K-State Battles Utah State in NCAA Tournament
K-State Battles Utah State in NCAA Tournament
March 15, 2011
21/23 Kansas State (22-10, 10-6 Big 12)
vs. 19/17 Utah State (30-3, 15-1 WAC)
NCAA Southeast Regional Second Round
Date: Thursday, March 17, 2011
Tipoff: 8:57 p.m. CT or 30 minutes after conclusion of first game between #3 seed Wisconsin and #14 seed Belmont set for 6:27 p.m. CT.
Location: Tucson, Ariz. | Arena: McKale Center (13,693) | Live Stats: www.NCAASports.com
Television: TruTV (Kevin Harlan, play-by-play; Dan Bonner, analyst; Reggie Miller, analyst; Sam Ryan, sidelines; Albert Vertino, producer)
National Radio: Westwood One/NCAA Radio (Dave Sims, play-by-play; Bill Frieder, analyst) | Satellite Radio: Sirius 126/XM 243
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst)
Local Stations: Sports Radio 1350 AM (KMAN; Manhattan), 101.5 FM (KMKF; Manhattan)
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International ‘93) is 94-42 (.691) in his fourth season as a head coach and at the school. Utah State - Stew Morrill (Gonzaga ‘74) is 542-240 (.693) in his 25th season as a head coach and 324-102 (.761) in his 13th season at the school.
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 25 (1948-51-56-58-59-61-64-68-70-72-73-80-81-82-87-88-89-90-93-96-2008-2010-2011)
Overall NCAA Tournament Record: 31-28 (10-4 in first round games) | Southeast Regional: 0-0 (0-0 in first round games) | In Tucson: 2-5 | In McKale Arena: 1-4 (0-0 in NCAA Tournament) | As a No. 5 seed: 2-1 | vs. No. 12 seed: 1-0 | vs. Utah State: 4-0 (0-0 in NCAA Tournament)
Last Time in NCAA Tournament: K-State lost to eventual national runner-up Butler, 63-56, in the 2010 West Regional Final in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Last Time Out: K-State lost to Colorado, 87-75, in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships on Thursday, March 10 in Kansas City, while Utah State won the Western Athletic Conference Tournament title with a 77-69 win over Boise State on Saturday, March 12 in Las Vegas.
Rankings: Both teams are ranked in AP (USU No. 19, K-State No. 21) and USA Today/ESPN Coaches (USU No. 17, K-State No. 23) Top 25 polls.
Tickets: Available through the McKale Center Ticket Office at www.arizonaathletics.com or by phone at (800) 452.2287.
K-State makes 25th appearance in the NCAA Tournament
Kansas State (22-10, 10-6 Big 12) men’s basketball team was rewarded for their successful 2010-11 season on Sunday night, as the Wildcats earned their 25th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their third in the last four seasons by receiving an at-large bid to the tournament. The squad was selected as a No. 5 seed in the Southeast Regional and will travel to Tucson, Ariz., to play No. 12 seed Utah State (30-3, 15-1 WAC) at the McKale Center (13,693) on Thursday, March 17 at 8:57 p.m. CT. The winner will advance to play either No. 4 seed Wisconsin (23-8, 13-5 Big Ten) or No. 13 seed Belmont (30-4, 19-1 Atlantic Sun) on Saturday, March 19. The Wildcats will be joined at the venue by No. 2 San Diego State, No. 7 seed Temple, No. 10 seed Penn State and No. 15 seed Northern Colorado of the West Regional. Aside from No. 4 seed Wisconsin and No. 5 seed K-State, the remaining top five seed in the Southeast Regional are No. 1 Pittsburgh, No. 2 Florida and No. 3 Brigham Young.
K-State is making its 32nd postseason appearance, which includes 25 in the NCAA Tournament and seven in the Postseason NIT. It marks the fifth straight postseason appearance for the Wildcats and the second consecutive in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, the squad made a run to its 11th Elite Eight in school history, knocking off No. 15 seed North Texas (82-62), No. 7 seed BYU (84-72) and No. 6 seed Xavier (101-96 2 OTs) before losing in the West Regional Final to eventual national runner-up Butler, 63-56.
