K-State Hosts Iowa State on Senior Day
K-State Hosts Iowa State on Senior Day
March 3, 2011
rv/rv Kansas State (21-9, 9-6 Big 12)
vs. Iowa State (16-14, 3-12 Big 12)
Date: Saturday, March 5, 2011 | Tipoff: 12:30 p.m. CT
Location: Manhattan, Kan. | Arena: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528) | Live Stats: www.k-statesports.com | Internet: ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com
Television: Big 12 Network (Mitch Holthus, play-by-play; Jon Sunvold, analyst; Doc Carothers, producer)
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst) | Satellite Radio: Sirius 130 (home team only)
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International ‘93) is 93-41 (.694) in his fourth season as a head coach and at the school. Iowa State - Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State ‘95) is 16-14 (.533) in his first season as a head coach and at his alma mater.
Series: K-State leads 134-77 (77-24 at home) | Martin vs. Iowa State: 6-1 (2-1 at home) | Martin vs. Hoiberg: 1-0 (0-0 at home)
Last Time Out: K-State tallied a 75-70 win over No. 7/8 Texas on Monday, while Iowa State knocked off Colorado, 95-90, at home on Wednesday.
Rankings: K-State receiving votes in both The Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Top 25 polls. Iowa State is not ranked.
Tickets: Sold out.
‘Cats wrap up home season by hosting Cyclones on Senior Day
Kansas State (21-9, 9-6 Big 12) concludes its regular-season home slate on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats host surging Iowa State (16-14, 3-12 Big 12) on Senior Day at Bramlage Coliseum beginning at 12:30 p.m. CT. It will be the final home contest for seniors Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly as well as senior managers Chris Connell and Jake Kupersmith. All four will be honored in a pre-game ceremony. The winners of five in a row, the Wildcats can secure the No. 4 seed and bye in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship held March 9-12 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., with a victory over the Cyclones, while a victory and a loss by Texas A&M at home to Texas Tech would give the Wildcats the No. 3 seed. The home finale will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Network with Mitch Holthus (play-by-play) and Jon Sundvold (analyst) on the call. Locally, the game will be available on KMCI-TV in Kansas City, KSAS-TV in Wichita and KSNT-TV in the Topeka and Manhattan areas. It will also be available nationally on ESPN Full Court as well as on the internet at ESPN3.com. Fans can listen to the “Voice of the Wildcats” Wyatt Thompson and analyst Stan Weber throughout the 33-station K-State Sports Network as well as free of charge online at www.k-statesports.com.
The Big 12 standings remain influx with only Iowa State solidified as the 12-seed for next week’s Big 12 Championship. Kansas (28-2, 13-2 Big 12) has clinched at least a share of its seventh consecutive conference championship with its victory over Texas A&M on Wednesday and remain a half-game ahead of second-place Texas (24-6, 12-3 Big 12). However, the Longhorns can snag a share of the title and the No. 1 seed with a win over Baylor (18-11, 7-8 Big 12) and a loss by the Jayhawks to Missouri (22-8, 8-7 Big 12). The Aggies have guaranteed themselves a bye in Kansas City will be the No. 3 seed with a victory over Texas Tech at home. The fourth and final spot will either go to K-State or Missouri depending on Saturday’s results with possible multiple tiebreakers coming into effect. The Wildcats will be looking to keep their streak alive with a win over the Cyclones, as they are one of only two teams (Kansas) in the league to earn a bye to the Big 12 Championship each of the last four seasons.
