'Cats Host Buffaloes on Senior Day
'Cats Host Buffaloes on Senior Day
Kansas State (20-10, 8-7 Big 12) vs.
Colorado (9-20, 1-14 Big 12)
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2009
Tipoff: 12:47 p.m. CT
Location: Manhattan, Kan.
Arena: Bramlage Coliseum (1988)
Series: K-State leads 94-43
(K-State is 52-10 at home)
Television: Big 12 Network/ESPN Full Court/ESPN360.com
Dave Armstrong (play-by-play)
Bryndon Manzer (analyst)
Doc Carothers (producer)
Channels: KMCI (Kansas City), KSNT (Topeka), KMTW (Wichita)
Radio: K-State Sports Network (29-station); Yahoo! Internet Radio; Sirius Satellite 147
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play)
Stan Weber (analyst)
Tickets: 500 tickets from student allotment went on sale Monday for $20 each at Athletics Ticket Office, by calling 1.800.221.CATS.
Kansas State Wildcats
Record: 20-10 (8-7 Big 12)
Ranking (AP/Coaches): --/--
Coach: Frank Martin
Alma Mater: Florida International, 93
Career Record: 41-22/2
School Record: 41-22/2
vs. Colorado: 3-0
07-08 Record: 21-12 (10-6 Big 12)
Last game: March 3, 2009
Lost at Oklahoma State, 77-71
SID: Tom Gilbert
Record: 9-20 (1-14 Big 12)
Ranking (AP/Coaches): --/--
Coach: Jeff Bzdelik
Alma Mater: Illinois-Chicago, 76
Career Record: 96-86/6
School Record: 21-40/2
vs. Kansas State: 0-3
07-08 Record: 12-20 (3-13 Big 12)
Last game: March 4, 2009
Lost to Texas A&M, 72-66
SID: Andrew Green
Kansas State (20-10, 8-7 Big 12)
G - #0 Jacob Pullen (6-0, 200, So.)
G - #21 Denis Clemente (6-1, 175, Jr.)
F - #23 Dominique Sutton (6-5, 210, So.)
F - #42 Darren Kent (6-11, 230, Sr.)
F - #15 Luis Colon (6-10, 265, Jr.)
Colorado (9-20, 1-14 Big 12)
G - #1 Nate Tomlinson (6-2, 180, Fr.)
G - #11 Cory Higgins (6-5, 180, So.)
G - #12 Dwight Thorne II (6-3, 185, Jr.)
F - #31 Jermyl Jackson-Wilson (6-6, 230, Sr.)
F - #33 Austin Dufault (6-8, 210, Fr.)
Kansas State (20-10, 8-7 Big 12) concludes the regular season on Saturday, as the Wildcats host Colorado (9-20, 1-14 Big 12) on Senior Day at Bramlage Coliseum beginning at 12:47 p.m. The squad will honor its lone senior - Darren Kent - in pre-game activities, along with senior manager Josh McCown. With a win against the Buffaloes, Kent would become just the 15th player in school history to post 80 wins in a career and the first since Steve Henson (82; 1986-90).
Kansas State is still in the running for the fourth and final bye at next week’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Okla. A win against the Buffaloes plus victories by Kansas over Texas and Oklahoma over Oklahoma State would give the Wildcats the fourth seed and an unprecedented bye for the third consecutive season. Despite that scenario, the squad can finish anywhere from the fourth to the seventh seed depending on this week’s results, but does own the tiebreaker against three of the four other teams (Nebraska, Texas and Texas A&M). The Wildcats will be looking to sweep the season series from Colorado for the third straight season after posting a thrilling 77-75 win in overtime on Jan. 24 in Boulder, Colo. The team has won six straight against the Buffaloes, including three in a row at home. A victory would also give K-State nine or more wins in conference play for three straight seasons for the first time since the 1973-74, 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons.