The program has posted a 31-28 all-time record in NCAA Tournament play, including a 10-4 mark in first round games. The school will be making its first appearance in the Southeast Regional with its other trips coming in the Midwest (17-18), West (11-7), East (2-2) and South (0-1) Regions. K-State will be making its second appearance as a No. 5 seed and the first since a run to the Sweet 16 in 1981-82. It ties for the third-highest seed in school history, trailing the No. 2 seed in 2009-10 and No. 4 seed in 1987-88. Overall, it marks just the seventh time that the Wildcats have earned a seeding of eight or better in the NCAA Tournament. In the 24 previous NCAA Tournament appearances, the team has advanced to the Sweet 16 a total of 16 times. The program has also reached the Elite Eight 11 times, made four Final Four appearances and played in one National Championship game (1951). This marks the third trip to the NCAA Tournament for head coach Frank Martin, who has took the squad to the second round in 2008 and the Elite Eight in 2010. He is 4-2 in the NCAA Tournament and 5-3 overall in the postseason. The Wildcats have not made consecutive trips to the “Big Dance” since the going four consecutive seasons from 1986-90.
This will mark the first time the school has played an NCAA Tournament game in Tucson or the state of Arizona. However, the Wildcats have played seven regular season contests in Tucson, all against Arizona, dating back to 1951. The team is 2-5 in those contests (wins in 1951 and 1980) in Tucson, including 1-4 in the McKale Center, which opened in 1973. The squad is 3-7 all-time in the state of Arizona (all have come against Arizona in Tucson and Arizona State in Tempe). This will be the fifth all-time meeting between K-State and Utah State on the hardwood with the Wildcats holding a 4-0 lead in the series. The series dating back to a home-and-home series in 1949-50 (Jan. 3, 1950) and 1950-51 (Dec. 9, 1950), while it will be the first contest between the schools since Nov. 30, 1988 when the Wildcats posted a 86-67 at Bramlage Coliseum. The two schools have never met on a neutral site or in the NCAA Tournament. This will be just the second game with a Western Athletic Conference school in the NCAA Tournament, following a 69-48 loss to No. 7 seed New Mexico in Richmond, Va., on March 15, 1996.
K-State enters the NCAA Tournament with a one-game losing streak after dropping an 87-75 decision to Colorado in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Thursday, March 10 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak, which included victories over three ranked teams - No. 1/1 Kansas (84-68), No. 20/21 Missouri (80-70) and No. 7/8 Texas (75-70). In earning a bye for the fifth consecutive season to the championship (only Kansas can make the same claim), the Wildcats made a remarkable recovery from a slow start. Since opening Big 12 play with a 1-4 record, the team has posted wins in nine of their last 12 games, including eight of 10. A change in offensive philosophy to the “pinch-post” offense, which has helped the team win 10 of their last 15 games, along with a solid defensive effort (allowed just 63.7 points on 38.8 percent shooting during six-game winning streak) has enabled K-State to post 20 wins for the fifth consecutive season. It is the longest stretch of 20-win seasons in school history. The squad has also now won 10 or more conference games four times in the last five seasons, while finishing third or higher in the league standings three times in that span. The 94 wins under Frank Martin are the most-ever by a Wildcat mentor in his first four seasons and the most-ever in a four-year span by the school. His 40 conference wins in the last four years are the most by the school since Jack Hartman had 43 from 1973-77.
K-State, which has posted the same starting line-up for the last 15 games, is led by Wooden Award finalist Jacob Pullen. The first player in school history to earn first team All-Big 12 honors in consecutive seasons, has been one of the most clutch players in the country of late, scoring 20 or more points in five of the last seven games (24.4 ppg. in that span) on better than 43 percent shooting from the field. He has 12 20-point games in the last 18 contests, which includes his historic 38-point effort against Kansas on Feb. 14 (the most points by individual in a win against a No. 1 team since 1968). He has now scored in double figures 103 times in his career, eclipsing the school record he shared with Rolando Blackman (100, 1977-81), while he has 40 career 20-point games. In addition to his all-conference honors, he was named a third team All-American by Yahoo! Sports and a fourth team pick by FOXSports.com as well as to the coaches’ All-Defensive Team for the second year in a row. He is second in the Big 12 in scoring with 19.5 points per game, while he was first in league-only games at 21.4 points per game. Pullen became the second Wildcat and just the sixth player in the Big 12 era to eclipse 2,000 career points with his quick 7-0 run to start the Missouri game on Feb. 26. He ranks 12th nationally in career scoring with 2,072 points in a school-record 133 games played. He has paced the squad in scoring 24 times in 28 games played, including 14 of the last 17 contests. Pullen ranks in the Top 10 in 17 career categories at K-State, including school records for double-digit scoring games, 3-point field goals, steals and games played. His backcourt mate, sophomore Rodney McGruder, was also named to the coaches’ all-conference squad as a member of the third team. The only player to start all 32 games, he led the Wildcats in 3-point field goals (67) and rebounding (6.0 rpg.), while he was second in scoring (11.4 ppg.), double-figure scoring (22) and minutes played (30.4 mpg.). The duo have been helped by the improved play of senior Curtis Kelly, who is averaging 15.3 points on 65 percent shooting (29-of-60) with 8.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks on 29.8 minutes per game in the last four games. He produced his sixth career double-double and his second this season in the Big 12 Championship with 18 points and a team-best 10 rebounds. Kelly ranks second on the squad in rebounding (5.3 rpg.) and third in scoring (10.3 ppg.) to go with a 54.4 percent shooting clip. Junior Jamar Samuels averages 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds to cause from his starting spot, while reserve Will Spradling adds 6.5 points per game to go with 1.9 assists and 0.9 steals per game.
