5/5 KANSAS STATE (24-4, 11-3 Big 12)
vs. 2/2 Kansas (27-2, 13-1 Big 12)
Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tipoff: 7:05 p.m. CT
Location: Lawrence, Kan. | Arena: Allen Fieldhouse (16,300)
Television: Big 12 Network (Dave Armstrong, play-by-play; Reid Gettys, analyst; Melissa Knowles, sideline reporter; Steve Kurtenbach, producer) | Channel Directory: Metro Sports (Kansas City), KMCI (Kansas City), KSNT (Topeka), KSAS (Wichita) | Internet: www.ESPN360.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst) | Live Stats: www.kuathletics.com | Local Stations: Sports Radio 1350 AM (KMAN; Manhattan), 101.5-FM (KMKF; Manhattan) | Satellite Radio: Sirius 122/XM 143
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International '93) is 67-28 (.705) in his third season at K-State. Kansas - Bill Self (Oklahoma State '85) is 196-42 (.824) in his seventh season at Kansas and 403-147 (.733) in his 17th season overall as a head coach.
Last Time Out: K-State defeated Missouri, 63-53, at home on Saturday, while Kansas lost at Oklahoma State, 85-77, also on Saturday.
Series: Kansas leads 177-91 (KU is 80-35 in Lawrence) | Last time: Kansas won 81-79 in OT in Manhattan on Jan. 30, 2010 | Series Trend: K-State has won just once in the last 13 meetings | Frank Martin is 1-4 vs. Kansas, while Bill Self is 14-2 all-time vs. K-State.
Rankings: K-State is ranked No. 5 in AP Top 25 and No. 5 in USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25. Kansas is ranked No. 2 in both major polls.
Tickets: Sold out.
K-State travels to Kansas for first Top 5 match-up since 1961
Kansas State (24-4, 11-3 Big 12) begins the final week of the regular season at famed Allen Fieldhouse, as the Wildcats travel to Lawrence, Kan., on Wednesday to face archrival and No. 2/2 Kansas (27-2, 13-1 Big 12) at 7 p.m. CT. The squad still has an opportunity to tie the Jayhawks for the Big 12 crown, as two Wildcat wins and a loss by Kansas at Missouri on Saturday would give K-State a conference title for the first time since 1977. Several streaks will be on the line in the contest, as the Jayhawks own the nation's longest homecourt winning streak at 58 games, while the Wildcats have won a school Big 12 era record seven consecutive conference games, including six straight on the road. This will be the 269th meeting between the two rivals in a series that dates back to 1907. It will mark just third time that both schools have been ranked in the Top 5 when playing and the first time since Feb. 3, 1958. This will be the first time K-State has been involved in a Top 5 match-up since No. 2 Cincinnati knocked off No. 4 K-State, 69-64, on March 18, 1961 in the NCAA Tournament at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas owns a 177-91 record all-time, including an 80-35 mark in Lawrence. The game will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Network as well as nationally on ESPN Full Court with Dave Armstrong (play-by-play), Reid Gettys (analyst) and Melissa Knowles (sidelines) on the call.
K-State moved further up in the Top 10 on Monday, ranking fifth in both The Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. It marks the school's first AP Top 5 ranking since March 7, 1962 when the Wildcats ranked third, while it is the fifth Top 10 ranking in both polls this season, including the fourth straight week. It is the highest ranking in the Coaches' poll since USA Today took over ownership of the poll in 1993-94. It marks the first time that the program has ranked among the AP Top 15 for nine consecutive weeks since the 1961-62 squad was ranked among the AP Top 10 for 15 weeks, while the team's current 12-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 24-4 record. The 24 wins tie for the fourth-most in school history and the most since the 1987-88 squad won a school-record 25 en route to the Elite Eight. 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 the win over Oklahoma on Feb. 20 gave him the most wins by a head coach in his first three seasons.