The Wildcats will look to enacted a little revenge on Iowa State on Saturday, as the Cyclones spoiled the squad’s Senior Day festivities a year ago with an 85-82 overtime win at Bramlage Coliseum on March 6, 2010. It was the school’s first win in Manhattan since 2001 and snapped an eight-game losing streak in the series. Iowa State has emerged from a difficult stretch to post consecutive Big 12 wins for the first time since 2008 with victories over Nebraska (83-82) and Colorado (95-90) in the last eight days. The win over the Cornhuskers snapped a 10-game losing skid, which included two overtime setbacks and six losses by single-digits. This will be the 212th meeting between K-State and ISU on the hardwood in a series that dates back to 1909. It is the fourth-most played series in school history behind the rivalries with Kansas (272), Missouri (233) and Nebraska (219). The two teams have met every season for 94 years. The Wildcats own a 134-77 advantage in the series, including a 77-24 edge in Manhattan. K-State has won nine of the last 10 meetings in the series, including a fifth consecutive victory at Hilton Coliseum, 86-85, on Feb. 4. It is the longest winning streak in Ames since winning six consecutive from 1972-77. Senior Jacob Pullen scored eight of his team-high 21 points in the last 2:20 of the contest, including a lay-up with 2 seconds remaining to a snap a four-game road losing streak.
K-State capped its stellar play in the month of February by posting an impressive 75-70 win over No. 7/8 Texas on Monday night at the Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. It was the first win over a Top 10 opponent on the road in 17 years since knocking off No. 1 Kansas, 68-64, at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 17, 1994, while it marked the first time since 1958 that the squad posted consecutive wins over Top 25 teams. The team started its impressive two-game streak with an 80-70 victory over No. 20/21 Missouri at Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 26. Including the win over No. 1/1 Kansas on Feb. 14, the Wildcats have three wins over Top 25 teams in a five-game span for the first time in school history. The squad has now won 15 of their last 16 games in February, which included a 10-game streak between the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. The team is 23-8 (.742) under head coach Frank Martin in the month, including a 14-2 (.875) mark at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats will enter the 2011-12 season with a nine-game winning streak at home in February. The victory was also the 15th over a Top 25 opponent under Martin, including the fifth this season. The squad has now three in a row on the road over the Longhorns dating back to 2007 and evened its all-time record in Austin, Texas to 5-5. Since the start of Big 12 play in 1997, the team is 7-9 against Texas, including 3-5 at the Erwin Center.
K-State has continued to build on its impressive 83-68 win over top-ranked Kansas on Feb. 14 with victories over Oklahoma (77-62) at home on Feb. 19, Nebraska (61-57) on the road on Feb 23, Missouri (80-70) at home on Feb. 26 and on the road at No. 7/8 Texas (75-70) on Feb. 28.
Since opening Big 12 play with a 1-4 record, the Wildcats have posted wins in eight of their last 10 games, including seven of eight, with six consecutive victories at Bramlage Coliseum. The team used an impressive second half to top Texas for the third time in the last four games. The Wildcats connected on 57.7 percent from the field after halftime with just two turnovers, while holding the Longhorns to just 33.3 percent shooting to post their win this season when trailing at the break. The squad connected on 50 percent of its field goals for the second straight game and moved to 8-0 this season and 24-0 under Frank Martin when hitting on that percentage. Overall, the team is now 16-0 when scoring 70 or more points (5-9 in other games). Three players scored in double figures led by the one-two punch of sophomore Rodney McGruder (22) and senior Jacob Pullen (20), who each topped 20 points in the same game for the second time this season. Senior Curtis Kelly chipped in 15 points, a team-tying eight rebounds to go with five blocks, while freshman Shane Southwell had his best all-around game with a season-best eight points, five rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. Sophomore Jordan Henriquez-Roberts had eight points and eight rebounds.
Pullen has been one of the most clutch players in the country of late, scoring 20 or more points in each of the last five games (27.2 ppg. in that span) on better than 47 percent shooting from the field. He has 12 20-point games in the last 16 contests, which includes his historic 38-point effort against Kansas on Feb. 14 (the most points by individual in a win against a No. 1 team since 1968). He has now scored in double figures 101 times in his career, eclipsing the school record he shared with Rolando Blackman (100, 1977-81). It was his 40th career 20-point game, tying him with Mike Evans (40, 1974-78) for second place in school history and five behind leader Bob Boozer (45, 1956-59). He is second in the Big 12 in scoring with 19.7 points per game, while he is first in league-only games at 21.7 points per game. Pullen became the second Wildcat and just the sixth player in the Big 12 era to eclipse 2,000 career points with his quick 7-0 run to start the Missouri game on Feb. 26. He ranks 12th nationally in career scoring with 2,037 points in a school-record 131 games played. Although he didn’t lead the team in scoring against Texas, he has still paced the squad in scoring 22 times in 26 games played, including 12 of the last 15 contests. He ranks in the Top 10 in 17 career categories at K-State, including school records for double-digit scoring games, 3-point field goals, steals and games played.
