K-State plays host to Vermont in NIT

Game 34

Vermont (25-7, 15-1 America East)
at Kansas State (22-11, 10-6 Big 12)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bramlage Coliseum (13,340) in Manhattan, Kan.


Game Information:

Tipoff: 7:05 p.m. Central

Series: First Meeting
(K-State has a 4-6 record in Postseason NIT)


Talent: Bill Doleman (Play-by-Play) and Bob Sundvold (Analyst) 

Radio: K-State Sports Network (31 affiliates), Yahoo! Radio

Talent: Wyatt Thompson (Play-by-Play) and Stan Weber (Analyst)

Talent: Available for $5, $12, $15, $20 at box office at 800.221.CATS

K-State hosts Vermont in MasterCard NIT First Round Wednesday
Kansas State (22-11, 10-6 Big 12) was rewarded for its successful 2006-07 season on Sunday, as the Wildcats earned their first trip to the postseason since 1999 with an at-large selection to the MasterCard NIT.  The squad was selected as a No. 2 seed in the West Region and will play host to America East regular-season champion and No. 7 seed Vermont (25-7) on Wednesday at Bramlage Coliseum beginning at 7 p.m.  The winner of the game will advance to play either No. 3 DePaul (18-13, 9-7 Big East) or No. 6 Hofstra (22-9, 14-4 Colonial) on the higher-seed’s homecourt on Monday, March 19. 
Wednesday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Bill Doleman (play-by-play) and Bob Sundvold (color) calling the action.  The broadcast will be K-State’s school-record ninth national television appearance this season, including the third on ESPN’s all-college network, ESPNU.  As usual, the audio broadcasts for all of the Wildcats’ games can be heard on the 31-station K-State Sports Network (or via the internet at (http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaab/teams/kab) with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (color) on the call.

Kansas State is making its 28th appearance in the postseason, including its sixth in the NIT.  It is the first postseason of any kind since the Wildcats dropped a 72-71 decision to TCU in the 1999 NIT at Bramlage Coliseum.  The program has psoted a 4-6 all-time record in NIT play, including a 4-1 mark in games played at home.  The team’s made its most successful trip to the NIT in 1994, where the Wildcats won three games en route to advancing to the Final Four in New York.

The Book on Kansas State
Kansas State enters Wednesday’s contest with a 22-11 overall record and fresh off a fourth-place finish in Big 12 Conference play with a 10-6 mark.  It is the most wins since tallying 25 during the 1987-88 season, while the 21 wins prior to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship were the most in the regular season since the 1981-82 squad also collected 21 en route to the advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.  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 in 1987-88. 

After receiving its first-ever bye in the conference tournament, Kansas State advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1999 with a decisive 66-45 win over eventual NCAA Tournament participant Texas Tech.  It marked the fifth time this season that the Wildcats have held an opponent to 50 points or less, while it marked the fewest points by the Red Raiders since scoring 44 against Texas in 2006.  In the semifinals, the team dropped its third meeting of the season to second-ranked Kansas by a narrow 67-61 decision.  The Wildcats have won 12 of its last 16 games, including a seven-game winning streak from Jan. 13 to Feb. 3, since dropping three in a row in early January to eventual NCAA Tournament teams Xavier, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.  In that span, the program 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. 

Kansas State became the first school in the history of the Big 12 to have finished in the league’s top four, posted at least 20 overall wins and earned 10 conference regular season wins and not been invited to the NCAA Tournament.  

Kansas State is averaging 71.0 points per game on 43 percent shooting (794-of-1848), including 33.7 percent from 3-point range (210-of-624) with 36.1 rebounds, 15.5 assists, 5.8 steals and 3.8 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have produced a solid year statistically, ranking among the school’s top-5 in six single-season categories, including second-most 3-point field goals (210) and 3-point field goal attempts (624), third-most assists (511) and blocked shots (124), fourth-most points (2,343) and fifth-most free throws made (545).  The squad has three players averaging in double figures led by a pair of second team All-Big 12 selections Cartier Martin and David Hoskins.  Martin, who ranks sixth all-time with 1,506 career points, paces the team in nine categories, including scoring (16.9 ppg.), 20-point games (12), double-figure scoring (27) and 3-point field goals (71).  The only player to start in all 33 contests this season, Hoskins averages 14.3 points and 6.0 rebounds and ranks among the team’s top 2 in 13 categories.  Senior Lance Harris, who averaged 18.0 points on 54.2 percent shooting, is third on the team in scoring at 10.9 points per game to go with 59 3-pointers.