K-State ran its winning streak to seven games on Saturday with a gritty 63-53 victory over Missouri at Bramlage Coliseum. It was the Wildcats' seventh in a row in league play, which ranks as the longest in the Big 12 era and the most since the 1976-77 totaled eight straight. Sophomore Jamar Samuels led four players in double figures with a game-high 14 points, while junior Curtis Kelly grabbed his fourth double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
A Quick Look at Kansas State
K-State is averaging just over 80 points per game (80.4 ppg.) on 45.9 percent shooting (745-of-1624), including 36 percent from 3-point range (189-of-525), with 39.2 rebounds, 15.1 assists, 7.2 steals and 5.0 blocks per game. The squad has topped 80 or more points in 16 of 18 games (including five 90-point outputs), while hitting on 45 percent or better from the field on 15 occasions. With 91 points effort against Nebraska on Feb. 17, the Wildcats topped 2,000 points scored for the fourth consecutive season, while the current total of 2,250 points are the most through 28 games in school history, just ahead of the 1986-87 team who scored 2,234 in that span. The 80.4 points per game average could possibly rival the school record of 81.4 points averaged during the 1952-53 campaign. The 77.2 points per game average through the first 14 league games are the most since the start of the Big 12 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 (34.1) per game in the paint, while ranking first nationally in most personal fouls drawn (695) and free throws attempted (865) per game and fifth in free throws made (571). The defensive effort has also been solid, holding foes to 68.3 points on 41.3 percent shooting while averaging 21.2 points off of 17.3 turnovers per game. The Wildcats have scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 15 games, including 12 of the last 19 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 the win over Missouri on Saturday, the Wildcats are now 24-4 on the season, which is the best start under head coach Frank Martin and the best in school history since the 1958-59 squad finished at 25-2. The 24 wins tie for the fourth-most in school history with the 1976-77 and 1980-81 squads, while the 24 wins tie the 1958-59 team for the most-ever in the regular season. The school-record of 25 wins has been done three times, including in 1950-51, 1958-59 and 1987-88. The 11 league wins are the most in the Big 12 era and the most since the 1987-88 squad also posted 11 in Big Eight play. 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 head coach to post 20 wins in each of his first three seasons. It is also the earliest 20-win season in school history.
Named one of the 30 mid-season candidates for the Naismith Trophy, junior Jacob Pullen leads four players in double figures at 18.5 points per game on 41.8 percent shooting from the field to go with team bests in 20-point games (11), 3-point field goals (78), free throws (149), free throw percentage (81.0) and steals (46), while backcourt mate Denis Clemente is second in scoring at 15.8 points per game on 39.3 percent shooting from the field and is tops on the team in field goals (149), assists (115) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2). The tandem has combined for over 40 percent of the scoring (962) this year, while historically, they are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 34.3) 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 1,310 points in 95 career games ranks ninth all-time, just 17 points shy of Mitch Richmond (1,327; 1986-88) for eighth place. The only player to score in double figures in all 28 games, he needs seven treys 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 in career. Twice named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week this year, Clemente has become of the one of top transfers ever to play at K-State, ranking fourth on the chart for most points by a transfer (923). He also recently joined Pullen in the school's Top 10 for career 3-pointers (124; seventh) and 3-pointers attempted (354; sixth).
Sophomore Jamar Samuels ranks third in scoring at 11.9 points per game on a team-best 58.3 percent shooting from the field. Samuels, who has come off the bench in 26 of 27 games, ranks third on the squad in rebounding at 5.2 per game. He has scored in double figures in 23 of his 27 games played, including his third career double-double against Texas Tech on Feb. 23 with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Dubbed the "X-Factor" for his ability to change the game off the bench, 36 of Samuels' 37 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve with K-State holding a solid 30-6 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 four double-doubles, is shooting 58.1 percent from the field and ranks first with 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per contest. He ranks third on the single season list with 54 blocks, just five shy of Gerald Eaker's mark of 59 in 1995-96. One of the Big 12's top defenders, junior Dominique Sutton is averaging 7.7 points on 51 percent shooting to go with 5.5 rebounds per game.