Kansas State lost a hard fought game on Tuesday night, as Oklahoma State scored seven straight points with the score knotted at 64-all en route to a 77-71 win on Senior Night at Gallagher-Iba Arena. The squad closed to within 71-69 with 1:36 remaining, but a key 3-pointer by sophomore James Anderson at the 1:06 mark clinched the win for the Cowboys. The Wildcats shot 43.4 percent from the field, including 38.5 percent from 3-point range, and held a 31-27 advantage on the boards. Despite the loss, the team has still won nine of their last 12 games, including eight of the last 11 conference contests.
Junior Denis Clemente led four players in double figures with 18 points to go with five assists. He has now led the squad in scoring a team-best 12 times, including eight times in Big 12 play, while posting double figures for the 20th time. Senior Darren Kent and sophomore Jacob Pullen added 14 and 13 points, respectively, while sophomore Ron Anderson posted 12 points. It marked the 16th time that at least four players have scored in double figures, while it was the second loss when Clemente and Pullen each tally double figures.
K-State remains the definition of balance with seven different leading scorers, nine different assist leaders and eight different rebounding leaders. Right now, six players are averaging seven or more points, while five players are averaging four or more rebounds. There have been 102 double-digit scoring games by 10 players. Of the 10 players, six have registered double figures 10 or more times.
The Wildcats have been a solid team defensively, allowing just 66.4 points on 41.2 percent shooting, including 34.8 percent from 3-point range. The team is forcing an average of 17.0 turnovers per game, while averaging 19.8 points off those turnovers.
The contest against Colorado will be televised on the Big 12 Network (KMCI - Kansas City, KSNT - Topeka, KMTW - Wichita), with Dave Armstrong (play-by-play) and Bryndon Manzer (analyst) calling the action. Fans will also be able to watch the game on the Full Court package as well as ESPN360.com. Information on these outlets can be found at http://proxy.espn.go.com/ncb/fullcourt/.
Fans will also be able to listen to the audio broadcast on the K-State Sports Network (Yahoo! Internet Radio; Sirius Satellite 147) with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst).
Kansas State became just the second school in Big 12 history to rally from 0-4 start to get back to at least .500 in league play. Iowa State did it first in 2004-05, rallying from a 0-5 start to win seven in a row and eventually finish 9-7 in Big 12 action. Two other teams (Missouri - 2006-07 and Nebraska - 2007-08) both started 0-4 and came to within one game of getting back to .500 in league play before finishing 7-9. In the previous 10 occasions, no other Wildcat team has ever rallied back to .500 after starting 0-4 in league play. K-State is looking to become just the fourth team (Iowa State - 2002-03 and 2004-05 and Nebraska - 2007-08) in the Big 12 era who have started winless (0-4 or worse) in league play and made the postseason.
Quite a Turnaround
After starting Big 12 play with four straight losses, Kansas State has seemed to have found its groove again with wins in eight of its last 11 league games. The Wildcats have averaged 73.7 points on 42.3 percent shooting, including 38.2 percent from 3-point range, in the last 11 Big 12 games after averaging 60 points on 38.4 percent shooting, including 29 percent from beyond the arc, in the first four league contests. During this stretch, the team is also forcing three times as many turnovers (163-56) than the previous four games, while scoring 100 more points off those miscues (152-40). The defensive numbers have also improved with the Wildcats holding the 11 foes to an average of 71.4 points on 42.8 percent shooting compared to 76 points on 51 percent shooting in the first four games.
Kansas State has proven to be one of the top offensive teams in the Big 12, averaging nearly 77 points per game. The current 76.2-point scoring average is just outside the school’s top-5 for highest scoring average for a single-season, trailing the 1974-75 team for fifth place at 76.8 points per game. The team has scored 70 or more points in 22 games, including 80 or more points 12 times. The four 90-point games are the most since 1997-98, while the 12 80-point games tie three others for the fifth-most in school history.
The 2,287 points are the fourth-most through 30 games in school history, trailing the 1986-87 (2,383), 2007-08 (2,379) and 1987-88 (2,302) teams and ahead of the 1997-98 (2,174) squad. This year’s team is on pace to top 2,400 points for the third year in a row for the first time in school history. Prior to 2006-07, the squad had scored 2,000 or more points just four times in the previous 12 years.
