K-State hosts Kennesaw State Sunday

Game 10

Kennesaw State (2-6) at Kansas State (6-3)

Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006

Bramlage Coliseum (13,340) in Manhattan, Kan.


Game Information:

Tipoff: 2:37 p.m. Central

Series: First Meeting
(5-1 vs. teams from the Atlantic Sun)

TV: Fox Sports Midwest (Available only in Kansas City and state of Kansas)

Satellite Channels: DirecTV 648, Dish Network 444

Talent: Ben Boyle (Play-by-Play) and Stan Weber (Analyst)

Radio: K-State Sports Network (31 affiliates), Yahoo! Radio

Talent: Wyatt Thompson (Play-by-Play) and Matt Walters (Analyst)


Kansas State begins play in Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Sunday

Kansas State (6-3) returns from a well-deserved nine-day rest for final exams on Sunday, as the Wildcats open up competition in the Findley Toyota Las Vegas Holiday Classic with a matinee at Bramlage Coliseum against Kennesaw State (2-6) at 2:30 p.m. 

Sunday’s contest will be the first of back-to-back home games for K-State, which concludes on Tuesday, Dec. 19 against Maryland-Eastern Shore (1-5).  The Wildcats head to Las Vegas on Dec. 20 where they will play in the semifinals against USC (7-2) on Friday, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. CT.  The tournament wraps on Saturday, Dec. 22 with a match-up against either No. 8 Wichita State (7-0) or New Mexico (5-2). 

The game will be televised throughout the state and the Kansas City area by Fox Sports Midwest with Ben Boyle (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (color) calling the action.  The audio broadcast of the game can also be heard on the 31-station K-State Sports Network (or via the internet at http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaab/teams/kab) with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Matt Walters (color) on the call. 

K-State has won 24 of its last 31 games against non-conference opponents, including a 21-1 (.955) mark at home.  The Wildcats have won 15 consecutive games against non-league foes at home.

This will be the first meeting between Kansas State and Kennesaw State in their respective histories.  The Wildcats are a perfect 5-0 all-time against teams from the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Noting the North Dakota State game

*Kansas State is now 4-0 all-time against North Dakota State and completed the three-game contract with the Bison with a perfect 3-0 record... The series began with a 70-61 win in Manhattan on Nov. 19, 2004, which also marked NDSU’s first game at the Division I level... The Wildcats then took an 82-56 win over the Bison on Jan. 2, 2006 before finishing with the 83-81 victory in Fargo on Dec. 9... K-State is now 10-2 all-time against independents.

*Kansas State has now scored 83 points or more in each of the last three games for the first time since the 1997-98 season... It also marks the first time since December 2004 and January 2005 that Wildcats have eclipsed the 80-point barrier in three consecutive games.

*Kansas State rebounded from a tough first half to shoot 65.4 percent in the second half against North Dakota State... It marked the second time in four halves that the Wildcats have topped the 60 percent barrier from the field... The team has averaged 50.3 points in the second half of the last three contests on an impressive 56.4 percent shooting from the field, including 50.0 percent from 3-point range.


*Kansas State turned the ball over a season-low six times against North Dakota State... It was the lowest turnover total since also managing just six against No. 7 Texas on Feb. 22, 2006... The Wildcats have averaged 13.1 turnovers per game this season.

*Senior guard Lance Harris led the Wildcats in scoring for the third time this season and the 11th time in his career with 24 points on 8-of-10 field goals, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc... It marked the third time this season that Harris has eclipsed the 20-point barrier.


*Senior forward Cartier Martin notched 18 points and a team-high six rebounds all off the bench, while junior David Hoskins collected double figure points for the second straight game with 14... Senior Jermaine Maybank collected a career-high 9 points on a perfect day shooting (3-of-3 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line), while senior guard Akeem Wright and junior Clent Stewart added six points each.


