K-State faces Kentucky Friday in Las Vegas

Game Information

Kansas State (5-0) vs. Kentucky (2-2)

Date: Friday, November 28, 2008

Tipoff: 11 p.m. CT (9 p.m. PT)

Location: Las Vegas, Nev.

Arena: Orleans Arena (2003)

Capacity: 8,500

Rankings: Neither team is ranked


Series: Kentucky leads 7-0 (UK leads 2-0 at neutral sites)


Television: ESPNU/ESPN Full Court/ESPN360

Jim Barbar (play-by-play)

Larry Conley (analyst)

Joe McCoy (producer)


Radio: K-State Sports Network; Powercat Passport Internet Audio; Yahoo! Internet Radio; Sirius Satellite 147

Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play)

Stan Weber (analyst)


Tickets: Tickets are sold as two-day packages only with prices of $94, $115, $136 and $168 and are available at (702) 284.7777.

 

Kansas State Wildcats

Record: 5-0 (0-0 Big 12)

Ranking (AP/Coaches): --/--

Coach: Frank Martin

Alma Mater: Florida International, 93

Career Record: 26-12/1

School Record: 26-12/1

vs. Kentucky: 0-0

07-08 Record: 21-12 (10-6 Big 12)

Last game: Nov. 25, 2008

Defeated Oakland, 83-64

SID: Tom Gilbert

Website: www.k-statesports.com

 

Kentucky Wildcats

Record: 2-2 (0-0 SEC)

Ranking (AP/Coaches): --/--

Coach: Billy Gillispie

Alma Mater: Texas State, 83

Career Record: 120-73/7

School Record: 20-15/2

vs. Kansas State: 2-2

07-08 Record: 18-13 (12-4 SEC)

Last game: Nov. 24, 2008

Defeated Longwood, 91-57

SID: DeWayne Peevy

Website: www.ukathletics.com

 

Game Preview

Kansas State heads for Las Vegas, Nev., and the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational this weekend, as the Wildcats face off against SEC foe Kentucky (2-2) in semifinal action at the Orleans Arena on Friday at 11 p.m. CT on ESPNU.  The other semifinal pits Big Ten foe Iowa (5-0) and Big East member West Virginia (3-0) with the winners playing for the tournament championship on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2.  The consolation game is set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CT.   


K-State concluded preliminary action of the Las Vegas Invitational with a perfect 2-0 record, as the Wildcats used stellar all-around play to post a 83-54 win over Oakland on Tuesday night at home.  The squad was remarkably efficient with 24 assists to 28 field goals made, while five players scored eight or more points.  The Wildcats held the Grizzlies to just 35.6 percent shooting for the game, while scoring 27 points off 22 turnovers.  For the season, the team is forcing 19.6 turnovers per game and scoring 24.6 points off those miscues.

The backcourt tandem of sophomore Jacob Pullen and junior Denis Clemente combined for 45 points against Oakland.  Pullen posted a career-high 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting, including a career-best 6-of-11 from 3-point range, while Clemente added 19 points on 6-of-12 field goals, including 5-of-10 from beyond the arc.  Senior forward Luis Colon totaled career bests in both points (12) and rebounds (seven) and sophomore Dominique Sutton had a near double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.


The contest with Kentucky will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Jim Barbar (play-by-play) and Larry Conley (analyst) calling the action.  Fans will also be able to watch the contest on the ESPN Full Court package as well as ESPN360.com.  For more information on the ESPN Full Court package as well as ESPN360.com, fans should consult ESPN’s website at http://proxy.espn.go.com/ncb/fullcourt/


It will be the first of eight appearances on national television for the Wildcats, including three on ESPNU, and one of 26 regular-season contests that will be televised.  The winners of the two semifinal games on Friday will play on Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2.  The consolation game on Saturday will not be televised.  


Fans will also be able to listen to the audio broadcast on the 29-station K-State Sports Network (Powercat Passport Internet Audio; Yahoo! Internet Radio) with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) on the call.


Ticket Information

Tickets are sold as two-day packages only with prices of $94, $115, $136 and $168 and are available at the Orleans Arena Ticket Office at (702) 284.7777 or online at www.orleansarena.com.


Cats in November

Kansas State is 76-21 (.784) all-time in the month of November, including wins in 25 of its last 29 games.  The Wildcats have won 21 of their last 22 games at home in November dating back to the 2003-04 season.  The team saw its 17-game homecourt winning streak in the month end in an 80-77 overtime loss to No. 17 Oregon on Nov. 29, 2008.  It was the first November home loss since 2002.

