7/7 KANSAS STATE (21-4, 8-3 Big 12)
vs. Oklahoma (13-12, 4-7 Big 12)
Date: Saturday, February 20, 2010
Tipoff: 5:05 p.m. CT
Location: Norman, Okla. | Arena: Lloyd Noble Center (12,000)
Television: ESPNU (Clay Matvick, play-by-play; Stephen Howard, analyst; Bryan Jaroch, producer) | Channel Directory: DirecTV 614, Dish Network 141, AT&T U-Verse 605, Cox Cable 244 | Internet: www.ESPN360.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst) | Live Stats: www.SoonerSports.com | Local Stations: Sports Radio 1350 AM (KMAN; Manhattan), 101.5-FM (KMKF; Manhattan) | Satellite Radio: Sirius 121/XM 141
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International '93) is 64-28 (.696) in his third season at K-State. Oklahoma - Jeff Capel (Duke '97) is 82-45 (.646) in his fourth season at Oklahoma and 161-86 (.652) in eighth season overall as a head coach.
Last Time Out: K-State defeated Nebraska, 91-87, at home on Wednesday, while Oklahoma lost at Colorado, 77-67, also on Wednesday.
Series: Oklahoma leads 102-89 (OU leads 59-24 at home) | Last time: Oklahoma won 61-53 in Manhattan on Jan. 10, 2009 | Series Trend: Oklahoma has won 10 of the 14 meetings in the Big 12 era | Frank Martin is 1-1 vs. Oklahoma, while Jeff Capel is 1-2 vs. K-State.
Rankings: K-State is ranked No. 7 in AP Top 25 and No. 7 in USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25. Oklahoma is not ranked in either poll.
Tickets: $10, $25, $35 by calling the Oklahoma Athletics Ticket Office at (405) 325.2424 or online at www.SoonerSports.com.
K-State begins two-game road trip at Oklahoma Saturday
Kansas State (21-4, 8-3 Big 12) begins a big stretch of back-to-back road trips this weekend, as the Wildcats travel to Norman, Okla., to face Oklahoma (13-12, 4-7 Big 12) at the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday at 5 p.m. CT. The squad will play three of their next four games on the road, which includes an excursion to Texas Tech (16-9, 4-7 Big 12) on Tuesday before a showdown at No. 1/1 Kansas (25-1, 11-0 Big 12) on March 3. Longtime rivals dating back to the old Missouri Valley Conference, this will be the 192nd meeting between K-State and Oklahoma in a series that has been played every year since 1920. The Sooners, who owns a 102-89 edge in the series, including a 59-24 mark at home, are one of only two Big 12 teams to hold an advantage in an all-time series against the Wildcats. Oklahoma has won 10 of the 14 meetings in the Big 12 era, including five of the six at the Lloyd Noble Center. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU with Clay Matvick (play-by-play) and Stephen Howard (analyst) on the call.
K-State moved further up in the Top 10 on Monday, ranking seventh in both The Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. It marked the third time this season that the Wildcats have been ranked in the Top 10 in both polls, including the second straight week. It is the highest AP ranking since also placing sixth on March 13, 1962, while it is the highest ranking in the Coaches' poll since USA Today took over ownership of the poll in 1991-92. It marks the first time that the program has ranked among the AP Top 15 for seven consecutive weeks since the 1961-62 squad was ranked among the AP Top 10 for 15 weeks, while the team's current 10-week stay in the AP Top 25 is the longest since the 1972-73 squad was ranked for 16 straight weeks.
The Wildcats are off to their best start in nearly 50 years with their current 21-4 record. The mark ties for the fifth-best start in school history and the best since the 1961-62 squad finished the year at 22-3. The team posted their 23rd 20-win season on Feb. 13, becoming the first Wildcat squad to tally 20 or more wins in four consecutive seasons. In addition, Frank Martin became the first head coach in school history to post three 20-win seasons to start a career, while Wednesday's win over Nebraska tied him with Lon Kruger (64) for the most wins by a coach in his first three seasons.
K-State swept the season series from Nebraska for the first time since 2004 with a gutsy 91-87 win on Wednesday night at home. After seeing a nine-point advantage evaporate in the last 1:04, senior Chris Merriewether calmly hit a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left and fellow senior Jacob Pullen made a big steal of a deflected pass with six seconds left to clinch for the win. The Wildcats were led by senior Denis Clemente and junior Dominique Sutton, who each tallied 21 points in the contest, while Pullen added 18 points and a team-high six assists.
