9/9 K-State Travels To Big 12 Championship
9/9 K-State Travels To Big 12 Championship
9/9 KANSAS STATE (24-6, 11-5 Big 12)
at Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship
Date: Thursday, March 11, 2010
Tipoff: 6:07 p.m. CT
Location: Kansas City, Mo. | Arena: Sprint Center (18,897)
Opponent: 7-seed Oklahoma State (22-9, 9-7 Big 12)
Television: Big 12 Network/ESPN Full Court (Brent Musburger, play-by-play; Bob Knight, analyst; Holly Rowe; sideline reporter; Aaron Stojkov, producer) | Channel Directory: KMCI (Kansas City), KSNT (Topeka), KSAS (Wichita) | Internet: www.ESPN360.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst) | Live Stats: www.Big12Sports.com | Local Stations: Sports Radio 1350 AM (KMAN; Manhattan), 101.5-FM (KMKF; Manhattan) | Satellite Radio: Sirius 125/XM 231
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International '93) is 67-30 (.691) in his third season at K-State. Oklahoma State - Travis Ford (Kentucky '94) is 45-21 (.677) in his second season at Oklahoma State and 235-195 (.546) in 13th season overall.
Big Eight/12 Championship History: 27-31 (7-13 in Big 12 era) | In Kansas City: 26-26 (6-8 in Big 12 era) | In Sprint Center: 0-1 | As a No. 2 seed: 8-3 (0-0 in Big 12 era) | vs. No. 7 seed: 6-2 (2-0 in Big 12 era) | vs. Oklahoma State: 69-46 (11-4 neutral; 1-4 at Championship) | Last time: No. 4 K-State lost to No. 5 Texas, 61-58, in the quarterfinals on March 12, 2009 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Rankings: K-State is ranked No. 9 in AP Top 25 and No. 9 in ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are not ranked.
Tickets: Sold out.
K-State travels to Kansas City for 14th Big 12 Championship
Kansas State (24-6, 11-5 Big 12) will look to continue the success it has enjoyed this season, as the Wildcats converge on Kansas City, Mo., and the Sprint Center for the 14th annual Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship this week. The squad, which has their first No. 2 seed at the conference tournament since 1988, will play the winner of the Wednesday's first round match-up between No. 7 seed Oklahoma State (21-9) and No. 10 Oklahoma (13-17) on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT. The Wildcats are 8-3 all-time as the tournament's No. 2 seed, while they are 6-2 against No. 7 seeds and 2-0 against No. 10 seeds. The team lost at home to Oklahoma State, 73-69, on Jan. 23, while they knocked off Oklahoma, 83-68, in Norman on Feb. 20. This would be the first meeting with Oklahoma in a conference tournament since 2002, while it would be the first of the Big 12 era and the first since 1996 with Oklahoma State. K-State has lost three straight games at the Championships, including in the quarterfinals each of the past two years. A win would not only continue to solidify the team's NCAA Tournament seeding, but would also give them a tie with two others for the most wins in a single-season in school history. The game will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Network and nationally on ESPN Full Court with Dave Armstrong (play-by-play) and Reid Gettys (analyst) on the call.
K-State remained in the Top 10 in both major polls for the fifth straight week on Monday, as the Wildcats dropped four spots to ninth in The Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. It marks the first time that the program has ranked among the AP Top 15 for 10 consecutive weeks since the 1961-62 squad was ranked among the AP Top 10 for 15 weeks, while the team's current 13-week stay in the AP Top 25 is the longest since the 1972-73 squad was ranked for 16 straight weeks. The squad earned their first Top 5 ranking in the AP poll since March 7, 1962 a week ago before losing back-to-back games for the first time this season. It was also the highest ranking in the Coaches' poll since USA Today took over ownership of the poll in 1993-94.
The Wildcats are off to their best start in nearly 50 years with their current 24-6 record. The 24 wins tie for the fourth-most in school history and the most since the 1987-88 squad won a school-record 25 en route to the Elite Eight. The team posted their 23rd 20-win season on Feb. 13, becoming the first Wildcat squad to tally 20 or more wins in four consecutive seasons. In addition, Frank Martin became the first head coach in school history to post three 20-win seasons to start a career, while the win over Oklahoma on Feb. 20 gave him the most wins by a head coach in his first three seasons.