The five wins in November tie the 1998-99 (5-2) and 2007-08 (5-2) squads for the most in the month in school history since the program regularly began playing games in the month in the mid-1970s.


Explosive Offense

Kansas State has shown the ability to score early and often, as the Wildcats have totaled 418 points in their first five games.  The 418 points are the most in the first five games in almost 11 years since the team totaled 443 points against Western Carolina (93), Long Beach State (89), Mercer (89), UMKC (71-50) and Coastal Carolina (101-72) to start the 1997-98 season.  The 96 points scored against Florida A&M were the most in a season opener since 1991.


The 418 points rank as the seventh-most through five games in school history, trailing the 1991-92 (466), 1976-77 (445), 1986-87 (440), 1956-57 (433), 1990-91 (421) and 1979-80 (420) teams.  The team has scored 80 or more points in four of the their first five games for just the sixth in their history, including the 1956-57, 1976-77, 1981-82, 1991-92 and 1997-98 seasons.  It also marked the first time the squad scored 80 or more points in three consecutive games since it did it four straight times in games nine through 12 of last season.

 

Diverse Offense

Unlike last season when consensus All-American Michael Beasley paced the squad at 26.2 points per game, the 2008-09 team has shown a lot more diversity with its scoring output thus far. 


Through five games, 12 of the 13 players that have seen action have tallied at least two points with eight totaling double-digit points.  Five players are averaging in double figures led by guard Jacob Pullen’s 14.8 points per game.  Four other players - Denis Clemente, Jamar Samuels, Dominique Sutton and Fred Brown - are all averaging 10.0 points or more per game, while a fifth player - Darren Kent - is averaging 9.8 points per game.  Since the 1950-51 season, there has not been a team to have more than four players finish a season in double figures.  The last squad to have four double-digit scorers was the 1976-77 team of Mike Evans (18.3 ppg.), Curtis Redding (16.6 ppg.), Larry Dassie (12.9 ppg.) and Darryl Winston (10.3 ppg.)  


There has already been four different leading scorers in five games.  Brown and Clemente are the only players to repeat as leading scorer, as Brown had a team-high 21 points against SE Missouri State on Nov. 16 then tied Sutton with 14 points each in the win over Emporia State on Nov. 22.  Clemente led the squad with 19 points against Florida A&M on Nov. 14 then again with 16 points against Cleveland State on Nov. 22.  Pullen paced all scorers with a career-high and team season-high 26 points against Oakland on Tuesday. 

 

In all, there has been 19 double-digit scoring games thus far with only Samuels doing it four times in five games.


Rebounding Still a Strength

Most critics wondered how Kansas State would replace two of the best Big 12 rebounders - Michael Beasley and Bill Walker - after the duo helped the program average 41.3 rebounds a year ago.  The duo plus departed seniors Clent Stewart and Blake Young averaged over 25 boards per game.  Despite their absence, rebounding still seems to be a strength with 11 players averaging at least one board per game.


Through five games, K-State is averaging 43.0 rebounds, including 18.0 on the offensive end, with all 13 players grabbing at least one board.  Two players - sophomore Ron Anderson and senior Darren Kent - have grabbed double-digit rebounds in a single game four times with Anderson averaging a team-best 7.2 rebounds per game and Kent placing second with Dominique Sutton with 7.0 per contest.  Kent has posted two double-doubles with 15 points and 12 rebounds against SE Missouri State on Nov. 16 and 14 points and 10 rebounds against Cleveland State on Nov. 22, while Anderson has totaled one with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Emporia State on Nov. 19. 


Pressure is the Key

The core of Frank Martin’s coaching philosophy is pressure, whether its on the offensive or defensive end of the floor.  His theory is the more pressure you apply on a team, the more difficult you make it for your opponent.  In other words, pressure makes a team breakdown.


Pressure has been a big key for the Wildcats so far, as the team has scored 123 points (29 percent of their season total of 418 points) off 98 opponent turnovers.  The squad has also outscored its opponents 83-31 on fast-break opportunities.


Kansas
State
outscored Florida A&M, 23-5, in points off turnovers then followed it up by turning 21 SE Missouri State turnovers into 26 points.  The Wildcats outscored Emporia State, 30-6, in points off turnovers, while forcing the Hornets into an opponent season-high 26 turnovers.  The team scored 17 points off 16 Cleveland State miscues and 27 points off 22 Oakland turnovers on Tuesday.  In all, K-State has forced three of five opponents into 20 or more turnovers.