K-State in the MasterCard NIT
Kansas State will be making its sixth overall appearance in the MasterCard NIT and its first since 1999.  It is the Wildcats’ 28th overall postseason appearance (22 NCAA Tournaments and six NITs) and the first of any kind since the program dropped a 72-71 decision to TCU in 1999 NIT at Bramlage Coliseum.  The school has posted a 4-6 all-time record in NIT play, including a 4-1 mark in games played at home.  K-State made its first trip to the NIT in 1976 when it dropped an 81-78 decision to Kentucky in the first round of the tournament.  The school did not make its second journey into the event until 1992 when it knocked off Western Kentucky, 85-74, before losing at Notre Dame, 64-47, in the second round.  Two years later, the Wildcats made their most successful trip to the NIT when the squad knocked off Mississippi State, 78-67, Gonzaga, 66-64, and Fresno State, 115-77, to advance to Madison Square Garden and the tournament’s Final Four.  The squad lost to Vanderbilt, 82-76, in the semifinals then to Siena, 92-79, in the third-place game.  K-State made two more trips to the NIT in 1998 and 1999, losing in the first round to N.C. State, 59-39, and TCU, 72-71.   

NIT Tickets Selling Fast
First-day ticket sales were brisk Monday for Kansas State’s opening-round game in the MasterCard NIT with more than 4,700 tickets purchased for Wednesday’s contest against Vermont.  The ticket count had climbed to approximately 7,000 by Tuesday afternoon.  A limited amount of chairback seating remains available at $20.  Reserved bench seating (Sections 1-2, 10-18 and 26-27) is priced at $15 with adult general admission (Sections 19-25) priced at $12.  Students and children ages 18 and under may purchase general admission tickets for $5.
Fans who have purchased tickets online or by phone are encouraged to come to Bramlage Coliseum Tuesday and throughout the day Wednesday to pick up their tickets and reduce the possibility of long lines prior to the game.  All pre-paid public tickets designated for will call will be available at tables set up on the arena concourse near the ticket office.  On Wednesday, at approximately 4 p.m., will call will be moved to the auxiliary ticket trailer located near Cats Closet outside the northwest entrance of Bramlage Coliseum.

Elite Company
Despite the disappointment of not making the NCAA Tournament, Kansas State is still among elite company in college basketball this season.  The Wildcats are one of just 97 teams (65 to NCAA Tournament and 32 to NIT) to receive a bid to the postseason in basketball and one of just 58 teams (34 to NCAA Tournament and 24 to NIT) to receive an at-large bid to the postseason.  If you factor in that 336 teams play Division I basketball, the school is among just 29 percent (97 out 336 teams) still playing basketball and one of just 17 percent (58 out of 336 teams) to be selected to continue playing basketball.  Compare that to Division I football where 54 percent of the 119 teams play in a bowl game (32 bowls), while 33 percent of the 335 women’s basketball teams advance to the postseason (64 to NCAA Tournament and 48 to NIT).  K-State is one of just six Big 12 schools still competing in basketball, including Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech in the NCAA Tournament and Oklahoma State in the NIT.

Recapping the Big 12 Championship

*Kansas State went 1-1 in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1999 with its 66-45 win over Texas Tech on March 10... The win snapped a five-game losing streak to the Red Raiders and was the first since a 68-44 victory in Manhattan on Jan. 11, 2003... The squad dropped its third game of the season to eventual No. 1 seed Kansas in the semifinals by a score of 67-61... However, each of the three meetings the Wildcats slowly cut the gap, losing to 27 in Lawrence on Feb. 7 then losing by nine in Manhattan on Feb. 19 before falling by six in the league tournament... The squad received its first-ever bye in the conference tournament after finishing in fourth place with a 10-6 record. 

*Texas Tech’s 45 points were the fewest ever scored against Kansas State in a Big 12 Championship game and the fewest scored by the Red Raiders this season. The loss snapped a 4-game winning streak for Tech.  The Wildcats have now held five opponents to 50 points or less this season.

*Seniors Lance Harris and Cartier Martin combined to score over 55 percent of the Wildcats’ points in the championship... Harris averaged 18.0 points on 54.2 percent shooting (13-of-24), including 53.3 percent from 3-point range, while Martin added 17.0 points per game on 44 percent shooting...  The two also combined to shoot 46.9 percent (15-of-32) from beyond the arc...  The Wildcats have now collected 210 3-pointers on the season, which ranks as the second-most in school history and the most since the 1993-94 squad had a school-record 246.

The Book on Vermont (25-7, 15-1 America East)
Vermont enters Wednesday’s contest with a 25-7 overall record and 15-1 mark in the America East after dropping the tournament championship to the second-seed Albany, 60-59, on Saturday.  After defeating the Great Danes twice during the regular season, the Catamounts had two shots to win the game at the end, but could not connect in seeing their 13-game winning streak come to an end.  The winners of 22 of their last 24 games, including a stretch of 13 in a row, the squad has played 19 of their contests away from home, including 16 true’ road games.  The team has a streak of 13 consecutive road wins dating back to a 57-55 win over Delaware on Dec. 3.  Vermont earned its most impressive win of the season on Nov. 13 in a 77-63 win over Boston College and played other tough games against Maryland (81-63), Drexel (59-46) and Michigan State (66-46) in the preseason.   

