, behind Denis Clemente's game-high 30-point effort in a 79-75 victory on Feb. 6. The squad overcame poor first-half shooting to claim their first win this season since when trailing the halftime.
A Quick Look at Kansas State
K-State is averaging just over 80 points per game (81.0 ppg.) on 45.8 percent shooting (616-of-1344), including 36.2 percent from 3-point range (155-of-428), with 40.0 rebounds, 15.2 assists, 7.1 steals and 5.2 blocks per game. The squad has topped 80 or more points in 13 of 23 games (for the first time in school history), while hitting on 45 percent or better from the field on 12 occasions. The 1,862 points scored are the second-most through 23 games, just behind the 1986-87 team who scored 1,872 in that span. The 81.0 points per game average is on pace to possibly break the school-record of 81.4 points averaged during the 1952-53 campaign. The 77.0 points per game average through the first nine league games are most for K-State since the start of Big 12 play and most in league play since averaging 82.2 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 (25.6) and free throws attempted (31.6) per game and second in free throws made (20.7) per game. The defensive effort has also been solid, holding foes to 69.1 points on 41.3 percent shooting while averaging 20.7 points off of 17.3 turnovers per game. The team has scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 11 games, including eight of the last 14 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. The squad is now 11-0 when scoring 20 or more points off their opponent miscues.
After last Saturday's win over Iowa State, the Wildcats are now 19-4 overall on the season, which is the best start under head coach Frank Martin and the best in school history since the 1961-62 squad opened at 20-2. Only five other teams have fared better after 23 games in K-State history, as the 1958-59 team started 21-1, the 1957-58 and 1961-62 squads opened at 20-2 and the 1947-48 and 1950-51 teams posted 20-3 marks to start the year. The team needs just one more win to top 20 for the fourth consecutive season, which has never happened in school history, while one win would make Martin the first head coach in school history to post 20 wins in each of his first three seasons.
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 18.8 points per game on 41.2 percent shooting from the field to go with team bests in field goals (121), 3-point field goals (68), free throws (123), free throw percentage (79.9) and steals (36), while backcourt mate Denis Clemente is second in scoring at 15.7 points per game on 38.4 percent shooting from the field and is tops on the team in assists (92) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2). The duo has combined for over 40 percent of the scoring (793) this year, while historically, they are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 34.5) 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. Earlier this season, Pullen became the 21st player in school history, including the eighth guard, to score 1,000 career points, while his current total of 1,224 points in 90 career games ranks 11th all-time, just 27 points shy of Tyrone Adams (1,251; 1978-82) for 10th place. The only player to score in double figures in all 23 games, Pullen needs 17 3-pointers to become just the third player in school history (joining Steve Henson and Askia Jones) with at least 1,000 points, 200 3-pointers, 250 assists and 100 steals. The USBWA's Oscar Robertson National as well as Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Feb. 8, Clemente has become of the one of top transfers ever to play at K-State, ranking eighth in school history for points by a transfer (840). He also recently joined Pullen in the Top 10 in both career 3-pointers (110; 10th) and 3-pointers attempted (313; ninth).
Sophomore Jamar Samuels ranks third in scoring at 11.9 points per game on a team-best 60 percent shooting from the field. Samuels, who has come off the bench in 21 of 22 games, ranks third on the squad in rebounding at 5.1 per game. He has scored in double figures in 18 of his 22 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, 32 of Samuels' 33 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve with K-State holding a solid 26-6 record in these contests. Junior transfer Curtis Kelly is the only other player averaging in double figures at 11.3 points per game. Kelly, who is tied with Dominique Sutton for the team lead in double-doubles with two each, is shooting 56.4 percent from the field and ranks first with 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per contest. He already is tied with two other players for sixth place on the single season list with 46 blocked shots, just 13 shy of Gerald Eaker's record of 59 in 1995-96. One of the Big 12's top defenders, Sutton is averaging 7.3 points on 50.8 percent shooting to go with 5.3 rebounds per game. Rookie Rodney McGruder has been solid of late, averaging 6.1 points and 5.0 rebounds in Big 12 play.
