6/6 K-State Battles Florida in Orange Bowl Classic

Head coach Frank Martin is a native of Miami and spent over 15 years as a high school coach in the area.

Dec. 16, 2010

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6/6 Kansas State (9-1, 0-0 Big 12)
vs. rv/24 Florida (7-2, 0-0 SEC)
MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic

Date: Saturday, December 18, 2010  |  Tipoff: 2:30 p.m. CT
Location: Sunrise, Fla.  |  Arena: BankAtlantic Center (20,737)
Television: FOX Sports Florida (Rich Waltz, play-by-play; Mark Wise, analyst; Allison Williams, sideline reporter; Kevin Patterson, producer)  |  Channels: DirecTV 671, Dish Network 418 
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst) 
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International `93) is 81-33 (.711) in his fourth season as a head coach and at the school.  Florida - Billy Donovan (Providence `87) is 373-161 (.699) in his 16th season as a coach and 338-141 (.706) in his 15th year at the school.
Series: First meeting  |  Martin vs. Donovan:  First meeting  |   K-State vs. SEC:  19-20  |  Last time vs. SEC:  W, Alabama, 87-74, 12/19/09
Last Time Out:  K-State knocked off Loyola Chicago, 68-60, on the road on Dec. 11, while Florida beat Kent State, 65-52, at home, on Dec. 9.
Rankings: K-State is No. 6 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Top 25 polls, while Florida is No. 24 in the coaches' poll and receiving votes in the AP.
Tickets: Tickets are priced from $20-$95 through the Orange Bowl by calling (305) 341.4702 or online at OrangeBowl.org.

K-State battles Florida in Orange Bowl Classic on Saturday
No. 6/6 Kansas State (9-1) begins a stretch of three games in a six-day span on Saturday, as the Wildcats travel to Sunrise, Fla., to play No. 24 Florida (7-2) in the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic at the BankAtlantic Center at 2:30 p.m. CT.  It will be the second game of a doubleheader at the Classic, following the opener between Miami (7-2) and unbeaten UCF (9-0), which is set for noon CT.  The game will be broadcast regionally on FOX Sports Florida with Rich Waltz (play-by-play), Mark Wise (analyst) and Allison Williams (sideline reporter) on the call.  It will be available to fans in the state of Kansas as well as the Kansas City area on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest channels.  

Saturday's game will be a homecoming for a number of those involved in K-State basketball, most notably head coach Frank Martin, who is a native of nearby Miami, Fla.  Martin spent over 15 years coaching high school basketball in Miami, including head coaching stints at North Miami (1993-95), Miami Senior (1995-98) and Booker T. Washington (1999-2000) High Schools before joining the college ranks in 2000.  He also spent time as an assistant coach and junior varsity coach for Miami Senior from 1985-93, where he coached under legendary Stingarees' mentor Marcos "Shakey" Rodriguez.  The trip will also be a homecoming for director of student-athlete development Doug Edwards as well as players Freddy Asprilla and Martavious Irving.  Edwards starred at Miami Senior from 1986-89 and was the runner-up to Kenny Anderson for USA Today's 1989 National High School Player of the Year as well as a McDonald's All-American and Florida Mr. Basketball.  A native of Colombia, Asprilla played one season at Florida International, where he was named the 2008-09 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year.  Irving, a native of Fort Lauderdale, was rated one of top players in the state in 2009 by a number of recruiting services while starring at Boyd Anderson High School.         

K-State enters Saturday's contest having won 14 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 14-game winning streak is the longest in December since the team won 16 in a row between 1946-48.  Overall, the team is 33-7 in the month since 2004-05, including an impressive 18-3 mark under head coach Frank Martin.  The team already capped November by earning their school-record sixth win and posting their highest winning percentage (.857). 

K-State ran its winning streak to five games on Dec. 11, as the Wildcats won their second consecutive road game of the season with a 68-60 victory over Loyola Chicago.  It was the first win in four meetings against the Ramblers and evened the all-time series at four wins each.  The game was a homecoming for Maywood, Ill., native Jacob Pullen, who had between 200-300 family and friends in attendance.  Pullen didn't disappoint, leading the team in points (19), rebounds (nine) and assists (four) for the first time in his career, while playing a season-high 39 minutes.  He has now led the team in scoring in eight of 10 games this season, while topping double figures on eight 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 13 in the Top 5.