Postgame Notes vs. Missouri
--K-State now leads the all-time series, 116-115, with Missouri, including 60-44 at home... It marks the seventh consecutive win at home against the Tigers... The team finished February unbeaten for the 12th time in school history and for the first time since the 1976-77 season with a 7-0 record... The victory also marks the most wins overall and in conference play in the Big 12 era and the most since the 1987-88 season... The team has now won seven consecutive conference games, which is the longest league-only winning streak in the Big 12 era and longest since 1976-77.
--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 15th time this season the team has used this starting combination... Pullen has now started in 62 straight games for the Wildcats, extending his streak as the team's leader in most consecutive games played to 95... In addition, Sutton, who is second on the team with 69 consecutive games played, has started 45 consecutive games for the Wildcats.
--The squad posted season-lows for points (63), field goals (19), field goal percentage (33.9), points in a half (23) and field goal percentage in a half (18.8), but still managed to pull out the victory... However, the defense held the Tigers to a season-low 53 points on 31.7 percent shooting... It marked the eighth time this season that the Wildcats held an opponent below 60 points.
--Kansas State scored 21 points off of 17 Missouri turnovers, marking the 15th time this season (all wins) the Wildcats have scored at least 20 points off an opponent's miscues. The squad has scored 20 or more off of turnovers in six conference games, including five of the last seven.
--Sophomore Jamar Samuels led four Wildcats in double figures with 14 points off the bench, while senior Denis Clemente and junior Jacob Pullen had 11 points each... Junior Curtis Kelly picked up his fourth double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go with a team-tying four assists, three blocks and two steals, while junior Dominique Sutton led both teams with 11 rebounds and seven points.
The Book on Kansas
Kansas enters Wednesday's game with a 27-2 overall record and a 13-1 mark in Big 12 play after dropping their first conference game of the year, 85-77 to Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Cowboys shot 60.4 percent for the game, just the second Jayhawk foe to shoot above 50 percent this season, while the Jayhawks shot 46.6 percent, including just 39.3 percent in the first half. OSU built a 45-29 lead at the break before holding off a late surge by Kansas to post the victory. Senior Sherron Collins led four players in double figures with 22 points, while freshman phenom Xavier Henry and senior Cole Aldrich added 17 and 11 points, respectively.
Kansas is averaging nearly 83 points per game (82.4) on the season on 48.8 percent shooting, including 40 percent from 3-point range, with 40.9 rebounds, 17.3 assists, 8.7 steals and 6.4 blocks per game. The team is shooting a solid 69.2 percent from the free throw line. A scoring threat at every position, the Jayhawks have four players averaging in double figures led by Big 12 Player of the Year and All-American candidate Sherron Collins. He is averaging 15.3 points on 42.2 percent shooting, including 37.8 percent from 3-point range, with 4.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Freshman guard Xavier Henry is second in scoring at 14 points on 45.5 percent shooting, including 40 percent from 3-point range, with a team-best 1.6 steals and 4.2 rebounds per game. Sophomore Marcus Morris is third in scoring at 12.6 points per game on 56 percent shooting with 6.2 rebounds per game, while junior Cole Aldrich is fourth at 11.4 points per game on 55.3 percent shooting to go with team-bests in both rebounds (10.0) and blocks (3.7) per game.
Kansas is led by head coach Bill Self, who has a 196-42 (.824) record in his seventh season at the helm. He has led the Jayhawks to six straight Big 12 Championships as well as the 2008 NCAA Championship. He has a 403-147 (.733) in 17 seasons as a head coach, which includes stints at Oral Roberts (1993-97), Tulsa (1997-2000) and Illinois (2000-03).
