Pullen Makes Homecoming As 'Cats Face Loyola Saturday

Senior Jacob Pullen will make his return to Chicago on Saturday, as the Wildcats face Loyola at 3 p.m. CT

Dec. 9, 2010


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5/5 Kansas State (8-1, 0-0 Big 12)
vs. Loyola Chicago (8-2, 0-0 Horizon)

Date: Saturday, December 11, 2010  |  Tipoff: 3 p.m. CT
Location: Chicago, Ill.  |  Arena: Joseph J. Gentile Center (5,200)  | 
Live Stats: www.k-statesports.com  |  Internet: ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com
Television: FOX Sports Kansas City (Ben Boyle, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst; Allan Flowers, producer)  |  Channels: DirecTV 672, Dish 447
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Matt Walters, analyst)  | 
Satellite Radio: n/a   
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International ‘93) is 80-33 (.708) in his fourth season as a head coach and at the school.  Loyola Chicago - Jim Whitesell (Luther ‘82) is 379-288 (.568) in his 24th season as a coach and 101-94 (.518) in his seventh year at the school.
Series: Loyola Chicago leads 4-3  |  Martin vs. Whitesell:  1-0  |   K-State vs. Horizon:  7-6  | 
Last time vs. Horizon:  L, Butler, 63-56, 3/25/10
Last Time Out:  K-State knocked off Alcorn State, 89-55, on Monday at home, while Loyola Chicago beat SIU-Edwardsville, 78-50, on Wednesday.
Rankings: K-State is No. 5 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Top 25 polls, while Loyola Chicago is not ranked in either poll.
Tickets: A limited number are available through the Loyola Chicago Athletics Ticket Office at 773.508.2560 or online at www.loyolaramblers.com.

K-State hits the road for Loyola Chicago on Saturday
No. 5/5 Kansas State (8-1) hits the road for a contest at Loyola Chicago (8-2) on Saturday, as the Wildcats play the host Ramblers in a 3 p.m. tipoff at the Joseph J. Gentile Center.  It will be a homecoming for senior All-American guard Jacob Pullen, who is a native of nearby Maywood, Ill.  He is expected to have 200-300 family and friends in attendance in his only visit to the Windy City in his career.  The contest will be broadcast regionally on FOX Sports Kansas City with Ben Boyle (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) on the call.  It will also be available nationally on ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com. 

The Wildcats, who snapped a nine-game losing streak to Pac-10 opponents on the road last weekend at Washington State, will face yet another road test at Loyola Chicago, who has won six of their first eight home games.  The team has not won in four previous road meetings against the Ramblers, including losses in Chicago in 1936 (44-32), 1966 (76-70) and 1999 (69-64) and another in Rosemont, Ill., in 1983 (71-62).  Last season, the Wildcats opened a three-game series with a 92-54 win at Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 13. 

K-State enters Saturday’s contest having won 13 consecutive games in December, which includes a perfect 7-0 mark a season ago.  The last loss in the month came at Oregon on Dec. 7, 2008.  The 13-game winning streak is the longest in December since the team won 16 in a row between 1946-48.  Overall, the team is 32-7 in the month since 2004-05, including an impressive 17-3 mark under head coach Frank Martin.  The team already capped the month of November by earning their school-record sixth win and posting their highest winning percentage (.857).  The six November wins surpassed the efforts of the 1998-99 (5-2), 2007-08 (5-2), 2008-09 (5-2) and 2009-10 (5-1) squads, while the team recorded its best winning percentage for the second consecutive season (eclipsing the .833 in 2009-10).

Kansas State ran its non-conference home winning streak to 28 games on Monday night, as the Wildcats dispatched of SWAC member Alcorn State, 89-55, at Bramlage Coliseum.  The squad, which boasts a 31-1 mark in all non-conference home games under Frank Martin, have not lost a non-conference home game since an 80-77 overtime loss to Oregon on Nov. 29, 2007.  The 28-game streak is the longest in school history since the team rattled off 38 consecutive wins against non-conference teams at home from 1971-78, while it is the longest in the Coliseum’s history (surpassing a 24-game streak from 1995-2000).  The Wildcats are 57-3 (.949) at home against non-conference foes since the 2004-05 season.  It was also the seventh in a row against a SWAC opponent in school history and the second this season.