The Book on Utah State
Utah State enters Thursday’s game with a 30-3 overall record, including a 15-1 mark in Big 12 play, after capturing the Western Athletic Conference Tournament title for the second time in the last three years with a 77-69 victory over Boise State on March 12 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The tournament crown came on the heels of the Aggies’ fourth straight regular season WAC title, which came with an impressive 15-1 mark. The team’s three losses all came on the road - at BYU (78-72) on Nov. 17, at Georgetown (68-51) on Dec. 4 and at Idaho (64-56) on Feb. 9, as they went a perfect 17-0 at home, including 8-0 in WAC play. The remarkably consistent Aggies are one of just three teams in Division I to have won at least 23 games in each of the last 12 seasons, joining elite company that includes Kansas and Gonzaga. The 30-win season is the second under 13-year head coach Stew Morrill, including the second in the last three seasons. The school has advanced to the postseason in each of the last 12 seasons, including eight NCAA Tournament appearances in that span.
The Aggies are averaging 72.2 points on 47 percent shooting from the field, including 36.8 percent from 3-point range, with 37.5 rebounds, 14.8 assists, 4.8 steals and 3.3 blocks per game. The squad is yielding just 58.2 points per game on 38.3 percent shooting, including 30.2 percent from 3-point range, while forcing their foes into 12.2 turnovers per game. Utah State is a balanced scoring team with three players averaging in double figures led by WAC Player of the Year Tai Wesley, who paces the squad in scoring (14.7 ppg.), field goal percentage (59.5), blocks (1.1 bpg.) and rebounding (8.0 rpg.). Junior Brockeith Pane averages 11.6 points and a team-best 3.4 assists per game, while senior Brian Green adds 10.6 points per game to go with a team-high 75 3-point field goals from the bench. In all, the Aggies have seven players averaging seven or more points per game, while five are averaging three or rebounds.
Morrill has guided USU to a 324-102 (.761) record since taking over in 1998-99. He has led the Aggies to 12 consecutive 20-wins seasons and 12 straight postseason bids. He is 542-240 (.693) in his 25th season as a coach, which includes stints at Montana (1986-91) and CSU (1991-98).
Series vs. Utah State
This will mark the fifth all-time meeting between K-State and Utah State on the hardwood with the Wildcats holding a 4-0 edge in the series. Three of the four contests have come in Manhattan, including a 66-56 win in the first-ever game in legendary Ahearn Field House on Dec. 9, 1950. The last meeting came in Manhattan on Nov. 30, 1988, an 86-67 victory by the Wildcats, which was just the second in the school’s current arena, Bramlage Coliseum. The two schools have never met on a neutral site or in the NCAA Tournament. K-State is 11-3 all-time against teams for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The team has played just one NCAA Tournament game against a WAC school, losing to New Mexico in 1996.
Possible Second Round Match-up
The winner of Thursday’s first-round contest will get either No. 3 seed Wisconsin (23-8, 13-5 Big Ten) or No. 14 seed Belmont (30-4, 19-1 Atlantic Sun) in the second round on Saturday. K-State has faced Wisconsin five times, including once in the NCAA Tournament back in 2008, with the Badgers holding a 3-2 edge in the series. The Wildcats have faced Belmont just once in school history, a 66-62 win at home on Dec. 29, 2005.