Series vs. Kansas
This will be the 269th all-time meeting between Kansas State and Kansas on the hardwood, including the 34th since the inception of the Big 12, with the Jayhawks holding a 177-91 advantage in a series that dates back to 1907. It is the seventh-most played rivalry (268) and the seventh-most continuously played rivalry (104) in the country, including the second-longest west of the Mississippi River (behind Idaho-Washington State). Kansas has controlled the rivalry of late, winning 31 of the 33 meetings in the Big 12 era, including 14 of the last 15 in Allen Fieldhouse. Earlier this season, the Jayhawks earned their 21st win in the last 22 meetings in Bramlage Coliseum earlier this season with an 81-79 overtime victory on Jan. 30, 2010. Five players scored in double figures for Kansas led by junior Cole Aldrich's 18 points and game-high 11 rebounds. Senior Sherron Collins posted 16 points and four assists, while junior Brady Morningstar added 14 points and three steals. Junior Jacob Pullen led five Wildcats in double figures with a game-high 22 points, while senior Denis Clemente and sophomore Jamar Samuels added 13 and 11 points.
Top 5 Meetings a Rarity
Wednesday's game will be just the third between K-State and Kansas when both are ranked in the Top 5 and the first since then fourth-ranked Wildcats earned a 79-75 win over the second-ranked Jayhawks in double overtime at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 3, 1958. Two-time All-American Bob Boozer led all scorers with 32 points, while he and fellow All-American Jack Parr limited Kansas great Wilt Chamberlain (25 points) to seven points under his scoring average. The other Top 5 meeting came earlier that same year when No. 2 Kansas knocked off No. 3 K-State, 79-65, at Municipal Auditorium in Big Seven Holiday Tournament on Dec. 30, 1957. Overall, it is the 13th meeting between the two rivals when both are in the Top 25, including the 10th when both squads are ranked in the nation's Top 15.
Head coach Frank Martin has changed the culture in many ways at Kansas State, including how the Wildcats play on the road. The squad has been one of the most successful teams in the Big 12 when playing on the road this season, posting an 11-2 mark away from Bramlage Coliseum this season, including a 7-1 mark in 'true' road games and a 6-1 mark in Big 12 road contests. The 11 wins away from home are the most by a Big 12 team this season and the most by a K-State team since 1987-88, while the 6-1 mark in Big 12 road games is tied for the best mark with Kansas. The squad, who guaranteed themselves a winning road mark in league play for the first time in the Big 12 era and the first time since the 1987-88 season with the win over Oklahoma on Feb. 20, has won six straight road league games for the first time since the 1963-64 season. The six league road wins are the most since the 1975-76. This is nothing new for Frank Martin-coached teams, who have won 13 Big 12 road games since the 2007-08 season, which is just one short (14) of the entire total the school had the Big 12's first 11 seasons from 1996-97 to 2006-07.
Second Half Surge
One of the biggest factors in K-State's last six wins has been its ability to pick up its pace in the second half. The Wildcats have averaged 45.3 points in the second half of the last six games on 54.1 percent shooting (85-of-157), including 50.8 percent (30-of-59) from 3-point range. This is in stark comparison to the first half, where the team has averaged 32.5 points on 37.4 percent shooting (70-of-187), including just 21.1 percent (12-of-57) from beyond the arc, in this same six-game span. K-State has scored at least 40 or more points in the second half in each of these six games and have combined to out-score their foes, 272-212. This comes after holding just a 195-186 edge over these foes at the half. The squad has been able to overcome halftime deficits (Iowa State & Nebraska) twice in this span to post wins after starting the year 0-3 when trailing at the half. For the year, the team is averaging 43.0 points in the second half on 49.3 percent shooting, including 42.1 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 486 games of experience, including 328 games as starters. The fivesome has started 15 of the last 16 games this season, while Clemente, Kelly, Pullen and Sutton have started all 28 games. In fact, four of the five starters (Clemente, Colon, Pullen and Sutton) have been in the opening line-up in 29 in the last 30 Big 12 contests.
Most of the experience lies in the backcourt, where Clemente and Pullen have started 60 of the last 62 games for the Wildcats. The tandem has combined to play in 216 games in their respective careers, including 164 combined starts. Pullen has the team's longest active streaks for both games played (95) and starts (62), which both date back to his freshman season. He ranks seventh in school history in consecutive games played, while he is sixth in consecutive starts. He also places seventh in K-State history in career minutes played (2,662), while his 76 starts rank 10th all-time. 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 121 games of experience to go with 88 starts in his career. There is also plenty of experience in the frontcourt where Colon and Sutton have combined to play in 191 games in the past three seasons. Sutton has played in 69 consecutive games (which ranks second on the team), including starts in 64 of the last 66 games. Colon, who was one of only two players (Pullen) to start in all 34 games a year ago, has seen action in 110 games in his K-State career, including 67 starts. The only starter without experience beyond this season is junior Curtis Kelly, who sat out last season after transferring from UConn.