A Quick Look at Kansas State
K-State is averaging just under 80 points per game (79.9 ppg.) on 45.3 percent shooting (788-of-1741), including 35.1 percent from 3-point range (197-of-562), with 39.2 rebounds, 14.7 assists, 7.3 steals and 4.9 blocks per game. The squad has topped 80 or more points in 17 of 30 games (including five 90-point outputs), while hitting on 45 percent or better from the field on 15 occasions. With 91 points effort against Nebraska on Feb. 17, the Wildcats topped 2,000 points scored for the fourth consecutive season, while the current total of 2,397 points already ranks as the seventh-most points in a single season. The 79.9 points per game average currently ranks second on the season scoring average chart just behind the school-record mark of 81.4 points averaged during the 1952-53 campaign, while the 76.8 points per game in Big 12 play ranks sixth in school history and the highest since the 2007-08 squad averaged 77.6 points. The team has already posted the fifth-most 3-point field goals made (197) and attempted (562) and are on pace to post at least 200 treys for the fourth straight season. The Wildcats are averaging 35 points (33.5) per game in the paint, while ranking first nationally in free throws made (20.8) and attempted per game (31.3) and free throws attempted (938) and second in free throws (624). The defensive effort has also been solid, holding foes to 69.3 points on 41.8 percent shooting while averaging 20.6 points off of 17.2 turnovers per game. The Wildcats have scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 15 games, including 12 of the last 21 contests, while the 40 points off turnovers against South Dakota on Jan. 3 are the most since the statistic began being kept in 2005-06.
Despite the loss to Iowa State on Saturday, the Wildcats still boasts a 24-6 record on the season, which is the best start under Frank Martin and the best in school history since the 1958-59 squad finished at 25-2. The 24 wins tie for the fourth-most in school history with the 1976-77 and 1980-81 squads, while the 24 wins tie the 1958-59 team for the most-ever in the regular season. The school-record of 25 wins has been done three times, including in 1950-51, 1958-59 and 1987-88. The 11 league wins are the most in the Big 12 era and the most since the 1987-88 team also posted 11 in Big Eight play. The win over Colorado on Feb. 13 gave the team a 20-win season for an unprecedented fourth straight season, while it made Martin the first coach to post 20 wins in each of his first three seasons. It is also the earliest 20-win season in school history.
Named a third team All-American by The Sporting News on Tuesday, junior Jacob Pullen leads four players in double figures at 18.9 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting from the field to go with team bests in 20-point games (13), 3-point field goals (82), free throws (170), free throw percentage (82.1) and steals (49), while backcourt mate Denis Clemente is second in scoring at 16 points per game on 39.1 percent shooting from the field and is tops on the team in field goals (157), assists (118) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2). The duo has combined for over 40 percent of the scoring (1,047) this year, while historically, they are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 34.9) guard tandem since former NBA players Mike Evans and Chuckie Williams combined to average 38.9 points per game between 1974-76. Earlier this season, Pullen became the 21st player in school history, including the eighth guard, to score 1,000 career points, while his current total of 1,357 points in 97 career games ranks eighth all-time, just seven points shy of Chuckie Williams (1,364; 1972-76) for seventh place. The only player to score in double figures in all 30 games, he needs three treys to become the second player in school history (joining Steve Henson) with at least 1,000 points, 200 3-pointers, 300 assists and 100 steals in career. Twice named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week, Clemente has become of the one of top transfers ever to play at K-State, ranking third on the chart for most points by a transfer (961). He also recently joined Pullen in the school's Top 10 for career 3-pointers (128; seventh) and 3-pointers attempted (370; sixth).
Sophomore Jamar Samuels ranks third in scoring at 11.4 points per game on 56.9 percent shooting from the field. Samuels, who has come off the bench in 28 of 29 games, ranks third on the squad in rebounding at 5.2 per game. He has scored in double figures in 22 of his 29 games played, including his third career double-double against Texas Tech on Feb. 23 with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Dubbed the "X-Factor" for his ability to change the game off the bench, 36 of Samuels' 37 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve with K-State holding a solid 30-6 record in these contests. Junior transfer Curtis Kelly is the only other player averaging in double figures at 11.4 points per game. Kelly, who leads the squad with four double-doubles, is shooting a team-best 58.9 percent from the field and ranks first with 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per contest. He ranks second on the school's single season list with 56 blocks, just three shy of Gerald Eaker's mark of 59 in 1995-96. One of the Big 12's top defenders, junior Dominique Sutton is averaging 7.3 points on 49 percent shooting to go with 5.4 rebounds per game.
Martin, Three Wildcats Earn All-Big 12 Honors
Junior Jacob Pullen and senior Denis Clemente were named to the Coaches' All-Conference team, sophomore Jamar Samuels was announced as the winner of the Sixth Man Award and Frank Martin was named Coach of the Year, as the Big 12 office announced its awards on Sunday.
Pullen became just the second men's basketball player to earn first team All-Big 12 honors since the inception of the league in 1997, joining former teammate Michael Beasley who received the award in 2008. The team's leading scorer at 18.9 points per game this season also earned first team accolades from The Associated Press, Kansas City Star and Yahoo! Sports. Pullen was also selected to the six-man All-Defensive Team. He averaged 18.9 points on 41.3 percent shooting, including 38 percent from 3-point range, to go with 3.6 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 31.4 minutes per game. He led the squad in double-figure scoring (30), 20-point games (13), 3-point field goals (170) and steals (49).
Clemente was named to the league's second team for the second consecutive season. He averaged 16 points on 39.1 percent shooting, including 33 percent from 3-point range, with 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 34 minutes per game. He scored in double figures in 27 games, including nine 20-point games. He was also named to the Kansas City Star's second team and to Yahoo! Sports' third team.
