K-State heads to Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship

Game 32

(4) Kansas State (21-10, 10-6 Big 12) vs.

winner of (5) Texas Tech (20-11, 9-7 Big 12) /
(12) Colorado (7-19, 3-13 Big 12) 

Friday, March 9, 2007

Ford Center (18,879) in Oklahoma City, Okla.

 

Game Information:

Tipoff: 2 p.m. Central

Tournament Record: 26-28
(6-10 at Big 12)

TV: ESPN Plus/ESPNU  

Talent: Fred White (Play-by-Play) and
Paul Splittorff (Analyst)

Channels: KMCI (Kansas City), KSAS, Eagle (Wichita), KSNT (Topeka

Radio: K-State Sports Network (31 affiliates),
Yahoo! Radio
Talent: Wyatt Thompson (Play-by-Play) and
Stan Weber (Analyst)

K-State awaits first round winner on Friday
The recipient of a first-round bye for the first time in school history, Kansas State (21-10, 10-6 Big 12) is the No. 4 seed in this year’s event to be played at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Okla., for the first time in league history.  The Wildcats join Kansas, Texas A&M and Texas as the championship’s top four seeds and will not play Thursday.   The team will begin its journey for its third conference tournament crown and first since 1980 on Friday at 2 p.m. CT against the winner of Thursday’s first-round game between No. 5 seed Texas Tech (20-11, 9-7 Big 12) and No. 12 seed Colorado (7-19, 3-13 Big 12).  If the squad wins on Friday, it will play a semifinal contest Saturday at 1 p.m. CT.  Sunday’s championship game is set to tip at 2 p.m. CT. 

Friday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPNU and regionally on ESPN Plus (KMCI - Kansas City; KSAS, Eagle Cable - Wichita; KSNT - Topeka) with Fred White (play-by-play) and Paul Splittorff (color) calling the action.  It will mark the team’s second appearance on ESPNU this season, while it will be the 10th regional broadcast on the Big 12’s television package.  Saturday’s semifinal contest will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 and regionally on ESPN Plus.  Sunday’s title contest will be shown nationally by ESPN.  As always, the audio broadcasts for all of the Wildcats’ games can be heard on the 31-station K-State Sports Network (http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaab/teams/kab) with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (color) on the call.

Kansas State enters Friday’s contest with its most regular season wins since also tallying 21 during the 1981-82 season.  The Wildcats also posted 10 conference wins for the first time in the Big 12 era and for the first time since the Mitch Richmond-led Cats earned 11 Big Eight wins during its run to Elite Eight in 1987-88.  The team has won 11 of its last 14 games, including a seven-game winning streak from Jan. 13 to Feb. 3, since dropping three in a row in early January to NCAA Tournament teams Xavier, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.  In that span, K-State snapped nationally-ranked Texas’ 22-game home court winning streak (its only home loss of the season), swept the season series from rivals Missouri (just second time since 1982), Iowa State (first time since 1999) and Colorado (first time since 1992) and defeated Oklahoma for the first time since 1999.  The Wildcats will look to strengthen their position for their 23rd overall NCAA Touranment berth and first since 1996.  In the history of the Big 12, every team that has finished in the top four, posted at least 20 overall wins and earned 10 conference regular season wins has been invited to the “Big Dance.”     

RPI Update
In this week’s RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) ratings, the formula used by the NCAA to help determine which teams go to the post-season tournament, Kansas State ranks between Nos. 49-62.  A team’s RPI is sum of three values: the team’s winning percentage, its opponents’ average winning percentage (strength of schedule) and its opponents’ opponents’ average winning percentage.  This week, K-State’s best RPI ratings are from Mike Greenfield’s Team RPI (59), CollegeRPI.com (60), RealTimeRPI.com (60) and CBS Sportsline’s RPI (62), while the team is rated 49th in the latest Sagarin rankings.

Winning Formula
A proven winning formula for NCAA Tournament selection over the years has been the ability of teams to win 20 games and post 10 or more conference victories.  According to data compiled by statistician Ken Pomeroy on his website, kenpom.com, which lists pre-NCAA Tournament RPI rankings and win-loss records since 1999, of the 169 teams from BCS (Bowl Championship Series) conferences that have at least 20 overall Division I wins and 10 regular-season conference wins on Selection Sunday, all 169 have received an automatic berth or at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.  In the history of the Big 12, every team that has finished in the top four, posted at least 20 overall wins and earned 10 conference regular season wins has been invited to the “Big Dance.”

Milestone Wins
With its victory over Oklahoma last Saturday, Kansas State earned its most regular season wins (21) since also totaling 21 in the 1981-82 season.  The 20-win season is the first since the 1998-99 season and the first accomplished during the regular season since the 1987-88 squad made its run to the Elite Eight.  The 20-win season is the 19th in Kansas State history, including the 12th posted during the regular season.  It is just the fourth 20-win season in the last 20 years, joining the 1987-88 (25-9), 1993-94 (20-14), 1998-99 (20-13) squads.  Of note, 10 of the 11 teams in school history to post 20 or more wins during the regular season have advanced to the NCAA Tournament.  K-State also made history with its 10 conference victories, the most in its history in the Big 12 and most since the 1987-88 team posted an 11-3 mark in the Big Eight.  It marks just the 19th time that school has tallied double-digit conference wins in its history.  Of those 18 squads, only the 1961-62 team posted 20 or more wins and 10 or more conference victories and did not advance to the NCAA Tournament.  It is just the second team at Kansas State in the last 25 seasons to post 10 or more league victories.  