A Quick Look at Kansas State
K-State is averaging just over 80 points per game (80.8 ppg.) on 46 percent shooting (666-of-1449), including 35.8 percent from 3-point range (168-of-469), with 39.4 rebounds, 15.2 assists, 7.3 steals and 5.1 blocks per game. The squad has topped 80 or more points in 14 of 25 games (including five 90-point outputs), while hitting on 45 percent or better from the field on 13 occasions. With their 91 points against Nebraska, the Wildcats topped 2,000 points scored for the fourth consecutive season, while the current total of 2,021 points are the most through 25 games in school history, just ahead of the 1986-87 team who scored 2,020 in that span. The 80.8 points per game average could possibly rival the school record of 81.4 points averaged during the 1952-53 campaign. The 77.5 points per game average through the first 11 league games are most since the start of Big 12 play and the most in league play since averaging 81.5 points per game to start Big Eight play in 1986-87. The team is averaging 35 points (34.8) per game in the paint, while ranking first nationally in most personal fouls drawn (635) and free throws attempted (792) per game and eighth in free throws made (521). The defensive effort has also been solid, holding foes to 69.1 points on 41.8 percent shooting while averaging 21.3 points off of 17.6 turnovers per game. The Wildcats have scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 13 games, including 10 of the last 16 contests, while the 40 points off turnovers against South Dakota on Jan. 3 are the most since the statistic began being kept in 2005-06.
After Wednesday's win over Nebraska, the Wildcats are now 21-4 on the season, which is the best start under head coach Frank Martin and the best in school history since the 1961-62 squad finished at 22-3. Only four other teams have fared better after 25 games in K-State history, as the 1958-59 team started 24-1 and the 1950-51, 1957-58 and 1961-62 squads opened at 22-3 to start the year. The win over Colorado on Feb. 13 gave the team a 20-win season for an unprecedented fourth straight season, while it made Martin the first coach in school history to post 20 wins in each of his first three seasons. It was also the earliest 20-win season, surpassing the 1958-59 team that won its 20th game on Feb. 16, 1959.
Dubbed a mid-season second team All-American by both Yahoo! Sports and The Sporting News, junior Jacob Pullen leads four players in double figures at 18.6 points per game on 41.5 percent shooting from the field to go with team bests in field goals (131), 3-point field goals (71), free throws (133), free throw percentage (80.1) and steals (39), while backcourt mate Denis Clemente is second in scoring at 15.6 points per game on 38.2 percent shooting from the field and is tops on the team in assists (100) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3). The duo has combined for over 40 percent of the scoring (857) this year, while historically, they are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 34.2) 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. Earlier this season, Pullen became the 21st player in school history, including the eighth guard, to score 1,000 career points, while his current total of 1,257 points in 92 career games ranks 10th all-time, just 47 points shy of Ed Nealy (1,304; 1978-82) for ninth place. The only player to score in double figures in all 25 games, Pullen needs 14 3-pointers to become just the second player in school history (joining Steve Henson) with at least 1,000 points, 200 3-pointers, 300 assists and 100 steals. The USBWA's Oscar Robertson National as well as Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Feb. 8, Clemente has become of the one of top transfers ever to play at K-State, ranking sixth on the chart for points by a transfer (871). He also recently joined Pullen in the school's Top 10 for career 3-pointers (116; eighth) and 3-pointers attempted (332; sixth).
Sophomore Jamar Samuels ranks third in scoring at 11.7 points per game on a team-best 59.6 percent shooting from the field. Samuels, who has come off the bench in 23 of 24 games, ranks third on the squad in rebounding at 5.1 per game. He has scored in double figures in 20 of his 24 games played, including his second double-double against No. 1 Texas with 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Dubbed the "X-Factor" for his ability to change the game off the bench, 33 of Samuels' 34 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve with K-State holding a solid 27-6 record in these contests. Junior transfer Curtis Kelly is the only other player averaging in double figures at 11.4 points per game. Kelly, who leads the squad with three double-doubles, is shooting 57.7 percent from the field and ranks first with 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per contest. He already is tied for fourth place on the single season list with 49 blocks, just 10 shy of Gerald Eaker's mark of 59 in 1995-96. One of the Big 12's top defenders, junior Dominique Sutton is averaging 7.8 points on 51.9 percent shooting to go with 5.4 rebounds per game.
Postgame Notes vs. Nebraska
--Kansas State moved to 125-93 all-time against Nebraska, including 73-30 in Manhattan... The Wildcats swept the season series for the first time since the 2003-04 season, while they have won eight of the last nine home contests against the Cornhuskers... The squad, which has won four straight games, improved to 13-2 on the season at home, including 12-2 at Bramlage Coliseum.
--The Wildcats' starting lineup was junior guard Jacob Pullen, senior guard Denis Clemente, junior forward Dominique Sutton, junior forward Curtis Kelly and senior center Luis Colon... It marked just the 12th time this season the team has used this starting combination... Pullen has now started in 59 straight games for the Wildcats, extending his streak as the team's leader in most consecutive games played to 92... In addition, Sutton, who is second on the team with 66 consecutive games played, has started 42 consecutive games for the Wildcats.
--Kansas State topped the 90-point barrier for the fifth time this season, including the first time in Big 12 play... It is the first 90-point game in Big 12 play since scoring 100 against Missouri on Feb. 17, 2008... The Wildcats improved to 14-0 this season when scoring 80 or more points... The squad rallied from a halftime deficit to post a victory for just the second time this season... Trailing 40-39 at the half, the Wildcats scored 52 points in the second half on 50 percent shooting, including 63.6 percent from 3-point range... It marked the third straight game that the squad has rallied to connect on 50 percent or better in the second half... K-State has shot 50 percent or better in the second half in 11 games.