Samuels becomes the second Wildcat to earn the Sixth Man Award following Cartier Martin in 2007. The third-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game, he scored in double figures off the bench in 21 games, including a pair of 20-point efforts and three double-doubles. He ranks third on the team in rebounding at 5.3 per game. He had a breakout game in the win over No. 1 Texas with 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
Martin was named Big 12 Coach of the Year by both the league coaches and The Associated Press. He is the first coach since Dana Altman in 1993 to earn league Coach of the Year honors, while he is the fifth coach overall to earn the distinction, following Tex Winter (1958, 1959, 1960), Cotton Fitzsimmons (1970), Jack Hartman (1975, 1977) and Altman.
Big Eight/12 Conference Championship History
Kansas State is 27-31 all-time at the Big Eight/12 Championship, including 7-13 in the Big 12 era. The Wildcats have earned a No. 2 seed at this year's Championships, which is the highest seed since the inception of the Big 12 in 1997, while it is the first No. 2 seed since the squad went 2-1 at the 1988 Big Eight Tournament held at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. This is the fifth time the squad has been a No. 2 seed, following 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1988. The team is 8-3 as a No. 2 seed, including winning the tournament title as a No. 2 seed in 1980. K-State and Kansas are the only two schools to earn a top-4 seed and a bye to the quarterfinals in the past four seasons. The Wildcats are just 1-3 at the Championship in that span with their last win coming as a No. 4 seed against fifth-seeded Texas Tech, 66-45, at the 2007 edition at the Ford Center. The squad has never won a game at the Championship at the Sprint Center, while they haven't won a tournament game in Kansas City since knocking off seventh-seeded Texas A&M, 68-62, at Kemper Arena in 2005. K-State is 26-26 in Championship games held in Kansas City dating back to 1977.
Despite their affiliation since the Big Eight days, the Wildcats have a limited track record against both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at the conference tournament. The squad has faced the Sooners just six times, the last coming in 2002, while they have matched up against the Cowboys just five times, the last coming in 1996. The team trails the series against both foes with Oklahoma holding a 4-2 edge, while OSU holds a 4-1 advantage. The Wildcats has met the Sooners just once in the quarterfinals (losing 63-52 in 2002), while the previous five meetings with the Cowboys have been in the first round. Overall, Oklahoma holds a 102-90 edge in the all-time series, while K-State is 69-46 all-time against Oklahoma State.
The Book on Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State is averaging 74.4 points on 44.8 percent shooting, including 35 percent from 3-point range, with 36.5 rebounds, 12.3 assists, 6.3 steals and 2.5 blocks per game. The squad is led by Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Year and first team All-American selection James Anderson, who is averaging a conference-best 22.9 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting, to go with 6.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Guards Obi Muonelo and Keiton Page are averaging 13.4 and 10.2 points per game, while forwards Marshall Moses (9.0 ppg., 8.6 rpg.) and Matt Pilgram (8.1 ppg., 6.9 rpg.) have been huge factors down low, averaging near double-doubles. Head coach Travis Ford has a 44-21 (.677) record in his second season at the helm. He led the Cowboys back to the NCAA Tournament in his first season with a 23-12 overall record, guiding the team to a win over Tennessee in the first round before losing to Pittsburgh in the second round. He has a 234-195 (.546) record in 13 seasons as a head coach, which includes stints at Campbellsville (1997-2000), Eastern Kentucky (2000-05) and Massachusetts (2005-08).
The Book on Oklahoma
Oklahoma is averaging 72.3 points on 42.9 percent shooting, including 34.8 percent from 3-point range, with 34.7 rebounds, 12.7 assists, 5.8 steals and 2.8 blocks per game. A dangerous scoring squad at nearly every position, the Sooners have four players averaging in double figures led by Big 12 All-Freshman team member Tommy Mason-Griffin. He averages 13.9 points on 39.4 percent shooting, including 42.3 percent from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 4.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds per outing. Senior Tony Crocker averages 11.5 points and 6.2 rebounds, while freshman Tiny Gallon adds 10.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Oklahoma is led by head coach Jeff Capel, who has an 82-50 (.677) record in his fourth season at the helm. He has led the Sooners to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, including a trip to the Elite Eight last season.
Experience is the Key
One of the biggest reasons for Kansas State this season has been its experience on the floor. The squad boasts a starting line-up (Denis Clemente, Jacob Pullen, Dominique Sutton, Curtis Kelly and Luis Colon) with a combined 496 games of experience, including 337 games as starters. The fivesome has started 16 of the last 18 games this season, while Clemente, Kelly and Pullen have started all 30 games. In fact, four of the five starters (Clemente, Colon, Pullen and Sutton) have been in the opening line-up in 30 in the last 32 Big 12 contests.