Postgame Notes vs. Iowa State
--Kansas State moved to 133-76 all-time against Iowa State, including 49-44 all-time in Ames... The 209 games played are the fourth-most against one opponent in school history, while the 133 wins are the most against one opponent... The Wildcats have now won eight straight in the series since 2006, including four straight in Hilton Coliseum... It is the longest winning streak by K-State since also winning eight in a row from 1975-77, while the four wins in Ames are the most since winning six straight against the Cyclones from 1972-77.
--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 11th time this season the team has used this starting combination... Pullen has now started in 57 straight games for the Wildcats, extending his streak as the team's leader in most consecutive games played to 90... In addition,
Sutton, who is second on the team with 64 consecutive games played, has started 40 consecutive games for the Wildcats.
--Kansas State shot just 40.6 percent from the field, including 42.1 percent from 3-point range, against Iowa State... The team shot a first-half season-low 30.6 percent before connecting on 53.6 percent in the second half... Down 35-31 at halftime, the squad rallied for 48 second-half points to earn its first win this season when trailing at the break... It marked the 16th time this season that the Wildcats have scored 40 or more points in the second half.. The team was out-rebounded 46-45, marking just the sixth time that the Wildcats have been out-rebounded.
--Senior Denis Clemente led four Wildcats in double figures with his game-high 30 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range... It marked his second career 30-point game and his highest point total since tying the Big 12 single-game mark with 44 against Texas on Jan. 31, 2009... His six 3-point field goals tied his career-high also set against the Longhorns... Juniors Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly posted 15 points each, while sophomore Jamar Samuels added 10 points to go with a team-high six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals... It marked the 17th time this season that the Wildcats have had four or more players scored in double figures.
The Book on Colorado
Colorado enters Saturday's game with an 11-12 overall record and 2-7 mark in Big 12 play after dropping an 84-66 decision to Missouri on Feb. 6 at the Coors Events Center. After losing a heartbreaker to No. 1 Kansas just three days earlier, the Buffaloes could shoot just 35.7 percent from the field, including 35.7 percent from 3-point range, while allowing the Tigers to connect on 49.1 percent, including 44.4 percent from beyond the arc. Big 12 Freshman of the Year candidate Alec Burks returned from his recent injury to post a game-high 27 points, while junior Cory Higgins added 15 points and a game-high five steals. Like the Wildcats, the team enjoyed the mid-week off after the loss to the Tigers.
Colorado is averaging 75 points per game on the year on 46.7 percent shooting, including 37.4 percent from 3-point range, with 29.1 rebounds, 14.1 assists, 8.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per game. The team is shooting a Big 12-best 76.2 percent from the free throw line. A squad that features just one senior, the Buffaloes are very balanced with six players averaging five or more points on the season. Higgins, a third team all-conference selection a year ago, is averaging a team-best 18.0 points per game on 48.6 percent shooting to go with team highs in minutes (33.0), field goals (135), free throws (124) and steals (44). A native of Grandview, Mo., Burks is second in scoring at 16.8 points on 52.6 percent shooting with a team-best 4.8 rebounds per outing. Junior college transfer Marcus Relphorde also scores in double figures at 10.4 points per game on 39.7 percent shooting, while lone senior Dwight Thorne II averages 8.3 points on 47.8 percent shooting. Sophomore Nate Tomlinson paces the squad in assists (4.2) to go with 5.8 points and 1.2 steals per outing.
The Buffaloes are led by head coach Jeff Bzdelik, who has posted 32-54 (.372) mark in his third season. A former coach of the NBA's Denver Nuggets, he has a 107-101 (.514) record in seven years as a head coach, which includes a two-year stint at the Air Force Academy (2005-07).
Series vs. Colorado
This will be the 141st all-time meeting between Kansas State and Colorado on the hardwood, including the 29th since the inception of the Big 12, with the Wildcats holding a 96-44 advantage in a series that dates back to 1933. It is the sixth-most played rivalry (208), while the 96 wins are the fourth-most against one opponent in school history. The two teams have played at least twice every year since 1948. The squad has posted a 53-10 mark at home against the Buffaloes, including a 14-7 mark at Bramlage Coliseum. The series has been very competitive since the start of Big 12 play with K-State holding a 15-14 edge since 1997. The Wildcats have won eight consecutive games in the series since 2006, including four straight at Bramlage Coliseum. It is the longest winning streak by K-State since winning nine in a row from 1985-89, while the four straight wins in Manhattan are the most since winning 29 straight from 1965-94. Earlier this season, the Wildcats used near school records from the free throw line in posting an 87-81 win over the Buffaloes at the Coors Events Center. The 38 free throws are the fourth-most in school history and second-most in Big 12 play, while the 54 attempts are the third-most overall and most in a game since having 56 against Purdue at home on Dec. 1, 1958.