--Kansas State scored 29 points off Nebraska turnovers, marking the 13th time (all wins) this season the Wildcats have scored at least 20 points off opponent's miscues... Under head coach Frank Martin, the Wildcats are now 39-5 when scoring 20 or more points off turnovers.
--Senior Denis Clemente and junior Dominique Sutton led the effort with 21 points each, while junior Jacob Pullen added 18 points and a team-high six assists... It marked the 15th time that Clemente has scored 20 or more points in his career, including the seventh time this season... The 21 points tied a career-high for Sutton, who also had 21 against Wagner on Dec. 30, 2008... Sutton also led the way with a game-high nine boards.
The Book on Oklahoma
Oklahoma enters Saturday's game with a 13-12 overall record and a 4-7 mark in Big 12 play after dropping a 77-67 decision at Colorado on Wednesday. The Sooners shot 43.6 percent from the field, including just 37.5 percent in the first half, while the hot-shooting Buffaloes connected on 50 percent, including 51.9 percent in the second half. The tandem of Tommy Mason-Griffin and Willie Warren each chipped in 19 points, while freshman Tiny Gallon grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.
Oklahoma is averaging nearly 75 points per game (73.6) on the season on 43.4 percent shooting, including 35.3 percent from 3-point range, with 35.5 rebounds, 12.6 assists, 5.8 steals and 2.7 blocks per game. One of the Big 12's youngest but most balanced squads, the Sooners have five players averaging in double figures led by Warren's 16.3 points per game. The reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year, he is shooting 43.8 percent from the field and is averaging 4.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds. A candidate for freshman All-America honors, Mason-Griffin is second in scoring at 14.0 points per game and leads the squad in 3-point field goals (60) and assists (4.5). Senior Tony Crocker, the lone senior in the starting line-up, is third in scoring at 11.7 points per game to go with 6.4 rebounds per game. Gallon averages a near double-double with 10.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game, while junior guard Cade Davis adds 10.0 points per game to go with a team-high 1.6 steals per outing.
Oklahoma is led by head coach Jeff Capel, who has an 82-45 (.646) record in his fourth season at the helm. He has led the Sooners to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, including a trip to the Elite Eight last season when the squad lost to eventual national champion North Carolina in South Region Final. The squad posted 30 wins for just the sixth time in school history and were led by consensus National Player of the Year and No. 1 NBA Draft pick Blake Griffin. He has a 161-86 (.652) record in eight years as head coach, which includes a stint at Virginia Commonwealth (2002-06) where he led the Rams to two postseason appearances (one trip to the NCAA Tournament).
Series vs. Oklahoma
This will be the 192nd all-time meeting between Kansas State and Oklahoma on the hardwood, including the 15th since the inception of the Big 12, with the Sooners holding a 102-89 advantage in a series that dates back to 1920. The two longtime rivals have played at least one every year since that first meeting on Jan. 23, 1920 in Manhattan, while it is the fourth-most played rivalry (191) in school history. In fact, Oklahoma is one of just two Big 12 schools (Kansas) to hold an advantage over K-State in an all-time series. The Sooners have won 10 of the last 14 meetings in the Big 12 era, including five of the last six games at the Lloyd Noble Center. The Wildcats ended a eight-game winning streak in the series with a 72-61 victory at home on March 3, 2007 before halting a five-game road skid with an 82-84 win in Norman on Jan. 12, 2008. Last season, behind the play of All-American Blake Griffin, Oklahoma earned a 61-53 victory at Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 10, 2009. Griffin led all scorers with 29 points and 15 rebounds, while Big 12 Freshman of the Year Willie Warren added 10 points. Denis Clemente led all Wildcats with 18 points.
'Cats in February
Kansas State will look to improve its play in the month of February of late where the Wildcats have won just 17 of their last 28 games. The team is 403-331 (.547) all-time in February with 12 wins in their last 15 games at home in the month dating back to the 2006-07 season. The Wildcats have won 16 of their last 27 Big 12 games in February dating back to 2006-07, including a 6-8 mark on the road. K-State has won three or more games in the month in each of the last four seasons, including a 6-2 mark in 2008-09, the most wins in February since the 1987-88 season. The team clinched just its second winning mark in February in the last 17 seasons with Wednesday's 91-87 win over Nebraska.
Second Half Surge
One of the biggest factors in K-State's last three wins has been its ability to pick up its pace in the second half. The Wildcats have averaged 46.7 points in the second half of the last three games on 53.2 percent shooting (41-of-77), including 50 percent (16-of-32) from 3-point range. This is in stark comparison to the first half, where the team has averaged just 32.7 points on 38 percent shooting (35-of-92), including just 17.9 percent (5-of-28) from beyond the arc, in this same three-game span. K-State has scored at least 40 or more points in the second half in each of these three games and have combined to out-score their foes, 140-112. This comes after trailing these three foes, 101-98, at the half. The squad has been able to overcome halftime deficits (Iowa State & Nebraska) twice in these three games to post wins after starting the season 0-3 when trailing at the half. For the year, the team is averaging 42.9 points in the second half on 48.7 percent shooting, including 40.8 percent from 3-point range.
