7/7 KANSAS STATE (28-7, 11-5 Big 12)
vs. 25/-- Xavier (26-8, 14-2 Atlantic 10)
Date: Thursday, March 25, 2010
Tipoff: 8:37 p.m. CT or 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one between No. 1 seed Syracuse (30-4) and No. 5 seed Butler (30-4). | Location: Salt Lake City, Utah | Arena: EnergySolutions Arena (19,120)
Television: CBS Sports (Gus Johnson, play-by-play; Len Elmore, analyst; Steve Scheer, producer)
National Radio: Westwood One (Ted Robinson, play-by-play; Bill Frieder, analyst)
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst) | Live Stats: www.NCAASports.com | Local Stations: Sports Radio 1350 AM (KMAN; Manhattan), 101.5-FM (KMKF; Manhattan)
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International '93) is 71-31 (.690) in his third season at K-State. Xavier - Chris Mack (Xavier '92) is 26-8 (.765) in his first season at Xavier and as a head coach. He spent the previous five seasons as an assistant coach at Xavier.
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 24 (1948-51-56-58-59-61-64-68-70-72-73-75-77-80-81-82-87-88-89-90-93-96-2008-2010) | NCAA Sweet 16 Appearances: 17 (1948-51-56-58-59-61-64-70-72-73-75-77-80-81-82-88-2010) | Overall NCAA Tournament Record: 30-27 (11-5 in regional semifinals) | West Regional: 10-6 (3-0 in regional semifinals) | In Salt Lake City: 3-2 (2-2 in NCAA Tournament) | In EnergySolutions Arena: 0-0 | As a No. 2 seed: 2-0 | vs. No. 6 seed: 1-2 | vs. Xavier: 3-4 (0-1 in the NCAA Tournament | Last time: No. 2 seed K-State beat No. 7 seed BYU, 84-72, in the West Regional second round at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City on Saturday. No. 6 seed Xavier knocked off No. 3 seed Pittsburgh, 71-68, in the West Regional second round at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee on Sunday.
Rankings: K-State is ranked No. 7 in AP Top 25 and No. 7 in ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25. Xavier is ranked No. 25 in the AP Top 25 and is receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25.
Tickets: Sold out.
Familiar Foes Meet in West Regional Semifinal Thursday
Kansas State (28-7, 11-5 Big 12), the No. 2 seed in the West Regional, advances to its first Sweet 16 in more than 20 years on Thursday as the Wildcats face No. 6 seed Xavier (26-8, 14-2 Atlantic 10) in the second game of a doubleheader at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City at 8:37 p.m. CT. It will mark the team's 17th appearance in the regional semifinal, including the first since the 1987-88 squad advanced to the Elite Eight. The Wildcats will face a familiar foe in No. 25 Musketeers, whom they defeated 71-56 in a non-conference game at Bramlage Coliseum on Dec. 8, 2009. This will mark the eighth time in school history that the squad has met a team in the NCAA Tournament that they also faced during the regular season and the first time since losing both match-ups to Minnesota during the 1988-89 season. Overall, the team is 3-4 all-time in the re-match in the NCAA Tournament, while twice (Texas in 1971-72 and Arkansas in 1979-80) they have swept both meetings. This will be eighth all-time meeting between the two schools with Xavier holding a slight 4-3 edge in a series that dates back to 1961. This will be the second meeting in the NCAA Tournament and the first since the Musketeers earned an 87-79 win in the first round of the 1990 Midwest Regional at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. The winner of will get either No. 1 seed Syracuse (30-5) or No. 5 seed Butler (30-5) on Saturday in the West Regional Championship game for the right to advance to the Final Four. All the games in Salt Lake City will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports with Gus Johnson (play-by-play) and Len Elmore (analyst) on the call.
