K-State Returns Home to Face GWU Sunday

Game Information
Kansas State (6-3) vs. Gardner-Webb (2-6)

Date: Sunday, December 14, 2008
Tipoff: 6:06 p.m. CT
Location: Manhattan, Kan.
Arena: Bramlage Coliseum (1988)
Capacity: 12,528

Series: K-State leads 2-0 (K-State is 2-0 at home)
Television: none
Webcast: www.k-statesports.com 
(Powercat Passport subscription required)

Radio: K-State Sports Network; Powercat Passport Internet Audio;   
Yahoo! Internet Radio; Sirius Satellite 91
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play)
Stan Weber (analyst)

Tickets: Tickets are available for purchase for $35 (chairback, sections 3-9) and $30 (general admission) at K-State Athletics Ticket Office, by calling 1.800.221.CATS and online at www.k-statesports.com.   

Kansas State Wildcats

Record: 6-3 (0-0 Big 12)

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

Coach: Frank Martin

Alma Mater: Florida International, 93

Career Record: 27-15/1

School Record: 27-15/1

vs. Gardner-Webb: 0-0

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

Last game: Dec. 11, 2008

Defeated Southern Miss, 74-55

SID: Tom Gilbert

Website: www.k-statesports.com


Gardner-Webb Bulldogs

Record: 2-6 (0-0 Big South)

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

Coach: Rick Scruggs

Alma Mater: Georgia, 79

Career Record: 358-301/21

School Record: 180-186/14

vs. Kansas State: 0-2

07-08 Record: 16-16 (9-7 Big South)

Last game: Dec. 12, 2008

Lost at Wichita State, 76-64

SID: Marc Rabb

Website: www.GWUSports.com


Projected Starters

Kansas State (6-3)

G - #0 Jacob Pullen (6-0, 200, So.)

G - #21 Denis Clemente (6-1, 175, Jr.)

F - #23 Dominique Sutton (6-5, 210, So.)

F - #42 Darren Kent (6-11, 230, Sr.)

F - #50 Luis Colon (6-10, 265, Jr.)

Gardner-Webb (2-6)

G - #4 Grayson Flittner (6-0, 200, Jr.)

G - #23 Aaron Linn (6-3, 200, Sr.)

F - #25 Nate Blank (6-4, 225, So.)

F - #35 Jonathan Moore (6-4, 190, So.)

C - #42 Auryn MacMillian (6-8, 235, Jr.)


Game Preview

Kansas State (6-3) returns home from a 19-day road trip on Sunday, as the Wildcats play host to Big South foe Gardner-Webb (2-6) at Bramlage Coliseum beginning at 6 p.m.  It will be the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday, as the nationally-ranked Wildcat women (8-0) host UT-Arlington (3-4) at 1 p.m.  The doubleheader is the first of three planned between the men’s and women’s squads, including the first two Saturdays in January (3 and 10). 

The contest begins a season-long six-game homestand for Kansas State, which last played at home on Nov. 25 against Oakland.  The squad will take the next week off for exams before returning to action on Saturday, Dec. 20 against Centenary (2-8).  The contest has been dubbed “The Big Red One Holiday Appreciation Game,” which will honor soldiers and their families from nearly Fort Riley.

State broke a three-game losing streak on Thursday, as the Wildcats were solid from start to finish in a 74-55 win over Southern Miss at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.  The squad connected on 46.6 percent from the field, including 50 percent in the first half, and held a 40-31 edge in rebounding the victory.  The team held the Eagles to opponent-lows in three categories, including points (55), 3-point field goals (three) and field goal percentage (31.3).  It marked the fourth time that the Wildcats have held an opponent to 60 points or less, including the third time to a score in the 50s. 

Eight Wildcats scored, including a career night for junior forward Luis Colon, who led the team with both career-highs in scoring (18) and rebounding (11).  Colon went a perfect 9-of-9 from the field, becoming the first Wildcat to convert on that many field goals since Pervis Pasco also went 9-of-9 against Monmouth on Dec. 29, 2002. 