Experience is the Key
One of the biggest reasons for Kansas State this season has been its experience on the floor. The squad boasts a starting line-up (Denis Clemente, Jacob Pullen, Dominique Sutton, Curtis Kelly and Luis Colon) with a combined 471 games of experience, including 313 games as starters. The fivesome has started 12 of the last 13 games this season, while Clemente, Kelly, Pullen and Sutton have started all 25 games. In fact, four of the five starters (Clemente, Colon, Pullen and Sutton) have been in the opening line-up in 26 in the last 27 Big 12 contests.
Most of the experience lies in the backcourt, where Clemente and Pullen have started 57 of the last 59 games for the Wildcats. The tandem has combined to play in 210 games in their respective careers, including 158 combined starts. Pullen has the team's longest active streaks for both games played (92) and starts (59), which both date back to his freshman season. He ranks eighth in school history in consecutive games played, while he is sixth in consecutive starts. He trails Steve Henson in both categories, who owns the school record in consecutive games played (127) and consecutive starts (118). Clemente, who played in 61 games with 28 starts in two years at Miami (Fla.) from 2005-07, boasts 118 games of experience to go with 85 starts in his career. There is also plenty of experience in the frontcourt where Colon and Sutton have combined to play in 185 games in the past three seasons. Sutton has played in 66 consecutive games (which ranks second on the team), including starts in 61 of the last 63 games. Colon, who was one of only two players (Pullen) to start in all 34 games a year ago, has seen action in 107 games in his K-State career, including 64 starts. The only starter without experience beyond this season is junior Curtis Kelly, who sat out last season after transferring from UConn. He played in 51 games in his two seasons (2006-08) for the Huskies with one start.
Experience can also be found on the bench, where regular reserves Chris Merriewether and Jamar Samuels have combined to play in 149 games in their careers. A former walk-on, Merriewether has played in 91 games with five starts, including action in 79 of the last 92 contests. Samuels, who has come off the bench in all but three games in his career, has seen action in 58 of the last 59 games for the Wildcats. Four-year seniors Luis Colon and Chris Merriewether have a chance to become the winningest senior class in school history, as they are one back of Fred Barton (88; 1976-78; 1979-81) on the school's all-time list. The 87 wins rank second all-time tied with Greg Prudhoe (87; 1977-82).
Although known for the guard tandem of Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen, Kansas State has shown an ability to have multiple players involved in the scoring output this season. The Wildcats have seen four or more players score in double figures 19 times this season, including five or more double-digit scorers in seven contests. Even though Pullen (25) and Clemente (22) have been the consistent double-digit scoring threats, six other players have registered at least one double figure scoring game this season, including Jamar Samuels (19), Curtis Kelly (17), Dominique Sutton (seven), Rodney McGruder (six), Wally Judge (four) and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts (once). The Wildcats own a 16-3 mark in games when four or more players tally double digits, while they are 6-1 when five players are in twin figures. In all, the squad has seen at least seven players score in every game (including five games with 10 or more) this season, including at least four players scoring five or more points in each contest.
Kansas State has shown the ability to be a solid rebounding team, as the Wildcats rank fourth in the Big 12 with an average of 39.4 rebounds per game. The squad is tops in the league at 15.5 offensive boards per game, while they are fourth in rebounding margin (+5.7). The Wildcats have grabbed 40 or more rebounds 11 times, including in six of the last 13 games, while they have tallied 20 or more offensive boards four times this season. The team posted 50 or more rebounds in back-to-back games against Cleveland State and South Dakota for the first time in back-to-back games since the 2007-08 season, while the squad grabbed 50 against the Big 12's top rebounding team (then No. 1 Texas) on Jan. 18, including 19 offensive boards which translated into a 23-10 edge in second chance points. The offensive rebound chances have helped the team average over 15 points per game (14.8) in second chance points, including 20 or more second chance points on five occasions this season.
Seizing on its Opportunities
Kansas State has capitalized this season on its opportunities from the free throw line, where the Wildcats rank first nationally with 792 free throws attempted. The squad is 25 attempta ahead of Vermont (767), while they are one of 10 schools nationally (Vermont, Wyoming, Cal State Northridge, Seattle, Morgan State, Gonzaga, New Mexico, Washington and North Texas) to attempt at least 700 free throws this season. The team is fifth nationally in free throws made with 521, just one back of fourth place Northern Colorado (522) and 13 back of leader Morgan State (534).
