K-State Faces No. 18/17 UNLV Saturday

Game Information

KANSAS STATE (8-1, 0-0 Big 12)
vs. 18/17 UNLV (7-0)

Date: Saturday, December 12, 2009
Tipoff: 6:10 p.m. CT
Location: Las Vegas, Nev.  |  Arena: Orleans Arena (7,471)

Television: FOX Sports Kansas City/ESPN Full Court (Ben Boyle, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst; Max Leinwand, producer)
Channel Directory: DirecTV 672, Dish Network 451, AT&T U-Verse 750   |  Internet: www.ESPN360.com

Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Matt Walters, analyst)   |  Live Stats: www.unlvrebels.com  |  Local Stations: Sports Radio 1350 AM (KMAN; Manhattan), 102.9-FM (KQTP; Topeka)  |  Satellite Radio: Sirius 127

Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International '93) is 51-25 (.671) in his third season.  UNLV - Lon Kruger (Kansas State '75) is 119-53 (.692) in his sixth season at UNLV and 437-286 (.604) in 24 seasons as a coach.  He coached at K-State from 1986-90.    

Last Time Out: K-State defeated Xavier, 71-56 on Tuesday, while UNLV won at Santa Clara, 66-63, last Saturday.

Series: UNLV leads 3-1 (UNLV is 2-0 at home)  |  Last time: UNLV won 80-61 in the NCAA Tournament second round in Salt Lake City on March 14, 1987  |  vs. Mountain West: K-State is 31-21  |  Frank Martin is 0-0 vs. UNLV, while Lon Kruger is 1-1 all-time vs. K-State.     

Rankings: UNLV is ranked 18th in the AP poll and 17th in USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.  K-State is receiving votes in both polls. 

Tickets: Sold Out.

K-State hits the road for tilt at unbeaten UNLV
Kansas State faces yet another big test, including its first official road contest of the season, as the Wildcats face undefeated and nationally-ranked UNLV (7-0) on Saturday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., at 6 p.m. CT.  The squad, which is off to their best start since also starting the 2004-05 season with an 8-1 record, continues its difficult four-game stretch that began with a 6-1 Washington State team on Dec. 5 and continued with a 5-2 Xavier squad on Tuesday.  The cumulative record of the 14 non-conference opponents is a solid 72-42 (.632) through Dec. 9, including national rankings by UNLV and Ole Miss (the team's lone loss), helping bolster the team's RPI and strength of schedule rating in Top 10.  The next two games (against UNLV and Alabama) - both in basic road environments - will further strengthen that resume as the teams combine for a 13-2 record.  The Wildcats will look to continue their recent success in December with wins in 36 of their last 46 games, which includes the current 19-game home court winning streak.  However, the squad has won just one of their last six road games in the month dating back to 2005-06.  The game 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 on the ESPN Full Court plan as well as on ESPN360.com.

The contest with UNLV, the first in a two-game series between the two schools, matches the Wildcats against one of their all-time greats in Runnin' Rebels' head coach Lon Kruger, who not only starred for K-State from 1971-74 (twice named Big Eight Player of the Year) but also coached the team to 81 wins and four NCAA Tournament berths between 1986-90.  Kruger's staff includes three others with Kansas State ties, including Steve Henson (1986-90), the school's all-time leader in 3-point field goals, assists and steals, former assistant coach Greg Grensing (1986-94) and former student manager Mike Shepherd (1989-92).  This will be the fifth all-time meeting with UNLV and the first since the Kruger-led Wildcats lost 80-61 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Jerry Tarkanian's eventual Final Four team in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The Rebels own a 3-1 record in the series, including a 2-0 mark in Las Vegas.  This will be the fifth time that K-State has played in Orleans Arena, which includes wins against USC and New Mexico on Dec. 22-23, 2006, in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic and losses to Kentucky and Iowa on Nov. 28-29, 2008 in the Las Vegas Invitational.

K-State continued its strong defensive play of late with a 71-56 win over Xavier to cap its four-game homestand on a snowy Tuesday night.  The Wildcats held the Musketeers to just 29.4 percent shooting from the field (both overall and from the 3-point line), while posting a 46-33 edge on the glass.  Junior Jacob Pullen led three players in double figures with 16 points, including 14 in the second half, while junior transfer Curtis Kelly tallied a near double-double with 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds.  Sophomore reserve Jamar Samuels added 11 points and eight rebounds to the team's effort.  