Sophomore guard Jacob Pullen added 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while senior forward Darren Kent chipped in 11 points, including a 9-of-9 effort from the free throw line, to go with seven rebounds.  Junior guard Denis Clemente posted six points, six assists and two steals, while sophomore forward Dominique Sutton collected a career-best six assists and six rebounds in a career-high 34 minutes.  

The game will be webcast on its official site, www.k-statesports.com, via Powercat Passport, the online destination for exclusive live and on-demand streaming video and audio for Wildcat fans.  There are subscription packages available on an annual and monthly basis. This will be third of five live webcasts in 2008-09, which includes contests with Centenary (Dec. 20) and North Carolina Central (Feb. 17).

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

Season tickets are still available this season in a variety of ticket packages, which can be viewed online at www.k-statesports.com.  Single-game tickets are available for purchase for $35 (chairback, sections 3-9) and $30 (general admission) at Athletics Ticket Office, by calling 1.800.221.CATS and online at www.k-statesports.com.

’Cats in December

Kansas State is 438-232 (.654) all-time in the month of December, including wins in 30 of its last 40 games.  The Wildcats have won 25 of their last 26 games at home in December dating back to the 2002-03 season, including their current 13-game homecourt winning streak.  The team’s last loss at home in the month came to Rutgers, 76-66, on Dec. 28, 2004.  It was the first December home loss since 2001.

Last season, K-State posted its sixth consecutive winning December dating back to the 2002-03 season.  The squad went 4-2 in the month  in 2007-08, defeating California (82-75), Florida A&M (87-60), Winston-Salem State (90-48) and Wagner (101-59) at home and losing to Notre Dame (68-59) and Xavier (103-77) at neutral sites.

Most November Wins

Kansas State finished the month of November with a 5-2 record, which tied the 1998-99 (5-2) and 2007-08 (5-2) squads for the most in the month in school history.  In all, the Wildcats are 76-23 (.768) in the month, including wins in 25 of its last 31 games.  The team has won 21 of its 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.

Rally Cats

Kansas State have rallied from deficits in the second half in each of its last three losses, including double-digit deficits in games against Kentucky and Iowa at the Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 28-29. 

K-State was down 17 points (54-37) to Kentucky with 12:44 left in the second half on Nov. 28 and used a 22-7 run to cut the advantage to 61-59 with 5:31 remaining.  After falling back down by eight with 3:34 left, the Wildcats once again the cut the lead to two at 71-69 with a 10-4 run with just 19 seconds remaining.  However, it wasn’t enough, as Kentucky hit three of four free throws for the 74-72 win. 

The Wildcats trailed Iowa for much of the game, including a 13-point lead with 16:53 left in the second half.  K-State used a 24-10 run over the next 11 minutes to take its first lead at 53-52 on a lay-up by Jamar Samuels with 5:12 remaining.  The team traded the lead for the rest of the game, including six ties, until Iowa’s Cyrus Tate hit a running lay-up at the buzzer for the two-point win.

State was down eight points with 14:43 left against Oregon before cutting it to a single-point with 2:48 remaining.  However, the Wildcats could get no closer as the Ducks’ Tajuan Porter capped his 28-point effort with four straight free throws in last 22 seconds.

Explosive Offense

Kansas State has shown the ability to score early and often, as the Wildcats have totaled 697 points in their first nine games, average of nearly 78 points per game.  The team has scored 70 or more points in seven of nine games, including three consecutive contests to start the year.  The 96 points scored against Florida A&M on Nov. 14 tied three other teams for the fifth-most in an opener and most since 1991.

The 697 points tie for the second-most through nine games in the last 15 years at Kansas State, trailing just the 1997-98 (746) squad and tied with 2007-08 team.  The team scored 80 or more points in four of their first eight games for just the sixth time in its history, including the 1956-57, 1976-77, 1981-82, 1991-92 and 1997-98 seasons. 

Since Frank Martin’s arrival in 2007, K-State has shown the ability to score points, totaling two of the most prolific scoring teams in school history.  Last year, the Wildcats set the school mark with 2,574 points, while also posting the second-most field goals attempted (2067) and the third-most field goals (916) and 3-point field goals made (210) as well as the third-highest scoring average (78.0).  The 2,467 points in 2006-07 rank as the fourth-most in school history.