In the process, Bob Huggins became just the second coach (and first in the regular season) in school history and the first since Lon Kruger (20-11 mark in 1986-87) to tally 20 wins in his first season at the helm.  He has posted 21 20-win seasons in his 25 years as a coach, including 12 seasons of 25 wins or more.  Huggins is also one of three first-year head coaches in the history of the Big 12 (joining Bill Self and Bob Knight) to guide his team to a 20-win season and 10-win conference season.  He is the first coach in school history to guide the Wildcats to a first-round bye to the conference tournament.

K-State in the Conference Tournament
Kansas State will be making its 31st conference tournament appearance this week in Oklahoma City.  The Wildcats appeared in 20 Big Eight Conference Tournament before joining the Big 12.  The program has a 26-28 all-time record in postseason conference tournament play, including a 20-18 record in the Big Eight and a 6-10 mark at the Big 12 Championship.  The Wildcats have won two championships, taking the inaugural Big Eight Tournament in 1977 as well as the 1980 crown.  The team, which has advanced to title game six times, has earned four runner-up finishes,
placing second in 1978, 1981, 1988 and 1993.

Kansas State is 7-10 in quarterfinal/second round games in conference tournament history, including a 1-4 mark in the Big 12 era.  The team is looking for its first win in the round since beating No. 2 seed Missouri, 84-74, at the 1999 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo.  However, the squad has faced a higher seed (either a No. 1 or 2 seed) in all but five of those contests, including every instance since the start of the Big 12 Championship in 1996.  It marks the sixth time in school history (1978, 1979, 1987, 1990, 1996) that K-State has been a four-seed at the tournament and for the first time since the final year of the Big Eight in 1996.  The Wildcats have posted a 5-5 mark as the four-seed, including  a runner-up finish in 1978, 1-1 marks in 1979, 1987 and 1996 and a 0-1 record in 1990.  The team has faced the No. 5 seed in each of those five seasons, defeating them four times (Oklahoma, 52-44, in 1978; Nebraska, 61-60, in two overtimes in 1979; Nebraska, 47-45, in 1987; Oklahoma State, 58-55, in 1996).  The only loss came in 1990 when fifth-seed Oklahoma State defeated the four-seeded Wildcats, 82-78, in the Big Eight Tournament first round.

The Book on Texas Tech (20-11, 9-7 Big 12)
Texas Tech enters Thursday’s contest with a 20-11 record and 9-7 mark in Big 12 play after concluding league play with a 63-61 win over Iowa State on Saturday.  The Red Raiders have won five of their last six games after dropping five in a row from Jan. 27 to Feb. 10.  The team has posted a 7-7 record since earning a 62-52 win over Kansas State on Jan. 8.  In the win over ISU, the Raiders shot an efficient 40 percent from the field and posted a stellar defensive effort in holding the Cyclones to just 38.5 percent (including 29.6 percent in the second half) and forcing 15 turnovers.   

Texas Tech is averaging 72.1 points on 45.7 percent shooting with 31.0 rebounds and 13.6 assists on the season.  The incredibly efficient Red Raiders have 11 players shooting 45 percent or better from the field, including all five starters.  The squad is led by first team All-Big 12 selection Jarrius Jackson, who paces the squad in scoring at 20.2 points per game.  Jackson, whose scoring average is second in the Big 12, is shooting 44.1 percent from the field, including 44 percent from 3-point range, and averages 3.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game.  Junior guard Martin Zeno averages 16.5 points on 49.6 percent shooting to go with team-bests in both rebounds (5.5 rpg.) and assists (3.3 apg.).   Junior Charlie Burgess addds 8.9 points on 44.8 percent shooting with 4.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.  The team has six other players averaging three or more points on the season. 

The all-time winningest coach in the history of men’s college basketball, head coach Bob Knight has an 889-361 record in his 41st season as a head coach, including a 125-52 mark in his sixth season at Texas Tech.  He is 13-1 all-time against K-State, including a 6-1 mark during his time at Texas Tech.  This will be the fourth meeting between Knight and Bob Huggins in their respective careers with Knight holding a 3-0 advantage.

Series versus Texas Tech
This will be the 22nd all-time meeting between Kansas State and Texas Tech, including the third in conference tournament play, in a series that dates back to 1955.  The Red Raiders own an 11-10 edge in the series, including a 2-0 advantage in games played at neutral sites.  Texas Tech has won 10 of the last 13 games (including five in a row) since the inception of the Big 12 (although the two wins in 1997 were later forfeited by Tech), including its last two meetings in the Big 12 Tournament.  The Raiders earned 73-57 win over the Wildcats in the first round of the inaugural championship in 1997 in Kansas City, Mo., then posted a 73-65 victory in last season’s tournament in Dallas, Texas.  K-State has not won in the series since a 68-44 victory on Jan. 11, 2003.  
 
Last Meeting Versus Texas Tech
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- Texas Tech got 23 points from Jarrius Jackson and shut down the Kansas State offense in a 62-52 victory before a Big Monday’ crowd on ESPN on Jan. 8.  The Red Raiders led 27-26 at halftime before building a 41-32 lead with 10 minutes left in the game.  The Wildcats used a 9-0 spurt to cut the lead to two points, but Texas Tech head coach Bob Knight quickly called a timeout that quieted the Bramlage Coliseum crowd. Tech scored out of the break and slowly built their lead back up to 11 with just under 4 minutes to play.  Martin Zeno added 12 points and freshman Decensae White had 11 for the Red Raiders.  David Hoskins had 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting to lead the Wildcats.  Leading scorer Cartier Martin was held to only six points on 2-of-11 field goals, and didn't hit his first field goal until the 10:29 mark of the second half.  Texas Tech held K-State without a field goal for nearly nine minutes in the first half.  The Red Raiders kept the pressure up throughout the second half, holding the Wildcats to 30 percent shooting for the game. The team hit only 2-of-15 3-pointers and committed 14 turnovers.