A Quick Look at Kansas State
K-State is averaging just over 80 points per game (80.1 ppg.) on 46.3 percent shooting (238-of-514), including 33.5 percent from 3-point range (54-of-161), with 39.7 rebounds, 15.4 assists, 6.7 steals and 4.6 blocks per game.  The squad has topped 80 or more points in six of nine games, while hitting on 45 percent or better from the field on five occasions.  The 721 points scored are the most through nine games in 12 years since the 1997-98 squad scored 746 points, while the six 80-point contests tie the 1976-77 and 1986-87 teams for the most through nine games.  The defensive effort has been solid, holding opponents to 65.9 points on 38.8 percent shooting while averaging 18.3 points per game on just over 17 turnovers per game.  The defensive intensity has been a big key in the past two games, as the squad held Washington State and Xavier to just 62.5 points on 37.6 percent shooting from the field, including just 26.1 percent from 3-point range, while posting a 39-31 rebounding margin. 

The Wildcats are 8-1 for the first time under head coach Frank Martin and for the first time as a program since the 2004-05 squad opened with eight straight victories before dropping their ninth contest.  Only four other squads have fared better after nine games, as the 1918-19, 1947-48, 1957-58 and 1997-98 teams also started the season with nine consecutive victories.

Junior Jacob Pullen leads four players in double figures at 18.2 points per game on 39.8 percent shooting from the field to go with team bests in field goals (43), 3-point field goals (18), free throws (60), free throw percentage (81.1), assists (36) and steals (14), while backcourt mate Denis Clemente is second in scoring at 14.0 points per game on 37.2 percent shooting from the field and is second to Pullen in field goals (42), 3-point field goals (17) and assists (27).  The duo has combined for over 40 percent of the scoring (290) so far this season, while historically, they are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 27.4) guard tandem since former NBA players Mike Evans and Chuckie Williams combined to average 38.9 points per game for the Wildcats between 1974-76.  Clemente recently topped the 1,000-point plateau for his career (includes his two-year stint at Miami) with a pair of free throws just over a minute into the IUPUI game on Nov. 28.  Pullen's 955 points in 76 career games ranks 24th all-time in school history, while he has scored in double figures in all nine games and a team-best 48 times in his career.  

Junior transfer Curtis Kelly is third in scoring at 11.6 points on 58.2 percent shooting to go with a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game.  He missed his third double-double of the season against Xavier with 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds.  Sophomore Jamar Samuels, who has come off the bench in eight of nine games, also scores in double figures for Wildcats, averaging 11.4 points on a team-best 60 percent shooting to go with 5.9 rebounds per game.  He has scored in double figures in six games, including his a career-best 21 points against Fort Hays State on Dec. 1.  Dubbed the "X-Factor" for his ability to change the game off the bench, 20 of his 21 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve.  In all, the squad has six players averaging six or more points and five averaging three or more rebounds.

Postgame Notes vs. Xavier
--Kansas State moved to 3-4 all-time against Xavier, including 2-0 at home... The Wildcats moved to 8-1 on the season, marking the first time since the 2004-05 season the team has started a season 8-1... The Wildcats have now won 31 of their last 32 games at Bramlage Coliseum in the month of December dating back to the 2002-03 season, including 19 consecutive home wins since De. 30, 2004... Kansas State moved to 251-88 (.740) all-time in Bramlage Coliseum... The paid attendance was a sold out 12,528, while it represented the largest student crowd of the season.

--The Wildcats' starting lineup was junior guard Jacob Pullen, senior guard Denis Clemente, junior forward Dominique Sutton, junior forward Curtis Kelly and freshman forward Wally Judge... It marks the second time this season the team has used this starting combination... Pullen has now started in 43 straight games for the Wildcats, extending his streak as the team's leader in most consecutive games played to 76.

--K-State led Xavier at the half, 30-20, marking the fifth consecutive contest the Wildcats have led after the first period... The Wildcats are 8-0 this season when leading their opponent at the half... The 20 points scored by the Musketeers in the opening half were the fewest scored in the first half by a K-State foe since Western Illinois also scored 20 on Nov. 15... Curtis Kelly led all scorers with 10 points at the break.