The Wildcats set season-highs in seven categories in the victory over the Braves, including points (89), free throws (23), free throws attempted (40), assists (21), rebounds (59), offensive rebounds (25) and defensive rebounds (34).  The defense also held Alcorn State to seven season-lows for an opponent, including points (55), field goals (17), field goal percentage (26.6), 3-point field goals (1), 3-point field goals attempted (8), 3-point field goal percentage (12.5) and assists (1).  The 59 rebounds were the most in a game since grabbing 61 in a three-overtime defeat at Oregon State on Dec. 6, 2003, while it was the most in regulation game since tallying 62 in a 72-51 win over Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 16, 1998.  The Wildcats held a 46-10 advantage in points in the paint, while they converted 19 Brave turnovers into 24 points.  They also used their 59-44 rebounding advantage to out-score the team, 23-9, in second-chance points.  The squad never trailed and led by as many as 35 points.

Pullen led three players in double figures against Alcorn State with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-15 field goals in 28 minutes.  He has led the team in scoring in seven of nine games this season, while topping double figures on seven occasions.  The career leader in 3-point field goals and 3-point field goals attempted, Pullen ranks in the school’s Top 10 in 18 career categories, including 10 in the Top 5.  Junior Jamar Samuels posted the team’s first double-double with 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, while senior Curtis Kelly added 15 points and seven rebounds.  The reigning Big 12 Sixth Man Award winner, Samuels now has five career double-doubles.  Kelly, who missed the first three games of the season, has scored in double figures in four of the last five games.  In all, 10 players scored at least one point for the Wildcats, while eight grabbed at least three rebounds.  The team has had at least seven players score at least one point in each of the nine games  The Wildcats have gotten 20 or more points of production from their bench in eight contests, including 30 or more on six occasions.    

This will be eighth meeting between K-State and Loyola Chicago on the hardwood and fifth between the schools in Chicago.  The Ramblers hold a 4-3 edge in a series that dates back to a 44-32 Loyola win in Chicago on Dec. 15, 1936.  The Wildcats are 7-6 all-time against teams from the Horizon League.  In fact, this will be the fifth meeting with a Horizon League school in the past three seasons, which included three match-ups in 2009-10.  In addition to the win over Loyola to open the season, the squad knocked off Cleveland State, 85-56, on Dec. 29 at home before losing to eventual national runner-up Butler, 63-56, on March 22 in the NCAA West Regional Final in Salt Lake City, Utah.  This will be the second meeting in that three-year span against a Horizon League team on their own home court after winning at Cleveland State, 69-59, on Nov. 22, 2008.        

The Wildcats are ranked No. 5 in the fourth edition of both The Associated Press and USA Today/ ESPN Coaches Top 25 polls released on Dec. 6 after starting the season at No. 3 for their highest ever preseason rankings in both polls.  The No. 3 ranking was the highest in an AP poll in almost 50 years since the team ranked No. 3 on March 6, 1962.  K-State has been ranked in the AP Top 10 for 12 consecutive polls dating back to last year, including a No. 7 ranking prior to the NCAA Tournament.  Overall, the school has appeared in 19 consecutive AP polls dating back to Dec. 14, 2009.  The squad returns nine lettermen from a team that won a school-record 29 games and advanced to their first Elite Eight since 1988. 

K-State is 228-81 (.737) as a ranked team all-time in The Associated Press poll (which dates to 1949-50), including 145-37 (.796) as a Top 10 squad and 93-23 (.800) as a Top 5 team.  The Wildcats have played 22 games previously as the nation’s No. 5 team in the country, boasting
a 16-5 (.750) mark.  This will be the fourth game as the No. 5 team since losing back-to-back games to Kansas and Iowa State in March 2010.
Postgame Notes vs. Alcorn State
• Monday’s contest was the first against Alcorn State... The Wildcats are now 7-0 all-time against SWAC opponents.
• The starting lineup for the contest consisted of senior guard Jacob Pullen, freshman guard Will Spradling, sophomore guard Rodney McGruder, junior forward Freddy Asprilla and senior forward Curtis Kelly... This marked the first time that this lineup has been used.
• K-State is now 51-2 under head coach Frank Martin when scoring 80 or more points... They are also 23-0 when allowing fewer than 60 points.

The Book on Loyola Chicago
Loyola Chicago enters Saturday’s game with an 8-2 record after posting a 78-50 win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Wednesday night.  The win halted a two-game losing streak to conference foes, Butler (65-63) and Valparaiso (66-56) on Dec. 1 and 4.  The Ramblers started the year with seven consecutive wins, including victories against Eastern Kentucky (73-57), Indiana State (86-74), UT-Pan American (79-57), Eastern Illinois (73-62), Western Michigan (82-64), Alabama State (74-46) and San Francisco (63-62).  The team returns 11 letterwinners, including all five starters, from a squad that posted a 14-16 overall record, including a 5-13 mark in Horizon League play in 2009-10.