Since Frank Martin’s arrival in 2007, K-State has shown the ability to score points, totaling two of the most prolific scoring teams in school history. Last year, the Wildcats set the school mark with 2,574 points, while also posting the second-most field goals attempted (2,067) and the third-most field goals (916) and 3-point field goals made (210) as well as the third-highest scoring average (78.0).
K-State has shown the ability to play solid defense as well, holding its 30 opponents thus far to an average of 66.4 points per game. The Wildcats have held 17 foes to less than 70 points, including 12 to 60 points or less. The 1,992 points yielded are the second-fewest through 30 games in the last 25 seasons and fewest since the 2005-06 team allowed just 1,788 points. This year, 15 foes have been held to below 40 percent shooting, while 12 have been held to below 30 percent from 3-point range. Despite allowing 72.6 points during Big 12 play, the team had held two of the more potent offenses - Oklahoma and Missouri - to 15 or more points under their averages.
Unlike last season when consensus All-American Michael Beasley paced the squad at 26.2 points per game, the 2008-09 team has shown a lot more diversity with its scoring output thus far.
Through 30 games, all 12 players have totaled double-digit points with eight scoring in triple digits. The duo of junior Denis Clemente and sophomore Jacob Pullen are averaging in double figures led by Clemente’s 15.3 points per game. Six players are averaging seven or more points, including senior Darren Kent (9.2 ppg.), sophomore Fred Brown (8.6 ppg.), redshirt freshman Jamar Samuels (8.3 ppg.) and sophomore Dominique Sutton (7.7 ppg.). Since statistics became available in 1950, there has been just one team - the 1955-56 squad - to have six players average seven or more points in a season.
There have already been seven different leading scorers in 30 games, including a league-best six players with 20-point outings. In all, there have been 102 double-digit scoring games with Clemente doing it a team-best 20 times. Ten players have tallied double figures with six of those players doing it 10 or more times.
Backcourt Play Key
A big key to Kansas State’s hopes this season has been the play of its three primary guards - Fred Brown, Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen. The trio represent nearly half of the team’s point (1,091), field goals (374) and field goals attempted (915) total this season as well as over 85 percent of the 3-point field goals (169).
The play of these three guards has been key to the team’s fortunes this year. In the 20 wins, the trio is averaging 37.2 points on 43.1 percent (254-of-590) shooting from the field, including 40.9 percent (122-of-298) from 3-point range. The squad is 2-0 when all three players score in double figures, while they are 12-2 when both Clemente and Pullen score 10 or more points. In the 10 losses, the trio averages 34.7 points on 36.9 percent (120-of-325) shooting, including just 31.3 percent (47-of-150) from beyond the arc.
The trio became the first in school history to each tally 50 or more 3-pointers in a single season since the inception of the 3-point line. They are also just the third threesome to each post 40 or more treys, joining the group of Will Scott (70), Mitch Richmond (46) and Steve Henson (42) in 1987-88 and Brian Henson (48), Askia Jones (45) and Anthony Beane (42) in 1992-93.
Rebounding Still a Strength
Most critics wondered how Kansas State would replace two of the best Big 12 rebounders - Michael Beasley and Bill Walker - after the duo helped the program average 41.3 rebounds a year ago. The duo plus departed seniors Clent Stewart and Blake Young averaged over 25 boards per game. Despite their absence, rebounding continues to be a strength with seven players averaging at least two boards per game.
Through 30 games, K-State is averaging 39.3 rebounds, including a Big 12-best 15.9 on the offensive end, with five players averaging four or more boards. The team ranks among the best in the Big 12 in four categories, including first in offensive rebounds, second in rebounds and margin (+6.8) and third in rebounding defense (32.4). Five players - Ron Anderson, Luis Colon, Darren Kent, Jamar Samuels and Dominique Sutton - have grabbed double-digit rebounds 13 times with Kent averaging a team-best 5.6 boards per game. Kent has a team-leading four double-doubles thus far this season, while Anderson, Colon and Sutton each has two and Samuels has one.