--The Wildcats dominated the boards Tuesday out-rebounding the Musketeers 46-33... K-State held Xavier to just eight rebounds in the first frame while pulling down 27 of its own... The 46 rebounds were the most this season by the Wildcats and the most since grabbing 49 at Missouri on Feb. 25, 2009, while the 32 defensive rebounds matched the total against Illinois State in the second round of the NIT on March 18, 2009. 

--The Wildcats defense held the Musketeers to just 29.4 percent (15-for-51) shooting, while pressuring them into 13 turnovers... It marks the third contest this season that an opponent was held under 30 percent shooting... Xavier set opponent team lows for field goals (15) and assists (six).

--K-State scored a season-low 71 points against Xavier on just 44 percent shooting, including a season-low 23.5 percent from 3-point range...  The team also set season-lows for field goals (22) and 3-point field goals (four).

--Junior Jacob Pullen led the Wildcats in scoring with 16 points, marking the 16th time in his career he has led the team in scoring... The Wildcats moved to 12-4 all-time when Pullen leads the team in scoring... He also recorded three assists and one steal in the contest... He scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half... The 16-point effort halted a streak of four consecutive games with 20 or more points.

--Junior Curtis Kelly added 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds while shooting 6-for-9 from the field... It marked the first time Kelly has been in double figures since posting 11 points and 11 rebounds in the win over IUPUI on Nov. 28... He has scored in double figures five times this year... Fellow front court mate Jamar Samuels also added 11 points and eight rebounds, marking his sixth double-digit scoring effort of the season.

--In a career-high 19 minutes, freshman Martavious Irving set a new career-high in scoring with eight points... He also moved the ball well with three assists and zero turnovers... He has averaged 6.7 points and 3.0 assists in the last three games on 15.7 minutes per game.

The Book on UNLV
A member of the Mountain West Conference, UNLV enters Saturday's game with a perfect 7-0 record after posting its second consecutive road win at Santa Clara, 66-63, on Dec. 5.  The Running Rebels opened the year with five consecutive home victories, including wins over Pittsburg State (91-52), Nevada (88-75), Southern Illinois (78-69), Holy Cross (80-59) and nationally-ranked Louisville (76-71).  The team then won a road game in overtime at Arizona (74-72) before the win at Santa Clara.  UNLV is off to its best start since the 1990-91 season when the Rebels lost in the national championship game to Duke.  

UNLV is averaging 79.0 points per game on the season on 45.3 percent shooting, including 26.2 percent from 3-point range, with 37.6 rebounds, 17.9 assists, 8.4 steals and 3.6 blocks per game.  The team is shooting a solid 67.6 percent from the free throw line.  Yet another young squad with just two seniors, the Rebels have already forced 125 turnovers this year compared to just 75 themselves  They are a balanced squad with nine players averaging five or more points, including a team-best 17.0 points per game by junior guard Tre'Von Willis on 53.2 percent shooting.  Willis paces the team in field goals (41), free throws (32), free throw percentage (91.4) and assists (27).  Sophomore guard Oscar Bellfield is second in scoring at 10.7 points per game on a team-best 28.9 minutes per game, while junior Derrick Jasper (7.7 ppg.) and senior Darris Santee (7.0 ppg.) average seven or more points each.  Sophomore Brice Massamba is the team's top shooter, connecting on 83.3 percent from the field.  Sophomore Chace Stanback is tops on the team in rebounding (5.7 rpg.) and steals (2.3 spg.) to go with 6.1 points per game.

UNLV is led by one of the nation's top coaches in Lon Kruger, who has compiled 437 wins at Texas Pan American (1982-86), Kansas State (1986-90), Florida (1990-96), Illinois (1996-2000) and UNLV.  In 2006-07, he became just the fifth coach in NCAA history to take four different schools to the NCAA Tournament and one of just two to lead four different schools to multiple NCAA Tournament appearances.  He has a 119-53 mark in five plus seasons at UNLV, which includes four postseason appearances and a 30-win season and trip to the Sweet 16 in 2006-07.
Series vs. UNLV
This will be the fifth all-time meeting between Kansas State and UNLV on the hardwood with the Runnin Rebels holding a 3-1 edge in the series.  The two teams first met back in 1982 when the Wildcats earned its first and only win in the series with an 82-65 victory over UNLV at Ahearn Field House.  The next two meetings happened in Las Vegas with the Rebels posting an 84-78 win in 1983 and then again 77-68 in 1984.  The last tilt between the two schools came in the second round of the 1987 when the Kruger-led Wildcats dropped an 80-61 decision to Jerry Tarkanian's eventual Final Four squad.  K-State is 31-21 (.596) all-time against teams from the Mountain West, including a 6-14 mark on the road.  The squad already has one win over a ranked team this season, knocking off No. 18/21 Dayton, 83-76, in the third-place game in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

