K-State hosts DePaul in NIT Second Round

Game 35

DePaul (19-13, 9-7 Big East)
at Kansas State (23-11, 10-6 Big 12)

Monday, March 19, 2007

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


Game Information:

Tipoff: 8:05 p.m. Central

Series: Kansas State leads 3-2
(K-State has a 5-6 record in Postseason NIT)


Talent: Marc Kestecher (Play-by-Play)
and Tim McCormick (Analyst)

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

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

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


K-State plays host to DePaul in Second Round of MasterCard NIT Monday
Kansas State (23-11, 10-6 Big 12) will play host to the second round of the MasterCard National Invitational Tournament on Monday, as the Wildcats welcome Big East foe DePaul (19-13, 9-7 Big East) to Bramlage Coliseum at 8 p.m.  The No. 2 seed in the West region, K-State earned its first postseason win in nearly 13 years on March 14 with its 59-57 victory over Vermont, while No. 3 DePaul advanced to the second round with an 83-71 win over Hofstra on the same night.  The winner of the game will advance to the NIT quarterfinals and play either No. 1 Air Force (24-8, 10-6 MWC) or No. 4 Georgia (19-13, 8-8 SEC) on the higher-seed’s homecourt on March 21 or 22.  

Monday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN with Marc Kestecher (play-by-play) and Tim McCormick (color) calling the action.  The broadcast will be K-State’s school-record 10th national television appearance this season, including the third on ESPN.  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 at home to TCU in the 1999 NIT.  The program has posted a 5-6 all-time record in NIT play, including a 5-1 mark at home.  The team’s made its most successful trip to the NIT in 1994, where the Wildcats advanced to the Final Four in New York.

The Book On Kansas State
Kansas State enters Wednesday’s contest with a 23-11 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 13 of their last 17 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.  However, 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 be invited to the NCAA Tournament.  

Kansas State is averaging 70.6 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting (817-of-1903), including 33.4 percent from 3-point range (216-of-646) with 36.0 rebounds, 15.5 assists, 6.0 steals and 3.7 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 (216) and 3-point field goal attempts (646), third-most assists (528) and blocked shots (127), fourth-most points (2,402) and free throws made (552).  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 1,525 career points, paces the team in nine categories, including scoring (17.0 ppg.), 20-point games (12), double-figure scoring (28) and 3-point field goals (75).  The only player to start in all 34 contests this season, Hoskins averages 14.2 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 10.7 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 5-6 all-time record in NIT play, including a 5-1 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 Thursday for Kansas State’s opening-round game in the MasterCard NIT with more than 5,800 tickets purchased for Monday’s contest against DePaul.  The ticket count had climbed to more than 11,000 by Sunday afternoon, including a complete sellout of the chairback seating.  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 Saturday and throughout the day Monday 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 Monday, 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.   

Noting the Vermont Game

*Kansas State’s game with Vermont marked the first postseason action for Kansas State since losing a first round game of the 1999 NIT... The victory was K-State’s first postseason victory since a 115-77 win over Fresno State in the third round of the 1994 NIT... It also marked the 28th overall postseason appearance in the postseason (22 NCAA Tournaments and six NITs) in school history... With the win, the Wildcats moved to 5-6 in NIT action, including a 5-1 mark in games played at home... The team also won its 18 consecutive game against a non-league foe at home dating back to Dec. 30, 2004.

*The win gave Kansas State to 23 on the season, which ties the three other squads (1972-73, 1976-77, 1981-82) for the fifth-most in school history... The 34 games played this season tie the 1987-88 and 1993-94 teams for the most in school history... The next game against DePaul will be the most.

*Kansas State trailed 51-39 with 9:57 left in the second half, but a 20-6 K-State run over the final minutes secured the victory for the Wildcats... It marked the third time this season that the team has rallied from a double-digit deficit to win (joining combacks against William & Mary and Missouri).

*K-State recorded 12 steals against Vermont, the second-most this season and the most since earning 13 against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 19. 

*Senior Cartier Martin scored a game-high 19 points, which marked the 18th-straight contest that he has scored in double figures... He is averaging 19.7 points in that span... He has scored in double figures in 75 games in his career (fifth all-time), including 28 games (seventh in single-year) this year.

*Senior Akeem Wright scored double figures for the eighth time this season with 12 points, including the second straight game.