The Book on Iowa State
Iowa State enters Saturday’s game with a 16-14 overall record and a 3-12 mark in Big 12 action after closing its home schedule with a 95-90 win over Colorado on Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones are one of the league’s hotter teams, having won consecutive games after a 10-game losing streak. Before knocking off the Buffaloes, they knocked off Nebraska on Feb. 26. The squad was sensational against Colorado, connecting on 57.1 percent from the field, including 70.4 percent in the second half, to post their fifth 90-point game this season. They scored a remarkable 52 of its 95 points in the paint, while owning a 40-32 edge on the glass to post 19 second-chance points. Five players scored in double figures led by freshman forward Calvin Godfrey’s double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds. He went an impressive 10-of-11 from the field. Seniors Scott Christopherson had 17 points and a team-high six assists, while fellow seniors Diante Garrett and Jake Anderson added 16 points each. Senior Jamie Vanderbeken also had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The team returned just two lettermen, both starters, from a squad that posted a 15-17 record, including a 4-12 mark in the Big 12, in 2009-10. The squad has just seven scholarship players available for Saturday’s contest, as they are redshirting four Division I transfers, including former Michigan State guard Chris Allen.
The Cyclones are averaging 75.5 points on 44.1 percent shooting from the field, including 37.7 percent from 3-point range, with 36.8 rebounds, 15.2 assists, 6.6 steals and 3.7 blocks per game. A long range threat, the team’s 264 3-pointers rank among the best in school history, while four players have posted 35 or more treys on the season. A solid defensive team that is yielding 70.4 points on 41.8 percent shooting, including 33.5 percent from 3-point range, while forcing 14.2 turnovers per game. All five starters are averaging in double figures led by Garrett, who averages 17.2 points on 41.2 percent shooting to go with 6.1 assists and 1.7 steals per outing. Chrisopherson is second at 14.2 points per game on a team-best 83 3-pointers, while Anderson adds 12.3 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game. Vanderbeken and freshman Melvin Ejim average 11.5 and 10.7 points per game, while Godfrey averages 5.6 points on a team-best 56 percent from the field to go with 5.3 rebounds per game.
Iowa State is led by first-year coach Fred Hoiberg, who has a compiled a 16-14 (.533) record in his first season as a head coach at any level. A former executive with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he is one of the famed players in all of Cyclone history, ranking fourth all-time in scoring.
Series vs. Iowa State
This will be the 212th meeting between K-State and Iowa State in a series that dates back to 1909. It is the fourth-most played series in school history behind the rivalries with Kansas (272), Missouri (233) and Nebraska (219). The two teams have met every season for 94 years. The Wildcats own a 134-77 advantage in the series, including a 77-24 edge in Manhattan. K-State holds a slight edge in the series since the start of the Big 12, winning 16 of 30 meetings. The squad has won nine of the last 10 meetings in the series, including a fifth consecutive victory at Hilton Coliseum, 86-85, on Feb. 4. It is the longest winning streak in Ames since winning six consecutive from 1972-77. Last season, the Cyclones spoiled Senior Day activities and earned its first win in Manhattan since 2001 with an 85-82 victory in overtime on March 6.