Head coach Frank Martin made an adjustment to his offensive scheme right after the 74-66 home loss to Colorado on Jan. 12 and it has paid off in the last 15 games, where the Wildcats have posted 10 wins, including eight in the last 10 contests. Called the “pinch-post” offense, and made famous by legendary K-State and Hall of Fame coach Tex Winter with the Los Angeles Lakers (as well as Johnny Orr of Michigan and Iowa State and Dana Altman of K-State, Creighton and Oregon), the scheme is designed to spread the floor and create spacing along with simultaneous ball and player movement. The squad has averaged 71.6 points on 44 percent shooting, including 38.4 percent shooting from 3-point range, since its installation against Texas Tech on Jan. 15, while they have averaged 73 points on 45.3 percent shooting in the team’s last 10 games (which includes a six-game winning streak from Feb. 14 to March 5). Five players are averaging seven or more points in the new system, while each of the team’s top eight offensive players are shooting at a clip of 40 percent or better from the field. The squad’s top two 3-point shooters (Pullen and McGruder) are hitting at better than 40 percent from long range. Senior Jacob Pullen is averaging 21.2 points on 40.9 percent shooting, including 41.2 percent from beyond the arc, while sophomore Rodney McGruder and senior Curtis Kelly are averaging 10.8 and 10.3 points per game, respectively. Pullen has nine 20-point games in that span, including a career-best 38-point effort in the win over No. 1 Kansas on Feb. 14. The 38 points are the most by an individual in a win over a top-ranked team in the history of the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ poll, while it is the most overall since Houston’s Elvin Hayes had 39 in a win over No. 1 UCLA in 1968. The offensive change has enabled the Wildcats to eclipse the 2,000-point barrier for the fifth consecutive season, which is the longest stretch of 2,000-point seasons since the program had nine in a row from 1985-86 to 1993-94. The team also has five straight seasons of at least 200 3-pointers for the first time in school history.
Part of K-State’s success during its six-game winning streak to end the regular season was due to its strong defensive play, as the Wildcats held their foes to 63.7 points on 38.8 percent shooting, including 30.2 percent from 3-point range, while posting a +4.5 rebounding edge. These opponents averaged just 10.8 assists to 13.8 turnovers with K-State posting an average of 17.5 points off these miscues. During this stretch, the team held four of the Big 12’s Top 5 scoring offenses, into season-low efforts, including the league’s best offense - Kansas - to 68 points (nearly 16 points under their 83.9-point season average) on 44 percent shooting, including 20 percent from 3-point range, to go with 23 rebounds (16 under average), 11 assists (nine under average) and 18 turnovers (five over average). In addition, the squad held Missouri to nearly 14 points under their average (70 to 83.3 ppg.) on 40.7 percent shooting, Texas to nearly six points under their average (70 to 75.9 ppg.) on 33.8 percent shooting and Iowa State to 20 points under their average (55 to 75.5 ppg.) on 37.1 percent shooting. Including the last eight regular-season games, the Wildcats held each of the Big 12’s Top 5 scoring offenses (which combine for a nearly 80 points per game average) to 62.9 points per game on 39.4 percent shooting, including 29.3 percent from 3-point range. Four times in the last 10 games, including 11 times overall, the team has held their opponents to 60 points or less. Overall, the Wildcats have held 37 foes to 60 points or less under Frank Martin.
Overall, K-State has been solid defensively all season, holding foes to 66 points per game on 42 percent shooting, including 34.8 percent from 3-point range, while forcing them into 15.8 turnovers per game. The squad has held 20 opponents to 65 points or less and have limited 13 foes to under 40 percent shooting. The Wildcats have also been stellar on the boards, averaging 38.0 rebounds per game, including a Big 12-best 14.6 offensive rebounds, while holding their opponents to 31.2 rebounds per game for an impressive +6.8 rebounding margin (which ranks 12th nationally). The squad has paced in the league in offensive rebounds in each of Martin’s four seasons. This rebounding edge has helped them post 447 second-chance points (14.0 per game) compared to just 325 (10.2 per game) for its opponents. They have out-scored their foes in this regard in all but nine games. The team has scored 20 or more second-chance points in seven games, including a season-high 25 against both UMKC on Dec. 23 and Texas Tech on Jan. 15. This statistic has been particularly stark in Kansas State’s 22 wins, where the team has averaged 14.5 second-chance points compared to just an average of 12.5 second-chance points in the 10 losses.
Digging the Long Ball
One of the more lethal components of the Wildcats’ offense under Frank Martin has been the ability to convert from long range. The team has posted 200 or more treys in each of the last four seasons under Martin, including a school-record 253 makes in 2009-10. This year’s squad has continued that trend, ranking fourth in the Big 12 in both 3-point field goal percentage (37.5) and 3-point field goals per game (7.1), while trailing Iowa State (275), Kansas (247) and Missouri (239) in total 3-pointers (226). The current total of 226 3-point field goals ranks third in school history for a single season, while the 602 attempts and 37.5 percent shooting are sixth. Three of the Top 5 single-season marks for 3-point field goals were set by Martin-coached teams, including last season’s school record. The Wildcats have tallied double-digit treys in seven games this season, including a season-best 14 (on 51.9 percent shooting) against Iowa State on Feb. 5. The 14 makes ties four other teams for the third-most in a game in school history, while they are most since the squad also tallied 14 against UNLV on Dec. 12, 2009. Seven different players posted at least one 3-pointer against the Cyclones, including a season-high four by freshman Will Spradling.
Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been particularly solid from beyond the arc, ranking sixth in the Big 12 in 3-point percentage (41.1) and ninth in 3-point field goals per game (2.1). He has posted at least one trey in 26 of 32 games, including two or more on 20 occasions. He has been impressive in the last 19 games, where he has connected on 44.4 percent (44-of-99) from 3-point range, including a 7-of-10 effort against UMKC on Dec. 23. The seven makes tied for the fourth-most in school history, while he was the first to accomplish it since teammate Jacob Pullen did it twice last year. His exploits are all the more impressive considering he shares the backcourt with Pullen, the school’s leader in both 3-point field goals made (292) and attempted (815). Pullen, who is sixth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goals per game (2.3), is tied with McGruder for the team lead with 67 treys, including at least two in 19 games and a season-high five in the win over Kansas on Feb. 14. The pair is just outside the single-season Top 10 for 3-pointers made with 67 each, trailing Will Scott (72; 1986-87) for 10th place. Pullen tied Askia Jones’ (1993-94) school single-season record as a junior in 2009-10 with 110 treys. However, this statistic goes beyond McGruder and Pullen, as 10 others have at least one trey, including double-digit totals from Spradling (38), Martavious Irving (17) and Nick Russell (13).
Practice Makes Perfect
One of the main concerns with this K-State team has been its ability to shoot free throws, where it 295th nationally (out of 346 teams) and 11th in the Big 12 at 64.7 percent (503-of-778). However, the extra practice since the end of the fall semester has seemed to improve that percentage, as the Wildcats have connected on 72.9 percent (328-of-450) in the last 19 games, including 72.9 percent (275-of-377) in Big 12-only games. During this span, the team has hit on more than 75 percent nine times, including games against Oklahoma (90.5; 19-of-21), Nebraska (84.0; 21-of-25), Kansas (82.8; 24-of-29), Texas Tech (81.3; 13-of-16), Baylor (80.6; 25-of-31), Oklahoma State (77.4, 24-of-31), North Florida (76.9, 20-of-26) and Colorado (75.0; 12-of-16). The squad has also become better at the line in clutch situations, connecting on 74.3 percent (84-of-113) in the last five minutes of the last 19 games, including 76.8 percent (76-of-99) in the final of five minutes of Big 12-only games. This is in stark contrast to the first 13 games, where the team shot just 53.7 percent (44-of-82) in the last five minutes.
The 90.5 percent shooting against the Sooners was the highest under Frank Martin and the highest since the team went a perfect 8-of-8 against Texas Tech on Feb. 15, 2006. Junior Jamar Samuels, who ranks sixth in school history in free throws attempted (501), hit on 73.3 percent (44-of-60) in Big 12 play after starting at 58.8 percent (37-of-63). Senior Jacob Pullen, who ranks second in school history in makes (512) and attempts (664), connected on close to 80 percent (105-of-132) in Big 12 play after hitting on 72 percent in non-conference play. Only the second player in Big 12 history to connect on 500 or more free throws in a career, Pullen is the team leader in both makes (155) and attempts (200) this season. Sophomore Nick Russell is shooting at a team-high 84.4 percent from the stripe, while freshman Will Spradling is at 82 percent.
Young ‘Cats Step Up
Despite of the presence of seniors Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly, the play of K-State’s freshmen and sophomores have played a major role in the team’s success this season. This nucleus has scored 1088 of the team’s 2264 points thus far (48 percent), while posting 601 of 1186 rebounds (51 percent), 240 of 437 assists (55 percent) and 94 of 194 steals (48 percent). The group boasts six of the Top 10 scorers, while it includes three of the Top 5 rebounders and four of the Top 5 assists leaders. Forty-three of the team’s 96 double-figure scoring efforts have come from sophomores and freshmen led by Rodney McGruder, who is second with 21 double-figure scoring games. He paces in 3-point field goals (66) and rebounding (6.2 rpg.), while he is second in scoring (11.4 ppg.), field goals (124) and minutes played (30.5 mpg.). Freshman Will Spradling and sophomores Martavious Irving and Nick Russell rank fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in scoring at 6.3, 4.4 and 4.4 points per game. Spradling is second in free throw percentage (83.1), assists (2.0 apg.) and steals (0.8 spg.), while he and fellow freshman Shane Southwell are only the second and third rookie guards to earn a start under Frank Martin.
This group was even more impressive during Pullen’s three-game suspension (UNLV, UMKC and North Florida games), as the Wildcats averaged nearly 80 points per game (79.7 ppg.), including the only 100-point game, while connecting on 46 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range.