The Ramblers are averaging 72.7 points on 43.9 percent shooting from the field, including 40.2 percent from 3-point range, with 35.5 rebounds, 14.1 assists, 6.8 steals and 4.1 blocks per game.  The team has been strong defensively, holding opponents to just 60.3 points on 41.5 percent shooting, including 35.1 percent from beyond the arc, while forcing 15.3 turnovers per game.  The squad has a balanced scoring attack with six players averaging at least six points per game, including four in double figures.  Senior Geoff McCammon leads the team in scoring at 12.7 points per game, including a team-best 26 3-pointers.  Junior Walt Gibler is second in scoring at 11.8 points per outing, while senior Terrance Hill and junior Jordan Hicks each average 11.7 points per game.  Senior Andy Polka is the team leader in rebounding at 7.8 per game, while five others average at least three boards per game.  

Loyola Chicago is led by seventh-year head coach Jim Whitesell, who just earned his 100th win at the school on Nov. 27.  He has posted a 379-288 (.568) record in 24 seasons as a head coach, including a 101-94 (.518) mark at Loyola.  He guided Lewis (Ill.) University to more than 200 wins and five trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament from 1992-2004.  His Loyola teams have won 19 or more games twice in his tenure.

Series vs. Loyola Chicago
This will be eighth meeting between K-State and Loyola Chicago on the hardwood and fifth between the schools in Chicago.  The Ramblers hold a 4-3 edge in a series that dates back to a 44-32 win in Chicago on Dec. 15, 1936.  Loyola has won all four meetings in home venues, including  victories in Chicago in 1936 (44-32), 1966 (76-70) and 1999 (69-64) and another in Rosemont, Ill., in 1983 (71-62).  Last season, the Wildcats kicked off the start of a three-game series between the two teams with a 92-54 win in the season opener on Nov. 13 at Bramlage Coliseum.  Forward Curtis Kelly led a balanced scoring attack with a career-high 22 points to go with a team-high seven rebounds in his first career game, while Jacob Pullen (15), Rodney McGruder (11) and Jamar Samuels (11) each scored in double figures.    
Up Next: vs. Florida
After taking a week off for semester exams, K-State will continue its road swing on Saturday, Dec. 18 when the Wildcats play No. 24 Florida (6-2) at the Metro PCS Orange Bowl Classic in the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.  The contest will be the second game of a doubleheader at 2:30 p.m. CT, following the opening contest between Miami and UCF.  This will be a homecoming for head coach Frank Martin, who is a native of Miami.

‘Cats in December
Kansas State will look to continue its strong play in the month of December, where the Wildcats have won 42 of their last 52 games.  The team is 449-230 (.660) all-time in December with 34 wins in their last 35 games at home dating back to the 2002-03 season, including a current of streak of 22 consecutive home victories dating back to the 2004-05 season.  The squad’s last home loss in the month came to Rutgers (76-66) on Dec. 28, 2004.  The Wildcats, which completed its first perfect December since 1998, have won 13 consecutive games in the month dating back to a loss at Oregon (75-70) on Dec. 7, 2008.  It is the longest winning streak in the month in more than 60 years since the team rattled off 16 in a row from Dec. 14, 1946 to Dec. 2, 1948.  K-State has won four or more games in December in each of the last eight seasons, including seven in 2009-10.  The squad has posted a winning mark in the month 62 times, including eight consecutive seasons.

Bench Points
One of the definite advantage of this year’s Kansas State squad is its depth and versatility.  The Wildcats have played at least 10 players in each of its first nine 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 31.9 points per game off the bench, while out-scoring its nine foes by a margin of 287-106.  The squad has scored 30 or more points from the bench in six of the last eight games, including a string of five straight from Nov. 16-26 for the first time under head coach Frank Martin, while it posted 40 or more points of production in back-to-back contests for just the second time under Martin and the first time since 2008-09.  The Wildcats scored 86 points from the bench against Duke (45) and Texas Southern (41), which is the most in consecutive games since they totaled 104 points in games against Idaho State (45, 1/3/09) and Chicago State (59, 1/5/09).  The team has seen nine different players record 29 double-digit scoring efforts this season, including 11 coming off the bench from five separate players.  Junior Jamar Samuels leads the way with five double-digit scoring efforts from the bench.           