Head coach Frank Martin made an adjustment to his offensive scheme right after the 74-66 home loss to Colorado on Jan. 12 and it has paid off in the last 13 games, where the Wildcats have post nine wins, including seven in the last eight contests. Called the “pinch-post” offense, and made famous by legendary K-State and Hall of Fame coach Tex Winter with the Los Angeles Lakers, the scheme is designed to spread the floor and create spacing along with simultaneous ball and player movement. The squad has averaged 71.7 points on 43.8 percent shooting, including 39 percent shooting from 3-point range, since its installation against Texas Tech, while they have averaged 73.5 points on 45.5 percent shooting in the last eight games. Five players are averaging six or more points in the new system, while eight players are shooting at a clip of 40 percent or better from the field. Senior Jacob Pullen is averaging 21.8 points on 42.2 percent shooting, including 42.7 percent from beyond the arc. He has nine 20-point games in that span, including a career-best 38-point effort in the win over top-ranked Kansas on Feb. 14. The offensive change has enabled the Wildcats to eclipse the 2,000-point barrier for the fifth consecutive season, which is the longest stretch of 2,000-point seasons since the program had nine from 1985-86 to 1993-94. The team also has five straight seasons of at least 200 3-pointers.
Part of K-State’s success in February was due to its impressive defensive play, as the Wildcats held their eight opponents to 65.4 points on 42.3 percent shooting, including 33.6 percent from 3-point range, while holding a +4.0 rebounding edge. These opponents have averaged just 10.3 assists to 14.6 turnovers with the squad posting an average of 16.4 points off these miscues. On Feb. 14, the team held the Big 12’s best offense - Kansas - to 68 points (nearly 16 points under their 83.9-point season average) on 44 percent shooting, including 20 percent from 3-point range, to go with 23 rebounds (16 under average), 11 assists (nine under average) and 18 turnovers (five over average). The team took advantage of these miscues by scoring at least 20 points off turnovers for the seventh time. The effort came just two days after holding Colorado’s high-powered offense to a season-low 58 points (nearly 20 points under average) in a narrow loss. The squad held the Buffaloes to 44.2 percent shooting, while holding one of the Big 12’s best assist-to-turnover teams to just six assists to 16 turnovers (which were converted into 17 points). K-State held Missouri to nearly 14 points under their average on 40.7 percent shooting, while Texas was held six points under their average on 33.8 percent shooting. Three times in the last eight games, including 10 times overall, the Wildcats have held their opponents to 60 points or less, including twice in wins over Nebraska. Overall, the team has held 36 foes to 60 points or less under Frank Martin.
Overall, K-State has been solid defensively all season, holding foes to 65.6 points per game on 41.7 percent shooting, including 35 percent from 3-point range, while forcing them into 15.0 turnovers per game. The squad has held 19 opponents to 65 points or less and have limited 12 foes to under 40 percent shooting. The Wildcats have also been stellar on the boards, averaging 38.2 rebounds per game, including a Big 12-best 14.8 offensive rebounds, while holding their opponents to 31.1 rebounds per game for an impressive +7.1 rebounding margin (which ranks 10th nationally). The squad has paced in the league in offensive rebounds in each of Martin’s three seasons. This rebounding edge has helped them post 422 second-chance points (14.1 per game) compared to just 311 (10.4 per game) for its opponents. They have out-scored their foes in this regard in all but eight games. The team has scored 20 or more second-chance points in seven games, including a season-high 25 against both UMKC on Dec. 23 and Texas Tech on Jan. 15. This statistic has been particularly stark in Kansas State’s 21 wins, where the team has averaged 14.9 second-chance points compared to just an average of 12.1 second-chance points in the nine losses.
Digging the Long Ball
One of the more lethal components of the Wildcats’ offense under Frank Martin has been the ability to convert from long range. The team has posted 200 or more treys in each of the last four seasons under Martin, including a school-record 253 makes in 2009-10. This year’s squad has continued that trend, ranking fourth in the Big 12 in both 3-point field goal percentage (37.7) and 3-point field goals per game (7.1), while trailing Iowa State (264), Kansas (226) and Missouri (226) in total 3-pointers (212). The Wildcats have tallied double-digit treys in seven games, including a season-best 14 (on 51.9 percent shooting) against Iowa State on Feb. 5. The 14 makes ties four other teams for the third-most in a game in school history, while they are most since the squad also tallied 14 against UNLV on Dec. 12, 2009. Seven different players posted at least one 3-pointer against the Cyclones, including a season-high four by freshman Will Spradling.
Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been particularly solid from beyond the arc, ranking fifth in the Big 12 in 3-point percentage (42.2) and eighth in 3-point field goals per game (2.2). He has posted at least one trey in 24 of 30 games, including two or more on 20 occasions. He has been impressive in the last 17 games, where he has connected on 46.6 percent (42-of-90) from 3-point range, including a 7-of-10 effort against UMKC on Dec. 23. The seven makes tied for the fourth-most in school history, while he was the first to accomplish it since teammate Jacob Pullen did it twice last year. His exploits are all the more impressive considering he shares the backcourt with Pullen, the school’s leader in both 3-pointers (287) and attempts (800). Pullen, who is seventh in the Big 12 in 3-point field goals per game (2.3), is second on the team with 62 treys, including at least two in 17 games and a season-high five vs. Kansas on Feb. 14. However, this statistic goes beyond the pair, as 10 others have at least one trey, including double-digit totals from Spradling (32), Martavious Irving (17) and Nick Russell (13).
Practice Makes Perfect
One of the main concerns with this Kansas State team has been its ability to shoot free throws, where it 316th nationally (out of 346 teams) and last in the Big 12 at 64.2 percent (475-of-740). However, the extra practice since the end of the semester has seemed to improve that percentage, as the Wildcats have connected on 73 percent (300-of-412) in the last 17 games, including 73 percent (259-of-355) in Big 12-only games. During this span, the team has hit on more than 75 percent eight times, including games against Oklahoma (90.5; 19-of-21), Nebraska (84.0; 21-of-25), Kansas (82.8; 24-of-29), Texas Tech (81.3; 13-of-16), Baylor (80.6; 25-of-31), Oklahoma State (77.4, 24-of-31) and North Florida (76.9, 20-of-26). The 90.5 percent shooting against the Sooners was the highest under Frank Martin and the highest since the team went a perfect 8-of-8 against Texas Tech on Feb. 15, 2006. Junior Jamar Samuels, who ranks sixth in school history in free throws attempted (496), has hit on 73.2 percent (41-of-56) in Big 12 play, which ranks just outside the Big 12’s Top 15, after starting at 58.8 percent (37-of-63). Senior Jacob Pullen, who ranks second in school history in both makes (502) and attempts (653), had a career night from the line against Kansas on Feb. 14. His 15 makes tie for the seventh-most in a game (and fourth-most in a league game), while his 19 attempts rank fourth all-time in a contest.
Young ‘Cats Step Up
Even before the suspension of Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly before the UNLV game on Dec. 21, the play of K-State’s freshmen and sophomores have played a major role this season. This nucleus has scored 1063 of the team’s 2197 points thus far (48 percent), while posting 582 of 1147 rebounds (51 percent), 233 of 421 assists (55 percent) and 87 of 187 steals (47 percent). The group boasts six of the Top 10 scorers, while it includes three of the Top 5 rebounders and four of the Top 5 assists leaders. Forty-two of the team’s 93 double-figure scoring efforts have come from sophomores and freshmen led by Rodney McGruder, who is second with 21 double-figure scoring games. He paces in 3-point field goals (65) and rebounding (6.2 rpg.), while he is second in scoring (11.6 ppg.), field goals (121) and minutes played (30.2 mpg.). Freshman Will Spradling and sophomores Martavious Irving and Nick Russell rank fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in scoring at 6.0, 4.6 and 4.6 points per game. Spradling is second in free throw percentage (83.3), assists (2.0 apg.) and steals (0.8 spg.), while he and fellow freshman Shane Southwell are only the second and third rookie guards to earn a start under Frank Martin.