The Wildcats are averaging 9.4 steals per contest with 11 players grabbing at least one led by sophomore Dominique Sutton’s team-high 12 steals.  Jacob Pullen is second with eight steals, while Darren Kent and Chris Merriewether are third with five thefts apiece.


Dynamic Duo

After dominating the paint a year ago with the likes of Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, Kansas State’s strength has shifted to the backcourt where the Wildcats start two of the best at their positions in junior Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen.


The duo, which has started all five games, have combined for 141 points on 39.1 percent shooting (45-of-115), including 35.6 percent from 3-point range (21-of-59), with 42 of the team’s 95 assists.  Pullen ranks first on the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game on 35.3 percent shooting with team-highs in field goals made (24), 3-point field goals made (12) and assists (23) and is second in steals (eight).  Clemente is second in scoring at 13.4 points per game on 44.7 percent shooting and assists (19), while is first in free throw shooting (84.2) and third in 3-point field goals (nine).


Ironically, the two have scored in double figures in the same three games with a combined 36 points against Florida A&M on Nov. 14, 31 against Cleveland State on Nov. 22 and 45 against Oakland on Nov. 25.  Clemente has paced the WIldcats in scoring twice, including a season-best 19 points in the opener against Florida A&M, while Pullen led with a team season-best 26 points against Oakland.


Samuels an Impact off Bench

An unknown but talented player, redshirt freshman forward Jamar Samuels has become an impact player off the bench for the Wildcats.  Despite not starting one game this season, he is third in scoring at 11.0 points on a team-high 64.7 percent shooting (22-of-34) with 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.8 steals in 22.6 minutes per game.  He is the only player to score in double figures in four of the team’s first five games with a season-high 16 points against SE Missouri State.   


The native of Washington, D.C., Samuels was redshirt a year ago after joining the squad after the semester break on Dec. 26.  He originally signed with the program out of The Patterson (N.C.) School in the spring of 2007, but wasn’t clear by the NCAA until December.  The 19-year-old actually had one year of high school eligibility remaining, but opted to finish his requirements and head to college early.  He is one of three former AAU D.C. Assault players on the roster, along with sophomores Ron Anderson and Dominique Sutton.  Samuels played alongside Sutton with Patterson during the 2006-07 season. 


Sutton Steals the Show

After getting a late start to his time at K-State, sophomore Dominique Sutton has become an all-around factor for the Wildcats this season.  He ranks first on the squad in both minutes (27.0) and steals (2.4 spg.), while he is tied with Darren Kent for second in rebounds (7.0 rpg.) and is fourth in scoring at 10.4 points per game.


Sutton nearly collected his first career double-double in the win over Oakland with nine points and nine rebounds.  He has scored in double figures three times, including a career-best 14 against Emporia State, and has grabbed eight or more rebounds three times so far.


Kentucky
Update

Kentucky enters Friday’s game with a 2-2 record after rebounding for back-to-back wins over Delaware State (71-42) and Longwood (91-57) this past week after opening the season with losses to VMI (111-103) and No. 1 North Carolina (77-58).  The Wildcats are averaging 80.8 points through four games on 49.8 percent shooting, including 29.9 percent from 3-point range, with 41.2 rebounds, 17.8 assists, 7.5 steals and 8.8 blocks per game. 


The Wildcats are led by junior guard Jodie Meeks, who is averaging a team-best 24.3 points per game on 42.1 percent shooting.  The SEC co-Freshman of the Year Patrick Patterson is second on the squad at 16.0 points per game on a team-best 67.5 percent shooting to go with a team-high 8.5 rebounds.  Junior guard Ramon Harris also averages in double figures at 11.0 points on 62.1 percent shooting. 


Kentucky
returns seven lettermen, including two starters, from a squad that finished the 2007-08 season with an 18-13 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2007-08


The Wildcats are led by second-year coach Billy Gillispie, who boasts a 20-15 record.  He is 120-73 in seven years as a coach, including stints at Texas-El Paso (2002-04) and Texas A&M (2004-07).


Series Information

K-State and Kentucky have met seven times in their histories with the blue version of the Wildcats holding a 7-0 advantage, including a 2-0 edge in games at neutral sites.  The two teams first met in 1940 with the Wildcats earning a 53-26 win in Lexington, Ky., on New Year’s Day before earning a 28-25 win at home later that year on Dec. 20. 

The squads’ two meetings on a neutral floor have been in postseason play with Kentucky defeating Kansas State, 68-58, in the 1951 NCAA Championship game at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn., before beating K-State, 81-78, the postseason NIT in March 16, 1976.    