The Book on Colorado (7-19, 3-13 Big 12)
Colorado enters Thursday’s contest with a 7-19 overall record and 3-13 mark in Big 12 Conference play after snapping a six-game losing streak with a 73-69 win over Nebraska on Saturday in Boulder, Colo.  Kal Bay’s 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining lifted the Buffaloes to the win in head coach Ricardo Patton’s final home game.  Richard Roby scored 23 points, while Dominique Coleman added a double-double with 15 points and 15 boards.        
 
Colorado is averaging 69.1 points on 41.7 percent shooting with 37.0 rebounds and 13.4 assists on the season.  The youthful Buffaloes have five players averaging seven or more points, including three in double figures.  One of the top players in the Big 12, Roby paces the team in scoring at 17.3 points per game to go with 5.2 rebounds on a team-best 32.0 minutes per game.  Freshman Xavier Silas averages 12.0 points to go with 44 3-point field goals, while senior Dominique Coleman adds 11.2 points on 51.6 percent shooting to go with a team-high 6.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. 

Led by veteran coach Ricardo Patton, who has posted a 184-159 mark in his 11th season at the helm.  Patton, who became interim coach in 1995-96, announced on Oct. 25 that this would be his last season of coaching at Colorado.  He is 15-10 all-time against Kansas State, including a 1-1 mark in games played at neutral sites.  This will be the third meeting between Patton and Bob Huggins in their respective careers.

Series versus Colorado
This will be the 135th all-time meeting between Kansas State and Colorado in a series that dates back to 1933.  The Wildcats hold an 91-43 advantage in the all-time series, including an 11-2 edge in games played at neutral sites.  Colorado owns a 14-10 lead in the series since the start of the Big 12, including an 1-1 mark in games played in the conference tournament.  The eighth-seeded Wildcats posted a 75-61 win over the ninth-seeded Buffaloes in the first round of the 1998 Big 12 Championship at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., while the sixth-seeded Buffaloes enacted revenge with a 77-76 win over the 11th-seeded Wildcats in the first round of the 2003 tournament at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.   

Last Meeting versus Colorado
BOULDER, Colo.  -- David Hoskins scored 21 points and Cartier Martin added 19 as K-State picked up its eighth victory of the season away from home with an emphatic 87-71 win over Colorado on Feb. 24 at the Coors Events Center.  Clent Stewart finished with 16 points and Blake Young chipped in with 13 for Kansas State, which shot 67 percent from the field in the second half to secure its first 20-win season since 1998-99.  Colorado’s Richard Roby led all scorers with 26 points and Xavier Silas netted 17 for the Buffaloes.  Kansas State trailed by one at intermission but came out of the locker room on fire and scored 18 of the first 22 points of the second half to go on top for good.  Hoskins and Martin keyed the spurt by scoring five points each during a 13-0 run that spanned over four minutes and gave the Wildcats a 47-34 lead with 13:19 remaining.  K-State methodically pulled away the rest of the half and led by as many as 21 points following a slashing layup by Young with 1:33 to go that made it 87-66.  Colorado scored the final five points of the game to provide the final margin, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Wildcats from recording their biggest win in Boulder since a 92-61 victory in 1987.

Huggins in the Conference Tournament
Although this is his first encounter with Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament, Kansas State head coach Bob Huggins is quite familiar with the conference tournament format from his days at Akron and Cincinnati.  This will be his 19th conference tournament in his fifth different league (Ohio Valley 1985-87; Metro 1989-91; Great Midwest 1991-95; Conference USA 1996-2005; Big 12 2007-present).  He has posted a 30-9 mark in his career in conference tournaments, including nine championships in three different leagues (Ohio Valley 1985-86; Great Midwest 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96; Conference USA 1997-98, 2001-02, 2003-04). 

Martin, Hoskins Earn All-Big 12 Honors
Senior Cartier Martin captured the Big 12’s inaugural Sixth Man Award, while he was joined on the coaches’ all-conference second team by teammate David Hoskins on Sunday in an announcement by the league office.  Martin becomes K-State’s first major award winner since Jeremiah Massey won Newcomer of the Year honors in 2004.  A staple of starting line-up in previous seasons, Martin has been impressive off the bench this season.  He has scored in double figures in 15 of the 17 games he has not started for the Wildcats, including seven 20-point efforts.  He has been even better in that role in the last 13 games, averaging 19.5 points on 50 percent shooting, including 46.6 percent from 3-point range. 

Martin and Hoskins become the first pair of Wildcats to earn recognition to one of the league’s three all-conference teams in the Big 12 era.  The duo is also just the fifth and sixth players since 1997 to be selected to one of the three all-conference squads and the 14th and 15th overall to earn first, second, third or honorable mention accolades since the league’s inception.  Martin is the first player in the era to earn second team honors in back-to-back seasons. 