K-State is making its 31st postseason appearance, which includes 24 in the NCAA Tournament and seven in the National Invitational Tournament. It marks the fourth consecutive postseason appearance for the Wildcats and the second in the last three seasons in the NCAA Tournament. The four straight postseason trips are the most since the school advanced to the NCAA Tournament each season from 1987 to 1990. The program has posted a 30-27 (.509) all-time record in NCAA Tournament play, including an 11-5 mark in regional semifinal games. The Wildcats earned its 17th trip to the Sweet 16 in their fifth appearance in the West Regional (and first since 1987) with wins over No. 15 seed North Texas (82-62) and No. 7 BYU (84-72) at the Oklahoma City Regional held at the Ford Center. The No. 2 seed is the highest for K-State since seeding began in 1979, surpassing the previous high of a No. 4 seed in 1988. It marks just the sixth time that that Wildcats have earned a seeding of eight or better at the Big Dance. In the 23 previous NCAA Tournaments, the squad has advanced to the Sweet 16 a total of 16 times, reached 11 Elite Eights, made four Final Four appearances and played in one NCAA title game.
A Quick Look at Kansas State
K-State has posted one of its greatest seasons ever in 2009-10, as the Wildcats have totaled a school-record 28 wins, including 11 in league play, en route to a tie for second place in the Big 12 and a runner-up finish in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The 11 league wins as well as the second-place finish are the best ever in the Big 12 era and the best since the 1987-88 team finished second in the Big Eight with 11 conference victories. The trip to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship game was also a first since the inception of the league and the first since advancing to the Big Eight final in 1993. The win over Colorado on Feb. 13 gave the Wildcats a 20-win season for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season, including their 23rd all-time, while while it made Big 12 Coach of the Year Frank Martin the first head coach in school history to post 20 wins in each of his first three seasons. The squad has tallied a school-record six wins over teams ranked in the Top 25, surpassing the mark they held with the 1950-51 team, including one over the No. 1 team (Texas on Jan. 18) for the third time ever and the first time since 1994. The Wildcats finished with an NCAA RPI of No. 6 and has won 15 games away from the friendly confines of Bramlage Coliseum, including seven true road contests.
The Wildcats remained in the Top 10 in both major polls for the sixth consecutive week on March 15, as the Wildcats jumped two spots to seventh in The Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. It marks the first time that the program has ranked among the AP Top 15 for 11 weeks in a row since the 1961-62 squad was ranked among the AP Top 10 for 15 weeks, while the team's 14-week stay in the AP Top 25 is the longest since the 1972-73 squad was ranked for 16 straight weeks. The squad earned their first Top 5 ranking in the AP poll since 1962 on March 1 at No. 5, while they recorded their highest ranking (No. 5) in the Coaches' poll since USA Today took over the poll in 1993-94 on the same date.
The squad is averaging just under 80 points per game (79.8 ppg.) on 45 percent shooting (922-of-2047), including 35.9 percent from 3-point range (240-of-669), with 39.1 rebounds, 14.7 assists, 7.4 steals and 4.8 blocks per game. The squad has topped 80 or more points in 21 of 35 games (including five 90-point outputs), while hitting on 45 percent or better from the field on 18 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 2,792 points is the best-ever single-season total in school history. Frank Martin-coached teams now hold three of the top-4 single-season scoring marks in school history. The 79.8 points per game average currently ranks second on the single-season scoring average chart just behind the school record of 81.4 points averaged during the 1952-53 campaign. The team has posted new school records for free throws made (708), free throws attempted (1,055) and blocked shots (170), while they rank in the Top 5 in five other school single-season categories, including offensive rebounds (532), defensive rebounds (836), 3-point field goals (240), 3-point field goal attempted (669) and steals (258).
K-State is averaging 33 points in the paint, while ranking first nationally in free throws made (20.2) and attempted per game (30.5) and free throws attempted and second in free throws made. The defensive effort has also been solid, holding foes to 69.3 points on 41.7 percent shooting, while averaging 20.1 points off of 16.8 turnovers per game. The squad has scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 17 games, including 14 of the last 26 contests, while the 40 points scored off turnovers against South Dakota on Jan. 3 are the most since the statistic began being kept in 2005-06.