Kansas
State
is 18-18 all-time against teams from the Southeastern Conference, including a 7-4 mark in games played on a neutral site.  The Wildcats won their last meeting against a SEC foe, a 78-75 win over Auburn in the championship game of the Capital City Classic in Tallahassee, Fla., on Dec. 30, 1994.      


1-1-40      Kentucky 53-26    Lexington

12-20-40    Kentucky 28-25    Manhattan

3-27-51     Kentucky 68-58+   Minneapolis, Minn.

12-23-61    Kentucky 80-67    Lexington

12-23-66    Kentucky 83-79    Manhattan

12-6-71     Kentucky 71-64    Manhattan

3-16-76     Kentucky 81-78#   New York

+NCAA Championship game

#Postseason NIT


Cats in Vegas

This will be Kansas State’s fourth-ever visit to Las Vegas, including the third for a regular-season tournament.  The Wildcats are 3-2 all-time in Las Vegas, including a 2-0 mark at the Orleans Arena.


K-State first visited the city for a game against the hometown UNLV on Dec. 17, 1983, which it dropped 84-78.  The team returned the next year for the Running Rebel Classic on Dec. 27-28, 1984, defeating UT Pan American (coached by then K-State alum and current UNLV head coach Lon Kruger), 75-68, before dropping a 77-68 decision to UNLV.


The Wildcats’ last visit came in 2006 when the squad won the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Dec. 22-23 with victories over USC (68-55) and New Mexico (72-56) at the Orleans Arena.  The team was then coached by Bob Huggins, the current head coach at West Virginia, who the team could be facing on day two of the tournament.


Day Two Match-ups

Kansas State will play either Iowa or West Virginia on day two of the tournament on Saturday.  The Wildcats are 4-3 all-time against the Hawkeyes with wins in four of the last five meetings.  However, Iowa did win the last meeting, 89-70, between the schools at home on Dec. 22, 2001.  K-State won its only meeting with the Mountaineers way back in 1949, a 49-44 victory in Morgantown, W.Va. 


Brown Delivers

Sophomore guard Fred Brown has provided a big lift on the bench this season, averaging a 10.0 points on 47.5 percent shooting (19-of-40), including 50 percent (10-of-20) from beyond the arc.  He has nearly 30 percent of the team’s 3-point field goals thus far. 


Brown tends to score a majority of his points in spurts with 35 of his 50 points coming in back-to-back games against SE Missouri State and Emporia State.  He collected his second career 20-point game in a 21-point effort against SE Missouri State.  In his career, he has tended to score his points in bunches.  Of the 106 points he scored as a freshman, 61 came in a five-game stretch from Dec. 17-31, which included a career-best 25-point effort against Xavier on Dec. 31.


Kent
Stepping Up as a Senior

One of the bright spots for the Wildcats this season has been the play of senior forward Darren Kent.  Kent, the team’s only senior, has been a force on the boards, tying for second with 7.0 rebounds per game.  He is also averaging 9.8 points on 50 percent shooting (17-of-34) to go with 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals in 20.0 minutes per game.


Kent, who entered the season averaging 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in his three-year career, has totaled double-doubles in two of the last four games, including career-highs in both points (15) and rebounds (12) against SE Missouri State on Nov. 16.  He paced the team with 10 rebounds in the win against Cleveland State on Nov. 22 to go with 14 points.  His 49 points in the first five games are nearly 30 percent of his entire total so far in his career, while his 35 rebounds are 25 percent of all his rebounds.  Kent had scored in double figures just one time in his previous three years as a Wildcat.


Recruiting Class Praised

The four-man recruiting class that Kansas State pulled down on Nov. 12 has been rated among the best in the country.  The class, which includes ESPNU100 prospect and power forward Wally Judge, has been rated the 17th-best class by ESPN Scouts, Inc., as well as 21st- best class by Rivals.com.  The quartet includes Judge, fellow high school teammate Rodney McGruder, Dallas (Texas) point guard Nick Russell and prep school forward Jordan Henriquez.   


Young Cats

Kansas State enters the 2008-09 season with one its youngest teams in recent history, as senior forward Darren Kent is the lone senior on a roster of 15 players.  When you factor in that four of the six juniors are either transfers from another Division I school or a junior college, the Wildcats are one of the youngest teams in its history. 


Dating back to the 1981-82 season, there has been just one team - the 1983-84 squad which had no seniors - with fewer seniors on its roster.  The 1996-97 also had just one senior on its roster.


Oakland
 Postgame Notes

Kansas State posted their fifth consecutive home win to move to 4-0 in Bramlage Coliseum this season... Tuesday’s win marks the first 5-0 start by the Wildcats’ since the 2004-05 season... The Wildcats moved to 234-85 (.734) all-time in Bramlage Coliseum.