The team leader in scoring (16.9), Martin paces the squad in eight other categories, including 20-point games (12), double-figure scoring (25), field goals (171), 3-point field goals (64) and free throw percentage (81.5).  He ranks among the top-10 in 10 career statistics, including third in 3-point field goals made (164), fourth in minutes (2,953) and 3-point attempts (406), fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (40.4), seventh in field goals made (493) and 20-point games (27), eighth in field goal attempts (1,074) and free throw attempts (410), ninth in free throws made (322) and 10th in games started (73).  He already is one of just six players in school history to record 1,400 points and one of just three to top 1,400 points and 500 rebounds in a career. 

The only player to start in all 31 contests this season, Hoskins ranked among the team’s top-2 in 13 different statistical categories, including first in minutes (26.7 mpg.), double-figure scoring (26), free throws (160), free throw attempts (210) and offensive rebounds (78).  He was also second in scoring (14.7 ppg.), 20-point games (seven), field goals (141), field goal attempts (309), rebounding (181; 5.8 rpg.), assists (78; 2.5 apg.) and steals (31; 1.0 spg.).  He ranked among the Big 12’s top-20 in four categories, including scoring (14th), offensive rebounds (eighth), rebounding (16th) and free throw percentage (13th).  He scored in double figures in 22 of the team’s last 24 contests.     

Quite the Senior Day
Senior Cartier Martin proved he is not just one of the best reserves in the nation, but one of the best players.  Before a sellout crowd on Senior Day, he poured in a career-high 30 points on 10-of-16 field goals, including 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, to go with six rebounds and three steals in the win over Oklahoma on Saturday.  It marked the first time that a Wildcat had posted 30 points in a game since Jeremiah Massey posted 32 in a win over Northern Illinois on Dec. 21, 2005, while it was the most in a conference game since Mitch Richmond totaled 41 against Oklahoma on Feb. 13, 1988.  The 30-point effort marked the 27th time that Martin has scored 20 or more points in a contest, which ties Rolando Blackman for the seventh-most in Kansas State history.  He has now scored in double figures in 25 games this season, including 15 consecutive games dating back to Missouri on Jan. 13.  
 
Super Sub
A staple of the starting line-up in previous seasons, senior Cartier Martin has been particularily effective off the bench this season.  He has scored in double figures in 15 of the 17 games he has not started for the Wildcats, including seven 20-point efforts against UMES (23) on Dec. 19, Chicago State (25) on Jan. 22, Missouri (22) on Jan. 31, Texas (27) on Feb. 3, Colorado (25) on Feb. 10, Nebraska (22) on Feb. 13 and Oklahoma State on Feb. 27.  Martin is averaging 18.1 points on 47.3 percent shooting in those 17 games off the bench with 5.1 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game.  He has been even better in that role in the last 13 games, averaging 19.5 points on 50 percent shooting, including 46.6 percent from 3-point range, with 5.2 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game.  K-State has gotten a nice lift from its bench this season with an average of 25.5 points coming from its reserves this season.  The impact has been even more telling in the last 25 contests, where the Wildcats have averaged 27.2 points off the bench and have outscored their foes by a 681-438 margin.  The most telling aspect has been its diversity, which has seen significant scoring from 10 different players.

A Good Statistical Year
In gaining its most wins in a season since 1987-88, Kansas State has also produced a solid year statistically.  The Wildcats rank among the school’s top-5 in five single-season categories, including the second-most 3-point field goals (192) and 3-point field goal attempts (578), fourth-most assists (482) and the fifth-most blocked shots (118) and free throws made (528).  The squad ranks just outside the top-5 in several other categories, including most games played (31), most wins (21), most points (2,216), most field goals made (748) and most free throws attempted (752).

Taking Advantage of Turnovers
One of the biggest factors in Kansas State’s improved play has been its ability to force its opponent into turnovers and then to capitalize with points off those miscues.  The Wildcats’ stifling defense has forced an average of 15.8 turnovers (380), including an average of 5.8 steals, in the last 24 games, while averaging 18.5 points off those turnovers.  The team scored 65 points off a combined 51 turnovers in back-to-back wins over Kennesaw State and Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 17 and 19.  The 32 turnovers by UMES (which yielded 37 points) was just five short of the school record of 37 set by Vanderbilt in December 1969.  K-State forced a season-high 28 turnovers in the win over USC on Dec. 22 and converted those into 24 points.  The team scored 19 points off 15 New Mexico turnovers en route to capturing its first in-season tournament title since 1995.  K-State has continued the trend of late by scoring 22 points off 16 Texas A&M miscues, 23 points off 16 Missouri miscues, 28 points off 23 Colorado turnovers, 21 points off 16 Kansas miscues and 23 points off 17 Oklahoma turnovers.  The average of 15.3 turnovers forced per game is the highest since the 1994-95 season averaged 16.7 turnovers.

Home Sweet Home
Kansas State continued to make Bramlage Coliseum one of the toughest home venues in the Big 12, as the Wildcats posted a 13-2 mark at home this season, including a perfect 7-0 mark in non-conference games.  The team has tallied an impressive 74-25 (.747) mark at home since the start of 2001-02 season, including 10 or more wins each of the past six years.  With its win over Chicago State on Jan. 22, K-State clinched a winning record at home for the 61st consecutive season, which has spanned three arenas and nine head coaches dating back to the 1946-47 season.  
 
In addition to winning games, the Wildcats have boasted big crowds this season at home.  In 15 games, the Wildcats posted an average of 12,479 fans per game, which ranks as the second-highest average attendance in school history and the highest since 12,978 fans cheered on the 1988-89 Wildcats.  The team registered five sellouts this season, which is the most in a single year at Bramlage Coliseum.

