K-State Faces LBSU in Diamond Head Classic Final

Head coach Frank Martin will be looking to land K-State's first tournament title since 2006 on Sunday.

Dec. 24, 2011

HONOLULU, Hawai'i - Kansas State will attempt to win its first regular-season tournament title since 2006, as the Wildcats (9-1) take on surging Long Beach State (7-5) on Christmas Day in the finals of the third annual Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 at 8:30 p.m. CST on Sunday with Roxy Bernstein, Doug Gottlieb and Stephen Bardo on the call.  It will be fourth and final game of the tournament, as Southern Illinois and Xavier play in the seventh-place game at 1 p.m. CST, host Hawaii and Clemson in the fifth-place game at 3:30 p.m. CST and UTEP and Auburn in the third-place game at 6:30 p.m. CST.  

K-State enters Sunday's title game the winners of four in a row, including victories against Southern Illinois (83-58) and Texas-El Paso (78-70) in the first two days of the tournament.  The team has won nine of their first 10 games for the third consecutive season under head coach Frank Martin, which is a first by the Kansas State program.  The Wildcats have not won a tournament title since taking the Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Dec. 22-23, 2006. 

Long Beach State, which has faced one of the nation's toughest schedules have won three straight, including victories over Xavier (68-58) and Auburn (64-43) at the tournament.  The 49ers are battle tested after playing six of their 12 games on the road, including a win at Pittsburgh (86-76) on Nov. 16.  They have also fought in the hostile environments of Kansas (88-80) and North Carolina (84-78) before losing late.

The Wildcats have four players averaging in double figures led by senior Jamar Samuels' 12.1 points per game to go with his 7.1 rebounds per game average.  Will Spradling and Thomas Gipson average 11.2 points per game and Rodney McGruder adds 10.8 points per game.  Overall, the squad is averaging 76.7 points per game on 44.5 percent shooting, including 32.3 percent from long range.  In the last two games, the average has been raised to 80.5 points on 49.5 percent from the field. 

However, the hot hand for the moment belongs to freshman Angel Rodriguez, who is averaging 16.5 points on 62.5 percent shooting, including 77.8 from beyond the arc, in the 24.5 minutes per game in the tournament.  He has led the Wildcats in scoring in each of the last two games with a season-high 17 points against Southern Illinois on Thursday and 16 against UTEP on Friday.

The veteran 49er squad has three players averaging in double figures led by All-American candidate Casper Ware, who averages 16.7 points in 35.6 minutes per game and a team-best 27 3-point field goals.  Larry Anderson averages 14.9 points on 54.4 percent shooting, including 19 treys, while T.J. Robinson adds 12.3 points on 50.4 percent shooting.  In all, LBSU is averaging 73.5 points on 47 percent shooting, including 35.2 percent from 3-point range.  The team is averaging just 66 points in the tournament, but their stellar defense is holding foes to just 50.5 points on 35.2 percent shooting.

This will be the sixth meeting between K-State and Long Beach State on the hardwood and the first since the 49ers earned a 70-64 win over the Wildcats on Jan. 4, 2000.