At its current pace, K-State will shatter the 51-year-old school record for free throws made (606; 1958-59), while it will break the mark for free throws attempted (862; 2008-09) for the second straight season. This is a growing trend for Frank Martin-coached teams, where his previous two teams already rank among the top 10 in both single-season free throws (fifth and seventh) and free throws attempted (first and eighth). The squad has a shot at the Big 12 marks for both categories, which are held by Kansas in 1996-97 at 698 free throws and 1,007 attempted.
The team has connected on 20 or more free throws in 16 of their 25 games, including 12 of the last 18 contests, while they have attempted at least 30 free throws in 15 games. The Wildcats made the most of their opportunities in the win over Nebraska on Feb. 17, converting on a season-high 80 percent (32-of-40) from the stripe, including 14-of-14 in the last five minutes of the game. It marked just the second time this season that the squad has made 30 or more free throws, while it was the sixth time they had at least 40 attempts in a contest. The team set near records for both categories in a win at Colorado on Jan. 16 with 38 makes on 54 attempts. The 38 free throws are the fourth-most in school history (most-ever in a road venue) and the second-most in the Big 12 era behind the 39 against Baylor at home on Feb. 13, 1999. The 54 attempts are the third-most in school history (most-ever in a league game) and the most since the Wildcats set the school mark with 56 against Purdue on Dec. 1, 1958.
Points Off Turnovers
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent's mistakes. Since he became head coach in 2007, the Wildcats have scored 1,772 points off of 1,555 turnovers in 92 games, an average of 19.3 points per game. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past three years have come off of offense generated from these turnovers. In 2007-08, the Wildcats scored 18.9 points per game 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. This season has been no different with the squad averaging 21.3 points off of 17.6 opponent mistakes per game. K-State has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers 13 times, including 40 against South Dakota, which is the most since the stat began being kept in 2005-06. The team also scored 20 or more off of turnovers against Loyola (29), IUPUI (28), WSU (39), UNLV (26), Alabama (22), UAPB (29), Cleveland State (30), Texas A&M (23), Colorado (23 & 26) and Nebraska (22 & 29). The team has a 39-5 record when scoring 20+ points off turnovers under Frank Martin, including a 13-0 mark this season.
Right Man, Right Time
Senior Denis Clemente seems to play his best basketball against the best competition. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico native has been the team's top scorer in Big 12 play, averaging a team-best 17.5 points on 38.5 percent shooting (62-of-161), including 37.2 percent (32-of-86) from 3-point range, this season. This has included a two-game stretch against Nebraska and Iowa State on Feb. 2 and 6, in which, he averaged 26.5 points on 50 percent shooting, including 64.5 percent from beyond the arc. In all, he has scored in double figures in 10 of 11 league games, including four 20-point outings. For his career, Clemente has been even better in Big 12 contests, averaging 18.1 points (488) on 40.6 percent shooting (160-of-393), including 39 percent (68-of-174) from 3-point range, in 27 career games. He has scored in double figures in 24 of these conference games, including eight 20-point games and his Big 12 record-tying 44-point output against Texas on Jan. 31, 2009. He has led the Wildcats in scoring 14 times in this stretch. In comparison, he is averaging just 12.8 points (383) in his 30 career non-conference games on 38.1 percent shooting (136-of-357), including 30.4 percent (48-of-158) from beyond the arc. He has scored in double figures 21 times in these contests with four 20-point outings. This season, he averaged 14.1 points during non-league play on 37.9 percent shooting, including 29.4 percent from beyond the arc.
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 1,809 points in just over one season together, including finishing first and second on the team in scoring in 2008-09. They have combined to average 34.2 points per game through 25 games this season, including Pullen's team-leading 18.6 points per game. The 34.2-point combined average is the third-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 just ahead of Askia Jones and Anthony Beane in 1993-94 (33.5) and Steve Henson and Jean Derouillere in 1989-90 (33.1). As a pair, Clemente and Pullen are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 31.7) guard tandem in school history since former NBA players Mike Evans and Chuckie Williams combined to average 38.9 points per game for the Wildcats between 1974-76.
The duo has combined to score at least 20 points 51 times in 57 games dating back to last season, including 30 or more points on 35 occasions. After a recent slump, in which, the two combined to shoot just 22.6 percent from the field against No. 1/1 Texas and Oklahoma State, the tandem seemed to get back on track against No. 24 Baylor, connecting on 50 percent from the field, including 60 percent from 3-point range, with 42 points. It marked the ninth time (10th now) that the pair has combined to score 40 or more points in 56 career games. They were perhaps at their best in the win over No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12, as the two combined for 50 points on 57.1 percent shooting (16-of-28) from the field, including 55.6 percent (10-of-18) from 3-point range, in the win. The game against the Rebels was just the fourth in which both players have topped 20 or more points in the same contest following Kansas on Feb. 14, 2009, No. 18/21 Dayton on Nov. 22, 2009 and Washington State on Dec. 5, 2009.
