K-State announces men's hoops slate

MANHATTAN, Kan. Nineteen home games, including visits by NCAA Tournament participants Baylor, Kansas and Oklahoma, highlight the 32-game 2008-09 Kansas State men’s basketball schedule released by athletic department officials on Wednesday.


“We are excited about the schedule that we put together,” said head coach Frank Martin.  “It features some challenging road contests to go along with a home slate that features some really quality programs from throughout the country.  We think that it is one that will harden our basketball team and prepare it for an obviously difficult Big 12 schedule, which I think will be as competitive as there is in the country.”


It will mark the fifth time in school history that Kansas State has hosted at least 18 regular-season home games, following the 1981-82, 1993-94, 2004-05 and 2006-07 seasons. 


In addition to the 19-game home schedule, Kansas State fans will be able to watch the team at the world-class Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., for the second consecutive year.  The Wildcats will meet Southern Mississippi, led by former Iowa State head coach Larry Eustachy, on Thursday, Dec. 11.  Last season, the squad defeated Florida A&M, 87-60, before 17,699 fans at the Sprint Center


The schedule also includes eight games on national television, including seven on the ABC and ESPN family of networks.  The slate includes the program’s fourth appearance on ABC Sports in a home game against Kansas on Saturday, Feb. 14 as well as three appearances each on ESPN2 and ESPNU.  In the past three seasons, the Wildcats have made 30 national appearances on ABC Sports, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or Fox Sports Net compared to just five the previous six years combined.  


The television slate kicks off on Friday, Nov. 28 when the Wildcats face Kentucky in the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational at the Orleans Arena on ESPNU at 11 p.m. CT.  The championship game of the tournament, which could pit the squad against former coach Bob Huggins and West Virginia, will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 9:30 p.m. CT.  Other nationally-televised contests include Oregon on FSN on Sunday, Dec. 7, Baylor on ESPN2 on Wednesday, Jan. 21, Texas Tech on ESPNU on Wednesday, Feb. 11, Missouri on ESPNU on Wednesday, Feb. 25 and Oklahoma State on ESPN2 on Tuesday, March 3.


In addition to the national telecasts, Kansas State will have eight regular season games broadcast as a part of the newly-branded Big 12 Conference Television network, beginning with the league opener against Oklahoma on Jan. 10 at 12:30 p.m.  The network will also televise road tilts at Kansas on Jan. 13 (7 p.m.), Nebraska on Jan. 17 (5 p.m.), Colorado on Jan. 24 (5 p.m.), Texas on Jan. 31, Texas A&M on Feb. 7 (3 p.m.) and home games against Nebraska on Feb. 28 (7 p.m.) and Colorado on March 7 (7 p.m.).

K-State could face up to 16 teams from 13 different conferences and the independent ranks during the non-conference portion of its schedule, including members of the Atlantic Sun, Big East, Big Sky, Big Ten, Conference USA, Horizon, Ohio Valley, Pacific-10, Southeastern and Summit Leagues.  There are three first-time opponents, including Idaho State, North Carolina Central and SE Missouri State.


The non-conference slate will provide significant competition for Martin’s second squad with an appearance in the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational, road tests at Cleveland State and Oregon, as well as the aforementioned contest against Southern Miss at the Sprint Center.          


Eight of the potential opponents won 16 or more contests during the 2007-08 campaign, while three Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia advanced to the NCAA Tournament.


Kansas State opens its 106th season of basketball, including the second under Martin, when the Wildcats host Washburn in an exhibition game on Sunday, Nov. 9.  The season officially gets underway on Friday, Nov. 14 when the squad hosts Florida A&M in the first of three straight home games.


Following home games with SE Missouri State and Emporia State, K-State will make its first trip to Cleveland, Ohio, to face Horizon League favorite Cleveland State on Saturday, Nov. 22.  The Vikings return four starters from a team that posted a 21-13 overall record and made their first postseason appearance in 20 years with a bid to the Postseason NIT in 2007-08. 


After a home game against Oakland on Tuesday, Nov. 25, the Wildcats will begin perhaps their toughest stretch of the season, starting with a Thanksgiving trip to Las Vegas for the Findlay Toyota Invitational on Friday-Saturday, Nov. 28-29.  The squad will face national power Kentucky in the opener on Friday before playing either Iowa or West Virginia on Saturday. 