Pressure is Key
Pressure has been a big key for the Wildcats so far, as the team has scored 595 points (almost 30 percent of season total of 2,287 points) off 509 opponent turnovers. The squad has also outscored its foes, 301-199, on fast-break opportunities. Kansas State has scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 14 of the team’s 30 games, including 30 or more points twice with a season-best 41 against Gardner-Webb. In its 20 wins, the squad has outscored its foes, 446-221 (22.3 ppg.), in points off turnovers with an average of 17.8 turnovers. In contrast, the team has been outscored 192-149 (14.9 ppg.) in points off turnovers in its 10 losses with an average of 15.4 turnovers. In all, the Wildcats have forced nine foes into 20 or more turnovers. The squad is averaging 7.0 steals per game with seven players grabbing 10 or more this year led by Jacob Pullen’s 45 steals.
After dominating the paint a year ago with the likes of Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, Kansas State’s strength has shifted to the backcourt where the Wildcats start two of the best at their positions in junior Denis Clemente and sophomore Jacob Pullen.
The duo, which has started 28 of 30 games, have combined for 834 points on 40.2 percent shooting (281-of-699), including 35.4 percent
from 3-point range (116-of-328), with 195 of the team’s 426 assists. Clemente ranks first on the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting with team-highs in field goals made (148) and free throw percentage (79.4). He is second to Pullen in assists (93) and minutes (817) and third in 3-point field goals (52) and steals (25). Pullen is second in scoring at 13.5 points per game on 37.9 percent shooting with team-highs in 3-point field goals made (64), assists (102), steals (45) and minutes (907).
The two have scored in double figures 14 times in the same game (team is 12-2) with a combined 36 points against Florida A&M, 31 against Cleveland State, Kentucky, Nebraska and Oklahoma State, 45 against Oakland, 34 against Gardner-Webb, 39 against Wagner, 32 against Colorado, 33 against Missouri, 28 against Iowa State, 30 against Texas A&M, 27 against Texas Tech and 48 against Kansas. Clemente has led in scoring 12 times with a Big 12 record-tying 44 points against Texas, while Pullen, who is second to Clemente with 19 double-figure games, posted a career-best 26 against Oakland.
Clemente Earns Honors
Junior Denis Clemente was named the ESPN.com National Player of the Week as well as the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week Feb. 2. In wins over Missouri and No. 11 Texas, he averaged 27.0 points on 54.8 percent shooting (17-of-31), including 77.8 percent (7-of-9) from 3-point range, with 5.0 assists, 1.5 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 31.0 minutes per game. He also went a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line, including a stellar 10-of-10 in the last five minutes against the Longhorns. He is the first K-State player to earn Big 12 Player of the Week honors this season and the first since Michael Beasley won it for a third time on March 9, 2008. He is the first guard to win the honor since Galen Morrison won it on Jan. 10, 2000.
Clemente's Big Day
Junior Denis Clemente tied Michael Beasley’s Big 12 single-game record for points with his career-best 44 points against Texas on Jan. 31. He went 13-of-25 from the field, including a perfect 6-of-6 from 3-point range, and 12-of-12 from the free throw line. He scored the first 17 points of the second half for the Wildcats, including five straight 3-point field goals. He tied Beasley for the fifth-most points in school history, including the second-most in a conference game. It marked just the 12th 40-point game in school history, including just the eighth in a conference game. It was the most points by a guard since Askia Jones broke the school mark with 62 points against Fresno State on March 24, 1994. The 44 points were also the most by a single player in Erwin Center history, surpassing the 43 by Texas’ Reggie Freeman against Fresno State on Dec. 14, 1996.