Pullen Moving Up the Charts
Junior Jacob Pullen is nearing several career milestone as he is in the midst of his third season. After his 13-point effort against Nebraska on Feb. 2, he became just the 11th player in school history to eclipse 1,200 career points and the first since NBDL All-Star Cartier Martin (1,546; 2003-07) in 2006. Pullen broke into the school's all-time Top 10 for scoring in the win over Nebraska on Feb. 17, as his current total of 1,257 points in 92 games passed Tyrone Adams (1,251; 1978-82) for 10th place. He is now 47 points behind Ed Nealy (1,304; 1978-82) for ninth place and 70 back of Mitch Richmond (1,327; 1986-88) for eighth. With his career scoring average (13.7 ppg.), he would finish in the Top 5 just behind Mike Evans (2,115; 1974-78), Rolando Blackman (1,844; 1977-81) and Askia Jones (1,834; 1989-94) with over 1,700 points. He became the 21st player to tally 1,000 career points, including the eighth guard, with his fourth 3-point field goal of the first half against Alabama on Dec. 19.
Pullen ranks in the top 5 in both 3-point field goals made and attempted in school history, ranking third in both attempts with 536 and makes with 186. After moving past Cartier Martin (178/437 attempts; 2003-07) in both makes and attempts in the past nine games, he now sets his sights on eclipsing two of the best 3-point shooters in school history in Askia Jones (237/624 attempts; 1989-94) and Steve Henson (240/537 attempts; 1987-90). Pullen has connected on at least two 3-pointers in 21 of the last 25 games this season, including a career-best seven treys against UNLV on Dec. 12. This season, he is connecting on 39.4 percent (71-of-180) of his attempts from beyond the arc.
More on Pullen
In addition to moving up several scoring charts, Jacob Pullen is also ascending the school's record book in both assists and steals. He became the sixth player in school history to top 100 steals in a career with his three steals against Boston on Nov. 19 at the Puerto Rico Tip-off. With his two steals against Nebraska on Feb. 17, he is now tied with Askia Jones (133, 1989-94) for second place on the all-time list at K-State, while is now 57 back of all-time leader Steve Henson (190; 1986-90). Pullen moved into the career Top 10 in assists with his 248th vs. Washington State on Dec. 5 and is now in fifth place with 310 assists. With his 10-assist outing against Colorado on Feb. 13, he became just the fifth player in school history to top 300 or more assists and the first since Clent Stewart (395; 2004-08) in 2007. Pullen needs just 14 3-pointers to join Steve Henson as the only players in school history with at least 1,000 points, 200 3-pointers, 300 assists and 100 steals.
Kelly a Key Factor Down Low
Junior Curtis Kelly is starting to develop his game down low for the Wildcats after sitting out the 2008-09 season after transferring from UConn. A starter in all 25 games this season, Kelly is fourth on the team in scoring at 11.4 points per game on 57.7 percent shooting to go with team-bests in both rebounds (6.3) and blocks (2.0) per contest. He had perhaps his best all-around game in the win over Colorado on Feb. 13, recording his third double-double (including his first in Big 12) play with 12 points and a career-tying 11 rebounds to go with three blocked shots and three steals in 29 minutes of action. The leader in double-doubles, Kelly also performed the feat in consecutive games against Ole Miss (18 points, 10 rebounds) on Nov. 20 and IUPUI (11 points, 11 rebounds) on Nov. 28. He also had a solid effort in the win over No. 1 Texas on Jan. 18, scoring 17 points on 6-of-10 field goals with eight rebounds and two blocked shots in 32 minutes. He was also the principle defender of Texas' Damion James, holding the national and Big 12 Player of the Year candidate to just nine points on 3-of-12 field goals with seven rebounds and four turnovers. In all, he has scored in double figures 17 times, including in key wins against Xavier (15) and UNLV (13), while he has led the team in rebounding nine times. He has shot over 60 percent in 13 games, including connecting on 81.8 percent (9-of-11) against Loyola Chicago on Nov. 13 with a career-best 22 points. He also paces the squad with 49 blocks, which is tied with one other player for the fourth-most in a single season. The total is 10 short of the school record of 59 held by Gerald Eaker (1995-96). He has at least two blocks in 13 games, including a career-best six against South Dakota.
Sophomore Jamar Samuels is emerging as an early candidate to become the second Wildcat to earn the Big 12's Sixth Man of the Year award, as he boosts the team off the bench at nearly 12 points and five rebounds per outing. Samuels, who is third in scoring at 11.7 points per game, had a breakout game in the win over No. 1 Texas on Jan. 18, posting his second double-double with 20 points and a career-best 12 rebounds against one of the best frontcourt tandems (Damion James and Dexter Pittman) in the nation. The 20-point outing was the third of his career (second this year) and just one point off his career-best of 21 scored against Fort Hays State (No. 12 team in Division II) on Dec. 1, while his 12-rebound effort was just the second double-digit rebounding game of his career. This season, he has scored 10 or more points 19 times with 18 of those coming off the bench, including in 14 of the last 17 games. For his career, 33 of Samuels' 34 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve. He is averaging 9.7 points on 56.3 percent (183-of-325) in 55 career games off the bench, including 11.7 points per game on a team-best 59.6 percent shooting this season. He has been solid since the start of league play, averaging 11.5 points on a team-best 59.7 percent shooting (46-of-77) and 5.1 rebounds per game. His 46 field goals in Big 12 play trail only Denis Clemente (62) and Jacob Pullen (50) through 11 league games.