K-State will start December with a road trip to Oregon and famed McArthur Court on Sunday, Dec. 7 as apart of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.  The Ducks handed the Wildcats’ one of their only two home losses last season with a thrilling 80-77 overtime victory in Manhattan.  It will be the program’s first visit to Eugene, Ore., since a 92-58 win on Dec. 21, 1965.


Following the contest with Southern Miss at the Sprint Center on Dec. 11, the Wildcats will begin a seven-game homestand on Sunday, Dec. 14 against Gardner-Webb.  The Bulldogs pulled one of the bigger early-season upsets of the 2007-08 season when they shocked No. 20 Kentucky, 84-68, at Rupp Arena on Nov. 7.  K-State concludes the calendar year with home games against Centenary on Saturday, Dec. 20 and Wagner on Tuesday, Dec. 30.


Kansas State kicks off the New Year with back-to-back home games against Idaho State on Saturday, Jan. 3 and Chicago State on Monday, Jan. 5 before beginning Big 12 play with a home game against Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 10.  It will mark the Wildcats’ first home game to start Big 12 play since the 2002-03 season.  The contest with the Sooners will be the first of nine games against seven league foes that advanced to either the NCAA Tournament or NIT in 2007-08. 


After the league opener, K-State hits the road for four of the next six conference games, including consecutive trips to national champion Kansas on Tuesday, Jan. 13 and NIT participant Nebraska on Saturday, Jan. 17.  The squad returns home for a contest against NCAA Tournament foe Baylor on Wednesday, Jan. 21 before a trip to Boulder, Colo., to face Colorado on Saturday, Jan. 24.  The month concludes with a home game against Missouri on Wednesday, Jan. 28 and a road trip to Texas, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament South Region Final last season, on Saturday, Jan. 31. 


The Wildcats begin the all-important month of February with a home game against Iowa State on Tuesday, Feb. 3.  The squad swept the season series from the Cyclones for the second consecutive season in 2007-08 and have won seven straight at home in the series. 

Following a road tilt at NCAA Tournament participant Texas A&M on Saturday, Feb. 7, K-State will enjoy a three-game homestand, beginning with Texas Tech on Wednesday, Feb. 11.  The team will host archrival Kansas on Valentine’s Day on Saturday, Feb. 14 before concluding its non-conference slate against second-year Division I foe North Carolina Central on Tuesday, Feb. 17. 

The month of February continues with road contests at Iowa State on Saturday, Feb. 21 and Missouri on Wednesday, Feb. 25 before concluding with a home game against Nebraska on Saturday, Feb. 28.


The team starts the month of March with a road contest at Oklahoma State on Tuesday, March 3 in a game broadcast nationally on ESPN2 at 6:30 p.m.  The Wildcats haven’t won at Gallagher-Iba Arena since January 1993.  The squad concludes the home schedule with a Senior Night affair against Colorado on Saturday, March 7 at 12:30 p.m. 


The 13th annual Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship returns to the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Okla., for the second time with a new format, as the tournament will now run from Wednesday, March 11 to Saturday, March 14.


Kansas State returns one starter and eight lettermen from the 2007-08 season, which produced the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996 and first NCAA Tournament victory since 1988.  In all, the Wildcats recorded their second consecutive 20-win season a feat not done in 20 years and earned its highest finish (third place) and tied its highest league win total (10) in the Big 12 era.


The times for the remaining home games and the FSN Kansas City television schedule will be released at a later date.  FSN is contracted to televise at least 10 contests.


Kansas State has ranked in the top 30 nationally in attendance the past two seasons, including 25th in 2007-08 with an average of 12,529 for 17 home games.  For ticket information, call the Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 221.CATS or go online to www.k-statesports.com.


Unlike last season, the Sprint Center game will not be considered a Kansas State home contest and will not be included in the season-ticket package.  Most tickets will be priced at $25, while current K-State students will be able to purchase tickets at the special rate of $10 through the Athletics Ticket Office.    


Season-ticket holders will have until Wednesday, Oct. 15 to purchase tickets for the Sprint Center game for priority seating.  All other tickets will go on sale to the general public on Saturday, Oct. 18, at all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling Ticketmaster at (816) 931.3330 or ordering online at Ticketmaster.com.