'Cats in February
Kansas State will look to improve its play in the month of February of late where the Wildcats have won just 15 of their last 26 games. The team is 401-331 (.547) all-time in February with 10 wins in their last 13 games at home in the month dating back to the 2006-07 season. The Wildcats have won 14 of their last 25 Big 12 games in February dating back to 2006-07, including an 8-3 mark at home. 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.
Experience is the Key
One of the biggest reasons for Kansas State this season has been its experience on the floor. The squad boasts a starting line-up (Denis Clemente, Jacob Pullen, Dominique Sutton, Curtis Kelly and Luis Colon) with a combined 461 games of experience, including 303 games as starters. The fivesome has started 10 of the last 11 games this season, while Clemente, Kelly, Pullen and Sutton have started all 23 games. In fact, four of the five starters (Clemente, Colon, Pullen and Sutton) have been in the opening line-up in 24 in the last 25 Big 12 contests.
Most of the experience lies in the backcourt, where Clemente and Pullen have started 55 of the last 57 games for the Wildcats. The tandem has combined to play in 206 games in their respective careers, including 154 combined starts. Pullen has the team's longest active streaks for both games played (90) and starts (57), which both date back to his freshman season. He ranks eighth in school history in consecutive games played, while he is tied with three others for seventh place in consecutive starts. He trails Steve Henson in both categories, who owns the school record in consecutive games played (127) and consecutive starts (118). Clemente, who played in 61 games with 28 starts in two years at Miami (Fla.) from 2005-07, boasts 116 games of experience to go with 83 starts in his career. There is also plenty of experience in the frontcourt where Colon and Sutton have combined to play in 181 games in the past three seasons. Sutton has played in 64 consecutive games (which ranks second on the team), including starts in 59 of the last 61 games. Colon, who was one of only two players (Pullen) to start in all 34 games a year ago, has seen action in 105 games in his K-State career, including 62 starts. The only starter without experience beyond this season is junior Curtis Kelly, who sat out last season after transferring from UConn. He played in 51 games in his two seasons for the Huskies with one start.
Experience can also be found on the bench, where regular reserves Chris Merriewether and Jamar Samuels have combined to play in 146 games in their careers. A former walk-on, Merriewether has played in 90 games with five starts, including action in 78 of the last 90 contests. Samuels, who has come off the bench in all but three games in his career, has seen action in 56 of the last 57 games for the Wildcats. Four-year seniors Luis Colon and Chris Merriewether have a chance to become the winningest senior class in school history, as they are three back of Fred Barton (88; 1976-78; 1979-81) on the school's all-time list. The 85 wins tie Tyrone Adams and Ed Nealy, who played from 1978-82, for third place.
Although known for the guard tandem of Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen, Kansas State has shown an ability to have multiple players involved in the scoring output this season. The Wildcats have seen four or more players score in double figures 17 times this season, including five or more double-digit scorers in seven contests. Even though Pullen (23) and Clemente (20) have been the consistent double-digit scoring threats, six other players have registered at least one double figure scoring game this season, including Jamar Samuels (18), Curtis Kelly (15), Dominique Sutton (six), Rodney McGruder (six), Wally Judge (four) and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts (once). The Wildcats own a 14-3 mark in games when four or more players tally double digits, while they are 6-1 when five players are in twin figures. In all, the squad has seen at least seven players score in every game (including five games with 10 or more) this season, including at least four players scoring five or more points in each contest.
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 15.7 offensive boards per game, while they are fourth in rebounding margin (+5.8). The Wildcats have grabbed 40 or more rebounds 11 times, including in six of the last 11 games, while they have tallied 20 or more offensive boards four times this season. The team posted 50 or more rebounds in back-to-back games against Cleveland State and South Dakota for the first time in back-to-back games since the 2007-08 season, while the squad grabbed 50 against the Big 12's top rebounding team (then No. 1 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 (15.0) in second chance points, including 20 or more second chance points on five occasions this season.