The Wildcats struggled offensively in the contest, shooting just 42 percent from the field and 60 percent from the free throw line, but once again used a strong defensive effort to post the victory.  The squad held Loyola Chicago to just 60 points on 31.3 percent shooting, including just 21.1 percent from the 3-point line, while forcing 15 turnovers.  The team has now held eight opponents to 65 points or less, including each of the last five opponents, while holding six foes to under 40 percent shooting from the field.  During the five-game winning streak, opponents have combined to average just 58.8 points on 35.1 percent shooting, including 24.4 percent from 3-point range.  The team is now 58-6 under Frank Martin when holding an opponent below 70 points, including 9-0 this season. 

Despite the good overall defensive day, the squad was manhandled on the glass, as the Ramblers became the first opponent this season to out-rebound the Wildcats.  The 45 total rebounds, including 23 offensive boards, were the most by an opponent this season and the most by a non-conference foe under Frank Martin.  Loyola used the 23 offensive rebounds to score 16 second-chance points, which again was an opponent high.  The rebounding effort came just five days after posting 59 in a win over Alcorn State, which represented the most in game since grabbing 61 in a three-overtime loss at Oregon State in 2003.  The team is now just 13-14 under Martin when getting out-rebounded in comparison to 66-16 when out-rebounding an opponent.  

In all, eight players scored for Kansas State, including double-digit efforts for Pullen, sophomore Martavious Irving (12) and senior Curtis Kelly (10), while 10 grabbed at least one rebound.  The team has now had at least seven players score at least one point in each of the 10 games.  In addition, the Wildcats have gotten 20 or more points of production from their bench in nine contests, including 30 or more on six times.  Irving posted a career-high 12 points on 3-of-5 shooting, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, to go with a 4-of-4 effort from the free throw line in 22 minutes.  Kelly, who missed the first three games of the season, has now scored in double figures in five of the last six games. 

This will be first meeting between K-State and Florida on the hardwood in their respective histories.  The teams near met a year ago in the NCAA Tournament before the Gators lost in double-overtime, 99-92, in the first round to a BYU team the Wildcats knocked off in the round two, 84-72.  Although neither school has met, they have an interesting history with head coaches.  Lon Kruger, who helped the Gators to 104 wins and their first-ever trip to the Final Four from 1991-96, was hired in 1990 after a four-year stint at K-State.  Kruger is considered one of the Wildcats' greatest players, twice earning Big Eight Player of the Year en route to helping the school to two Big Eight titles and a pair of Elite Eight appearances from 1971-74.  Ironically enough, the Wildcats' next opponent is UNLV, who is coached by Kruger.    
The Wildcats are ranked No. 6 in the fifth edition of both The Associated Press and USA Today/ ESPN Coaches Top 25 polls released on Dec. 13 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 13 consecutive polls dating back to last year, including a No. 7 ranking prior to the NCAA Tournament.  Overall, the school has appeared in 20 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 229-81 (.737) as a ranked team all-time in The Associated Press poll (which dates to 1949-50), including 146-37 (.796) as a Top 10 squad.  The Wildcats have played just three games previously as the nation's No. 6 team in the country, boasting a 3-0 (1.000) mark.  This will be just the fourth game as the No. 6 team and the first since knocking off Missouri, 63-53, on Feb. 27, 2010.

The Book on Florida
Florida enters Saturday's game with a 7-2 record after posting a 65-52 win over Kent State at home on Dec. 9.  The Gators have won six of their last seven games, including back-to-back victories over American (67-48) and Kent State (65-52), since suffering a home loss to No. 2/2 Ohio State on Nov. 16.  The team rattled off four consecutive wins after the loss to the Buckeyes, including home victories over North Carolina A&T (105-55), Morehead State (61-55) and Florida Atlantic (79-66) to go along with a big road victory over archrival Florida State (55-51).  The Gators' lone other loss came against at UCF, 57-54, on Dec. 1.  The team returns eight letterwinners, including all five starters, from a squad that posted a 21-13 overall record, including a 9-7 mark in Southeastern Conference play, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10.    