Most of the experience lies in the backcourt, where Clemente and Pullen have started 62 of the last 64 games for the Wildcats. The tandem has combined to play in 220 games in their respective careers, including 168 combined starts. Pullen has the team's longest active streaks for both games played (97) and starts (64), which both date back to his freshman season. He ranks seventh in school history in consecutive games played, while he is sixth in consecutive starts. He also places seventh in K-State history in career minutes played (2,739), while his 78 starts rank 10th all-time. He trails Steve Henson in both categories, who owns the school record in consecutive games played (127) and consecutive starts (118). Clemente, who played in 61 games with 28 starts in two years at Miami (Fla.) from 2005-07, boasts 123 games of experience to go with 90 starts in his career. There is also plenty of experience in the frontcourt where Colon and Sutton have combined to play in 195 games in the past three seasons. Sutton has played in 71 consecutive games (which ranks second on the team), including starts in 65 of the last 68 games. Colon, who was one of only two players (Pullen) to start in all 34 games a year ago, has seen action in 112 games in his K-State career, including 69 starts. The only starter without experience beyond this season is junior Curtis Kelly, who sat out last season after transferring from UConn.
Experience can also be found on the bench, where regular reserves Chris Merriewether and Jamar Samuels have combined to play in 159 games in their careers. A former walk-on, Merriewether has played in 96 games with six starts, including action in 84 of the last 97 contests. Samuels, who has come off the bench in all but three games in his career, has seen action in 63 of the last 64 games for the Wildcats. Four-year seniors Luis Colon and Chris Merriewether, who have won 90 games in their career, became the outright winningest senior class in school history in the victory over Texas Tech on Feb. 23, breaking a tie they had with Fred Barton (88; 1976-78; 1979-81) on the school's all-time list.
Although known for the guard tandem of Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen, Kansas State has shown an ability to have multiple players involved in the scoring output this season. The Wildcats have seen four or more players score in double figures 22 times this season, including five or more double-digit scorers in eight contests. Even though Pullen (30) and Clemente (27) have been the consistent double-digit scoring threats, six other players have registered at least one double figure scoring game this season, including Jamar Samuels (22), Curtis Kelly (21), Dominique Sutton (eight), Rodney McGruder (six), Wally Judge (four) and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts (once). The Wildcats own a 19-3 mark in games when four or more players tally double digits, while they are 7-1 when five players are in twin figures. In all, the squad has seen at least seven players score in every game (including five games with 10 or more) this season, including at least four players scoring five or more points in each contest.
Kansas State has shown the ability to be a solid rebounding team, as the Wildcats rank fourth in the Big 12 with an average of 39.2 rebounds per game. The squad is tied for league leader at 15.1 offensive boards per game, while they are fourth in rebounding margin (+5.2). The Wildcats have grabbed 40 or more rebounds 13 times, including in eight of the last 18 games, while they have tallied 20 or more offensive boards four times. The team posted 50 or more rebounds in back-to-back games against Cleveland State and South Dakota for the first time in back-to-back games since the 2007-08 season, while the Wildcats grabbed 50 against the Big 12's top rebounding squad (then No. 1/1 Texas) on Jan. 18, including 19 offensive boards which translated into a 23-10 edge in second chance points. The offensive rebound chances have helped the team average over 15 points per game (14.1) in second chance points, including 20 or more second chance points on five occasions this season.
Seizing on its Opportunities
Kansas State has capitalized this season on its opportunities from the free throw line, where the Wildcats rank first nationally with 938 free throws attempted, 20.8 free throws made per game and 31.3 free throws attempted per game. The squad is 33 attempts ahead of Cal State Northridge (905) for the lead nationally, while they just ahead of North Texas (20.2) in makes per game and Cal State Northridge (29.2) in attempts per game. The team is second nationally in free throws made with 624, trailing leader Morgan State (626), which has played three more contests.
K-State has broke the single-season marks for both free throws made and attempted, shattering the 51-year-old mark for makes (606; 1958-59) with 33 against Iowa State on March 6. The squad broke the record for free throws attempted (862; 2008-09) for the second straight season with 34 against Missouri on Feb. 27. This is a growing trend for Frank Martin-coached teams, where his previous two squads rank among the top 10 in both single-season free throws (fifth and seventh) and attempts (second and eighth).
The team has connected on 20 or more free throws in 20 of their 30 games, including 16 of the last 23 contests, while they have attempted at least 30 free throws in 18 games. The Wildcats made the most of their opportunities in the win over Nebraska on Feb. 17, converting on a season-high 80 percent (32-of-40) from the stripe, including 14-of-14 in the last five minutes of the game. It marked just the third time this season that the squad has made 30 or more free throws, while it was the seventh time they had at least 40 attempts in a contest. The team set near records for both categories in a win at Colorado on Jan. 16 with 38 makes on 54 attempts. The 38 free throws are the fourth-most in school history (most-ever in a road venue) and the second-most in the Big 12 era behind the 39 against Baylor at home on Feb. 13, 1999. The 54 attempts are the third-most in school history (most-ever in a league game) and the most since the Wildcats set the school mark with 56 against Purdue on Dec. 1, 1958.