The Wildcats finished the regular season with four double-figure scorers (Jacob Pullen, Denis Clemente, Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly) for the first time since the 1980-81 team of Rolando Blackman, Randy Reed, Tyrone Adams and Ed Nealy. The team has had six different leading scorers this season, while five players have tallied at least 10 double-digit scoring efforts led by Pullen's 35.
Named a third team All-American by The Sporting News and a consensus first team All-Big 12 selection, Pullen leads all scorers at 19.2 points per game on 42.1 percent shooting from the field to go with team bests in 20-point games (15), 3-point field goals (102), free throws (195), free throw percentage (81.6) and steals (60). He ranks among the school's single-season Top 10 for double-digit scoring games (second), 3-point field goals (second), free throws made (fourth), scoring average (sixth), points (seventh) and steals (seventh). 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 1,464 points in 102 career games ranks seventh all-time at K-State. One of just two players (Mitch Richmond) to score in double figures in at least 35 consecutive games, he is just the second player in school history (Steve Henson) with at least 1,000 points, 200 3-pointers, 300 assists and 100 steals in career.
A fourth team All-American by FOXSports.com and a second team all-league pick, Clemente is second in scoring at 16.3 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting from the field and is tops on the team in field goals (196), assists (148) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1). Twice named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week, he has become of the one of top transfers ever to play at K-State, ranking third for most points by a transfer (1,050). He is the 22nd player to top 1,000 points in a career, including just the sixth player in school history to do in a two-year career and the first since Mitch Richmond (1,327; 1986-88). He also ranks in the Top 10 for career 3-point field goals (142) and attempts (406).
The backcourt tandem of Clemente and Pullen has combined for over 40 percent of the scoring (1,243) this season, while historically, they are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 35.5) guard tandems since former NBA players Mike Evans and Chuckie Williams combined to average 38.9 points per game between 1974-76. They are just third pair of teammates in school history to each eclipse 500 points in a season, joining Evans and Williams in 1975-76 and Cartier Martin and David Hoskins in 2006-07.
The winner of the Big 12's Sixth Man Award, sophomore Jamar Samuels ranks third in scoring at 11.3 points per game on 54.7 percent shooting from the field. Samuels, who has come off the bench in 33 of 34 games, ranks third on the squad in rebounding at 5.1 per game. He has scored in double figures in 24 of his 34 games played, including his fourth career double-double in the quarterfinal win over Oklahoma State on March 13 with a career-high 27 points and game-high 10 rebounds. Dubbed the "X-Factor" for his ability to change the game off the bench, 38 of Samuels' 39 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve with K-State holding a solid 32-6 record in these contests. Junior transfer Curtis Kelly is the only other player averaging in double figures at 11.2 points per game. Kelly, who leads the squad with four double-doubles, is shooting a team-best 56.6 percent from the field and ranks first with 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest. He is the school's single season blocks leader with 66. One of the Big 12's top defenders, junior Dominique Sutton is averaging 7.5 points on 48.7 percent shooting to go with 5.8 rebounds per game. He has three double-doubles, including a 14-point, 14-rebound effort in the win over No. 20/21 Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.
The Book on Xavier
A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, Xavier enters Thursday's game with a 26-8 record after knocking off Minnesota, 65-54, in the first round on March 19 and No. 18/16 Pittsburgh, 71-68, in the second round on March 21 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wis. One of the hottest teams in the country with wins in 10 of their last 11 games, the squad is one of only two (along with Michigan State) to make the Sweet 16 each of the last three NCAA Tournaments. Overall, the Musketeers are making their fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance and their ninth in the last 10 years. They have made the Elite Eight in 2004 and 2008.