Clemente Named USBWA, Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of Week
Senior Denis Clemente was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week as well as the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Feb. 8. He helped the Wildcats to a pair of road wins over Nebraska (76-57) and Iowa State (79-75), averaging 26.5 points on 50 percent shooting (16-of-32), including 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from 3-point range, with 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 36.0 minutes per game. He also went a combined 10-of-10 from the free throw line in the pair of wins.
He began the week by scoring a game-high 23 points in the Wildcats' first win at Nebraska since 2006. He went 7-of-14 from the field, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range, with a team-tying five assists and three rebounds in 35 minutes of action. He then followed with his second career 30-point game in the Wildcats' fourth straight win at Iowa State on Feb. 6, connecting on 9-of-18 field goals, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc, with four rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes. He also went a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. It was his highest point total since tying the Big 12 record with 44 against Texas on Jan. 31, 2009, while his six 3-pointers matched his career-high, which was also set vs. Texas.
This is the first season that the USBWA has selected a national player of the week. As the weekly Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week, Clemente will be added to the Oscar Robertson Trophy Watch List, which will be released at mid-season. It marks the second time in his career he has been named a National Player of the Week after he earned the honor from ESPN.com after his 44-point effort against Texas on Jan. 31, 2009.
One of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, Clemente has helped the Wildcats to their highest ranking in the AP poll since 1962 at No. 7 as well as their highest ranking in the Coaches' poll, also at No. 7, since USA Today took over ownership in 1991-92. He is the team's second-leading scorer (and 11th in the Big 12) at 15.7 points per game and has scored in double figures in 22 of the team's 25 games. The team leader in both assists (4.0) and minutes (33.6) per game, he is second in field goals (129) and 3-point field goals (57). He ranks fourth in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3), while he is sixth in 3-point field goals made per game (2.3), seventh in minutes played and ninth in assists.
Clemente Among Best Transfers
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 871 points his two-year career on 39.5 percent shooting (296-of-750) from the field, including 34.9 percent (116-of-332) from 3-point range, in 57 games. He broke into the school's top 10 for career points by a transfer with his 23-point effort against Nebraska on Feb. 2, surpassing Elliot Hatcher (803; 1994-96). With his current scoring average (15.3 ppg.), he has the opportunity to finish third all-time on the list behind Mitch Richmond (1,327; 1986-88) and Willie Murrell (1,112; 1962-64). He has also cracked the school's Top 10 in 3-point field goals, ranking sixth in attempts (332) and tied for seventh in makes (116).
The D Stands for Defense
Junior Dominique Sutton is starting to state his case as one of the premier defenders not just in the Big 12 but nationally. Regularly assigned the opponent's top offensive performer for much of his career, he has established himself as a top-line defender this season. He has been assigned to defend the likes of Washington State's Klay Thompson, Xavier's Jordan Crawford, UNLV's Derrick Jasper, Colorado's Alec Burks, Kansas' Xavier Henry and Iowa State's Marquis Gilstrap. Sutton has held his opponents to a collective 40.2 shooting percentage (72-of-179), including a 28.6 percentage (14-of-49) mark from 3-point range, this season. Thompson, who entered the game on Dec. 5 as the nation's second-leading scorer at 26.4 points per game, shot just 5-of-15 from the field, including 1-of-4 from long range, with nine turnovers. Although Thompson scored 22 points in the contest, 11 of those came from the free throw line. Crawford, another pro prospect, managed 16 points (five from the line) against Sutton, but shot just 5-of-13 from the field, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range, with three turnovers. Jasper was held scoreless for the first time in his UNLV career, going 0-of-3. In two meetings with Burks, Sutton held the Big 12 Freshman of the Year candidate to 40.7 percent shooting from the field with an average of 15.5 points per game (11 from free throw line). He was also solid on league Newcomer of the Year candidate Marquis Gilstrap, who was 4-of-16 from the field, including just 2-of-8 from beyond the arc, with 18 points (including eight from free throw line). He also played a role in the defense of Texas A&M star Donald Sloan, who was held to just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting with three turnovers.
Colon Back to Action
Senior Luis Colon made his long awaited debut against No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12, scoring one point and grabbing five rebounds in 11 minutes of action off the bench. Colon, who was also hurt in the preseason, missed the first nine games off the season due to an off-the-court issue that has since been resolved. A key cog to the Wildcat attack last season, he was one of two players (along with Jacob Pullen) to start all 34 games a year ago, averaging 4.4 points on 47.7 percent shooting with 4.7 rebounds per game. Colon, who is averaging 2.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, has started 12 of the last 13 games, including 11 straight games dating back to the Missouri game on Jan. 9. His biggest impact has been on the defensive end of the court, where he played a huge role in limiting Texas' Dexter Pittman to six points and seven rebounds in the win on Jan. 18. Colon's overall production has picked up in the last three games, where he is averaging 6.3 points on 50 percent shooting to go with 4.3 rebounds per game. He had a big game in the win over Colorado on Feb. 13, tying a season-high with nine points to go with six rebounds.