Offense Taking Flight

After struggling much of the season on the offensive end, Kansas State is beginning to find its rhythm.  The Wildcats have averaged 86.3 points on 52.6 percent shooting, including 43.9 percent from 3-point range, in the last three contests after averaging just 66.0 points on 36.3 percent shooting, including just 29.0 percent from beyond the arc, in the first six games.  The 259 points scored during the three-game stretch are the most by a K-State squad since totaling 271 points against Western Carolina, Long Beach State and Mercer to open the 1997-98 season.  It also marked the first time since the 2004-05 season that the Wildcats have scored 80 or more points in three consecutive games. 


In doing so, the team has shot 50 percent or better in four of their last six halves of basketball, including 60 percent or better in two of the last four halves.  Against Cleveland State on Dec. 9, Kansas State shot a season-high 61.5 percent from the field and topped the 90-point barrier for the second time this season.  It marked the first time in nearly two seasons that the squad shot 60 percent or better from the field since shooting 62.8 percent (27-of-43) against Nebraska on Feb. 4, 2004.


Second Half Sensation

A key in Kansas State’s recent offensive surge has been its play in the second half.  The Wildcats have averaged 50.3 points on 56.4 percent shooting, including 50.0 percent from 3-point range, in the second half of the past three contests.  In the previous six contests, the team had averaged 34.7 points in the second half on 40.2 percent shooting, including just 28.3 percent from beyond the arc.  During the current stretch, K-State has nearly doubled its first-half points in two of the three contests, including a 29-point swing against Colorado State on Dec. 2 and a 21-point outburst against North Dakota State on Dec. 9.  The Wildcats have also posted 50 or more points in two of the last three second halves, including 56 points against the CSU.  The team has been led by seniors Cartier Martin and Lance Harris in the last three second halves, where they are averaging 12.7 and 8.3 points, respectively.


Lift From The Bench

Kansas State has gotten a nice lift from its bench this season with an average of 22.7 points coming from its reserves this season.  The impact has been even more telling in the last three contests, where the Wildcats have averaged 35.3 points off the bench and have outscored Colorado State, Cleveland State and North Dakota State by a 106-34 advantage.  This current streak came on the heels of being outscored 67-47 off the bench in the previous three games against New Mexico, Coppin State and California


The most telling aspect of the bench play in the last three games is its diversity.  The team has gotten signifcant scoring from seven different players, while one player - senior Akeem Wright - earned a starting job after averaing 10.0 points from the  bench against Colorado State and Cleveland State.  Senior Serge Afeli collected a career-high 14 points against Colorado State on Dec. 2, while junior Clent Stewart and Wright added nine and seven points, respectively.  Wright then posted a season-high 13 points against Cleveland State on Dec. 5, while freshmen Jason Bennett and Luis Colon chipped in 11 and nine points, respectively.  In his first reserve play in more than two years, senior Cartier Martin came off the bench to score 18 points against NDSU, while senior Jermaine Maybank added nine points on a perfect shooting performance.


Road Reversal

After struggling for most of the past five seasons on the road, Kansas State has taken a step forward this season with victories in two of the first five non-conference road contests.  The Wildcats were a dismal 1-12 in non-conference road games heading into the 2005-06 season and now the team has doubled that total in just five games this season.  It also marks the first time since the 1997-98 season that the program has won two non-conference road tilts.  K-State snapped a five-game losing streak in a 55-41 win over Rutgers on Nov. 15.  It was the program’s first non-league road victory since a 79-66 win over Wichita State on Dec. 14, 2002 and the first in a true’ (on an opponent’s home court) road opener since a 71-50 win over UMKC on Dec. 3, 1997.       


In Bill We Trust

Sunday will mark the debut of highly-touted freshman forward Bill Walker.  He will be able to join the basketball squad on Saturday, the first day that a mid-year student-athlete can become eligible for athletic aid, practice and competition, and play against Kennesaw State the following day.  Walker signed a financial aid agreement with the university on Nov. 3 and recently completed a one-hour course in the fall semester.  He joins the Kansas State program after exhausting his athletic eligibility at North College Hill High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he guided the Trojans to two Division III state championships in 2004-05 and 2005-06.  He enrolled in an accelerated program through North College Hill and received his diploma this fall.    