Vermont is averaging 70.4 points on 45.1 percent shooting with 40.8 rebounds and 13.3 assists on the season.  The defensive-oriented Catamounts have held opponents to just 65.0 points per game on 40.7 percent shooting, including just 32.2 percent from 3-point range.  A balanced scoring squad, the team has seven players averaging five or more points, led by sophomore guard Mike Trimboli.  He is averaging 16.1 points on 40.7 percent shooting with a team-best 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game.  Trimboli paces the squad with 64 3-point field goals on 35.6 percent shooting and is a solid 83.3 percent from the free throw line (115-of-138).  Freshman forward Joe Trapani averages 11.7 points on 44.7 percent shooting, including 40.4 percent from beyond the arc, to go with 4.5 rebounds per game.  One of just two seniors, forward Chris Holm boasts a double-double for the Catamounts with an average of 10.6 points per game on 49.1 percent shooting to go with 12.1 rebounds per game. 

The 2007 America East Coach of the Year, head coach Mike Lonergan has a 289-112 record in his 14th season as a head coach, including a 38-24 mark in his second season at Vermont.  A former assistant to Gary Williams at Maryland, Lonergan led Catholic University to seven consecutive NCAA Division III Championship appearances and nine overall from 1992 to 2004, including the 2001 national championship.  His squads averaged nearly 25 wins per season over his last seven years at Catholic.  This will be the first meeting between Lonergan and Bob Huggins in their respective careers.

Series Versus Vermont
This will be the first all-time meeting between Kansas State and Vermont in its respective histories.  This will also be the first meeting with a school from the America East Conference.  Teams from the Big 12 are 7-0 all-time against the America East since the formation of the league in 1996-97.     
Possible Future Opponents
The winner of Wednesday’s match-up between Kansas State and Vermont will face either No. 3 seed DePaul (18-13, 9-7 Big East) or No. 6 seed Hofstra (22-9, 14-4 Colonial) on the higher-seed’s homecourt on Monday, March 19.  Other match-ups in the region include No. 1 seed Air Force (23-8) hosting No. 8 seed Austin Peay (21-11) and No. 4 Georgia (18-13) hosting No. 5 Fresno State (22-9).          
Winners of five of its last seven contests, DePaul enters Wednesday’s game with Hofstra with an 18-13 overall record an a 9-7 mark in the Big East.  The team finished in a three-way tie for seventh-place with West Virginia and Villanova.  The team is averaging 67.6 points on 45.4 percent shooting with 35.5 rebounds and 14.0 assists, while holding opponents to just 63.4 points per game on 40.9 percent shooting.  The Blue Demons have three players averaging in double figures led by sophomore forward Wilson Chandler’s 14.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.  Senior guard Sammy Mejia adds 14.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while junior guard Draelon Burns posts 11.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.  DePaul is coached by Jerry Wainwright, who has a 216-171 record in 13 seasons as a head coach, including a 30-27 mark in his second season.
Hofstra enters Wednesday’s game with DePaul with a 22-9 overall record an a 14-4 mark in the ultra-competitive Colonial Athletic Conference.  The team finished in third-place in the league behind NCAA Tournament participants Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion.  The team is averaging 73.2 points on 45.5 percent shooting with 33.2 rebounds and 12.0 assists, while holding opponents to just 69.0 points per game on 43.5 percent shooting.  The Pride have three players averaging in double figures, including two averaging over 20 points per game.  Senior guard Loren Stokes is averaging 20.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists, while junior guard Antoine Aguido adds 20.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.  Hofstra is coached by Tom Pecora, who has a 103-81 record in six seasons at the helm, including a 69-25 mark in the past three seasons.

Huggins in the MasterCard NIT

Known more for his trips to the NCAA Tournament, Kansas State head coach Bob Huggins is still quite familiar with the NIT from his days at Akron and Cincinnati.  This will be his fifth trip to the NIT and first since taking the Bearcats to the second round in 1991.  Huggins has posted a 2-4 mark in the NIT, including a 0-1 record at Akron in 1987 and 1989 and 1-1 marks at Cincinnati in 1990 and 1991.  After dropping games at Illinois State (79-72) and Ohio State (81-70) at the helm of the Zips, he guided the Bearcats to a split of games in the tournament in both 1990 and 1991.  The squad beat Bowling Green, 75-60, before losing to DePaul, 61-59, in 1990 and then defeated Ball State, 82-55, before dropping a 89-81 decision in overtime at Oklahoma in 1991.  As an assistant coach at Ohio State in 1978-79, Huggins helped guide the Buckeyes to the NIT Final Four.