Experience can also be found on the bench, where regular reserves Chris Merriewether and Jamar Samuels have combined to play in 155 games in their careers. A former walk-on, Merriewether has played in 94 games with five starts, including action in 82 of the last 95 contests. Samuels, who has come off the bench in all but three games in his career, has seen action in 61 of the last 62 games for the Wildcats. Four-year seniors Luis Colon and Chris Merriewether, who have won 90 games in their career, became the outright winningest senior class in school history in the victory over Texas Tech on Feb. 23, breaking a tie they had with Fred Barton (88; 1976-78; 1979-81) on the school's all-time list.
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 22 times this season, including five or more double-digit scorers in eight contests. Even though Pullen (28) and Clemente (25) 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 (22), Curtis Kelly (20), Dominique Sutton (eight), Rodney McGruder (six), Wally Judge (four) and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts (once). The Wildcats own a 19-3 mark in games when four or more players tally double digits, while they are 7-1 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 39.2 rebounds per game. The squad is tied for league leader at 15.2 offensive boards per game, while they are fourth in rebounding margin (+5.4). The Wildcats have grabbed 40 or more rebounds 12 times, including in seven of the last 16 games, while they have tallied 20 or more offensive boards four times. 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 Wildcats grabbed 50 against the Big 12's top rebounding squad (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 (14.3) 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 865 free throws attempted. The squad is three attempts ahead of Morgan State (862) for the lead nationally, while they are one of just eight schools (Morgan State, North Texas, Vermont, Cal State Northridge, Wyoming, Texas State and Seattle) to attempt at least 800 free throws and one of just 21 with at least 750 attempts. The team is fourth nationally in free throws with 571, trailing leader Morgan State (608), North Texas (589) and Vermont (579).
At its current pace, K-State will shatter the 51-year-old school record for free throws made (606; 1958-59), while it broke the mark for free throws attempted (862; 2008-09) for the second straight season with 34 against Missouri on Saturday. This is a growing trend for Frank Martin-coached teams, where his previous two squads rank among the top 10 in both single-season free throws (fifth and seventh) and attempts (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 18 of their 18 games, including 14 of the last 21 contests, while they have attempted at least 30 free throws in 16 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 coach, the Wildcats have scored 1,833 points off of 1,599 turnovers in 95 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 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 21.2 points off of 17.3 opponent mistakes per game. K-State has scored 20+ points off of turnovers 15 times, including 40 against South Dakota, which is the most since the stat began being kept in 2005-06. The team also scored 20 + points 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), Nebraska (22 & 29), Oklahoma (23) and Missouri (21). The team has a 41-5 record when scoring 20+ points off turnovers under Martin, including 15-0 this season.