A 6-foot-6, 225-pound small forward from Huntington, W. Va., Walker is one of the most highly-regarded high school recruits to ever join the Kansas State program.  A three-year starter at North College Hill, he helped the school to a 26-1 overall record, the state title and a No. 3 final ranking in the USA Today Super 25 High School rankings as a junior in 2005-06.  He averaged 21.7 points and 10.1 rebounds en route to earning first team all-state honors from the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association and the Cincinnati Enquirer.  In addition, he was selected to the 2006 Parade magazine All-America Boys’ Basketball second team.  He was also named to the USA Today All-USA High School Boys’ Basketball All-Junior team and to the EA Sports High School Boys’ Basketball First Team.  He was named the most valuable player of the 2006 Ohio Division III state tournament, as he averaged 22.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game en route to helping the Trojans to the title.  

will wear No. 12 at Kansas State, which was also worn by Wildcat legends Mike Evans (1974-78) and Lon Kruger (1971-74).  Both Evans and Kruger had their jerseys retired last year.

Harris Stepping Up His Game

Bob Huggins has always been a coach that has gotten the most out of his talent and senior guard Lance Harris has been a prime example of that influence.  Harris has averaged 13.1 points on 49.4 percent shooting, including a team-best 46.8 percent from 3-point range, this season to go with a career-best 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 0.6 steals per game.  He paces the squad in both 3-point field goals (22) and 3-point field goal percentage (46.8), while he is second in scoring and field goal percentage and third in rebounding.  Harris has scored in double figures in six of the nine contests, including four of the last five.  He has also collected three 20-point efforts this year, including 22 against William & Mary on Nov. 11, a career-high 26 against Coppin State on Nov. 25 and 24 against North Dakota State on Dec. 9.  Harris has connected on three or more 3-point field goals in five of nine games.


Harris has been even more impressive in the past five games, where he is averaging 15.6 points on 59.2 percent shooting (29-of-49), including 57.7 from 3-point range (15-of-26) with 2.4 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 24.8 minutes per game.  He has topped double figures in four of the last five contests, including a pair of 20-point efforts.  Harris shot 55 percent or better from the field in four of those games, including connecting on a career-best 80 percent (8-of-10) against North Dakota State on Dec. 9.  He has also connected on at least two 3-point field goals in four of those games, including five against both Coppin State and NDSU, while he has shot 55 percent or better from beyond the arc with a career-high 83.3 percent against North Dakota State.    

Harris broke out of a two-game scoring slump against Coppin State on Nov. 25 by posting a season-high and tying his career-high with 26 points on 10-of-15 field goals, including 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc.  Harris registered his first career double-double against Rutgers with 11 points and a career-high 13 rebounds just four days after opening the season with a team-high 22-point effort against William & Mary.  He ranks among the top 10 in three Big 12 categories, including third in 3-point field goal percentage, sixth in 3-point field goals made (2.44) and 18th in scoring.

Young Undergoes Successful Knee Surgery

Junior guard Blake Young underwent successful knee surgery on Dec. 11 at Mercy Regional Health Center in Manhattan, Kan.  He suffered a partial tear of the medial meniscus in his right knee during the Wildcats’ scrimmage in late October.  With no risk of further damage, Young had been playing with the injury throughout the first nine games.  His return to play is dependent on the progression of his rehabilitation.

Young has made an immediate impact for the Wildcats this season after transferring from Daytona Beach (Fla.) Community College, where he was an honorable mention All-American as a sophomore in 2005-06.  The Orlando, Fla., native is averaging 8.8 points, a team-best 3.8 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals in a team-high 28.4 minutes per game this season.  After ranking third in NJCAA in scoring at 23.2 points as a sophomore at Daytona Beach, Young displayed his offensive potential with a big scoring effort against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 21 with a season-high 24 points on 6-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, to go with four assists, two steals and one block.   He has paced the Wildcats in assists in five of nine games this season, including dishing at least four assists in all but three contests.  Young posted a season-high six assists against Rutgers on Nov. 15. 