K-State capped its stellar play in the month of February by posting an impressive 75-70 win over No. 7/8 Texas on Monday night at the Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. It was the first win over a Top 10 opponent on the road in 17 years since knocking off No. 1 Kansas, 68-64, at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 17, 1994, while it marked the first time since 1958 that the squad posted consecutive wins over Top 25 teams. The team started its impressive two-game streak with an 80-70 victory over No. 20/21 Missouri at Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 26. Including the win over No. 1/1 Kansas on Feb. 14, the Wildcats had three wins over Top 25 teams in a five-game span for the first time in school history. The squad has now won 15 of their last 16 games in February, which included a 10-game streak between the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. The team is 23-8 (.742) under Frank Martin in the month, including a 14-2 (.875) mark at home. The Wildcats will enter the 2011-12 season with a nine-game winning streak at home in February. The victory was also the 15th over a Top 25 opponent under Martin, including the fifth this year.
Knocking Off No. 1
Kansas State posted one of its most impressive wins under head coach Frank Martin - a 83-68 win over No. 1/1 Kansas on Feb. 14. The win was the fourth against a No. 1 team in school history, which includes Missouri (65-58) on Feb. 8, 1990, Kansas (68-64) on Jan. 17, 1994 and Texas (71-62) on Jan. 18, 2010. The team has now beaten a Top 10 team each of Frank Martin’s four years. It was also the second most-lopsided for any unranked team over a No. 1 team since the rankings started over 60 years ago, while the 16-point margin of victory was the largest against Kansas since a 70-53 win at Ahearn Field House on Jan. 23, 1982. There has only been one greater swing in a given year in the rivalry, as K-State won 66-56 at home before losing 91-53 at Allen Fieldhouse for a 48-point swing during the 1974-75 season. Martin became the first Wildcat head coach since Dana Altman in 1993 and 1994 to record two wins over the Jayhawks.
It was perhaps the team’s best all-around effort, as the Wildcats connected on 56.3 percent (27-of-48) from the field, including 50 percent (6-of-12) from 3-point range, to go with an 82.8 percent (24-of-29) effort from the free throw line. The team was also stellar on the defensive end, holding the Big 12’s best offense to 16 points below their average of 83.9 points per game on just 44 percent shooting, including 20 percent from 3-point range. Senior Jacob Pullen cemented his place in K-State lore with a career-best night against Kansas. The 38 points were the most scored in a win over a top-ranked team in the 14-year history of the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25 and the most any match-up with No. 1 since Elvin Hayes had 39 against UCLA in the Astrodome in 1968. It was the 12th-most points ever scored by any player against any Jayhawk team and tied for the second-most by a Wildcat player. Mike Wroblewski scored 46 in 1962, while Dick Knostman had 38 in 1952. He went 9-of-17 from the field, including a season-best 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, with a career-best 15-of-19 effort from the free throw line.
One of the definite advantage of this year’s Kansas State squad is its depth and versatility. The Wildcats have played at least nine players in each of its 32 games, including a high of 14 against No. 18/22 Gonzaga (11/22), Texas Southern (11/26), Emporia State (11/29) and Alcorn State (12/6). The team has used this depth to its advantage, averaging 22.8 points per game off the bench, while out-scoring its foes by a margin of 729-518. The squad has scored 20 or more points from the bench in 21 of 32 games, including three contests with 40 or more points of bench production. The Wildcats received a season-best 46 points from their bench vs. Duke on Nov. 23, while they posted 44 against Iowa State on Feb. 5 and 41 against Texas Southern on Nov. 26. The 46 points versus the Blue Devils was the most from the bench since scoring 59 against Chicago State on Jan. 5, 2009, while the 44 against the Cyclones was the most in a Big 12 game under Frank Martin. The team has seen a Big 12-high 12 players record 100 double-digit scoring efforts, including 25 coming off the bench from seven separate players.
Points Off Turnovers
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent’s mistakes. Since he became coach, the Wildcats have scored 2,522 points off of 2,245 turnovers in 136 games, an average of 18.5 points per game. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past four years have come off of offense generated from turnovers, including the current season, in which, the team has outscored its foes, 546-479. The squad has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in nine games, including four times in the last 10 games where they are averaging 16.4 points off of miscues. The team has pressured their foes into 15 or more turnovers in 20 games, including a season-high 26 vs. James Madison on Nov. 12, while just six opponents have posted a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. Before the North Florida game on New Year’s Eve, the Wildcats were one of just four schools to force each of their foes into more turnovers than assists in every game.