Youngsters Stepping Up
For all the attention Kansas State seniors Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly have gotten in the preseason, it has been the play of the team’s freshmen and sophomores, who have helped the Wildcats off to an impressive 8-1 start for this season.  This nucleus has scored 329 of the team’s 694 points thus far (47.4 percent), while posting 176 of 386 rebounds (46 percent), 75 of 141 assists (53 percent) and 30 of 72 steals (42 percent).  The group represents six of the team’s Top 10 scorers, while it includes two of the Top 5 rebounders and four of the Top 5 assists leaders.  Eleven of 29 double-digit scoring efforts have come from sophomores and freshmen led by guard Rodney McGruder, who is tied for the team lead in minutes (28.0 mpg.) and 3-point field goals (20) and is second in rebounding (6.6 rpg.) and assists (2.1 apg.).  McGruder is third in scoring at 11.3 points per game, while fellow sophomore Martavious Irving is fifth at 6.7 points per game.  Will Spradling, who became just the second true freshman guard to earn a start under Frank Martin, ranks first in free throw percentage (93.8) and is second in assists (2.1 apg.).

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 2,160 points off of 1,902 turnovers in 113 games, an average of 19.1 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, 184-111.  The squad has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in four games, including a season-best 33 points against Emporia State on Nov. 29.  The team has pressured their foes into 15 or more turnovers in eight games, including a season-high 26 vs. James Madison in the opener.

In 2007-08, K-State averaged 18.9 points off of 16.2 turnovers per game, while in 2008-09, the team scored 25.7 points off of an average of 17.0 turnovers.  The 2009-10 season was no different with the squad averaging 19.9 points off of 16.9 turnovers per game.  K-State scored 20+ points off of turnovers 17 times a year ago, including a school-record 40 against South Dakota.  The team scored 20 or more points off of turnovers versus several marquee opponents, including UNLV (26), Alabama (22), Texas A&M (23), Colorado (23 and 26), Nebraska (22 and 29), Oklahoma (23), Missouri (21), Oklahoma State (23) and Baylor (22).  The Wildcats have a 47-5 record when scoring 20+ points off turnovers under Martin.
Pullen Named Preseason AP All-American
The accolades for Jacob Pullen continue to mount, as the senior was named a preseason first team All-American by The Associated Press earlier this month.  Pullen, who has been selected to a number of All-American teams, was joined on the first team by North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson and Duke’s Kyle Singler.  Pullen was an honorable mention AP All-American as a junior after leading Kansas State to its first Elite Eight since 1988.  He has already been named a preseason All-American by a number of media outlets, including to the first team by ESPN.com, Blue Ribbon Yearbook and The Sporting News, to the second team by Dick Vitale and to the third team by Athlon Sports.  He was also selected a preseason Top 50 candidate for the Wooden Award, given to the nation’s top player by the Los Angeles Athletic Club, while he was named one of 50 preseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T on Nov. 16.  Pullen is also a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, given to the nation’s top all-around senior basketball player.   

Pullen Moving Up the Charts
Senior guard Jacob Pullen is nearing several career milestone in the midst of his fourth and final season at Kansas State.  With his game-high 26 points against Emporia State on Nov. 29, he became just the sixth player in school history and the first since Askia Jones in 1993 to eclipse the 1,600-point barrier.  His current total of 1,650 points in 113 career games ranks sixth on the school’s all-time scoring chart and is a mere five points behind Steve Henson (1,655, 1987-90) for fifth and less than 40 points behind Bob Boozer (1,685, 1956-59) for fourth place.  One of three players (Mike Evans and Rolando Blackman) in school history to score 1,500 points in his first three seasons, Pullen has an outside chance (needs 465 points) to become the school’s all-time scoring champion, which is currently held by Mike Evans with 2,115 points from 1974-78.  He trails Askia Jones (1,834, 1989-94) by 184 points for third and Rolando Blackman (1,844, 1977-81) by 194 points for second place.  A season ago, Pullen was one of three players (along with Denis Clemente and Curtis Kelly) to set the single-season record for games played (37) and started (37), while also setting school marks for double-digit scoring games (37), 3-point field goals (110) and steals (67).

Pullen ranks among the Top 10 in 18 career categories, including 11 in the Top 5 in school history.  Already the school’s career record holder for 3-point field goal attempted (690), he became the leader in 3-point field goals in the win over Emporia State on Nov. 29 with four treys, breaking his second-place tie with Askia Jones (237, 1989-94) and passing former leader Steve Henson (240, 1987-90) with 241.  His next record could come in steals, where his 180 career thefts trail Henson by 10.  He is also second in free throws (387), third in assists (376) and consecutive starts (80), fourth in double-digit scoring games (83), minutes played (3,218) and free throws attempted (507) and fifth in consecutive games played (113).   In addition to his records, Pullen is the first player in school history to be named team captain three consecutive years.