Clutch Shooting
Kansas State has taken advantage of its opportunites at the free throw line in the past 14 games, as the Wildcats have combined to sink 73.6 percent (273-of-371) from the charity stripe.  The team posted season-highs in free throws (37), free throws attempted (43) and free throw percentage (86.0) in the win over Missouri on Jan. 13.  The 37 free throws and 43 attempts are the most in a game since the Wildcats collected 39 makes on 51 attempts against Baylor on Feb. 13, 1999.  The total is also just five shy of school-record of 42 set against Purdue on Dec. 1, 1958.  K-State, which is averaging over 17 makes and 24 attempts per game, has already tallied the fifth-most free throws made (528) in a season and the most free throw attempts (752) since the 1987-88 squad produced the third-most in a season (815).  The squad has connected on 20 or more free throws eight times this season, including 30 or more makes on four occasions.  The Wildcats have been effective in the last five minutes from the stripe in the last 14 games, knocking down 72.1 percent (88-of-122).  For the season, the team has connected on 68.4 percent (132-of-193) of its free throws in the last five minutes.

Dishing Out the Assists
Kansas State has proven to be one of the top teams in the Big 12 in distributing the basketball, as the squad ranks fourth in the league in assists at 15.5 per game this season.  The Wildcats have dished out 482 assists, which ranks as the fourth-most in school history since the statistics began being kept in 1976 and the most since the 1997-98 squad produced 491.  The team has also posted a solid 1.1 assist-turnover ratio, including a 1.2 mark in Big 12-only games.  K-State has posted 20 or more assists on seven occasions, including a season-high 25 against Cleveland State on Dec. 5.  Junior Clent Stewart’s 2.8 assists average leads five players with two or more assists, which has never happened at K-State since assists began being kept in 1976.

Hoskins Emerges as a Leader
One of the biggest reasons for Kansas State’s improved play of late has been due to the emergence of junior David Hoskins.  He has averaged 15.8 points in the last 24 games on 47.8 percent shooting with team-leading 6.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game.  In that span, Hoskins is first on the squad in field goal percentage, rebounds and steals, while he second in scoring and assists.  His torrid play of late has enabled him to rank among the Big 12’s top 15 in four categories, including 12th in free throw percentage (76.2), 14th in scoring (14.7 ppg.) and 16th in rebounding (5.8rpg.).  Hoskins’ numbers are even better in Big 12 play, where he is 12th in scoring (15.9 ppg) and 14th in rebounding (6.2 rpg). 

He has scored in double figures in 22 of the last 24 games, including 20 or more points on seven occasions.  The stretch began with a 17-point effort against Cleveland State on Dec. 5 and continued with 14 points against North Dakota State on Dec. 9.  Hoskins continued his impressive play at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic, where he was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 15.8 points on 70 percent shooting to go with a team-best 5.8 rebounds.  He came through in a big way offensively against Texas Tech on Jan. 8, posting 23 points on 7-of-13 field goals.  Hoskins stepped his game even more in wins over Iowa State and Chicago State with back-to-back double-doubles, posting 22 points against the Cyclones with a career-high 11 rebounds in 36 minutes before totaling 15 points and 10 rebounds against the Cougars on Jan. 22.  He tallied his seventh 20-point game against Oklahoma State on Tuesday with 20 points.  

Getting Defensive
Kansas State has demonstrated trademark Bob Huggins’ defensive basketball in posting a 21-10 record to start the season.  The Wildcats rank among the top 6 in five defensive categories in the Big 12, including first in 3-point percentage defense (29.4), fifth in field goal percentage defense (41.9) and rebounding margin (+2.9) and sixth in scoring defense (65.8) and rebounding (36.2).  The squad has been just as impressive in league play, where they rank second in 3-point percentage defense (29.7) and fifth in scoring margin (+1.6) and rebounding margin (+1.1).  The team has held 26 of its 31 foes to below 80 points, including 18 of its last 22 under 75 points (with 13 under 70 points).  In holding Oklahoma to 61 points, the Wildcats have continued a trend of impressive defense in the last 24 games.  The team has held its opponents to just 65.1 points on 42.4 percent shooting, including 27.1 percent from 3-point range, during the stretch.  In addition, K-State has forced an average of 15.8 turnovers and tallied an average of 5.8 steals. 

During the course of the season, the defensive effort has produced marks that the Wildcats haven’t seen in years and even decades.  Kansas State held Chicago State and Nebraska to a combined 81 points; the lowest two-game point total since allowing UMKC (39) and Coppin State (36) a combined 75 points on Dec. 19 and 21, 1998.  The Wildcats held the Cougars to just 36 points on 22.2 percent shooting, which marked the fewest points allowed an opponent since Coppin State also scored 36 on Dec. 21, 1999.  In the win over Rutgers, K-State held the Scarlet Knights to 41 points on just nine field goals and 19.1 percent shooting.  The nine field goals are the fewest allowed since the Wildcats held Washburn a school-record seven in a 23-15 win on Dec. 6, 1940, while the 41 points are the fewest points allowed on an opponent’s court since the shot clock and fewest since allowing Nebraska 39 in 1984. 