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 nine games, 12 of the 13 players that have seen action have tallied at least two points with nine totaling double-digit points. Just two players - sophomore guard Jacob Pullen and junior guard Denis Clemente - are averaging in double figures led by Pullen’s 15.2 points per game.  Six players are averaging eight or more points, including redshirt freshman forward Jamar Samuels (9.3 ppg.), senior forward Darren Kent (8.9 ppg.), sophomore forward Dominique Sutton (8.8 ppg) and sophomore guard Fred Brown (8.0 ppg.). 

Since statistics became available during the 1950-51 season, there has been just six teams to have four players average in double figures with the last coming in 2004-05.  Just one team - the 1955-56 squad - has had six players average eight or more points in a season. 

There has already been five different leading scorers in nine games.  Brown, Clemente and Pullen 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 against 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.  He also had a team-high 19 points against Oregon.  Pullen paced the team with three 20+ scoring games in the last four games, including a career-best 26 against Oakland.  Junior Luis Colon posted a team-high 18 points against Southern Miss on Thursday. 

In all, there have been 32 double-digit scoring games thus far with Pullen and Samuels doing it a team-best six times in nine 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 nine games, K-State is averaging 39.6 rebounds, including a Big 12-best 16.3 on the offensive end, with five players averaging four or more boards per game.  Three players - Ron Anderson, Luis Colon and Darren Kent - have grabbed double-digit rebounds five times with Kent and Dominique Sutton averaging a team best 5.9 rebounds per game.  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 and Colon each have one.  Anderson tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds against Emporia State on Nov. 19, while Colon grabbed his first one against Southern Miss with 18 points and 11 rebounds on Thursday.


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 194 points (28 percent of their season total of 697 points) off 172 opponent turnovers.  The squad has also outscored its opponents 101-52 on fast-break opportunities.

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 26 turnovers.  The team scored 17 points off 16 Cleveland State miscues and 27 points off 22 Oakland turnovers.  The squad collected a season-best 26 points off turnovers against Kentucky at the Las Vegas Invitational, while forcing an opponent-high 31 turnovers.  In all, K-State has forced four of nine opponents into 20 or more turnovers.

The Wildcats are averaging 7.6 steals per contest with eight players grabbing at least four led by Jacob Pullen’s team-high 18 steals.  Dominique Sutton is second with 13 steals, while Denis Clemente is third with seven thefts.

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 nine games, have combined for 242 points on 37.8 percent shooting (84-of-222), including 31.7 percent from 3-point range (33-of-104), with 58 of the team’s 130 assists.  Pullen ranks first on the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game on 36.8 percent shooting with team-highs in field goals made (46), 3-point field goals made (21), assists (31) and steals (18).  Clemente is second in scoring at 11.7 points per game on 39.2 percent shooting and assists (27), while is first in free throw shooting (81.0), second in assists and third in 3-point field goals (12).

Ironically, the two have scored in double figures four times in the same game with a combined 36 points against Florida A&M on Nov. 14, 31 against both Cleveland State on Nov. 22 and Kentucky on Nov. 28 and 45 against Oakland on Nov. 25.  Clemente has paced the team in scoring three times, including a season-best 19 points against Florida A&M and Oregon, while Pullen has led the team in scoring in three of the last five games with consecutive 20-point games.

Colon a Force in the Middle

A starter down low in the post, junior Luis Colon is starting to come into his own this season.  He is averaging 6.8 points on a team-best 64.1 percent shooting with 5.3 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game.  His 61 points are over half his entire total from his first two seasons, while his 48 rebounds are more than his entire total from 2007-08.  In the last four games, he has been even more impressive, averaging 8.8 points on 76.9 percent shooting with 7.0 rebounds in 20.6 minutes per game.  He had a career night against Southern Miss on Thursday, posting highs in points (18), rebounds (11) and minutes (27) en route to becoming the first Wildcat since 2002 to go 9-of-9 from the field.