This group was even more impressive during Pullen’s three-game suspension (UNLV, UMKC and North Florida games), as the Wildcats averaged nearly 80 points per game (79.7 ppg.), including the only 100-point game, while connecting on 46 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. The team started three sophomores, a freshman and a junior with three of the four double-digit scorers being either sophomores or freshmen led by McGruder’s 14.7 points per game.
One of the definite advantage of this year’s Kansas State squad is its depth and versatility. The Wildcats have played at least nine players in each of its 30 games, including a high of 14 against No. 18/22 Gonzaga (11/22), Texas Southern (11/26), Emporia State (11/29) and Alcorn State (12/6). The team has used this depth to its advantage, averaging 22.9 points per game off the bench, while out-scoring its foes by a margin of 687-487. The squad has scored 20 or more points from the bench in 19 of 30 games, including three contests with 40 or more points of bench production. The Wildcats received a season-best 46 points from their bench vs. Duke on Nov. 23, while they posted 44 against Iowa State on Feb. 5 and 41 against Texas Southern on Nov. 26. The 46 points versus the Blue Devils was the most from the bench since scoring 59 against Chicago State on Jan. 5, 2009, while the 44 against the Cyclones was the most in a Big 12 game under head coach Frank Martin. The team has seen a Big 12-high 12 different players record 93 double-digit scoring efforts this season, including 23 coming off the bench from seven separate players. Sophomore Martavious Irving leads with six double-digit scoring efforts from the bench.
Points Off Turnovers
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent’s mistakes. Since he became coach, the Wildcats have scored 2,489 points off of 2,215 turnovers in 134 games, an average of 18.6 points per game. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past four years have come off of offense generated from turnovers, including the current season, in which, the team has outscored its foes, 513-446. The squad has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in nine games, including four times in the last eight games where they are averaging 16.4 points off of miscues. The team has pressured their foes into 15 or more turnovers in 19 games, including a season-high 26 vs. James Madison on Nov. 12, while just six opponents have posted a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. Before the North Florida game on New Year’s Eve, the Wildcats were one of just four schools to force each of their foes into more turnovers than assists in every game.
Pullen Becoming An All-Time Great
Senior Jacob Pullen continues to re-write the school and Big 12 record books in his finale season. With his game-high 24-point effort against No. 20/21 Missouri on Feb. 26, he became just the second Wildcat and the sixth player in the Big 12 era to eclipse the 2,000-point plateau. He ranks 12th among NCAA Division I active players in career scoring (including second in the Big 12 to Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn) with 2,037 points in a school-record 131 games, which is less than 80 points behind the school’s all-time leader Mike Evans (2,115 points, 1974-78). He joined Evans in the exclusive 2,000-point club at K-State, while he is among a class that includes Texas Tech’s Andre Emmett (2,256, 2001-04), Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn (2,252, 2007-present), Jarrius Jackson (2,221, 2003-07), Kansas’ Nick Collison (2,097, 1999-2003) and Colorado’s Richard Roby (2,001, 2004-08) as the only players to accomplish the feat in the Big 12 era. Pullen ranks among the Top 10 in six career categories in Big 12 history, including second in free throws made (502), fifth in scoring, 3-point field goals attempted (800) and free throws attempted (653), seventh in 3-point field goals (287) and field goals attempted (1,534).
Pullen also places among the Top 5 in 17 career categories at K-State, including the school records for games played (131), double-digit scoring games (101), 3-point field goals, 3-point field goals attempted and steals (207). With his five steals against Oklahoma on Feb. 23, he became the first Wildcat with at least 1,800 points, 400 assists, 300 rebounds and 200 steals, while in the process, snapping his tie with Steve Henson (127, 1987-90) for the most games played. He is nearing several other milestones, as he ranks second in 20-point games (40), field goals attempted, free throws made and attempted and minutes (3,837), while he is fourth in starts (112) and field goals (624). Only Bob Boozer (45, 1956-59) has more career 20-point games, while he is one of just seven players in school history to post at least 500 points in consecutive seasons.