Texas Win a Big One
Kansas State posted its most impressive win of the season and in the process ended a dubious streak on Feb. 3, as the Wildcats snapped Texas’ 22-game home winning streak and its 11-game home streak in Big 12 games with a 73-72 win at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.  It marked the first win over a ranked opponent on the road in more than 10 years (snapping a streak of 29 straight losses) since beating No. 23 Iowa State, 92-87, on Feb. 28, 1996.  The win was also the first in Austin in the Big 12 era and the first since a 51-43 non-conference win on Jan. 8, 1983, while it was the first over a ranked foe at any venue since the Wildcats upset the 10th-ranked Longhorns, 58-48, in Manhattan on March 6, 2004.  K-State was aided greatly by the 3-point shot against Texas, as the team converted on a season-best 14 treys on a season-high 51.9 percent shooting.  It was the most 3-point field goals since the Wildcats tallied 15 against Nebraska on Jan. 8, 2000, while the percentage is highest since connecting on 75 percent against Oregon State in 2002.  

Dialing from Long Distance
After entering the game with a Big 12-worse 5.64 three-point field goals per game, Kansas State proved itself capable from long distance on Feb. 3 against nationally-ranked Texas with a season-best 14 treys.  The total not only surpassed the previous high of 11 against Colorado State on Dec. 2, 2006 but also represented the most since collecting 15 against Nebraska on Jan. 8, 2000.  The Wildcats also converted on a team-high 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from 3-point range against the Longhorns, its highest percentage since shooting 75 percent (9-of-12) against Oregon State on Dec. 22, 2002.  The team got treys from three players -- Cartier Martin (7), Lance Harris (5) and Clent Stewart (2) -- and it marked the first time since Nebraska in 2000 that two players had five or more 3-pointers in the same game when Galen Morrison and Cortez Groves posted seven and five, respectively.  Of note, Harris and Martin are the two of the best in K-State history in shooting the 3-pointer, as the two rank among the top 5 in makes and attempts in their careers.  Martin is third in makes (164), fourth in attempts (406) and fifth in percentage (40.4), while Harris is third in attempts (421) and fourth in makes (146).

Role Reversal
One of the major obstacles for Kansas State during the past few seasons has been its ability to win close games.  Last season, the Wildcats ranked first in the nation with a school-record 10 losses by single-digits, including seven by three points or less.  However, head coach Bob Huggins has clearly made a difference in this department in his first season, as the team has posted a 6-3 mark in games decided by single-digits, including wins in three of five decided by one possession (four points or less).  Of note, all three of these wins - North Dakota State, Missouri and Texas  - have come on the road.

Road Warriors
After struggling for most of the past decade on the road, Kansas State has taken a step forward this season with eight victories (second-most in the Big 12) away from Bramlage Coliseum, which are most since the 1987-88 squad totaled 15.  The team also has six true’ road wins - at Rutgers, North Dakota State, Missouri, Iowa State, Texas and Colorado - this season for the first time since the 1988-89 season when the Wildcats also captured six wins.  Of the 31 bubble’ teams in the most recent RPI rankings, K-State is one of only two schools (along with Appalachian State) to have two wins on the road against the highest quality teams (those ranked in the RPI Top 25 or in the top 3 of one of the BCS Conferences).  The team also produced three consecutive conference road victories for the first time since January 1988.  This is contrast to the previous seven seasons, in which, the team had no more than four wins away from home in a season and compiled a 15-72 overall record, including a 10-63 mark in a true’ road venue.

Stewart Manning the Point
Junior guard Clent Stewart has been a steadying force for the Wildcats this season since emerging as the team’s primary point guard against North Dakota State on Dec. 9.  During that span, Stewart has averaged 7.5 points, 3.2 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per game in guiding the team to 16 wins in 23 games.  He has been even more impressive in Big 12 play, averaging 8.9 points on 42.9 percent shooting with 2.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 30.8 minutes per game.  Stewart has scored in double figures in seven games (all in the last 16 contests), including tying his career-high with 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting against Missouri on Jan. 13.  He has been on a tear lately, averaging 10.6 points in the last five games on 47.3 percent shooting (18-of-38), including 47.1 percent from 3-point range, with 3.8 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game.  A starter in 69 of his 87 career games played, Stewart currently ranks fifth on K-State’s all-time list for assists (287) and needs just four assists to surpass Anthony Beane (290; 1993-94) for fourth place.

Block Party
Kansas State broke nearly every single-game block record on Jan. 22, as the Wildcats posted a Bramlage Coliseum-record 12 blocked shots, including an individual mark of eight by freshman Jason Bennett, in a 73-37 victory.  The 12 blocks surpassed the previous highs of 10 against UMKC on Dec. 19, 1998 and the 10 Colorado registered against K-State on Feb. 11, 2003 for the most in the building’s 19-year history.  Bennett’s eight swats not only broke the school mark of six that he already shared (at California on Nov. 29, 2006) with Tony Kitt (vs. Kansas on March 3, 1999) and Dramane Diarra (vs. Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 26, 2005), but it also surpassed the arena marks of six by Diarra and seven by Nebraska’s Kimani Ffriend (Jan. 30, 2001). 

The team’s 118 blocks this season ties for the fifth-highest total in school history since the stat began being kept in 1982-83, while this year’s total is the highest in a single-season since the 1999-2000 team also produced 118 swats.  The Wildcats are on pace for 126 blocks (at least two more games), which would ranks as the third-most in a single-season and most since the 1998-99 squad totaled a school-record 146 blocks.  On the other hand, Bennett’s 49 blocks have already established a freshman school record, shattering the previous mark of 24 by Shawn Rhodes in 1995-96.  He is tied for second on school’s single-season top-10, while he is tied for 10th on the career top-10 list.  He is on pace for 53 blocks, which would be six shy of Gerald Eaker’s single-season record of 59 set in 1995-96.  He has recorded at least one block in 16 of 26 games, while his 1.88 average ranks first in the Big 12.