The Gators are averaging 70.9 points on 48.2 percent shooting from the field, including 31.8 percent from 3-point range, with 36.8 rebounds, 14.3 assists, 7.4 steals and 4.2 blocks per game.  The team has been strong defensively, holding opponents to 59.4 points on 41.6 percent shooting, including 34.6 percent from beyond the arc, while forcing 14.2 turnovers per game.  The squad has a balanced scoring attack with six players averaging at least seven points per game, including four in double figures.  Sophomore Kenny Boynton and junior Erving Walker lead the team in scoring at 12.1 points per game and have combined for 36 of the team's 48 3-point field goals.  Seniors Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus pack a powerful punch down low for the Gators, combining to average 33.2 points and 15.1 rebounds per game.  Macklin, the team leader in field goal percentage (64.8), ranks third in scoring (10.9 ppg.) and first in rebounding (5.9 rpg.), while Parsons and Tyus are fourth and fifth, respectively, in scoring at with 10.2 and 9.9 points per game.  Parsons and Tyus also rank second and third in rebounding.

Florida is led by 15th-year head coach Billy Donovan, who has guided the school to two NCAA titles (2006, 2007) and three trips to the Final Fours.  He has posted a 373-161 (.699) record in 16 seasons as a head coach, including a school-record 338-141 (.706) mark at Florida.  He also has won three SEC regular-season championships (2000, 2001, 2006) and three SEC Tournament titles (2005, 2006, 2007) during his tenure.

Series vs. Florida
This will be first meeting between K-State and Florida on the hardwood.  The teams near met a year ago in the NCAA Tournament before the Gators lost in double-overtime, 99-92, in the first round to a BYU team the Wildcats knocked off in the round two, 84-72.  K-State is 19-20 against teams from the SEC, including a split of two neutral-site games last year with Ole Miss and Alabama.  The Wildcats lost to the Rebels, 86-74, in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-off on Nov. 20 before defeating Alabama, 87-74, at the Coors Classic in Mobile, Ala., on Dec. 19.

Series vs. UNLV
K-State will continue its tough stretch of games on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats play host to No. 22/22 UNLV (9-2) at Kansas City's Sprint Center before a nationally-televised audience on ESPN2.  It will mark the fourth consecutive year that the team has held a home game at the Sprint Center.
`Cats in December
Kansas State will look to continue its strong play in the month of December, where the Wildcats have won 43 of their last 53 games.  The team is 450-230 (.662) 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 14 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 10 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 31.1 points per game off the bench, while out-scoring its 10 foes by a margin of 311-119.  The squad has scored 30 or more points from the bench in six of the last nine 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 32 double-digit scoring efforts this season, including 12 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 9-1 start for this season.  This nucleus has scored 359 of the team's 762 points thus far (47 percent), while posting 188 of 424 rebounds (44 percent), 80 of 153 assists (52 percent) and 33 of 78 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.  Twelve of 32 double-digit scoring efforts have come from sophomores and freshmen led by guard Rodney McGruder, who leads the team in 3-point field goals (22) and is second in rebounding (6.2 rpg.) and minutes played. (27.7 mpg.).  McGruder is third in scoring at 11 points per game, while fellow sophomore Martavious Irving is fifth at 6.6 points per game.  Will Spradling, who became just the second true freshman guard to earn a start under head coach Frank Martin, ranks first in free throw percentage (93.8) and is second in assists (2.1 apg.) and steals (1.0 spg.).

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 2,172 points off of 1,917 turnovers in 114 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, 196-124.  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 nine 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 K-State.  With his game-high 19 points against Loyola Chicago on Dec. 11, he eclipsed Steve Henson (1,655, 1987-90) for fifth place on the school's all-time scoring chart.  Just the sixth player in school history and the first since Askia Jones in 1993 to top the 1,600-point barrier, Pullen's current total of 1,669 points in 114 career games is 17 points behind Bob Boozer (1,685, 1956-59) for fourth place, while he trails Askia Jones (1,834, 1989-94) by 165 points for third and Rolando Blackman (1,844, 1977-81) by 175 points for second.  One of three players (Mike Evans and Rolando Blackman) in school history to score 1,500 points in his first three seasons, he has an outside chance (needs 446 points) to become the school's all-time scoring champion, which is currently held by Mike Evans with 2,115 points from 1974-78.  A season ago, he was one of three players to set the single-season record for games (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 13 in the Top 5 in school history.  Already the school's career record holder for 3-point field goal attempted (694), he became the leader in 3-point field goals (now at 245) 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).  His next record could come in steals, where his 181 career thefts trail Henson by nine.  He is also second in free throws made (396), third in assists (380), free throws attempted (519), steals per game (1.59) and consecutive games started (81), fourth in double-digit scoring games (84), minutes played (3,257) and fifth in consecutive games played (114) and games started (95).  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.