Pullen Becoming An All-Time Great
Senior Jacob Pullen continues to re-write the school and Big 12 record books in his finale season. With his game-high 24-point effort against No. 20/21 Missouri on Feb. 26, he became just the second Wildcat and the sixth player in the Big 12 era to eclipse the 2,000-point plateau. He ranks 12th among NCAA Division I active players in career scoring (including second in the Big 12 to Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn) with 2,072 points in a school-record 133 games, which is less than 45 points behind the school’s all-time leader Mike Evans (2,115 points, 1974-78). He joined Evans in the exclusive 2,000-point club at K-State, while he is among a class that includes Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn (2,274, 2007-present), Texas Tech’s Andre Emmett (2,256, 2001-04), Jarrius Jackson (2,221, 2003-07), Kansas’ Nick Collison (2,097, 1999-2003) and Colorado’s Richard Roby (2,001, 2004-08) as the only players to accomplish the feat in the Big 12 era. Pullen ranks among the Top 10 in six career categories in Big 12 Conference history, including second in free throws made (512), fifth in scoring, 3-point field goals attempted (815) and free throws attempted (664), seventh in 3-point field goals (292) and field goals attempted (1,565).
Pullen also places among the Top 5 in 17 career categories at K-State, including the school records for games played (133), double-digit scoring games (103), 3-point field goals, 3-point field goals attempted and steals (209). With his five steals against Oklahoma on Feb. 23, he became the first Wildcat with at least 1,800 points, 400 assists, 300 rebounds and 200 steals, while in the process, snapping his tie with Steve Henson (127, 1987-90) for the most games played. He is nearing several other milestones, as he ranks second in 20-point games (40), field goals attempted, free throws made and attempted and minutes (3,909), while he is third in field goals (634) and fourth in starts (114). Only Bob Boozer (45, 1956-59) has more career 20-point games, while he is one of just seven players in school history to post at least 500 points in consecutive seasons. He also ranks among the Top 10 in 12 single-season categories, including school records for 3-pointers and steals.
McGruder Takes Off
Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been one of the team’s most consistent all-around players this season, averaging 11.4 points on 45 percent shooting, including 41.1 percent from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 6.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 30.4 minutes per game. The only player to start all 32 games, he paces the team in 3-point field goals (67), while he is second in scoring, double-digit scoring games (22), field goals (127) and minutes. He had a career day against UMKC on Dec. 23, setting highs in five categories, including points (24), field goals (eight), field goals attempted (14), 3-point field goals (seven) and 3-point field goals attempted. His seven treys tied 10 others for the fourth-most in a single-game in school history, while he was the first to do it since Pullen also had seven against BYU in the NCAA Tournament. Despite the presence of the school’s all-time leader in Pullen, he has been the team’s best long range threat with at least two makes from 3-point range in 19 games, including eight times in Big 12 play. He posted his third 20-point game, including his second in four games, with a team-high 22 points in the win over No. 7/8 Texas on Feb. 28, while he had a Big 12-high five treys against Oklahoma on Feb. 23 with 20 points. He has also been the best rebounder, leading the team on 14 occasions with at least five boards in 23 contests, including a career-high 15 against Texas Tech on Jan. 15. His 15 rebounds against the Red Raiders were the most since Michael Beasley grabbed 17 against Missouri on Feb. 16, 2008.
Kelly Closing Strong
Although hampered by a six-game suspension right in the middle of the season, senior Curtis Kelly seems to closing his final campaign on a strong note. The team’s third-leading scorer (10.3 ppg.) and second-leading rebounder (5.3 rpg.), he has posted several strong performances of late, averaging 15.3 points on 65 percent shooting in the last four games with 8.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 29.8 minutes per game. He came up big in helping the Wildcats to back-to-back wins over ranked teams for the first time since 1958, including the first over a Top 10 team on the road since 1994. He tallied 15 points on 7-of-9 field goals against No. 20/21 Missouri on Feb. 26 to go with six rebounds and two blocks, while he added 15 points against No. 7/8 Texas on 6-of-10 shooting with a team-best eight rebounds, five blocks and a steal. He was again strong against Iowa State on Senior Day on March 5, collecting 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting with a team-high eight rebounds in 24 minutes of action. He flashed his potential to command the paint in the setback to Colorado in the Big 12 Championship on March 10 with his sixth career double-double and second this season with 18 points on 7-of-11 field goals with a team-high 10 rebounds to go with three assists, two steals and one block in 35 minutes of action. Kelly has scored in double figures in 13 games (seven in 14 Big 12 contests) this season, including a season-best 19 points against No. 1/1 Duke on Nov. 23. His span of four consecutive double-figure scoring games is the longest of the season.