Junior Denis Clemente saw his streak of 29 consecutive free throws end against Iowa State on Feb. 3. It had started in the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma on Jan. 10 and had run through seven consecutive games before ending on his second attempt of the second half at the 10:57 mark. He has been stellar from the line, connecting on a team-best 77.9 percent (67-of-86) overall for the season and 77.6 percent (45-of-58) in Big 12 play. Before missing three on Feb. 3 against Iowa State, he had connected on 33 of his last 34 attempts. He is an impressive 24-of-30 from the line in the last five minutes.
Brown From Outside
Sophomore Fred Brown has emerged as a dangerous threat from the outside for the Wildcats, as he ranks second in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (44.2) and 15th in 3-point field goals (53). He has at least one 3-pointer in 23 games, including two or more 15 times. He would rank second in 3-point percentage in Big 12-only games at 44.9 percent (22-of-49) if he had enough attempts. He has hit big 3-point shots at critical moments, knocking down an arching trey with 18.6 seconds left in overtime in the win at No. 11 Texas then hitting the clinching 3-pointer with 43 seconds left in the victory at Texas A&M. He has scored in double figures 10 times, including two 20-point outings against SE Missouri (21) and Chicago State (26).
Kent Stepping Up as a Senior
One of the bright spots for the Wildcats this season has been the play of Darren Kent. Kent, the team’s only senior, has been a force on the boards, ranking first with 5.6 rebounds per game. He is averaging 9.2 points on 42.8 percent shooting (92-of-215) to go with 1.3 assists and 0.6 blocks in 22.3 minutes per game. His improvement has been evident this year, as he has already scored in double figures in 15 games, including nine times in Big 12 play, and totaled 276 points. In contrast, he came into the year with 104 career points and just one double-figure scoring game. Kent has also totaled his four career double-doubles all this season, which leads the squad. He turned in a career day against Centenary on Dec. 20 with career-highs in points (24), field goals (nine) and field goals attempted (14).
With a win against Colorado, Kent would become just the 15th player in school history to post 80 wins in a career and the first since Steve Henson (82; 1986-90). He would tie Rolando Blackman (80; 1977-81), Dean Danner (80; 1976-80) and Mark Dobbins (80; 1985-89) with an 80th win. Greg Prudhoe (1977-82) won a program-best 87 games, which included a redshirt season, while Tyrone Adams and Ed Nealy won 85 games from 1978-82.
Samuels Spark off the Bench
Redshirt freshman Jamar Samuels has provided a spark off the bench, averaging over 20 minutes per contest despite just two starts this season. He is fifth in scoring at 8.3 points on a team-best 52.5 percent shooting with 4.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.0 blocks in 20.2 minutes per game. He ties for third with 13 double-figure scoring games, including a season-high 20 points against Gardner-Webb on Dec. 14. He collected his first double-double against Iowa State on Feb. 21 with a team-best 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Samuels was sensational against Missouri on Jan. 28, collecting a personal Big 12-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting with six rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 24 minutes.
Sutton Steals the Show
After getting a late start to his time at K-State, sophomore Dominique Sutton has become an all-around factor for the Wildcats this season. One of five Wildcats shooting 45 percent or better from the field, he is averaging 7.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 0.9 assists in 22.7 minutes per game. He posted double figures for the third time in five games against N.C. Central on Feb. 17 with a team-high 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go with eight rebounds. He has now scored in double figures 10 times this season. Sutton collected his second double-double of the season against Iowa State on Feb. 3 and first in Big 12 play with 13 points and a career-tying 10 rebounds. He tied the school single-game record for steals against Idaho State on Jan. 3 with eight, matching a mark set by Lynn Smith against South Dakota on Nov. 29, 1986 then followed by Elliot Hatcher against Wichita State on Jan. 2, 1996. He posted a career night against Wagner on Dec. 30 with highs in six categories, including points (21), boards (10), field goals (7) and field goals attempts (11).