The Book on DePaul (19-13, 9-7 Big East)
DePaul enters Monday’s contest with a 19-13 overall record and 9-7 mark in the Big East after posting an 83-71 win over Hofstra in the first round of the MasterCard NIT on March 14.  The Blue Demons have won six of their last eight contests, including wins over NCAA Tournament teams Marquette and Notre Dame.  The squad connected on 54.7 percent of their field goals, including 62.5 percent in the second half, while posting 80 or more points for the seventh time this season and for the first time since late December.  Sophomore forward Wilson Chandler led three players in double figures with 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while senior guard Sammy Mejia and junior center Wesley Green added 16 and 15 points, respectively.  The team went 4-0 against similar opponents as Kansas State, earning wins over Kansas (64-57), Chicago State (83-56), California (90-62) and Rutgers (60-37). 

DePaul is averaging 68.1 points on 45.6 percent shooting with 35.6 rebounds and 14.3 assists on the season.  The defensive-oriented Blue Demons have held opponents to just 63.6 points per game on 41 percent shooting, including just 35.8 percent from 3-point range.  The Blue Demons have three players averaging in double figures led by sophomore Wilson Chandler’s 14.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.  Chandler, who is one of seven players with 10 or more 3-point field goals, also paces the squad in blocks (1.4 bpg.).  Senior guard Sammy Mejia adds 14.2 points per game on 47.6 percent shooting with 6.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.  He leads the team in 3-point field goals (40) and minutes (33.5 mpg.).  Junior guard Draelon Burns posts 11.2 points per game on 42 percent shooting to go with 39 3-point field goals and a team-best 1.1 steals per game.

DePaul is led by second-year head coach Jerry Wainwright, who has posted a 30-27 during his tenure.  He came to DePaul after spending three years at Richmond (2002-05) and eight years at UNC Wilmington (1994-2002).  Wainwright has an overall record of 216-171 in 13 seasons.  This is his seventh postseason appearance in the last 10 seasons.  This will be the fifth meeting between Wainwright and Bob Huggins in their respective careers.  Huggins won all four contests at Cincinnati, defeating Wainwright's UNC Wilmington squads in Dec. 1995, Dec. 1998, March 2000 and Dec. 2000.  

Series Versus DePaul

This will be the sixth all-time meeting between Kansas State and DePaul and the first since the Wildcats beats the Blue Demons, 66-58, in the second round of the NCAA Midwest Regional in South Bend, Ind., on the same day back in 1988.  This will mark the third time the two programs have met in the postseason with K-State earning a 102-70 victory in the 1959 NCAA Midwest Regional at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan., and a 66-58 victory in 1988 NCAA Midwest Regional in South Bend, Ind.  The Wildcats own a 3-2 edge in the all-time series and this will be the first meeting in Manhattan since the Blue Demons earned a 34-30 win on Feb. 22, 1939.  Aside from the loss to K-State on March 19, 1988, DePaul also played in the state of Kansas on March 19 before, losing to Notre Dame in the 1978 NCAA Midwest Regional Final at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.  Head coach Bob Huggins knows the Blue Demons well from his days at Cincinnati (1989-2005), as he holds a 26-7 advantage all-time.    
Possible Future Opponents
The winner of Monday’s match-up between Kansas State and DePaul will face either No. 1 seed Air Force (24-8, 10-6 Mountain West) or No. 4 seed Georgia (19-13, 8-8 SEC) on the higher-seed’s homecourt on either Wednesday, March 21 or Thursday, March 22.           
After dropping four in a row to end the regular season, the West’s top-seed Air Force enters Monday’s game with a 24-8 overall record and a 10-6 mark in the Mountain West Conference.  The Falcons finished in a tie for third place in the Mountain West standings with San Diego State.  The team is averaging 69.1 points on 48.9 percent shooting with 27.9 rebounds and 15.3 assists, while holding opponents to just 55.9 points per game on 42.4 percent shooting.  The squad is led by senior forward Dan Nwaelele, who is averaging 14.3 points on 52.5 percent shooting with a team-best 70 3-point field goals.  Senior forward Jacob Burtschi is averaging 13.3 points on 50 percent shooting to go with a team-best 5.8 rebounds per game and 58 3-point field goals.  Air Force is coached by Jeff Bzdelik, who has a 73-46 record in four seasons as a head coach, including a 48-15 mark in his second season.
Georgia enters Monday’s game with a 19-13 overall record and an 8-8 mark in the Southeastern Conference.  The Bulldogs are averaging 75.8 points on 46.4 percent shooting with 38.2 rebounds and 14.8 assists, while holding opponents to 68.6 points per game on 43.4 percent shooting.  The team has four players averaging in double figures led by junior forward Takais Brown’s 14.1 points per game on a team-best 56.9 percent shooting.  Fresh off a 30-point effort against Fresno State, senior guard Levi Stokes is averaging 12.7 points on 44.1 percent shooting and has a team-high 84 3-point field goals.  Georgia is coached by Dennis Felton, who has a 158-116 record in nine seasons, including a 58-62 mark in four seasons at the Bulldogs’ helm.