Head coach Frank Martin has changed the culture in many ways at Kansas State, including how the Wildcats play on the road. The squad has been one of the most successful teams in the Big 12 when playing on the road this season, posting an 11-3 mark away from Bramlage Coliseum this season, including a 7-2 mark in 'true' road games and a 6-2 mark in Big 12 road contests. The 11 wins away from home are the most by a Big 12 team this season and the most by a K-State team since 1987-88, while the 6-2 mark in Big 12 road games trails just Kansas for the best in the league. The squad, who guaranteed themselves a winning road mark in league play for the first time in the Big 12 era and the first time since the 1987-88 season with the win over Oklahoma on Feb. 20, won six straight road league games for the first time since the 1963-64 season. The six league road wins are the most since the 1975-76. This is nothing new for Frank Martin-coached teams, which have won 13 Big 12 road games since the 2007-08 season, which is just one short (14) of the entire total the school had the Big 12's first 11 seasons from 1996-97 to 2006-07.
Second Half Surge
One of the biggest factors in K-State's seven-game winning streak was its ability to pick up its pace in the second half. The Wildcats averaged 43.7 points in the second half of their seven wins on 53.2 percent shooting (99-of-186), including 50 percent (34-of-68) from 3-point range. This is in stark comparison to the first half, where the team averaged 33.9 points on 39.2 percent shooting (85-of-217), including just 22.9 percent (16-of-70) from beyond the arc, in this same seven-game span. K-State scored at least 40 or more points in the second half in each of these seven games and combined to out-score their foes, 306-241. This comes after holding just a 237-214 edge over these foes at the half. The squad were able to overcome halftime deficits (Iowa State & Nebraska) twice in the span to post wins after starting the year 0-3 when trailing at the half. This trend was reversed in the loss at No. 2 Kansas, as the squad shot 50 percent in the first half compared to a season-low 29.2 percent in the second half. For the year, the team is averaging 42.4 points in the second half on 48.5 percent shooting, including 41.2 percent from 3-point range.
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 1,857 points off of 1,629 turnovers in 97 games, an average of 19.1 points per game. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past three years have come off of offense generated from turnovers. In 2007-08, the Wildcats scored 18.9 points per game off of 16.2 turnovers per game, while in 2008-09, the team scored 25.7 points off of an average of 17.0 turnovers. This season has been no different with the squad averaging 20.6 points off of 17.2 opponent mistakes per game. K-State has scored 20+ points off of turnovers 15 times, including 40 against South Dakota, which is the most since the stat began being kept in 2005-06. The team also scored 20 + points off of turnovers against Loyola (29), IUPUI (28), WSU (39), UNLV (26), Alabama (22), UAPB (29), Cleveland State (30), Texas A&M (23), Colorado (23 & 26), Nebraska (22 & 29), Oklahoma (23) and Missouri (21). The team has a 41-5 record when scoring 20+ points off turnovers under Martin, including 15-0 this season.
Right Man, Right Time
Senior Denis Clemente seems to play his best basketball against the best competition. He was just edged out by Jacob Pullen as the team's leading scorer in Big 12 play, averaging 17.7 points on 40 percent shooting (94-of-235), including 35.5 percent (44-of-124) from 3-point range, this year. This has included a stretch in the last nine games, in which, he averaged 19.3 points on 43.3 percent shooting, including 39.2 percent from beyond the arc. In all, he scored in double figures in 15 of 16 league games, including six 20-point outings. For his career, he was even better in Big 12 contests, averaging 18.1 points (578) on 41.1 percent shooting (192-of-467), including 37.7 percent (80-of-212) from 3-point range, in 32 career games. He scored in double figures in 29 of these conference games, including 10 20-point games. He also led the Wildcats in scoring 16 times in this span. In comparison, he is averaging just 12.8 points in his 30 career non-conference games on 38.1 percent shooting (136-of-357), including 30.4 percent (48-of-158) from beyond the arc. He has scored in double figures 21 times in these games with four 20-point outings. This season, he averaged 14.1 points during non-league play on 37.9 percent shooting, including 29.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Quite A Duo
Senior Denis Clemente and junior Jacob Pullen have become quite the scoring duo for the Wildcats in their two seasons together. The two have combined to score 1,999 points in just over one season together, including finishing first and second on the team in scoring in 2008-09. They have combined to average 34.9 points per game through 30 games this season, including Pullen's team-leading 18.9 points per game. The duo ranks as the third-highest scoring backcourt in the Big 12 in both overall (34.9 ppg.) and league-only games (35.5 ppg.), trailing Colorado's Cory Higgins and Alec Burks and Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter. The 34.9-point average is the third-highest by a guard duo in school history, trailing Chuckie Williams and Mike Evans in both 1974-75 (39.1) and 1975-76 (38.8) and ahead of Askia Jones and Anthony Beane in 1993-94 (33.5). They are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 31.7) guard tandem in school history since Evans and Williams combined to average 38.9 points per game for the Wildcats between 1974-76. Clemente and Pullen has combined to score at least 20 points 56 times in 62 games dating back to last season, including 30 or more points on 39 occasions and 40 or more points 14 times. The duo were perhaps at their best in the win over No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12, as the two combined for 50 points on 57.1 percent shooting from the field, including 55.6 percent from 3-point range. The duo has toppped 20 or more points in the same contest five times (four times this year), including Kansas twice (Feb. 19, 2009 and March 3, 2010), No. 18/21 Dayton on Nov. 22, 2009 and Washington State on Dec. 5, 2009.