McGruder Takes Off
Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been one of the team’s most consistent all-around players this season, averaging 11.6 points on 45 percent shooting, including 42.2 percent from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 30.2 minutes per game. The only player to start all 30 games, he paces the team in 3-point field goals (65), while he is second in scoring, double-digit scoring games (21), field goals (121) and minutes. He had a career day against UMKC on Dec. 23, setting highs in five categories, including points (24), field goals (eight), field goals attempted (14), 3-point field goals (seven) and 3-point field goals attempted. His seven treys tied 10 others for the fourth-most in a single-game in school history, while he was the first to do it since Pullen also had seven against BYU in the NCAA Tournament. Despite the presence of the school’s all-time leader in Pullen, he has been the team’s best long range threat with at least two makes from 3-point range in 19 games, including eight times in Big 12 play. He posted his third 20-point game, including his second in four games, with a team-high 22 points in the win over No. 7/8 Texas on Feb. 28, while he had a Big 12-high five treys against Oklahoma on Feb. 23 with 20 points. He has also been the best rebounder, leading the team on 14 occasions with at least five boards in 22 contests, including a career-high 15 against Texas Tech on Jan. 15. His 15 rebounds against the Red Raiders were the most since Michael Beasley grabbed 17 against Missouri on Feb. 16, 2008.
Kelly Closing Strong
Although hampered by a six-game suspension right in the middle of the season, senior Curtis Kelly seems to closing his final campaign on a strong note. The team’s third-leading scorer (9.8 ppg.) and rebounder (5.0 rpg.), he posted consecutive strong performances in helping the Wildcats to back-to-back wins over ranked teams for the first time since 1958, including the first over a Top 10 team on the road since 1994. In wins over No. 20/21 Missouri and No. 7/8 Texas, Kelly averaged 15 points on 68.4 percent shooting (13-of-19) from the field to go with 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in 30 minutes per game. He tallied 15 points on 7-of-9 field goals against the Tigers to go with six rebounds and two blocks, while he added 15 points against the Longhorns on 6-of-10 shooting with a team-best eight rebounds, five blocks and a steal. He has scored in double figures in 11 games (six in 13 Big 12 contests) this season, including a season-best 19 points against No. 1/1 Duke on Nov. 23.
Coaching Staff Continuity
One of the main reasons that Kansas State has been able to win a school-record 93 games over the past four seasons has been its ability to not only keep head coach Frank Martin, who earned a new multi-year contract through the 2014-15 season during the off-season, but his entire staff, which includes associate head coach Dalonte Hill, assistant coaches Matt Figger and Brad Underwood, director of operations Andy Assaley and strength coach Scott Greenawalt. K-State is one of just two Big 12 schools (other being Missouri) to have kept their entire staff together for the last four seasons. This has enabled the Wildcats to post 93 wins the past four seasons, which is the most by a staff in their first four seasons and the most-ever by the school in that span. They are the first staff to post four consecutive 20-win seasons since 1979-82 and just the second group to guide K-State to the postseason in each of their first three seasons. The staff has also captured 39 Big 12 wins in last four years, which is one less than Jack Hartman’s staff had from 1974-78 for the most in a four-year period. They have also helped make K-State one of just two in the Big 12 to finish in the top-4 in the league standings and receive a bye at the Big 12 Championship each of the past three years.
Season Tickets Sold Out
With preseason expectations for K-State at a near all-time high, officials announced on Oct. 22 that all reserved tickets for the 2010-11 season have been sold. K-State has sold over 12,000 season tickets to the general public and students, surpassing last year’s total by over 750 tickets. The school has ranked among the nation’s leaders in attendance in three of the last four years, including ranking 31st with an average of 11,884 fans per game to 17 home games in 2009-10. The team also ranked fourth in attendance among Big 12 institutions and was second only to Kansas in sellouts with 14. In addition, the school enjoyed the nation’s largest average attendance increase with nearly 3,000 more fans per game. Three of the top-5 single-season attendance averages have come in the last four years.