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 3-4 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.

Huggins Effect

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

*Kansas State broke an eight-year postseason drought with its invitation to the MasterCard NIT on March 11... It marks the first time since the 1998-99 season that the Wildcats have advanced to the postseason... Huggins is just the second rookie coach in school history to take his team to the postseason... He has now guided 18 consecutive teams to the postseason (1988-89 at Akron; 1989-2005 at Cincinnati; 2007 at Kansas State)... He then helped Kansas State earn its first postseason win in nearly 13 years and first since 1994 with Wednesday’s 59-57 victory over Vermont.

*Kansas State posted its first 20-win season since the 1998-99 season and the first during the regular season since the 1987-88 season... The 22 wins are the most by the Wildcats since the 1987-88 team went 25-8 and advanced the NCAA Elite Eight... The squad also collected 10 Big 12 wins for the first time since the league’s inception in 1997 and the most in a single-season since the 1987-88 team posted 11.

*For the first time in the 19-year history of Bramlage Coliseum all available season ticket packages have been sold... Season tickets went from 6,500 in 2005-06 to 13,000 in 2006-07... The last time K-State could boast a sellout of season tickets was during the 1982-83 season when the Wildcats played in Ahearn Field House, while the previous high for season tickets in Bramlage Coliseum was 11,700 during the inaugural 1988-89 season... For the season, the team averaged the second-highest average attendance in school history with 12,236 fans in 16 home games.

*Kansas State have or will play 10 nationally-televised games this season, including two as apart of ESPN’s “Big Monday” package and two on ABC Sports (both are firsts for the program)... It is the most nationally-televised games in a single-season for the Wildcats in school history.

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

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

Streak Buster
Once considered a winning formula for NCAA Tournament selection, Kansas State and Syracuse became the first schools to win 20 or more games and post 10 or more conference victories and not receive a bid to the Big Dance’ in 2007.  According to data compiled by statistician Ken Pomeroy on his website, kenpom.com, which lists pre-NCAA Tournament RPI rankings and win-loss records since 1999, the two schools snapped a streak of 169 consecutive teams from BCS (Bowl Championship Series) conferences to have at least 20 overall Division I wins and 10 regular-season conference wins on Selection Sunday and not garner a bid.  K-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.

Milestone Wins

With its victory over Oklahoma on March 3, Kansas State earned its most regular season wins (21) since also totaling 21 in the 1981-82 season.  The 20-win season is the first since the 1998-99 season and the first accomplished during the regular season since the 1987-88 squad made its run to the Elite Eight.  The 20-win season is the 19th in Kansas State history, including the 12th posted during the regular season.  It is just the fourth 20-win season in the last 20 years, joining the 1987-88 (25-9), 1993-94 (20-14), 1998-99 (20-13) squads.  Of note, 10 of the 12 teams in school history to post 20 or more wins during the regular season have advanced to the NCAA Tournament. 

K-State also made history with its 10 conference victories, the most in its history in the Big 12 and most since the 1987-88 team posted an 11-3 mark in the Big Eight.  It marks just the 19th time that school has tallied double-digit conference wins in its history.  Of those 18 squads, only the 1961-62 and 2006-07 teams posted 20 or more wins and 10 or more conference victories and did not advance to the NCAA Tournament.  It is just the second team at Kansas State in the last 25 seasons to post 10 or more league victories.  

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

Home Sweet Home

Kansas State continued to make Bramlage Coliseum one of the toughest home venues in the Big 12, as the Wildcats have posted a 14-2 mark at home this season, including a perfect 8-0 mark in non-conference games.  The 14 wins tie the 1998-99 squad for the most wins in Bramlage Coliseum history, while the total is the second-most at home in school history behind the 16 achieved by the 1981-82 squad in venerable Ahearn Field House.  The team has tallied an impressive 75-25 (.750) mark at home since the start of 2001-02 season, including 10 or more wins each of the past six years.  With its win over Chicago State, K-State clinched a winning record at home for the 61st consecutive season, which has spanned three arenas and nine head coaches dating back to the 1946-47 season.  In addition, the team has won 30 of their last 38 games against non-conference opponents, including a remarkable 26-1 mark at home.  With big wins have come big crowds this season at home.  The Wildcats have posted an average of 12,236 fans per game, which ranks as the second-highest average attendance in school history and the highest since 12,978 fans cheered on the 1988-89 Wildcats.  Kansas State has registered five sellouts this season, which is the most in a single-season in Bramlage Coliseum history.