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 (25.6), free throws made (20.7) and free throws attempted (31.6) per game. The team ranks just ahead of Wyoming in both free throw categories, where the Cowboys are second in both free throws made (20.3) and attempts per game (29.8). The squad's 726 free throws attempted rank first in the nation, while its 475 free throws made ranks second only to Morgan State (which has played 25 games) with 494 one-point connections.
At its current pace, K-State will shatter the 51-year-old school record for free throws made (606; 1958-59), while it will break the mark for free throws attempted (862; 2008-09) for the second straight season. This is a growing trend for Frank Martin-coached teams, where his previous two teams already rank among the top 10 in both single-season free throws (fifth and seventh) and free throws attempted (first and eighth). The squad has a shot at the Big 12 marks for both categories, which are held by Kansas in 1996-97 at 698 free throws and 1,007 attempted.
The team has connected on 20 or more free throws in 15 of their 23 games, including 11 of the last 16 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 (most-ever in a 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 (most-ever in a league game and road venue) and the most in a game since the Wildcats set the school mark with 56 attempts against Purdue 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 1,717 points off of 1,513 turnovers in 90 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 20.7 points off of 17.3 opponent mistakes per game. K-State has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers 11 times, including 40 against South Dakota, which is the most since the stat began being kept in 2005-06. The squad also scored 20 or more off of miscues against Loyola (29), IUPUI (28), WSU (39), UNLV (26), Alabama (22), UAPB (29), Cleveland State (30), Texas A&M (23), Colorado (23) and Nebraska (22). The team has a 37-5 record when scoring 20+ points off turnovers under Frank Martin, including an 11-0 mark this season.
Right Man, Right Time
Senior Denis Clemente seems to play his best basketball against the best competition. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico native has been the team's top scorers in Big 12 play, averaging a team-best 18.0 points on 39.1 percent shooting (52-of-133), including 38.8 percent (26-of-67) from 3-point range, this season. This has included a two-game stretch against Nebraska and Iowa State on Feb. 2 and 6, in which, he averaged 26.5 points on 50 percent shooting, including 64.5 percent from beyond the arc. In all, he has scored in double figures in eight of nine league games, including three 20-point outings. For his career, Clemente has been even better in Big 12 contests, averaging 18.3 points (457) on 41.1 percent shooting (150-of-365), including 40 percent (62-of-155) from 3-point range, in 25 career games. He has scored in double figures in 22 of these league contests, including seven 20-point games and his Big 12 record-tying 44-point output against Texas on Jan. 31, 2009. He has led the Wildcats in scoring 13 times in this stretch. In comparison, he is averaging just 12.8 points in his 30 career non-conference games on 38.1 percent shooting (136-of-357), including 30.4 percent (48-of-158) from beyond the arc. He has scored in double figures 21 times in these games with four 20-point outings. This season, he averaged 14.1 points during non-league play on 37.9 percent shooting, including 29.4 percent from beyond the arc.
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 1,745 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 34.5 points per game through 23 games this season, including Pullen's team-leading 18.8 points per game. The 34.5-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 31.7) 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.
The duo has combined to score at least 20 points 49 times in 55 games dating back to last season, including 30 or more points on 34 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 tandem 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 42 points. It marked the ninth time (10th now) that the pair has combined to score 40 or more points in 55 career games. 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.
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 13-point effort against Nebraska on Feb. 2, he became just the 11th player in school history to eclipse 1,200 career points and the first since NBDL All-Star Cartier Martin (1,546; 2003-07) in 2006. He passed All-American Jack Parr (1,184, 1955-58) for 11th place all-time on the scoring chart with his 22-point outing against No. 2 Kansas on Jan. 30 and now needs 28 points to top Tyrone Adams (1,251; 1978-82) and jump into the all-time Top 10. With his career scoring average (13.6 ppg.), Pullen would finish in the Top 5 just behind Mike Evans (2,115; 1974-78), Rolando Blackman (1,844; 1977-81) and Askia Jones (1,834; 1989-94) with over 1,700 points. 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 en route to his second career 30-point outing.