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, he is third in scoring at 9.3 points on 56.6 percent shooting (30-of-53) with 4.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.0 blocks in 20.3 minutes per game.  Samuels and Jacob Pullen are the only players to score in double figures in six of the first nine games with a season-high 16 points against SE Missouri State on Nov. 16.

Samuels has also made improvements from the free throw line, where he connected on 78.3 percent (18-of-23) in the last six games.  He started the season hitting just 31.5 percent (6-of-19) from the stripe.   

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.

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 second on the squad in both minutes (26.0) and steals (1.4 spg.), while he is tied with Darren Kent for the lead in rebounds (5.9 rpg.) and is fifth in scoring at 8.8 points per game.  He nearly collected his first career double-double in the win over Oakland on Nov. 25 with nine points and nine rebounds.  He has scored in double figures four times, including a career-best 15 against Kentucky, and has grabbed six or more rebounds five times so far.

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, ranking first with 5.9 rebounds per game.  He is also averaging 8.8 points on 40.4 percent shooting (23-of-57) to go with 1.2 assists and 0.7 steals in 20.4 minutes per game.  Kent, who entered the year averaging 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in his career, has totaled two double-double, including career-highs in points (15) and rebounds (12) against SE Missouri State on Nov. 16.  He had 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds at Cleveland State on Nov. 22.


Gardner-Webb Update

Gardner-Webb enters Sunday’s contest with a 2-6 overall record after dropping a 76-64 decision at Wichita State on Friday night.  The squad, which was averaging 8.3 three-point field goals heading into the game, struggled from the field against the Shockers, hitting just two on 17 attempts in the loss.  The Bulldogs were led by center Auryn MacMillian and guard Aaron Linn, who scored 17 points each.  The loss was the first after back-to-back wins against Virginia-Wise and Radford.  The team had opened the season with four consecutive losses, including three by a total of eight points.

GWU has played particularily well against BCS-caliber opponents, including a three-point loss at Virginia Tech (65-62), four-point loss at top-10 Oklahoma (80-76) and at South Carolina (85-70).

The Bulldogs are averaging 72.5 points through eight games on 42.7 percent shooting, including 33 percent from 3-point range, with 37.5 rebounds, 15.3 assists, 8.8 steals and 2.1 blocks per game.  The team averages nearly eight 3-point field goals made per game. 

Gardner-Webb is led by a stellar backcourt of junior Grayson Flittner and senior Aaron Linn.  Flittner, is averaging a team-best 15.9 points with a team-high 3-point field goals to go with 4.6 assists, while Linn, a native of Lenexa, Kan., adds 15.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.  Linn was an all-state selection at Shawnee Mission (Kan.) West High School before becoming a NJCAA All-American in 2006-07 at Johnson County (Kan.) Community College.  |

Sophomore forward Nate Blank averages 11.4 points per game and junior center Auryn MacMillian adds 8.1 points per game to go with a team-best 5.4 rebounds per contest.  In all, six players are averaging six or more points per contest.

Gardner-Webb returns nine lettermen, including four starters, from a team that finished the 2007-08 season with a 16-16 overall record and 9-7 mark in Big South play.  The team has won 39 games in each of the past two seasons.

The Bulldogs are led by head coach Rick Scruggs, who has a 180-186 record in his 14th season at the helm.  Scruggs has a 358-301 mark in 21 years as a head coach, which includes stints at Milligan (Tenn.) College, Pikeville (Ky.) College, Belmont Abbey (Tenn.) College and North Greenville (S.C.) College.  He has a 0-2 record against K-State.

Series Information

Kansas State and Gardner-Webb have met two times in their histories with the Wildcats holding a 2-0 edge.  The two teams first met in 2001 with K-State earning a 75-57 win at home on Dec. 1, 2001.  The teams met again in 2003 with the Wildcats rallying to earn a 68-65 win at home on Nov. 29, 2003.

K-State is 2-0 all-time against teams from the Big South, with both wins coming against Gardner-Webb.

12-1-01     K-State 75-57     Manhattan

11-29-03    K-State 68-65     Manhattan

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.

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.