Sophomore Jordan Henriquez-Roberts has made the most of the offensive switch in early January, becoming a force at both ends of the floor off of the bench for the Wildcats. Since the switch was made against Texas Tech on Jan. 15, he is averaging 4.2 points on 48 percent shooting with 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 16.3 minutes per game in the last 15 games compared to 3.2 points on 44.4 percent shooting with 3.9 boards in 11.4 minutes per game in the previous 17 games. Henriquez-Roberts was particularly impressive during the team’s six-game winning streak, averaging 5.3 points on 60 percent shooting with a team-best 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 21.5 minutes per game. He had an all-around impressive day against Iowa State on March 5, posting five points, seven rebounds, five blocks and three steals in 27 minutes of play. He has at least two blocks in four of his last five games, where he is averaging 3.0 per game to go with 5.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per outing.
Freshman Will Spradling has provided a spark for the Wildcats off the bench this season, averaging 6.5 points on 40.3 percent shooting, including 37.3 percent from 3-point range, with 1.9 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 0.9 steals in 21.6 minutes per game. Despite being a first-year player, he has made an immediate impact in his first season, ranking second on the squad in assists, steals and free throw percentage, third in 3-point field goals (38) and fifth in scoring and minutes played. Although he started six games, he has come off the bench in each of the last last 18 games. He has posted double figures in six games, including a season-best 17 points against Baylor on Jan. 24, while he has double figures in last two games.
Coaching Staff Continuity
One of the main reasons that Kansas State has been able to win a school-record 94 games over the past four seasons has been its ability to not only keep head coach Frank Martin, who earned a new multi-year contract through the 2014-15 season during the off-season, but his entire staff, which includes associate head coach Dalonte Hill, assistant coaches Matt Figger and Brad Underwood, director of operations Andy Assaley and strength coach Scott Greenawalt. K-State is one of just two Big 12 schools (other being Missouri) to have kept their entire staff together for the last four seasons. This has enabled the Wildcats to post 94 wins the past four seasons, which is the most by a staff in their first four seasons and the most-ever by the school in that span. They are the first staff to post four consecutive 20-win seasons since 1979-82 and just the second group to guide K-State to the postseason in each of their first four seasons. The staff has also captured 40 Big 12 wins in last four years, which is one less than Jack Hartman’s staff had from 1974-78 for the most in a four-year period. They have also helped make K-State one of just two in the Big 12 to finish in the top-4 in the league standings and receive a bye at the Big 12 Championship each of the past four years.
Home Sweet Home
K-State continued its stellar play at home in 2010-11, as the Wildcats tied the Bramlage Coliseum mark for wins (16) to go with a program-best winning percentage (16-1, .941). The 16 wins ties the 2008-09 squad for the most in the 23-year history of the building, while the winning percentage is the best at a home venue since the 1974-75 squad went a perfect 12-0 at Ahearn Field House. The team has posted 11 or more home wins each of the last 10 seasons at Bramlage Coliseum, including an impressive 59-9 (.868) mark under head coach Frank Martin.
Season Tickets Sold Out
With preseason expectations for K-State at a near all-time high, officials announced on Oct. 22 that all reserved tickets for the 2010-11 season have been sold. The school sold over 12,000 season tickets to the general public and students, surpassing last year’s total by over 750 tickets. The program has ranked among the leaders in attendance in three of the last four seasons, including ranking 31st with an average of 11,884 fans per game to 17 home games in 2009-10. The team ranked third in attendance among Big 12 institutions and was second only to Kansas in sellouts with 16 in 2010-11. Last season, the school enjoyed the nation’s largest average attendance increase with nearly 3,000 more fans per game. Four of the top-5 single-season attendance averages have come in the last five years.
Diaz, Gipson Sign with K-State for 2011-12
Head coach Frank Martin announced the signing of high school standouts Adrian Diaz (Miami, Fla.) and Thomas Gipson (Cedar Hill, Texas) to National Letters of Intent on Nov. 14. Both players are listed on the Rivals150 by Rivals.com with the 6-foot-7, 245-pound Gipson listed at No. 142 and the 6-foot-11, 220-pound Diaz checking in at No. 145. An emerging post prospect, Diaz is a senior at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School in Hialeah, Fla. As a junior, he averaged 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Trojans, which posted a 5-15 record in 2009-10. He was named preseason honorable mention all-state by FloridaHoops.com. Rated as the 13th-best prospect in the state of Texas by TexasHoops.com, Gipson is a senior at Cedar Hill High School in Cedar Hill, Texas. As a junior, he led the team in scoring (16 ppg.) and rebounding (7.2 rpg.) en route to helping the Longhorns to a 28-4 overall record and a trip to the 2010 UIL Class 5A Tournament. He was a TABC first team Class 5A All-State selection and was co-MVP of District 7-5A. He helped Cedar Hill to the 2009 Class 5A state final as a sophomore where he averaged 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He was named first team All-Area by the Dallas Morning News and was the District 7-5A Sophomore of the Year.