Pullen ranks in the top 5 in both 3-point field goals made and attempted in school history, ranking third in both attempts with 524 and makes with 183. After moving past Cartier Martin (178/437 attempts; 2003-07) in both makes and attempts in the past nine 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 19 of the last 22 games this season, including a career-best seven treys against UNLV on Dec. 12. In that span, he is connecting on 42.1 percent (66-of-159) of his attempts 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 four to move ahead of Askia Jones (133, 1989-94) for second place and is 60 back of 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 fifth place with 294 assists. He moved passed Anthony Beane (290; 1992-94) for fifth place against Nebraska on Feb. 2 and now needs six 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 17 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.
Kelly a Key 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 23 games this season, Kelly is fourth on the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game on 56.4 percent shooting to go with team-bests in both rebounds (6.2) and blocks (2.0) 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 Ole Miss on Nov. 20 and an 11-point, 11-rebound effort against IUPUI on Nov. 28. He has scored in double figures 15 times, including in back-to-back games in key wins against Xavier (15) and UNLV (13), while he has led the team in rebounding eight times. He has shot over 60 percent in 11 games, including connecting on 81.8 percent (9-of-11) against Loyola Chicago on Nov. 13 with a career-best 22 points. The team leader in blocked shots, he has at least one block in 19 games, including two or more in 12 games, with a career-best six against South Dakota. He has already posted 46 blocks, which is tied with two other players for the sixth-most in a single-season. The total is 13 short of the school record of 59 held by Gerald Eaker (1995-96).
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 11.9 points per game, had a breakout game in the win over No. 1 Texas on Jan. 18, posting 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 nation. The 20-point outing was the third of his career (second this year) and just one point off his career-best of 21 scored against Fort Hays State (No. 10 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 18 times with 17 of those coming off the bench, including in 13 of the last 15 games. For his career, 32 of Samuels' 33 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve. He is averaging 9.7 points on 56.4 percent (176-of-314) in 53 career games off the bench, including 11.9 points per game on a team-best 60.4 percent shooting this season. He has been solid since the start of league play, averaging 11.9 points on a team-best 60.6 percent shooting (40-of-66) and 5.2 rebounds per game. His 40 field goals in Big 12 play trail only Denis Clemente (52) and are tied with Jacob Pullen (40) through nine games.
Clemente Named USBWA, Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of Week
Senior Denis Clemente was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week as well as the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Feb. 8. He helped the Wildcats to a pair of road wins over Nebraska (76-57) and Iowa State (79-75), averaging 26.5 points on 50 percent shooting (16-of-32), including 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from 3-point range, with 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 36.0 minutes per game. He also went a combined 10-of-10 from the free throw line in the pair of wins.
He began the week by scoring a game-high 23 points in the Wildcats' first win at Nebraska since 2006. He went 7-of-14 from the field, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range, with a team-tying five assists and three rebounds in 35 minutes of action. He then followed with his second career 30-point game in the Wildcats' fourth straight win at Iowa State on Feb. 6, connecting on 9-of-18 field goals, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc, with four rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes. He also went a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. It was his highest point total since tying the Big 12 record with 44 against Texas on Jan. 31, 2009, while his six 3-pointers matched his career-high, which was also set vs. Texas.
This is the first season that the USBWA has selected a national player of the week. As the weekly Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week, Clemente will be added to the Oscar Robertson Trophy Watch List, which will be released at mid-season. It marks the second time in his career he has been named a National Player of the Week after he earned the honor from ESPN.com after his 44-point effort against Texas on Jan. 31, 2009.
One of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, Clemente has helped the Wildcats to their highest ranking in the AP poll since 1973 at No. 9 as well as their highest ranking in the Coaches' poll, also at No. 9, since USA Today took over ownership in 1991-92. He is the team's second-leading scorer (and 11th in the Big 12) at 15.7 points per game and has scored in double figures in 20 of the team's 23 games. The team leader in both assists (4.0) and minutes (33.7) per game, he is second in field goals (119) and 3-point field goals (51). He ranks third in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.24), while he is sixth in 3-point field goals made per game (2.2) , seventh in minutes played and ninth in assists.