The Martin of Old

After averaging just 5.5 points on 33.3 percent shooting in the first two games, senior forward Cartier Martin has seemed to return to his old shooting touch that made him a second team All-Big 12 selection a year ago.  He has averaged 18.3 points in that span on 46.9 percent shooting (46-of-98), including 36.1 percent from 3-point range, to bring his season average to a team-best 15.4 points.  Martin has scored in double figures in each of the last seven games, including a career-high 28 points on a career-best 10-of-19 field goals against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 18 that began the streak.  He continued his double-digit scoring in each of the last six games, including a back-to-back 21-point outputs against Colorado State and Cleveland State.  The CSU game marked the 17th time in his career he has posted 20 or more points, including the third time this season. 


Against Coppin State on Nov. 25, Martin became the 19th player and the first in almost 15 years to score 1,000 career points.  After struggling the first 33 minutes of the game, he caught fire in the last seven minutes against the Eagles to score 11 points on 3-of-3 field goals (all 3-pointers).  In all, he has scored in double figures in 54 games in his career. 

Martin Joins 1,000-Point Club

Senior forward Cartier Martin joined an elite fraternity at Kansas State in the win over Coppin State on Nov. 25, as he became the 19th player in school history and the first in the Big 12 era to score 1,000 career points.  The Houston, Texas, native hit the milestone at the 6:48 mark of the second half against the Eagles with a 3-pointer from the left corner to beat the shot clock.  It was the first of 11 points scored by the senior in the last seven minutes of the game.  Martin became the first Wildcat to eclipse the 1,000-point since since Askia Jones did it during the 1992-93 season. 


He enters Sunday’s game against North Dakota State with 1,086 career points, which now ranks 12th in school history, and needs 27 points to top Willie Murrell (1,112; 1963-64) for 11th place.  He needs 99 points to pass All-American Jack Parr (1,184; 1955-58) and crack the top-10.  A second team All-Big 12 performer by numerous outlets last season, Martin became the third player since 1990-91 to top 500 points in a single-season, while his 18.0 scoring average was the highest by a Wildcat since Askia Jones averaged 22.1 points in 1993-94.  In addition to his impressive scoring touch, Martin has been incredibly durable for the Wildcats, fighting through countless injuries to play in 79 consecutive games dating back to the Kansas game on Jan. 28, 2004.  He had his streak of 63 consecutive starts, which dated to November 27, 2004, end on Dec. 9 against North Dakota State.

Block Party

At no surprise, freshman center Jason Bennett, the tallest player in school history at 7-foot-3, has made an immediate impact on the defensive end of the court with 22 blocked shots this season, including a season record-tying six in a loss at California on Nov. 29.  Bennett tied the mark set first by Tony Kitt against Kansas on March 6, 1999 and then accomplished by Dramane Diarra against Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 26, 2005.  With 22 blocks on the year, he is just three away from breaking the freshman mark for blocks in a season (24 by Shawn Rhodes in 1995-96) and 38 away from eclipsing the school record for blocks in a season (59 by Gerald Eaker in 1995-96).  Bennett’s 2.75 blocks per game average ranks him second in Big 12.  His four blocks against William & Mary in the opener were the most by a Wildcat since Dramane Diarra had his school-tying six blocked shots against Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 26, 2005.  The total was also the most blocks by a true freshman since Travis Canby registered four against Kansas on Feb. 27, 2002.

Through nine games, Kansas State is averaging 5.44 blocked shots per game, including eight-block performances against William & Mary on Nov. 11 and Cleveland State on Dec. 5. The eight blocks are the most by a Wildcat team since blocking nine shots against Longwood on Dec. 5, 2005.   The Wildcats, whose block average is fourth in the Big 12, have recorded three or more blocks in eight of their nine games, including six or more six times.

Power Serge

Senior forward Serge Afeli flashed his potential in the loss at Colorado State on Dec. 2, as the Abidjan, Ivory Coast native registered career-highs in a three categories, including points (14), field goals (7) and minutes (21), and season-highs in nearly every category.  With freshman Luis Colon inactive and rookie Jason Bennett struggling offensively, Afeli was a big reason the Wildcats were able to post 36 points in the paint against a squad with three seven-footers and eight who are six-foot-seven or taller.  He came off the bench with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting and grabbed a season-high seven rebounds to go with one assist, one block and one steal in 21 minutes.  The 14 points were a huge effort for Afeli, who had scored just four points on two field goals in the team’s first six games and just 11 points in 16 games all of last season.  His minutes were even more impressive as they represented nearly a third of his season total (21 of 64) and nearly 20 percent of his total (21 of 120) from all of last season.  For his efforts against the Rams, Afeli earned his first career start against Cleveland State on Tuesday.  He struggled from the field, however he did grab three rebounds in nine minutes.


