K-State Opens Exhibition Play vs. Fort Hays State

Junior Rodney McGruder is the Wildcats' top returning scorer (11.1 ppg.) and rebounder (5.4 rpg.)

Nov. 6, 2011

Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Exhibition: Fort Hays State (0-0)

Sunday, November 6, 2011
1:10 p.m. CT
Manhattan, Kan.  |  Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

Television: FOX Sports Kansas City HD
Ben Boyle (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Channel Directory: DirecTV 672, Dish 445, AT&T U-verse 750
HD Channel Directory: DirecTV HD 672-1, Dish HD 9515
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Matt Walters (analyst)
Satellite Radio: None
Live Stats: www.k-statesports.com/multimedia
Live Audio: www.k-statesports.com/allaccess (free)
Twitter Updates: twitter.com/kstate_gameday

K-State in Exhibition Play: 49-16 (39-9 at home)
Current Streak: Won 11
vs. Fort Hays State: 1-0 (W, 95-59, 11/3/2007)

The Game
K-State opens the 2011-12 men’s basketball season on Sunday at 1 p.m., as the Wildcats play host to Division II foe Fort Hays State at Bramlage Coliseum in their lone exhibition game.  The school is 49-16 (.754) all-time in exhibition play dating back to 1964, including 39-9 (.813) at home.  The team has won 11 consecutive exhibition contests dating back to 2004, which includes a 95-59 victory over the Tigers on Nov. 3, 2007.  The Wildcats haven’t dropped an exhibition affair since a 89-84 overtime loss to the University of British Columbia during the squad’s tour of Vancouver in October 2004.  The last home setback in exhibition play came to the EA Sports All-Stars, 79-67, on Nov. 6, 2003.  Last season, K-State won its two exhibition games by an average of 36.5 points, knocking off Division II foes Newman, 83-56, on Nov. 2 and Washburn, 90-44, on Nov. 7.

The Opponent
Fort Hays State will be playing the first of two exhibition games on Sunday, which includes a date with Kansas on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.  The Tigers are in rebuilding mode with seven lettermen returning, including one starter, from a squad that posted a 26-7 overall record in 2010-11 and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament.  The team’s lone returning starter - senior guard Ben Conguista (6.1 ppg., 2.0 apg.) - is out for the season with a shoulder injury.  Senior Karron McKenzie is the Tigers’ top returning player after averaging 7.7 points on 50.3 percent shooting in 2010-11.  The Tigers are led by veteran head coach Mark Johnson, who has posted a 207-89 mark in 10 seasons.     

What’s Back 
K-State returns seven lettermen in 2011-12, including five players with starting experience, from a team that posted a 23-11 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons.  Junior guard Rodney McGruder is the returning leader in both scoring (11.1 ppg.) and rebounding (5.9 rpg.) after starting all 34 games a year ago.  McGruder earned third team All-Big 12 honors from the league coaches.  Others returning with starting experience include senior forward Jamar Samuels (8.5 ppg., 5.4 rpg.), junior forward Jordan Henriquez (3.7 ppg., 4.3 rpg.) and sophomores Will Spradling (6.4 ppg., 1.9 apg.) and Shane Southwell (1.8 ppg., 2.1 rpg.).  In all, the squad returns 50 percent of its scoring and field goals, 57 percent of its rebounding, 53 percent of its assists and 61 percent of its minutes from last season.

What's Gone
This will mark the first time since 2006-07 that K-State will enter a season without guard Jacob Pullen.  The school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,132 points, Pullen left with six other career school records, including games played (135), double-digit scoring (105), 3-point field goals (299) and steals (210).  He also led the Wildcats to a school-record 95 wins and four consecutive postseason appearances, including three trips to the NCAA?Tournament.  Pullen is now playing professionally overseas in Italy.  Also lost from last season is forward Curtis Kelly, who finished in the Top 10 in two career categories in his two-year career.

New Faces 
The Wildcats will welcome eight newcomers in 2011-12, which includes a mix of three transfers and five freshmen.  Juniors Jeremy Jones and James Watson were both standouts at the junior college level a season ago, while sophomore Omari Lawrence sat out last year after playing his rookie year at St. John’s in 2009-10.  Freshmen Adrian Diaz, Thomas Gipson and Angel Rodriguez were all highly-recruited prep players and walk-ons Shawn Meyer and Brian Rohleder should provide depth from the bench.   
Up Next: Charleston Southern (0-0)
K-State officially tips off the regular season on Friday, Nov. 11 when the Wildcats play host to first-time opponent Charleston Southern (0-0) at 7 p.m.  The squad is 18-1 all-time at Bramlage Coliseum in season openers and has won eight consecutive.