Harris Makes It A 1,000

Senior guard Lance Harris became the second Wildcat this season (fellow senior Cartier Martin did it against Coppin State on Nov. 25) to eclipse the 1,000-point barrier on Friday, as the Columbia, Mo., native scored a team-high 20 points on 8-of-14 field goals in the 66-45 quarterfinal win over Texas Tech at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.  Harris has now scored 1,021 points in his career and joins fellow senior Cartier Martin as the only two Kansas State players to cross the 1,000-career point plateau in the same season.  Harris is the 20th player to reach the 1,000-point mark in school history and just the third player to do so since 1994.  It is the first time he has hit the 20-point mark since a 24-point outburst at North Dakota State on Dec. 9.  After averaging just 11.0 points over the last six regular season games, Harris was impressive in the Wildcats’ two games at the Big 12 Championship.  He averaged a team-leading 18.0 points on 54.2 percent shooting from the field (13-of-24), including 53.3 percent from 3-point range (8-of-15).

Role Reversal

One of the major obstacles for Kansas State during the past few seasons has been its ability to win close games.  Last season, the Wildcats ranked first in the nation with a school-record 10 losses by single-digits, including seven by three points or less.  However, head coach Bob Huggins has clearly made a difference in this department in his first season, as the team has posted a 7-4 mark in games decided by single-digits, including wins in four of six games decided by one possession (four points or less).  Of note, three of these wins - North Dakota State, Missouri and Texas  - have come on the road.

Martin, Hoskins Earn All-Big 12 Honors
Senior Cartier Martin captured the Big 12’s inaugural Sixth Man Award, while he was joined on the coaches’ all-conference second team by teammate David Hoskins on Sunday in an announcement by the league office.  Martin becomes K-State’s first major award winner since Jeremiah Massey won Newcomer of the Year honors in 2004.  A staple of starting line-up in previous seasons, Martin has been impressive off the bench this season.  He has scored in double figures in 15 of the 17 games he has not started for the Wildcats, including seven 20-point efforts.  He has been even better in that role in the last 13 games, averaging 19.5 points on 50 percent shooting, including 46.6 percent from 3-point range.  Martin and Hoskins become the first pair of Wildcats to earn recognition to one of the league’s three all-conference teams in the Big 12 era.  The duo is also just the fifth and sixth players since 1997 to be selected to one of the three all-conference squads and the 14th and 15th overall to earn first, second, third or honorable mention accolades since the league’s inception.  Martin is the first player in the era to earn second team honors in back-to-back seasons. 

The team leader in scoring (17.0), Martin paces the squad in eight other categories, including 20-point games (12), double-figure scoring (28), field goals (189), 3-point field goals (75) and free throw percentage (80.6).  He ranks among the top-10 in 10 career statistics, including third in 3-point field goals made (175) and 3-point attempts (437), fourth in minutes (3,054), fifth in double-digit scoring (75) and 3-point field goal percentage (40.0), seventh in field goals made (511) and 20-point games (27), eighth in games started (76), field goal attempts (1,118), free throws made (328) and free throw attempts (419).  He already is one of just six players in school history to record 1,500 points and one of just three to top 1,500 points and 500 rebounds in a career.  On track to become the first player in school history to start 35 games in a season, Hoskins ranks among the team’s top-2 in 13 different statistical categories, including first free throws (167), free throw attempts (226) and offensive rebounds (85).  He was also
second in minutes (27.3 mpg.), scoring (14.2 ppg.), 20-point games (seven), double-figure scoring (26), field goals (152), field goal attempts (341), rebounding (203; 6.0 rpg.), assists (87; 2.5 apg.) and steals (35; 1.0 spg.).  He ranked among the Big 12’s top-20 in four categories, including scoring (15th), offensive rebounds (10th), rebounding (15th) and free throw percentage (12th).  He scored in double figures in 23 of the team’s last 27 contests.    