Pullen Moving Up the Charts
Junior Jacob Pullen is nearing several career milestone as he is in the midst of his third season. After his 11-point effort against Missouri on Feb. 27, he became just the 10th player in school history to eclipse 1,300 career points and the first since Cartier Martin (1,546; 2003-07) in 2006. His current total of 1,357 points in 97 games ranks eighth all-time on the scoring list, as he passed Mitch Richmond (1,327; 1986-88) with his 20 points at Kansas on March 3. If he keeps up his current career scoring average (13.7 ppg.), he would finish in the Top 5 just behind Mike Evans (2,115; 1974-78), Rolando Blackman (1,844; 1977-81) and Askia Jones (1,834; 1989-94) with over 1,700 points. He became the 21st player to tally 1,000 career points, including the eighth guard, with his fourth 3-point field goal of the first half against Alabama on Dec. 19.
Pullen ranks in the top 5 in both 3-point field goals made and attempted in school history, ranking second in attempts with 572 and third in makes with 197. He now only trails Askia Jones (624 attempts; 1989-94) in career attempts, while he looks to join Steve Henson (240; 1987-90) and Jones (237) as the only players with 200 or more 3-point field goals in school history. By reaching that milestone, Pullen would join Henson as the only players in school history with at least 1,000 points, 200 3-pointers, 300 assists and 100 steals in a career. In addition to moving up several scoring charts, Pullen is also ascending the school's record book in several other career categories. He ranks second in steals with 143, trailing just all-time leader Steve Henson (190; 1986-90), while he is third in assists with 324. He places in the top-10 in four other categories, including seventh in minutes played (2,739), eighth in double-digit scoring games (69) and free throws attempted (424) and ninth in field goals attempted (1,052). He could also join the career Top 10 in field goals made and free throws made this season.
Kelly a Key Factor Down Low
Junior Curtis Kelly is starting to develop his game down low for the Wildcats after sitting out the 2008-09 season after transferring from UConn. A starter in all 30 games, Kelly is third on the team in scoring at 11.4 points per game on a team-best 58.9 percent shooting to go with team-bests in rebounds (6.3) and blocks (1.9) per game. He continued his solid play against Missouri on Feb. 27, recording his fourth double-double (his second in Big 12 play) with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go with four assists, three blocks and two steals in 34 minutes. The leader in double-doubles, Kelly also performed the feat in back-to-back games against Ole Miss (18 points, 10 rebounds) on Nov. 20 and IUPUI (11 points, 11 rebounds) on Nov. 28 and also against Colorado on Feb. 13. He also had a solid effort in the win over No. 1 Texas on Jan. 18, scoring 17 points on 6-of-10 field goals with eight rebounds and two blocks. He was also the principle defender of Texas' Damion James, holding the first team All-Big 12 performer to just nine points on 3-of-12 field goals with seven rebounds and four turnovers. In all, Kelly has scored in double figures 21 times, including in key wins against Xavier (15) and UNLV (13), while he has led the team in rebounding 10 times. He has shot over 60 percent in 16 games, including connecting on 85.7 percent (6-of-7) against Iowa State on March 6 with Big 12-high 19 points. He had a season-high 22 points in the opener against Loyola Chicago. He paces the squad with 56 blocks, which ranks second on the school's single season chart. The total is three short of the school record of 59 held by Gerald Eaker (1995-96). He has at least two blocks in 15 games, including a career-best six against South Dakota.
Sophomore Jamar Samuels proved himself one of the top bench scorers in the country this season, as his near 12-point, five-rebound average earned him the Big 12's Sixth Man Award from the league coaches on March 6. He is the second Wildcat to win the award and the first since Cartier Martin in 2007. Samuels, who is third in scoring at 11.4 points per game, had a breakout game in the win over No. 1 Texas on Jan. 18, posting his second career double-double with 20 points and a career-best 12 rebounds against one of the best frontcourt tandems (Damion James and Dexter Pittman) in the nation. The 20-point outing was the third of his career (second this year) and just one point off his career-best of 21 scored against Fort Hays State on Dec. 1, while his 12-rebound effort was just the second double-digit rebounding game of his career. He grabbed his third double-double in the win over Texas Tech on Feb. 27 with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. This season, he has scored 10 or more points 22 times with 21 of those coming off the bench, including in 17 of the last 22 games. For his career, 36 of Samuels' 37 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve. He is averaging 9.9 points on 55.1 percent (199-of-361) in 60 career games off the bench, including 11.6 points per game on a team-best 57.8 percent shooting (108-of-187) this season. He was solid in Big 12 play, averaging 11.1 points on 54.9 percent shooting (62-of-113) and 5.4 rebounds per game. His 62 field goals in conference-only play ranked fourth on the squad.