Right Man, Right Time
Senior Denis Clemente seems to play his best basketball against the best competition. He has been the team's leading scorer in conference play, averaging a team-best 17.5 points on 40.6 percent shooting (82-of-202), including 37 percent (40-of-108) from 3-point range, this year. This has included a stretch in the last seven games, in which, he has averaged 19.4 points on 45.5 percent shooting, including 43.1 percent from beyond the arc. In all, he has scored in double figures in 13 of 14 league games, including five 20-point outings. For his career, he has been even better in Big 12 contests, averaging 18 points (540) on 41.5 percent shooting (180-of-434), including 38.8 percent (76-of-196) from 3-point range, in 30 career games. He has scored in double figures in 27 of these conference games, including nine 20-point games. He has led the Wildcats in scoring 15 times in this span. In comparison, he is averaging just 12.8 points 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 games 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 1,914 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 34.3 points per game through 28 games this season, including Pullen's team-leading 18.5 points per game. The duo is the third-highest scoring backcourt in the Big 12 in both overall (34.3 ppg.) and league-only games (34.5 ppg.), trailing just Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter and Colorado's Cory Higgins and Alec Burks. The 34.3-point average is the third-highest by a guard duo in school history, trailing Chuckie Williams and Mike Evans in both 1974-75 (39.1) and 1975-76 (38.8) and ahead of Askia Jones and Anthony Beane in 1993-94 (33.5). They are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 31.7) guard tandem in school history since Evans and Williams combined to average 38.9 points per game for the Wildcats between 1974-76. Clemente and Pullen has combined to score at least 20 points 54 times in 60 games dating back to last season, including 30 or more points on 37 occasions and 40 or more points 12 times. The duo 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 from the field, including 55.6 percent from 3-point range. 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 11-point effort against Missouri on Feb. 27, he became just the 10th player in school history to eclipse 1,300 career points and the first since Cartier Martin (1,546; 2003-07) in 2006. His current total of 1,310 points in 95 games is 17 back of Mitch Richmond (1,327; 1986-88) for eighth place and 54 behind Chuckie Williams (1,364; 1972-76) for seventh. If he keeps up his current 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 second in attempts with 555 and third in makes with 193. He now only trails Askia Jones (624 attempts; 1989-94) in career attempts, while he looks to join Steve Henson (240; 1987-90) and Jones (237) as the only players with 200 or more 3-point field goals in school history. By reaching that mileston, Pullen would join Henson as the only players in school history with at least 1,000 points, 200 3-pointers, 300 assists and 100 steals in a career. In addition to moving up several scoring charts, Pullen is also ascending the school's record book in numerous other career categories. He ranks second in steals with 140, trailing just all-time leader Steve Henson (190; 1986-90), while he is fourth in assists with 320. He places in the top-10 in four other career categories, including seventh in minutes played (2,662), ninth in double-digit scoring games (67) and 10th in both field goals attempted (1,021) and free throws attempted (401). He could also join the career Top 10 in field goals made and free throws made this season.
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 28 games this season, Kelly is fourth on the team in scoring at 11.4 points per game on 58.1 percent shooting to go with team-bests in both rebounds (6.5) and blocks (1.9) per contest. He continued his solid play of late against Missouri on Saturday, recording his fourth double-double (second in Big 12 play) with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go with four assists, three blocks and two steals in 34 minutes. 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 and also against Colorado on Feb. 13. 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 blocks. 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 20 times, including in key wins against Xavier (15) and UNLV (13), while he has led the team in rebounding 10 times. He has shot over 60 percent in 15 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 54 blocks, which ties Michael Beasley for second on the school's single season chart. The total is five short of the school record of 59 held by Gerald Eaker (1995-96). He has at least two blocks in 14 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 11.9 points per game, had a breakout game in the win over No. 1 Texas on Jan. 18, posting his second career 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. He grabbed his third double-double in the win over Texas Tech on Feb. 27 with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. This season, he has scored 10 or more points 22 times with 21 of those coming off the bench, including in 17 of the last 20 games. For his career, 36 of Samuels' 37 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve. He is averaging 10 points on 56.3 percent (196-of-351) in 58 career games off the bench, including 11.9 points per game on a team-best 58.6 percent shooting (106-of-181) this year. He has been solid since the start of Big 12 play, averaging 11.9 points on a team-best 57.3 percent shooting (59-of-103) and 5.3 rebounds per game. His 59 field goals in Big 12 play trail only Denis Clemente (82) and Jacob Pullen (65) through 14 league games.
Clemente Named Big 12 Player of the Week Again
Senior Denis Clemente was the named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks on Feb. 22 when he shared the honor with Oklahoma State's James Anderson. He helped run the Wildcats' winning streak to five games with victories over Nebraska (91-87) and Oklahoma (83-68) from Feb 20-23. He averaged 24.0 points on 53.1 percent shooting (17-of-32), including 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from 3-point range, in the two wins with 4.5 assists, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 36.5 minutes per game.