Knocking Off No. 1
With its 71-62 win over top-ranked Texas on Jan. 18, Kansas State knocked off a No. 1 team for just the third time in school history and the first time since beating No. 1 Kansas, 68-64, at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 17, 1994. It was the second win over a No. 1 team on the Bramlage Coliseum floor (including the first match-up of Top 10 teams in the arena's 22-year history) and the first since defeating No. 1 Missouri, 65-58, on Feb. 8, 1990. The contest against the Longhorns was 16th in the program's history against the No. 1 team and the first since losing to top-ranked Kansas on Feb. 27, 2002. The Wildcats are now 3-12 (.200) all-time against No. 1 teams with all three wins coming in the last seven meetings with a top-ranked squad. The game was also just the third match-up with a No. 1 team when K-State was also ranked, including just the second time when ranked in the Top 10. Those other occasions were both losses, as the then fourth-ranked Wildcats lost to top-ranked Kentucky in the NCAA Championship in Minneapolis on March 27, 1951 and when No. 14 K-State lost at home to No. 1 Missouri on Jan. 30, 1982.
Pullen Named Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week
Junior Jacob Pullen was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time in his career on Dec. 14 in an announcement by the league office. Pullen, who helped the Wildcats to wins over Xavier and No. 18/17 UNLV, averaged 22.0 points on 48.1 percent shooting (13-of-27), including 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from 3-point range, for the week with 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals in 27.5 minutes per game. Pullen began the week by scoring 14 of his game-high 16 points in the second half of a 71-56 win over the Musketeers in 24 minutes. He then followed with a season-high 28-point output in a 95-80 win over the nationally-ranked Runnin' Rebels, including a career-best 7-of-10 effort from beyond the arc. The seven 3-point field goals tied eight other players for the fourth-most in school history. Pullen is the first Wildcat to earn Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honors since teammate Denis Clemente claimed the distinction on Feb. 2, 2009.
Pullen leads the squad in scoring (18.6 ppg.), double-digit scoring games (25), field goals (131), 3-point field goals (71) and attempts (180), free throws made (133) and attempted (166), free throw percentage (80.1) and steals (39). He ranks among the Big 12 leaders in eight categories,
including second in 3-point field goals per game, third in scoring, eighth in 3-point field goal percentage, free throw percentage and steals, 11th in assists and 13th in field goal percentage (41.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3). His 25 consecutive double-figure games tie for the fourth-longest streak in school history, while his 64 career double-digit scoring efforts ranks ninth in school history.
Martin Earns Coaching Honor From CollegeInsider.com
Head coach Frank Martin was honored for Kansas State's terrific start to the season on Dec. 30, as CollegeInsider.com named him the Jim Phelan award winner as the mid-season National Coach of the Year. Martin has K-State off to its best start since the 1961-62 season and the fifth-best start in school history with its current 21-4 record. Only four other teams - 1950-51, 1957-58, 1958-59 and 1961-62 teams - have a better record after 25 games in school history. The team earned their fourth Top 10 ranking this season, including their third in both major polls, on Monday when the Wildcats rose to No. 7 in each poll. It is the highest ranking in the AP since also ranking ninth on March 13, 1962, while it is the highest in the Coaches' poll since USA Today took over ownership of the poll in 1991-92. Martin also guided K-State to just third-ever win over a No. 1 team and the first since 1994 with a 71-62 victory over then No. 1 Texas on Jan. 18. The win over No. 24 Baylor on Jan. 24 gave the Wildcats four wins over Top 25 teams for the first time ever in a regular season. The four wins over Top 25 teams (No. 18/21 Dayton, No. 18/17 UNLV, No. 1/1 Texas and No. 24/RV Baylor) tie Kansas for the most by a Big 12 team this season.
Although it was ended at Missouri on Jan. 9, K-State posted its longest winning streak in more than 15 years earlier this season when the team won 10 straight from Nov. 22, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010. The 10-game winning streak was the longest since also winning 10 in a row during the 1993-94 season and just the 15th double-digit winning streak in school history. The squad completed December perfect for just the eighth time and the first time since the 1998-99 season with their 85-56 win over Cleveland State on Dec. 29. During the streak, the team knocked off two ranked non-conference teams (No. 18/21 Dayton on Nov. 22 and No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12) for the first time since the 1958-59 season (beat No. 4 N.C. State and No. 14 St. Joseph's on consecutive days on Dec. 19-20, 1958). The 13 non-conference wins tie for the 1993-94 team for the most in school history, while the .928 non-league winning percentage is the best. He is tied with Lon Kruger (64-31; 1986-89) for wins by a head coach in his first three seasons, while the win over Colorado on Feb. 13 made him the first K-State coach to have three 20-win seasons to start a career.