Trio of Prolific Scorers
Kansas State has three players on its squad - seniors Cartier Martin and Lance Harris and junior David Hoskins - who rank among the school’s top 50 scorers.  Martin, who entered the school’s all-time top-10 with 15 points against Missouri on Jan. 13, became just the sixth player in school history to top 1,400 career points with his 19-point effort against Colorado on Feb. 24.  He now has 1,472 points in his four-year career.  Harris now ranks 22nd all-time with 982 points in his four-year career and needs 18 points to become the 20th player in school history and the second this season with 1,000 career points (of which has never happened before at K-State).  The program has not had two 1,000-point scorers on the same team since Mike Evans and Curtis Redding starred for the Wildcats in the 1977-78 season.  Martin (164) and Harris (146) rank third and fourth, respectively, in school history in career 3-point field goals.  Hoskins already ranks 36th on the all-time scoring list with 822 points and can move into the top 30 with 45 points.  It marks the first time since 1987-88 season (Mitch Richmond, Will Scott and Charles Bledsoe) that the Wildcats have had a 1,000-point scorer and a pair of 500-point scorers on the same team.  Of note, K-State is 10-1 on the season when all three players score in double figures.

Martin joins Elite Company
Senior forward Cartier Martin joined an elite fraternity at Kansas State in the win over Coppin State on Nov. 25, 2006, as he became the 19th player in school history and the first in the Big 12 era to score 1,000 career points.  The Houston, Texas, native hit the milestone at the 6:48 mark of the second half against the Eagles with a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock.  He is the first Wildcat to eclipse the 1,000-point barrier since Askia Jones did it during the 1992-93 season.  Martin, who enters Friday’s game with 1,472 points, recently passed All-American Chuckie Williams (1,364; 1973-76) for sixth place on the school’s scoring list.  With 19 points against Colorado on Feb. 24, he joined Mike Evans, Rolando Blackman, Askia Jones, Bob Boozer and Steve Henson as the only players to score 1,400 players.  Martin already is one of just three players to top 1,400 points and 500 rebounds in a career, joining Bob Boozer (1,685 points, 824 rebounds) and Rolando Blackman (1,844 points, 607 rebounds).  In addition to his scoring mark, he ranks among the top-10 in 10 other career statistics at Kansas State, including the top-5 in 3-point field goals made (3rd, 164), minutes (4th, 2,953), 3-point field goal attempts (4th, 406) and 3-point field goal percentage (5th, 40.4). 

Martin has scored in double figures 25 times in the last 29 games, including 12 20-point outings.  He began the streak by posting 28 points against Tennessee Tech, while he has also turned in 20-point efforts against Colorado State (21), Cleveland State (21), UMES (23) and New Mexico (23), which earned him MVP honors at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Dec. 23.  Martin has registered 20-point games in seven of the last 12 games, including 25 against Chicago State, 22 versus Missouri, 27 at No. 23 Texas, 25 against Colorado, 22 versus Nebraska, 25 against Oklahoma State and career-high 30 against Oklahoma.  The team is successful when Martin performs well, as the Wildcats are 12-2 when he shoots 50 percent or better from the field and 9-3 when he scores 20 or more points.

Huggins Effect
Although he has been Kansas State’s head coach for less than a season, the impact head coach Bob Huggins has had on the Wildcat program has been nothing short of monumental.  Huggins has not only gained the school widespread attention by media outlets, he has helped guide it to milestones not seen by the historically-rich program in some time.  For his efforts, the Huggins’ hiring was dubbed the 2006 sports story of the year in the state of Kansas by The Associated Press in late December.  Below are a few of the milestones achieved by Huggins in barely his first season at the helm. 

*Kansas State posted its first 20-win season since the 1998-99 season and the first during the regular season since the 1987-88 season... The squad also collected 10 Big 12 wins for the first time since the league’s inception in 1997 and the most in a single-season since the 1987-88 team posted 11.

*For the first time in the 19-year history of Bramlage Coliseum all available season ticket packages have been sold... Season tickets went from 6,500 in 2005-06 to 13,000 in 2006-07... The last time K-State could boast a sellout of season tickets was during the 1982-83 season when the Wildcats played in Ahearn Field House, while the previous high for season tickets in Bramlage Coliseum was 11,700 during the inaugural 1988-89 season.

*In addition to the season ticket sales, the school offered courtside seats for the first time in its history and sold out of the available 25 seats at $4,400 apiece with a waiting list... There are also plans in the works for loge boxes in the arena as well as other improvements, including a practice facility.

*Kansas State played seven nationally-televised games this season, including two as apart of ESPN’s “Big Monday” package and two on ABC Sports (both are firsts for the program)... It is the most nationally-televised games in a single-season for the Wildcats in school history.

*Kansas State earned its first in-season tournament title in more than 10 years by winning the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Dec. 23... The win in the championship game gave the program 10 victories before Jan. 1 for the first time since the 1998-99 season (its last postseason appearance).

*Kansas State attracted the consensus No. 1 recruiting class in the country in November according to Scout.com, Rivals.com and Sports Illustrated... The class referred to as the greatest-ever for the school includes consensus top 10 prospects Michael Beasley and Bill Walker.    