Colon a Force in the Middle
A starter in the post all season, junior Luis Colon is finally coming into his own this year. He is averaging 4.8 points on 49.6 percent shooting with 5.0 rebounds in 18.8 minutes per game. He, along with sophomore Jacob Pullen, are the only Wildcats to start in all 30 games this season, while he has seen action in 36 games in a row. Like Kent, Colon’s improvement has been dramatic this season. He has already surpassed his career totals for points (87) and rebounds (84) in his previous two years combined. He has scored in double figures five times this season, while has collected double-figure rebounds three times after never doing it in the previous 57 games.
Home Sweet Home
Bramlage Coliseum has become a strong homecourt advantage for Kansas State in its 21 years of existence, as the Wildcats have posted a 243-87 (.736) record since its opening in 1988. The team has earned 10 or more home wins in 16 of its 21 seasons, including a school-record tying 14 in 1998-99, 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09. The Wildcats have been even better in the last eight years at home with the team tallying double-digit wins each season. In the win over Iowa State, the squad posted its 100th home win since the 2001-02 season, where its record currently stands at 103-30 (.774) in that span. It is the longest stretch of consecutive seasons with 10 or more home wins since posting 122 victories from 1972-82.
K-State Retires Jerseys of Murrell, Richmond
Kansas State honored two of the greatest players of its tremendous past with the jersey retirements of Willie Murrell (1962-64) and Mitch Richmond (1986-88) during the halftime ceremony of the game with Nebraska on Saturday, Feb. 28.
The duo became the fourth class of jersey retirements following those of Bob Boozer, Ernie Barrett and Jack Parr in 2005, Mike Evans, Lon Kruger and Chuckie Williams in 2006 and Rolando Blackman and Dick Knostman in 2007. The criteria for determining the honor includes statistical achievement, conference and national records, honors received (i.e., all-conference, All-America, Academic All-
America, etc.), character and sportsmanship.
One of just 11 players to earn first team All-America honors, Murrell was a two-year letterman for head coach Tex Winter from 1962-64. He guided the Wildcats to a 38-16 record, including a pair of Big Eight titles and a Final Four appearance in 1964.
The 6-foot-6 native of Taft, Okla., Murrell is one of just six players in K-State history to average a double-double for his career, averaging 20.6 points and 10.7 rebounds in 54 career games. He was twice named an All-American during his record-setting senior season in 1964 and was also a two-time first team All-Big Eight selection. His career averages in scoring and rebounding still rank among the top-5 in school history, including third in rebounding (10.7 rpg.) and fifth in scoring (20.6 ppg.).
Murrell averaged 25.3 points during the Wildcats’ run through the 1964 NCAA Tournament, including a 29-point, 13-rebound effort in the national semifinals against UCLA on March 20, en route to earning recognition to the All-Midwest Regional Tournament team and the All-Final Four squad. He is the only player to ever record a double-double in a Final Four game and the only one ever named to an All-Final Four team. His 29 points against the Bruins are the most in a Final Four game in school history.
One of the most recognizable players in Kansas State history, Mitch Richmond was a two-year letterman for coach Lon Kruger from 1986-88. He helped guide the Wildcats to a 45-20 record, including a pair of NCAA Tournaments and a trip to the 1988 NCAA Elite Eight.
The 6-foot-5 native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Richmond assembled perhaps the greatest two-year playing career in school history. He is one of just 20 players in school history to top 1,000 points, while he ranks eighth on the all-time scoring list with 1,327 points and fourth in career scoring average (20.7 ppg.). His 1,327 points are the most by a player in a two-year career. He still ranks among the top 10 in 21 single-game, season and/or career statistical categories at K-State.
As a senior, he led the Wildcats to a school-record tying 25 wins, a second-place finish in the Big Eight and a rousing trip through the NCAA Tournament that led Kansas State to an Elite Eight appearance. He broke the then single-season scoring mark by pouring in 786 points. Fellow All-American Michael Beasley broke the record in 2007-08 with 866 points. He averaged 22.6 points on 51.4 percent shooting in 1987-88 with 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists en route to earning second team All-America honors from UPI, Basketball Weekly, The Sporting News and U.S. Basketball Writers of America (USBWA). He was also named first team All-Big Eight and first team All-District by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
Following graduation, Richmond won a spot on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team and was a first-round draft pick (fifth selection) by the Golden State Warriors. He became one of the premier shooting guards in the NBA, appearing in six NBA All-Star games, and being named the most valuable player of the 1995 NBA All-Star game. He also earned second team All-NBA honors in 1994, 1995 and 1997 and third team honors in 1996 and 1998 with the Sacramento Kings.