'Cats in December
Kansas State will look to continue its strong play in December, where the Wildcats have won 36 of their last 46 games.  The squad is 443-230 (.657) all-time in December with 31 wins in their last 32 games at home in the month dating back to the 2002-03 season, including a current of streak of 19 consecutive home victories dating back to the 2004-05 season.  The team's last home loss in December came to Rutgers (76-66) on Dec. 28, 2004.  K-State has won four or more games in the month the last seven seasons, including six in both 2002-03 and 2006-07.  The squad has posted a winning record in December 61 times in their history, including seven consecutive seasons dating back to 2002-03.   The Wildcats won a school-record nine games in the month nine times in their history, including perfect 9-0 marks in 1947-48 and 1993-94.

Quite A Duo
Senior Denis Clemente and junior Jacob Pullen have become quite the scoring duo for the Wildcats in their two seasons together.  The two have combined to score 1,242 points in just over one season together, including finishing first and second in scoring in 2008-09.  They have combined to average 32.2 points per game through nine games this season, including Pullen's team-leading 18.1 points per game.  The 32.2-point combined average is the fifth-highest by a guard duo in school history, trailing Chuckie Williams and Mike Evans in 1974-75 (39.1) and 1975-76 (38.8) and Askia Jones and Anthony Beane in 1993-94 (33.5) and Steve Henson and Jean Derouillere in 1989-90 (33.1).  Historically, Clemente and Pullen are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 27.4) guard tandem since former NBA players Mike Evans and Chuckie Williams combined to average 38.9 points per game for the Wildcats between 1974-76.  They have combined to score 20 or more points 36 times in 41 games dating back to last season, including 30 or more points on 21 occasions.  Clemente and Pullen combined to score 40 or more points for the sixth time in the win over Washington State with 21 points each, while the duo also accomplished the feat with 21 and 26 points, respectively, in the win over No. 18/21 Dayton on Nov. 22.  The contest against the Cougars marked just the third time that both players have topped 20 or more points in the same contest following the Kansas game on Feb. 14, 2009 and the Dayton contest on Nov. 22.      

Clemente Tops 1,000
Senior Denis Clemente eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier with a pair of free throws just over a minute into the IUPUI game on Nov. 28.  Clemente, who transferred to K-State after playing two seasons at Miami (Fla.), has totaled 606 points his two-year career on 39.8 percent shooting (209-of-525) from the field, including 35.7 percent (76-of-213) from 3-point range, in 41 games.  He has a chance to break into the school's top-10 of career points by a transfer, needing just 197 points to tie Elliot Hatcher (803; 1994-96) for 10th place.  He scored 450 points in his two years as a Hurricane, connecting on 38.7 percent (167-of-432) of his field goals, including 31.5 percent (57-of-181) from beyond the arc, in 61 games.
Pullen Moving Up the Charts
Junior Jacob Pullen is nearing several career milestone as he is in the midst of his third season as a Wildcat.  With his 16-point effort against Xavier on Tuesday, Pullen now has 955 career points, which ranks 24th all-time in school history.  He needs 45 points to become the 21st player in school history to tally 1,000 career points.  He ranks in the top 10 in both 3-point field goals made and attempted, ranking fifth in attempts with 409 and sixth in makes with 133.  He needs 30 3-point attempts to move ahead of Lance Harris (439, 2003-07) for fourth place, while he needs nine 3-point field goals to move past Will Scott (142, 1986-88) for fifth place all-time.  He became the sixth player in school history to top 100 steals in a career with his three steals against Boston in the opener in the Puerto Rico.  He needs three more thefts to move into fourth-place all-time ahead of Belvis Noland (110, 1993-95) and Aaron Swartzendruber (110, 1994-98).  Pullen could join Steve Henson (1987-90) and Askia Jones (1989-94) as the only players with 1,000 points (needs 45 points), 200 3-pointers (needs 67), 250 assists (already has 251) and 100 steals (already has 107).  He currently holds the longest current games played streak at 76 games, while he has started 43 consecutive games.