Harris Stepping Up His Game
Bob Huggins has always been a coach that has gotten the most out of his talent and senior guard Lance Harris has been a prime example of that influence.  Harris has averaged 10.5 points on 44.7 percent shooting, including 36.7 percent from 3-point range, this season to go with 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 26.6 minutes per game.  He is second on the squad in both 3-point field goal percentage (36.7) and 3-point field goals (51), while he is in the top-4 in scoring, field goal percentage and rebounding.  Harris has scored in double figures in 16 contests (including 10 of the last 15), with three 20-point efforts.  He opened the year with 22 points against William & Mary on Nov. 11 before posting a career-high 26 points against Coppin State on Nov. 25.  His 24 points against North Dakota State helped the Wildcats to a come-from-behind win on Dec. 9.  He has connected three or more 3-point field goals in 10 games.  A constant in the line-up, Harris is moving up several K-State career lists, including ranking third in 3-point field goal attempts (421), fourth in 3-point field goals made (146), sixth in minutes (2,519), eighth in games played (115) and 22nd in scoring (982).

Maybank to the Rescue
A transfer from St. John’s, senior Jermaine Maybank has been a solid contributor for the Wildcats in the past few weeks.  Since the Nebraska game on Jan. 27, he is averaging 5.8 points on 46.2 percent shooting (18-of-39) and 74.3 percent from the free throw line to go with 2.4 rebounds in 17 minutes per game.  Maybank has been even better in the last eight games, averaging 6.4 points on 45.2 percent shooting (14-of-31) and 78.6 percent (22-of-28) from the free throw line to go along with 2.5 rebounds in 18.6 minutes per game.  He posted a career night in the loss to Kansas on Feb. 7, scoring a career-high 26 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and 12-of-15 from the free throw line.  Maybank also added four rebounds, three steals in two assists against the Jayhawks in a career-best 33 minutes.  The Bronx, N.Y., native took advantage of a new NCAA rule (since eliminated) which allows players that have graduated from an institution and have remaining eligibility to transfer without sitting out a season.

The Wright Stuff
One of the biggest reasons for the Wildcats’ success this season has been the play of senior guard Akeem Wright.  The Philadephia, Pa., native has averaged 6.4 points on 38 percent shooting to go with a team-high 6.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 26.5 minutes per game.  He ranks among the top-15 in two Big 12 categories, including 13th in defensive rebounds and 14th in rebounding.  Known more for his defensive prowess, Wright spent the summer working on his jumpshot to complete his all-around game.  Wright has scored in double figures in six games, including a career-high 18 points against Texas A&M on Jan. 6.  He went 8-of-15 from the field with a team-high eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.  He has also kept up his defensive effort, pacing the team in rebounds in 11 games.  He has grabbed six or more rebounds in 13 of the last 20 games, including three double-digit efforts. 

Young Recovers Nicely From Surgery
Junior guard Blake Young underwent successful knee surgery on Dec. 11 at Mercy Regional Health Center in Manhattan, Kan.  He suffered a partial tear of the medial meniscus in his right knee during the Wildcats’ scrimmage in late October.  With no risk of further damage, Young had been playing with the injury throughout the first nine games.  After combining for 13 minutes against Kennesaw State and Maryland-Eastern Shore, he has recovered nicely from the surgery in averaging over 16 minutes in the last 22 games, including 31 against Kansas on Feb. 7.  A NJCAA honorable mention All-American as a sophomore in 2005-06, Young is averaging 5.4 points, 2.3 assists, 1.9 rebounds and a team-best 1.2 steals in 19.5 minutes per game this year.  After ranking third in NJCAA in scoring at 23.2 points as a sophomore, he displayed his offensive potential with a big effort against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 21 with a season-high 24 points on 6-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range.  He has scored in double figures in six contests.   

Non-Conference Play A Success
Kansas State capped another stellar non-conference season in 2006-07 with its 73-36 win over Chicago State on Jan. 22.  The Wildcats posted at least 10 wins during the non-conference portion of their schedule for the 17th time in their history and for the first time since the 2004-05 season.  The 11 non-league victories are the most by a Wildcat squad since the 1998-99 squad also produced 11, while the program produced 10 wins before January 1 for the first time in nearly seven seasons.  K-State has now earned a winning record in non-conference play in 35 consecutive seasons dating back to 1972-73
and has totaled at least eight non-conference wins in 22 of the last 26 seasons, including each of the last five seasons.  The Wildcats have won 29 of their last 37 games against non-conference opponents, including a remarkable 25-1 (.961) mark at home.  

Walker Out for Season with ACL Injury
Tests revealed on Monday, Jan. 8 that freshman forward Bill Walker sustained a complete rupture of the anterior crucial ligament (ACL) in his left knee and leaving him out for the remainder of the season, according to head coach Bob Huggins.  Surgery was successfully performed on Friday, Jan. 19 and Walker has already begun his rehabilitation process.  It is expected to take between six and eight months.  The highly-touted freshman averaged 11.3 points on 40.0 percent shooting in six games this season with 4.5 rebounds in 23.2 minutes per game.  The Huntington, W.Va., native began his career by posting 15 points on 6-of-10 field goals against Kennesaw State on Dec. 17 in 22 minutes of action after just two practices under his belt.  It was the most points by a true freshman in his debut since Marques Hayden scored 20 points against BYU on Nov. 23, 2002.  The 15-point effort was the first of four straight double figure games for Walker, which included 11 against UMES, 19 against USC and 15 against New Mexico.