Memorable Senior Day
Senior Cartier Martin came through with a player’s dream for a Senior Day on March 3 against Oklahoma.  Before a sellout crowd of 13,340, he poured in a career-high 30 points on 10-of-16 field goals, including 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, to go with six rebounds and three steals in the win over the Sooners.  It marked the first time that a Wildcat had posted 30 points in a game since Jeremiah Massey posted 32 in a win over Northern Illinois on Dec. 21, 2005, while it was the most in a conference game since Mitch Richmond totaled 41 against Oklahoma on Feb. 13, 1988.  The 30-point effort marked the 27th time that Martin has scored 20 or more points in a contest, which ties Rolando Blackman for the seventh-most in Kansas State history.  He has now scored in double figures in 28 games this season, including 18 consecutive games dating back to Missouri on Jan. 13.  

Martin Can Start, Too

After coming off the bench for most of the season, senior Cartier Martin has proven to be just as potent as a starter in the last four games.  In that span, he has averaged 20.8 points on 46.7 percent shooting (28-of-60), including 41 percent from 3-point range (16-of-39), with 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game.  The start streak began on a memorable Senior Day for Martin, as he turned in a career-high 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.  Martin continued with 17 against Texas Tech and Kansas in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships before turning in 19 against Vermont in the first round of the NIT on March 14.  Prior to his start against Oklahoma on March 3, he had come off the bench in 14 of the last 19 games. 

Martin has scored in double figures in 15 of the 17 games he has not started for the Wildcats, including seven 20-point efforts against UMES (23) on Dec. 19, Chicago State (25) on Jan. 22, Missouri (22) on Jan. 31, Texas (27) on Feb. 3, Colorado (25) on Feb. 10, Nebraska (22) on Feb. 13 and Oklahoma State on Feb. 27.  He is averaging 18.1 points on 47.3 percent shooting in those 17 games with 5.1 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game.  Martin has been even better in that role in the last 13 games, averaging 19.5 points on 50 percent shooting, including 46.6 percent from 3-point range, with 5.2 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game.  K-State has gotten a nice lift from its bench this season with an average of 24.1 points coming from its reserves.  The impact has been even more telling in the last 28 contests, where the Wildcats have averaged 25.4 points off the bench and have outscored their foes by a 710-474 margin.  The most telling aspect has been its diversity, which has seen significant scoring from 10 different players.

Keep It Under 65

Known for its defensive prowess this season, Kansas State wants to keep its games under 65 points.  The Wildcats are 16-1 this season when holding an opponent to 65 points or less (one loss to Texas Tech, 62-52), while the squad is a perfect 15-0 when holding their foes to 60 points or less.  In contrast, the squad is just 6-10 this season when allowing 66 or more points, including each of their last five losses.  

Taking Advantage of Turnovers
One of the biggest factors in Kansas State’s improved play has been its ability to force its opponent into turnovers and then to capitalize with points off those miscues.  The Wildcats’ stifling defense has forced an average of 15.8 turnovers (427), including an average of 6.0 steals, in the last 27 games, while averaging 18.5 points off those turnovers.  The team scored 65 points off a combined 51 turnovers in back-to-back wins over Kennesaw State and Maryland-Eastern Shore.  The 32 turnovers by UMES (which yielded 37 points) was just five short of the school record of 37 set by Vanderbilt in December 1969.  K-State forced a season-high 28 turnovers in the win over USC and converted those into 24 points.  The team scored 19 points off 15 New Mexico turnovers en route to capturing its first in-season tournament title since 1995.  K-State has continued the trend of late by scoring 14 points off 12 Texas Tech turnovers and 23 points off 15 Kansas miscues.  The 15.5 turnovers forced per game is the highest since the 1994-95 season averaged 16.7 turnovers.

Dishing out the Assists

Kansas State has proven to be one of the top teams in the Big 12 in distributing the basketball, as the squad ranks fourth in the league in assists at 15.5 per game this season.  The Wildcats have dished out 528 assists this season, which ranks as the second-most in school history since the statistic began being kept in 1976 and needs just 10 against DePaul on Monday to break the school-record of 537 set during the 1981-82 season.  The team has also posted a solid 1.1 assist-turnover ratio, including a 1.2 mark in Big 12-only games.  K-State has posted 20 or more assists on seven occasions, including a season-high 25 against Cleveland State on Dec. 5.  Junior guard Clent Stewart’s 2.9 assists average leads five players with two or more assists, which has never happened at K-State since assists began being kept in 1976.