‘Cats Picked to Win Big 12 Crown
A consensus Top 10 by a number of media outlets, K-State earned another first in October as the Wildcats were selected to win the Big 12 title for the first time in a vote of the league’s head coaches.  The school received 119 points and 10 first-place votes to out-distance rival and reigning champion Kansas, which was picked second with 109 points and the remaining two first-place votes.  Texas (99) and Baylor (96) followed closely in third and fourth place, respectively, while Missouri (82) and Texas A&M (69) rounded out the top 6.  The rest of the poll included Texas Tech (52), Oklahoma State (51), Colorado (46), Nebraska (31), Oklahoma (27) and Iowa State (11).  Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.  The previous high for K-State in the preseason poll was fourth in both 2007-08 and 2009-10.  The Wildcats, who tied for second place in the Big 12 a year ago, are one of only two teams to finish in the league’s top-4 and receive a bye at the Big 12 Championship each of the past four seasons.

K-State ranks No. 3 in Preseason AP, USA Today/ESPN polls
Kansas State earned its highest preseason ranking in both The Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls, as the Wildcats appeared at No. 3 in both polls.  The No. 3 ranking ties for the highest of any of the major polls, in which, the squad is ranked in the Top 10 in nearly every poll.  It is the highest ever ranking for K-State in a preseason poll and the highest by the AP since it began preseason rankings in 1961.  The previous high for a preseason ranking came at No. 8 by the AP in both the 1961-62 and 1964-65 seasons.  The No. 3 ranking is the highest in an AP poll in almost 50 years since the team ranked No. 3 on March 6, 1962.  K-State was the highest rated Big 12 team in AP poll, which also included No. 7 Kansas, No. 15 Missouri and No. 16 Baylor.  The Wildcats have been ranked in the Top 10 in nearly every preseason poll, including No. 4 by Lindy’s Sports, No. 5 by Athlon Sports, ESPN.com, FOXSports.com and The Sporting News, No. 8 by Dick Vitale and No. 10 by Blue Ribbon Yearbook.

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.  K-State has sold over 12,000 season tickets to the general public and students, surpassing last year’s total by over 750 tickets.  The school has ranked among the nation’s 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 also ranked fourth in attendance among Big 12 institutions and was second only to Kansas in sellouts with 14.  In addition, the school enjoyed the nation’s largest average attendance increase with nearly 3,000 more fans per game.  Three of the top-5 single-season attendance averages have come in the last four years.

Fans still wanting to catch the Wildcats in action this season will have the opportunity to purchase single-game tickets to three home games during the holiday semester break when students are not on campus as well as the Hy-Vee Wildcat Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City against UNLV on Tuesday, Dec. 21.  Single-game tickets went on sale on Nov. 1 for UMKC (Thursday, Dec. 23), North Florida (Friday, Dec. 31) and Savannah State (Monday, Jan. 3) during the holiday break.  For $20 per game, or $45 for all three match-ups, fans can choose between reserved seats in Section 18 or 25, or general admission tickets.  Tickets can be purchased online at www.kstatesports.com or by calling toll free at (800) 221.CATS.    

Diaz, Gipson Sign with K-State for 2011-12
Head coach Frank Martin announced the signing of high school standouts Adrian Diaz (Miami, Fla./Hialeah-Miami Lakes) and Thomas Gipson (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill) 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.  Gipson is listed 24th nationally among power forwards by Rivals.com, while Diaz ranks 17th among centers nationally. 
An emerging post prospect, Diaz is currently 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 overall record and 3-7 mark in league play in 2009-10.  He was named preseason honorable mention all-state by FloridaHoops.com.  He will be the third member of his family to play college basketball, following his brothers, Eric, who played at Eckerd College, and Andres (Andy), who currently is a sophomore forward at North Florida.  He received scholarship offers from a variety of schools, including Virginia Tech, South Florida and FIU, along with interest from Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Syracuse.

Rated as the 13th-best prospect in the state of Texas by TexasHoops.com, Gipson is currently 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 area round of the 2010 UIL (University Interscholastic League) Class 5A Tournament.  The team ranked as high as No. 6 in the TABC (Texas Association of Basketball Coaches) Class 5A state poll before losing to Lewisville, 84-82, in the area-round playoffs.  Gipson 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.  He received scholarship offers from a number of schools, including Baylor, California, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.