Clemente Named Big 12 Player of the Week Again
Senior Denis Clemente was the named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks on Feb. 22 when he shared the honor with Oklahoma State's James Anderson. He helped run the Wildcats' winning streak to five games with victories over Nebraska (91-87) and Oklahoma (83-68) from Feb 20-23. He averaged 24.0 points on 53.1 percent shooting (17-of-32), including 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from 3-point range, in the two wins with 4.5 assists, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 36.5 minutes per game.
Clemente began the week by scoring a game-tying 21 points in helping the squad sweep the season series from Nebraska for the first time since the 2003-04 season on Feb. 17. He connected on 6-of-14 field goals, including 4-of-10 from 3-point range, with three assists and three steals in 38 minutes. He followed with a game-high 27 points in the Wildcats' second straight win at the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday. He went 11-of-18 from the field, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, with a game-high six assists and two rebounds in 35 minutes. The 11 field goals is a season-high for a player this season, while it marked the fifth time he has had five or more treys in a game.
Clemente, who has three career Big 12 Player of the Week honors, earned his first award this season on Feb. 7 in helping the squads to road wins at Nebraska (76-57) and Iowa State (79-75). He averaged 26.5 points on 50 percent shooting (16-of-32), including 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from 3-point range, in the two wins with 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 36.0 minutes per game. He posted just his second career 30-point game in the Wildcats' fourth straight win at Iowa State on Feb. 6, while it was his highest point total since tying the Big 12 record with 44 against Texas on Jan. 31, 2009. He was also named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week on Feb. 8 for his efforts, marking the second time in his career he has been named a National Player of the Week after he earned the honor from ESPN.com on Feb. 2, 2009.
One of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, Clemente helped the Wildcats to their highest ranking in the AP poll since 1962 at No. 5 as well as their highest ranking in the Coaches' poll, also at No. 5, since USA Today took over ownership in 1993-94. He is the team's second-leading scorer (and ninth in the Big 12) at 16.0 points per game and has scored in double figures in 27 games. He ranks in the Top 10 in four Big 12 categories, including fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2) and 3-point field goals per game (2.4) and seventh in both assists and minutes played.
Clemente Among Best Transfers
Senior Denis Clemente eclipsed the career 1,000-point barrier with a pair of free throws just over a minute into the IUPUI game on Nov. 28, 2009. Clemente, who transferred to K-State after playing two seasons at Miami (Fla.), has totaled 961 points his two-year career on 40 percent shooting (328-of-824) from the field, including 34.6 percent (128-of-370) from 3-point range, in 62 games. He broke into the school's top 10 for career points by a transfer with his 23-point effort against Nebraska on Feb. 2, surpassing Elliot Hatcher (803; 1994-96). He currently ranks third on the list, trailing Mitch Richmond (1,327; 1986-88) and Willie Murrell (1,112; 1962-64). He needs 39 points to become just the sixth player in school history to top 1,000 points in a two-year career and the first since Mitch Richmond (1,327 points; 1986-88). He has also cracked the school's Top 10 in 3-point field goals, ranking sixth in attempts (370) and seventh in makes (128).
The D Stands for Defense
Junior Dominique Sutton is starting to state his case as one of the premier defenders not just in the Big 12 but nationally. Regularly assigned the opponent's top offensive performer for much of his career, he has established himself as a top-line defender this season. He has been assigned to defend the likes of Washington State's Klay Thompson, Xavier's Jordan Crawford, UNLV's Derrick Jasper, Colorado's Alec Burks, Kansas' Xavier Henry, Iowa State's Marquis Gilstrap and Missouri's Zaire Taylor. Sutton has held his opponents to a collective 38.7 shooting percentage (87-of-225), including a 28.1 percentage (18-of-64) mark from 3-point range, this season. Thompson, who entered the game on Dec. 5 as the nation's second-leading scorer at 26.4 points per game, shot just 5-of-15 from the field, including 1-of-4 from long range, with nine turnovers. Crawford had 16 points (five from the line) against Sutton, but shot just 5-of-13 from the field, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range, with three turnovers. Jasper was held scoreless for the first time in his UNLV career, going 0-of-3. He was also solid on Big 12 Newcomer of the Year candidate Marquis Gilstrap, who was 4-of-16 from the field, including just 2-of-8 from beyond the arc, with 18 points in the first meeting on Feb. 6. He also played a role in the defense of Texas A&M star Donald Sloan, who was held to just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting with three turnovers.