Kansas State finished the game with 24 team assists... This marks the most assists the Wildcats have had in an outing since Dec. 5, 2006 when the team dished out 25 assists against Cleveland State.  The 24 assists came on 28 field goals made.


The Wildcats sunk 13 three-point field goals on Tuesday evening marking the most three-point baskets in a game by the Wildcats since they dropped 15 against Nebraska on Jan. 8, 2000... 11 of the 13 three-pointers came from Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen.


Kansas State starting guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente combined for 45 points in the contest on Tuesday evening... This marks the third match that Pullen and Clemente both finished with double digits in scoring and combined for at least 30 points.


Sophomore Jacob Pullen led the Wildcats in scoring on Tuesday with a career-high 26 points... His previous career-high was 20 points against Kansas on Jan. 30, 2008... He was 8-of-17 (.471) shooting and set a new career-high sinking six 3-point baskets in the contest.


Martin inks Stellar Class

Kansas State head coach Frank Martin announced the signing of four high school seniors to National Letters of Intent on the second day of the fall signing period on Nov. 13.


The four-man recruiting class, which was ranked 16th nationally by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and 21st by Rivals.com, includes prep school standout Jordan Henriquez (Winchendon [Mass.] School/Port Chester, N.Y.) and high school seniors Wally Judge (Arlington (Fla.) Country Day/Washington, D.C.), Rodney McGruder (Arlington (Fla.) Country Day/Washington, D.C.) and Nick Russell (Grace Preparatory Academy/Arlington, Texas).


The headliner of this class, Wally Judge is a 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward originally from Washington, D.C., who is entering his second year at Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla.  Considered one of the top power forwards in the high school ranks, Judge was rated as a top 25 recruit by several recruiting services, including the No. 17 prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 23 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com.  He was also rated as an ESPNU Top 100 recruit.  In addition, he is ranked among the top-10 at his position, including No. 6 by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 9 by Rivals.com.   


Judge is in his second year at Florida powerhouse, Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, where he helped the Apaches to their fourth consecutive Class 2A state title with a 24-6 record in 2007-08.   Judge averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds and was named second team Class 2A All-State by the Florida Sports Writers Association.


A teammate of Judge at Arlington Country Day, Rodney McGruder is considered one of the best shooting guards in the country.  The 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard is rated among the top players in the country,including the No. 89 overall prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 91 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com.  McGruder is also ranked among the top-35 at the position by a number of outlets, including No. 23 by Rivals.com and No. 31 by ESPN Scouts, Inc. 


McGruder transferred to Arlington Country Day in the off-season from Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C.  As a junior, he averaged 21.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.1 steals in leading the Lions to a 16-10 overall record and an appearance in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) semifinals in 2007-08.  He was named to the Washington Post All-Met first team. 


One of the top point guard prospects in the country, Nick Russell comes to K-State from Grace Preparatory Academy in Arlington, Texas.  The 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard is rated among the top players in the country, including the No. 89 overall prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 114 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com.  Russell is also ranked among the top-40 at his position by a number of outlets, including No. 20 by Rivals.com and No. 36 by ESPN Scouts, Inc.  In addition, he is rated the No. 4 player in the state of Texas for the Class of 2009 by Texashoops.com.


Russell helped Grace Prep to a 26-12 overall record, including a 7-3 mark in league play, as a junior in 2006-07.  He helped the Lions to a runner-up finish at the TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parachial Schools) Class 5A state tournament, where they lost to Midland Christian, 74-60.  Russell averaged 23 points, six assists and five rebounds as a junior.  He was named first team TAPPS Class 5A all-state as well as co-most valuable player of the District 1-5A and first team all-district. 


Jordan Henriquez comes to Kansas State from The Winchendon School in Winchendon, Mass., where he is playing a postgraduate year in 2008-09.  The 6-foot-11, 220-pound center from New Rochelle, N.Y. signed with the Wildcats this past May after finishing his career at Port Chester High School in Port Chester, N.Y.  As a senior, he led the team to an 18-6 record and an 8-0 mark in league play en route to a runner-up finish at the Section I Championship.  In averaging a team-best 15.3 points, Henriquez scored in double figures in 21 of 22 games in 2007-08, including six 20-point contests. 


The recruiting class will join a loaded Kansas State squad in 2009-10, as the Wildcats will return all but one player.  They will be joined by junior forward Curtis Kelly, who is sitting out the 2008-09 season after transferring from University of Connecticut this past summer.