Richmond is one of just six players in NBA history to average 21.0 or more points in each of his first 10 seasons (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Oscar Robertson). He was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 1989 after averaging 22.0 points per game. After three seasons with Golden State, he spent six years with Sacramento before being traded to Washington following the 1998 season. He retired following his 14th season after helping the Lakers win a NBA title in 2002.
Colorado enters Saturday’s game with a 9-20 overall record and 1-14 mark in Big 12 after dropping a 72-66 decision at home to Texas A&M on Wednesday. The Buffaloes, who have lost 10 in a row dating back to narrow 66-61 defeat at Kansas, led by as many as 11 in the first half and by eight at the break before the Aggies rallied for the win. The team shot 47.3 percent from the field, including 35.3 percent from the 3-point line, and scored 27 points off 19 Texas A&M turnovers. Three players scored in double figures led by sophomore guard Cory Higgins, who tallied 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting.
The disciplined Buffaloes are averaging 63.1 points through 29 games on 45.6 percent shooting, including 35.2 percent from 3-point range, with 27.3 rebounds, 11.6 assists, 6.1 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. The team averages nearly six 3-pointers per game.
Youthful Colorado, which has 10 freshmen and sophomore on the team, is led by guard Cory Higgins, who averages 17.6 points on 49.1 percent shooting with a team-high 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals in 37.1 minutes per game. He is one of nine players nationally to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. Junior Dwight Thorne II is second in scoring at 11.9 points on 48 percent shooting with a team-best 43 3-pointers and 3.2 rebounds per game, while freshman Austin Dufault averages 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds.
The Buffaloes are led by second-year head coach Jeff Bzdelik, who has posted a 21-40 mark at the helm. He has a 96-86 record in six years as a college head coach, which includes stints at Maryland-Baltimore County (1986-88) and the Air Force Academy (2005-07).
K-State and Colorado will be meeting for the 138th time on Saturday with the Wildcats holding a 94-43 edge in the series. The team is 52-10 in the series at home, but seven of the 10 defeats have come since 1995. Last year, K-State used a late rally to hold off Colorado, 78-72, on March 4. The Buffaloes own a 14-13 edge since the start of Big 12 play, including a 5-7 mark on the road. K-State’s six-game winning streak is the longest since winning nine from 1985-89.
Last 5 meetings:
2/10/07 K-State 78-59 Manhattan
2/24/07 K-State 87-71 Boulder
1/23/08 K-State 72-56 Boulder
3/4/08 K-State 78-72 Manhattan
1/24/09 K-State 77-75 (OT) Boulder
Solid Non-Conference Season
Kansas State’s win against North Carolina Central on Feb. 17 gave the team 12 non-conference wins, including a perfect 11-0 mark at home. The 12 non-conference wins tie the 1985-86 team for the second-most in school history and the most since the 1993-94 squad tallied a school-record 13. It marks the first time the team has posted consecutive seasons of at least 10 non-conference wins since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons. The Wildcats have won at least 10 non-league contests four times in the last five seasons.
Recruiting Class Praised
The four-man recruiting class that Kansas State pulled down on Nov. 12 has been rated among the best in the country. The class, which includes McDonald’s All-American and ESPNU100 prospect Wally Judge, has been rated the 17th-best class by ESPN Scouts, Inc., as well as 21st- best class by Rivals.com. The quartet includes Judge, fellow high school teammate Rodney McGruder, Dallas (Texas) point guard Nick Russell and prep school forward Jordan Henriquez. Judge recently became the fourth Wildcat to be named a McDonald’s All-American, joining Tom Freeman (1976), Deryl Cunningham (1990) and Michael Beasley (2007).