Colon Back to Action
Senior Luis Colon made his long awaited debut against No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12, scoring one point and grabbing five rebounds in 11 minutes of action off the bench. Colon, who was also hurt in the preseason, missed the first nine games off the season due to an off-the-court issue that has since been resolved. A key cog to the Wildcat attack last season, he was one of two players (along with Jacob Pullen) to start all 34 games a year ago, averaging 4.4 points on 47.7 percent shooting with 4.7 rebounds per game. Colon, who is averaging 3.0 points and 4.0 rebounds, has started 17 of the last 18 games, including 16 straight games dating back to the Missouri game on Jan. 9. His biggest impact has been on the defensive end of the court, where he played a huge role in limiting Texas' Dexter Pittman to six points and seven rebounds in the win on Jan. 18. Colon's overall production has picked up in the last eight games, where he is averaging 4.5 points on 38.1 percent shooting to go with 4.6 rebounds per game. He had a big game in the home win over Colorado on Feb. 13, tying a season-high with nine points to go with six rebounds.
Knocking Off No. 1
With its 71-62 win over top-ranked Texas on Jan. 18, Kansas State knocked off a No. 1 team for just the third time in school history and the first time since beating No. 1 Kansas, 68-64, at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 17, 1994. It was the second win over a No. 1 team on the Bramlage Coliseum floor (including the first match-up of Top 10 teams in the arena's 22-year history) and the first since defeating No. 1 Missouri, 65-58, on Feb. 8, 1990. The contest against the Longhorns was 16th in the program's history against the No. 1 team and the first since losing to top-ranked Kansas on Feb. 27, 2002. The Wildcats are now 3-12 (.200) all-time against No. 1 teams with all three wins coming in the last seven meetings with a top-ranked squad. The game was also just the third match-up with a No. 1 team when K-State was also ranked, including just the second time when ranked in the Top 10. Those other occasions were both losses, as the then fourth-ranked Wildcats lost to top-ranked Kentucky in the NCAA Championship in Minneapolis on March 27, 1951 and when No. 14 K-State lost at home to No. 1 Missouri on Jan. 30, 1982.
Pullen Named Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week
Junior Jacob Pullen was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time in his career on Dec. 14 in an announcement by the league office. Pullen, who helped the Wildcats to wins over Xavier and No. 18/17 UNLV, averaged 22.0 points on 48.1 percent shooting (13-of-27), including 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from 3-point range, for the week with 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals in 27.5 minutes per game. Pullen began the week by scoring 14 of his game-high 16 points in the second half of a 71-56 win over the Musketeers in 24 minutes. He then followed with a season-high 28-point output in a 95-80 win over the nationally-ranked Runnin' Rebels, including a career-best 7-of-10 effort from beyond the arc. The seven 3-point field goals tied eight other players for the fourth-most in school history.
Pullen leads the squad in scoring (18.9 ppg.), double-digit scoring games (30), 20-point games (13), 3-point field goals (82) and attempts (216), free throws made (170) and attempted (207), free throw percentage (82.1) and steals (49). He ranks among the Big 12 leaders in eight categories, including second in 3-point field goals per game, fourth in scoring and steals, eighth in free throw percentage, ninth in 3-point field goal percentage, 10th in assists and 12th in both field goal percentage (41.9) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4). His 30 consecutive double-figure games ranks as the second-longest streak in school history, while his 69 career double-digit scoring efforts ranks eighth in school history.
Martin Named Finalist For Jim Phelan Coach of the Year
Head coach Frank Martin was named one of 15 finalists for the 2010 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award on March 8. The mid-season honoree for the award, he was joined on the list by fellow Big 12 coaches, Kansas' Bill Self and Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon. Martin, who was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year by both the league coaches and The Associated Press, has K-State off to its best start in more than 50 years since the 1958-59 season, while the current 24 victories and 11 league wins are the most in the Big 12 era and most since the 1987-88 season won a school-record 25 games. The squad's second-place finish and No. 2 seed at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship are also the highest since the 1987-88 season. The team earned their first Top 5 ranking since 1962 on March 1 when they rose to No. 5 in each poll, while they remained in the Top 10 for the sixth straight week on Monday at No. 9, including the fifth in both major polls. Martin guided K-State to just third-ever win over a No. 1 team and the first since 1994 with a 71-62 victory over then No. 1 Texas on Jan. 18. The win over No. 24 Baylor on Jan. 24 gave the Wildcats four wins over Top 25 teams for the first time in a regular season. The four wins over Top 25 teams tie for the most by a Big 12 team this season.
Although it was ended at Missouri on Jan. 9, K-State posted its longest winning streak in more than 15 years earlier this season when the team won 10 straight from Nov. 22, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010. The 10-game winning streak was the longest since also winning 10 in a row during the 1993-94 season and just the 15th double-digit winning streak in school history. The squad completed December perfect for just the eighth time and the first time since the 1998-99 season with their 85-56 win over Cleveland State on Dec. 29. During the streak, the team knocked off two ranked non-conference teams (No. 18/21 Dayton on Nov. 22 and No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12) for the first time since the 1958-59 season (beat No. 4 N.C. State and No. 14 St. Joseph's on consecutive days on Dec. 19-20, 1958). The 13 non-conference wins tie for the 1993-94 team for the most in school history, while the .928 non-league winning percentage is the best. He now has the most wins by a head coach in his first three seasons, surpassing Lon Kruger, while the win over Colorado on Feb. 13 made him the first K-State coach to have three 20-win seasons to start a career.