Clemente Among Best Transfers
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 840 points his two-year career on 39.6 percent shooting (286-of-722) from the field, including 35.1 percent (110-of-313) from 3-point range, in 55 games. He broke into the school's top 10 for career points by a transfer with his 23-point effort against Nebraska on Feb. 2, surpassing Elliot Hatcher (803; 1994-96). With his current scoring average (15.7 ppg.), he has the opportunity to finish third all-time on the list behind Mitch Richmond (1,327; 1986-88) and Willie Murrell (1,112; 1962-64). He has also cracked the school's Top 10 in 3-point field goals, ranking ninth in attempts (313) and 10th in makes (110).
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. Regularly assigned the opponent's top offensive performer for much of his career, he has established himself as a top-line defender this season. He has been assigned to defend the likes of Washington State's Klay Thompson, Xavier's Jordan Crawford, UNLV's Derrick Jasper, Colorado's Alec Burks, Kansas' Xavier Henry and Iowa State's Marquis Gilstrap. Sutton has held his opponents to a collective 40 shooting percentage (63-of-156), including a 27.3 percent (12-of-44) mark from 3-point range, this season. 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 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 three turnovers. Jasper was held scoreless for the first time in his UNLV career, going 0-of-3 from the field. Sutton held Burks to just 4-of-11 shooting from the field with 14 points (including six from the line) and three miscues, while Henry scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting with four turnovers. He was also solid on Big 12 Newcomer of the Year candidate Marquis Gilstrap, who was 4-of-16 from the field, including just 2-of-8 from beyond the arc, with 18 points (including eight from free throw line). 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.
McGruder Off the Bench
Freshman Rodney McGruder has become a spark off the bench for the Wildcats in the last seven games, averaging 6.7 points on 51.4 percent shooting (18-of-35), including 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from 3-point range, with 5.1 rebounds per game. He has also averaged 20.1 minutes per contest during the span, including a season-best 25 minutes 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 year 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.
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 2.3 points and 3.6 rebounds, has started 10 of the last 11 games, including nine 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.
Pullen Named Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week
Junior Jacob Pullen was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time in his career on Dec. 14 in an announcement by the league office. Pullen, who helped the Wildcats to wins over Xavier and No. 18/17 UNLV, averaged 22.0 points on 48.1 percent shooting (13-of-27), including 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from 3-point range, for the week with 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals in 27.5 minutes per game. Pullen began the week by scoring 14 of his game-high 16 points in the second half of a 71-56 win over the Musketeers in 24 minutes. He then followed with a season-high 28-point output in a 95-80 win over the nationally-ranked Runnin' Rebels, including a career-best 7-of-10 effort from beyond the arc. The seven 3-point field goals tied eight other players for the fourth-most in school history. Pullen is the first Wildcat to earn Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honors since teammate Denis Clemente claimed the distinction on Feb. 2, 2009.
Pullen leads the squad in scoring (18.8 ppg.), double-digit scoring games (23), field goals (121), 3-point field goals (68) and attempts (168), free throws (123) and attempts (154), free throw percentage (79.9) and steals (36). He ranks among the Big 12 leaders in eight categories, including second in scoring and 3-point field goals per game (3.0), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (40.5), eighth in steals, 10th in free throw percentage, 11th in assists, 13th in field goal percentage (41.2) and 14th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.2). His 23 consecutive double-figure games are fifth-most in school history, while his 62 career double-digit scoring efforts rank 10th in school history.
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 19-4 record. Only five other teams - 1947-48, 1950-51, 1957-58, 1958-59 and 1961-62 teams - have a better record after 23 games in school history. The team earned their third Top 10 ranking this season, including their second in both major polls, on Monday when the Wildcats rose to No. 9 in each poll. It is the highest ranking in the AP since also ranking ninth on March 15, 1973, while it is the highest in the Coaches' poll since USA Today took over ownership of the poll in 1991-92. Martin also 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 on Jan. 18. The win over No. 24 Baylor on Jan. 24 gave the Wildcats four wins over Top 25 teams for the first time ever in a regular season. The four wins over Top 25 teams (No. 18/21 Dayton, No. 18/17 UNLV, No. 1/1 Texas and No. 24/RV Baylor) tie Kansas for the most by a Big 12 team this 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 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. He needs three wins to eclipse Lon Kruger (64-31; 1986-89) for wins by a head coach in his first three seasons, while one more win would make him the first coach to have three 20-win seasons to start a career.