The Book on Kennesaw State

Kennesaw State enters Sunday’s game with a 2-6 record and has not played since losing in overtime at Mercer, 84-77, on Dec. 2.  The Owls have dropped five of their last six contests since splitting their first two games of the season.  After opening the season with a 96-55 loss at Western Kentucky, the team split games at the Columbia Classic against St. Peter’s and host Columbia.  KSU then dropped back-to-back games at home to George Washington (69-52) and Florida International (70-68) before halting the streak with a 68-55 win over Newberry.  The Owls have dropped three in a row on the road.  


Kennesaw State is averaging 61.8 points on 36.6 percent shooting with 36.5 rebounds and have two players averaging in double figures.  The team is led by junior forward Shuan Stegall, who paces the squad in both scoring (17.6 ppg.) and rebounding (9.8 rpg.).  Stegall originally signed with Nebraska out of high school and played one season for the Huskers before transferring to Kennesaw State last season.  Junior forward Ronell Wooten averages 13.0 points on 45.6 percent shooting and paces the squad with 22 3-point field goals.  Senior guard Golden Ingle averages 8.5 points and a team-best 5.4 assists, while sophomore guard Andre Morgan adds 7.9 points and a team-high 2.8 steals. 

Head coach Tony Ingle has a 200-117 record in his 11th season as a head coach, including a 129-67 mark in his seventh year at Kennesaw State


Series Versus Kennesaw State

Kansas State and Kennesaw State will be meeting for the first time in their respective histories.  The Wildcats are 5-0 all-time against teams from the Atlantic Sun Conference with two wins over Gardner-Webb and Lipscomb and one over Mercer.  K-State is also 5-0 lifetime against teams from Georgia.


Up Next: Maryland-Eastern Shore (1-5)

Maryland-Eastern Shore enters Tuesday’s game with a 1-5 record, which excludes the team’s opening round game at Wichita State on Sunday.  The Hawks have been off since losing a tight 65-62 decision to Howard at home on Dec. 9.  The team began the season with three consecutive losses, including road losses at Navy and Virginia, before breaking the streak with a 64-58 road win at Stony Brook.  UMES then dropped back-to-back games, first on the road to George Washington, 79-56, then at home to Howard in its last outing.   

Maryland-Eastern Shore is averaging 63.5 points on 39.4 percent shooting with 32.0 rebounds and have four players averaging in double figures.  The Hawks are a very balanced scoring team with four players averaging 13 or more points and are led by sophomore guard Jesse Brooks.  The sophomore guard averages a team-best 14.2 points to go along with a team-high 4.2 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 35.8 minutes, while senior forward Antonio McMillion adds 13.5 points per game and a team-best 6.0 rebounds per game.  Senior Corey Brown averages 13.3 points on 46.9 percent shooting (including 41.9 percent from 3-point range), while sophomore guard Ed Tyson adds 13.2 points per game.    

Head coach Larry Lessett has a 10-53 record in his third season as a head coach and at Maryland-Eastern Shore.


Huggins No Stranger To Vegas 

Kansas State head coach Bob Huggins is no stranger to Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.  His Cincinnati teams played tournament games in Vegas on four occasions in his career - the Las Vegas Shootout in 1998-99 and 2000-01 as well as the Las Vegas Classic in 2001-02 and 2004-05.  The Bearcats also played in the Classic last season, in which the team captured the title with a win over eventual Final Four participant LSU with his former assistant coach Andy Kennedy at the helm.  Huggins also has a long-standing relationship with the organizers of the current tournament, which includes playing in the sponsored Puerto Rico Holiday Classic in 1996-97 and 2000-01, a precursor to the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.