Kansas State enters the 2008-09 season with one its youngest teams in recent history, as senior forward Darren Kent is the lone senior on a roster of 13 players. When you factor in that four of the six juniors are either transfers from another Division I school or a junior college, the Wildcats are one of the youngest teams in its history. Dating back to the 1981-82 season, there has been just one team - the 1983-84 squad which had no seniors - with fewer seniors on its roster. The 1996-97 also had just one senior on its roster.
Martin Inks Stellar Class
Kansas State head coach Frank Martin announced the signing of four high school seniors to National Letters of Intent on the second day of the fall signing period on Nov. 13.
The four-man recruiting class, which was ranked 16th nationally by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and 21st by Rivals.com, includes prep school standout Jordan Henriquez (Winchendon [Mass.] School/Port Chester, N.Y.) and high school seniors Wally Judge (Arlington (Fla.) Country Day/Washington, D.C.), Rodney McGruder (Arlington (Fla.) Country Day/Washington, D.C.) and Nick Russell (Grace Preparatory Academy/Arlington, Texas).
The headliner of this class, Wally Judge is a 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward originally from Washington, D.C., who is entering his second year at Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla. Considered one of the top power forwards in the high school ranks, Judge was rated as a top 25 recruit by several recruiting services, including the No. 17 prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 23 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com. He was also rated as an ESPNU Top 100 recruit. In addition, he is ranked among the top-10 at his position, including No. 6 by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 9 by Rivals.com.
Judge is in his second year at Florida powerhouse, Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, where he helped the Apaches to their fourth
consecutive Class 2A state title with a 24-6 record in 2007-08. Judge averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds and was named second team Class 2A All-State by the Florida Sports Writers Association.
A teammate of Judge at Arlington Country Day, Rodney McGruder is considered one of the best shooting guards in the country. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard is rated among the top players in the country, including the No. 89 overall prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 91 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com. McGruder is also ranked among the top-35 at the position by a number of outlets, including No. 23 by Rivals.com and No. 31 by ESPN Scouts, Inc.
McGruder transferred to Arlington Country Day in the off-season from Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. As a junior, he averaged 21.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.1 steals in leading the Lions to a 16-10 overall record and an appearance in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) semifinals in 2007-08. He was named to the Washington Post All-Met first team.
One of the top point guard prospects in the country, Nick Russell comes to K-State from Grace Preparatory Academy in Arlington, Texas. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard is rated among the top players in the country, including the No. 89 overall prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 114 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com. Russell is also ranked among the top-40 at his position by a number of outlets, including No. 20 by Rivals.com and No. 36 by ESPN Scouts, Inc. In addition, he is rated the No. 4 player in the state of Texas for the Class of 2009 by Texashoops.com.
Russell helped Grace Prep to a 26-12 overall record, including a 7-3 mark in league play, as a junior in 2006-07. He helped the Lions to a runner-up finish at the TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parachial Schools) Class 5A state tournament, where they lost to
Midland Christian, 74-60. Russell averaged 23 points, six assists and five rebounds as a junior. He was named first team TAPPS Class 5A all-state as well as co-most valuable player of the District 1-5A and first team all-district.
Jordan Henriquez comes to Kansas State from The Winchendon School in Winchendon, Mass., where he is playing a postgraduate year in 2008-09. The 6-foot-11, 220-pound center from New Rochelle, N.Y. signed with the Wildcats this past May after finishing his career at Port Chester High School in Port Chester, N.Y. As a senior, he led the team to an 18-6 record and an 8-0 mark in league play en route to a runner-up finish at the Section I Championship. In averaging a team-best 15.3 points, Henriquez scored in double figures in 21 of 22 games in 2007-08, including six 20-point contests.
The recruiting class will join a loaded Kansas State squad in 2009-10, as the Wildcats will return all but one player. They will be joined by junior forward Curtis Kelly, who is sitting out the 2008-09 season after transferring from University of Connecticut this past summer.