Clemente began the week by scoring a game-tying 21 points in helping the squad sweep the season series from Nebraska for the first time since the 2003-04 season on Feb. 17. He connected on 6-of-14 field goals, including 4-of-10 from 3-point range, with three assists and three steals in 38 minutes. He followed with a game-high 27 points in the Wildcats' second straight win at the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday. He went 11-of-18 from the field, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, with a game-high six assists and two rebounds in 35 minutes. The 11 field goals is a season-high for a player this season, while it marked the fifth time he has had five or more treys in a game.
Clemente, who has three career Big 12 Player of the Week honors, earned his first award this season on Feb. 7 in helping the squads to road wins at Nebraska (76-57) and Iowa State (79-75). He averaged 26.5 points on 50 percent shooting (16-of-32), including 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from 3-point range, in the two wins with 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 36.0 minutes per game. He posted just his second career 30-point game in the Wildcats' fourth straight win at Iowa State on Feb. 6, while it was his highest point total since tying the Big 12 record with 44 against Texas on Jan. 31, 2009. He was also named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week on Feb. 8 for his efforts, marking the second time in his career he has been named a National Player of the Week after he earned the honor from ESPN.com on Feb. 2, 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. 5 as well as their highest ranking in the Coaches' poll, also at No. 5, since USA Today took over ownership in 1993-94. He is the team's second-leading scorer (and 10th in the Big 12) at 15.8 points per game and has scored in double figures in 25 games. He ranks in the Top 10 in four Big 12 categories, including third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2), fifth in 3-point field goals per game (2.4), sixth in assists and seventh in minutes played.
Clemente Among Best Transfers
Senior Denis Clemente eclipsed the career 1,000-point barrier with a pair of free throws just over a minute into the IUPUI game on Nov. 28, 2009. Clemente, who transferred to K-State after playing two seasons at Miami (Fla.), has totaled 923 points his two-year career on 40 percent shooting (316-of-791) from the field, including 35 percent (124-of-354) from 3-point range, in 60 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). He currently ranks fourth on the list, trailing Mitch Richmond (1,327; 1986-88), Willie Murrell (1,112; 1962-64) and Jeremiah Massey (929; 2003-05). He needs 77 points to become just the sixth player in school history to top 1,000 points in a two-year career and the first since Mitch Richmond (1,327 points; 1986-88). He has also cracked the school's Top 10 in 3-point field goals, ranking sixth in attempts (354) and seventh in makes (124).
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, Iowa State's Marquis Gilstrap and Missouri's Zaire Taylor. Sutton has held his opponents to a collective 38.3 shooting percentage (79-of-206), including a 24.6 percentage (14-of-57) 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. Crawford had 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. He was also solid on Big 12 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 in the first meeting on Feb. 6. 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 3.0 points and 3.9 rebounds, has started 14 of the last 15 games, including 13 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 six games, where he is averaging 4.8 points on 37 percent shooting to go with 4.5 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 leads the squad in scoring (18.5 ppg.), double-digit scoring games (28), 20-point games (11), 3-point field goals (78) and attempts (199), free throws made (149) and attempted (184), free throw percentage (81.0) and steals (46). He ranks among the Big 12 leaders in eight categories, including second in 3-point field goals per game (2.8), fourth in scoring, fifth in steals, eighth in free throw percentage, ninth in 3-point field goal percentage, 11th in assists and 13th in both field goal percentage (41.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4). His 28 consecutive double-figure games is the third-longest streak in school history, while his 67 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, who entered the season with the second-most wins (43) by head coach in school history, has K-State off to its best start since the 1958-59 season, while the current 24 victories and 11 conference wins are the most in the Big 12 era and most since the 1987-88 season won a school-record 25 games. The team earned their first Top 5 ranking in nearly 50 years on Monday when they rose to No. 5 in each poll. It marks the fifth straight Top 10 ranking this season, including the fourth in both major polls. Martin 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 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 now has the most wins by a head coach in his first three seasons, surpassing Lon Kruger, 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.