Xavier is averaging 79.3 points per game on the season on 46.3 percent shooting, including 37.4 percent from 3-point range, with 40.1 rebounds, 14.2 assists, 6.7 steals and 3.8 blocks per game. The team is shooting a solid 71 percent from the free throw line. A young squad with seven freshmen and sophomores and just one senior, there are seven players shooting 50 percent or better from the field. The Musketeers have three players averaging in double figures and six averaging six or more points. Sophomore All-American forward Jordan Crawford is averaging a team-best 20.2 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting, including 40 percent from beyond the arc. Crawford is tops on the team in field goals (247), 3-point field goals (76) and steals (46) and second in rebounding (4.8 rpg.). Senior Jason Love averages 11.8 points on a team-best 56 percent shooting to go with a team-best 8.5 rebounds per game. Second-year guards Terrell Holloway and Mark Lyons are averaging 11.7 and 7.9 points per game, while junior forward Jamel McLean adds 8.6 points on 52.6 percent shooting and 7.5 rebounds per game.
Xavier is led by first-year head coach Chris Mack, who was elevated to head coach at his alma mater on April 15, 2009 after spending five years as the top aide to former head coach Sean Miller. Prior to being elevated to head coach, Mack spent 10 years an assistant coach at Wake Forest (2001-04) and Xavier (2004-09), where he helped nine teams advance to the postseason, including eight to the NCAA Tournament.
Series vs. Xavier
This will be the eighth meeting between Kansas State and Xavier on the hardwood with the Musketeers holding a 4-3 edge in the series that dates back to 1961. The Wildcats snapped a three-game losing streak in the series with a 71-56 win over the Musketeers on Dec. 8, 2009 in Manhattan. The contest was the last of a three-game series, which started back in 2007. The squad shot 44 percent from the field and converted 14 offensive rebounds into a 16-5 advantage in second-chance points, while the defense held Xavier to 29.4 percent shooting, including 27.3 percent in the first half. Junior Jacob Pullen led all scorers with 16 points, including an 8-of-12 effort from the free throw line, while junior Curtis Kelly (15 points and nine rebounds) and sophomore Jamar Samuels (11 points and eight rebounds) each posted near double-doubles. Xavier's Jordan Crawford had 16 points in 33 minutes, while guard Brad Redford posted 16 points off the bench, including a 4-of-5 effort from beyond the arc.
This will mark the second time the two teams have met in the NCAA Tournament with the Musketeers earning an 87-79 win in the first round at the Midwest Regional before a school-record 39,417 fans in Hoosier Dome. Guard Steve Henson tied the school-record with 35 points, but it wasn't enough as the Musketeers pulled away in the second half. This will also mark the third time K-State has played in an NCAA Tournament game in Salt Lake City both coming in the West Regional in 1981 and 1987. The Wildcats captured wins over San Francisco and No. 1 seed Oregon State in Los Angeles before defeating No. 4 seed Illinois, 57-52, in the regional semifinals and losing to No. 2 seed North Carolina, 82-68, in the regional final at the Huntsman Center in 1981. K-State played its first/second round contests at the Huntsman Center in 1987 with the squad knocking off Georgia, 82-79, in overtime on March 12 in the first round before losing to No. 1 seed UNLV, 80-61, in the second round on March 14.
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 521 games of experience, including 362 games as starters. The fivesome has started 21 of the last 23 games this season, while Clemente, Kelly and Pullen have started all 35 games. In fact, four of the five starters (Clemente, Colon, Pullen and Sutton) have been in the opening line-up in 30 in the last 32 Big 12 contests.
Most of the experience lies in the backcourt, where Clemente and Pullen have started 67 of the last 69 games for the Wildcats. The tandem has combined to play in 230 games in their respective careers, including 178 combined starts. Pullen has the team's longest active streaks for both games played (102) and starts (69), which both date back to his freshman season. He ranks seventh in school history in consecutive games played, while he is fourth in consecutive starts. He also places sixth in K-State history in career minutes played (2,888), while his 83 starts rank seventh 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 128 games of experience to go with 95 starts in his career. There is also plenty of experience in the frontcourt where Colon and Sutton have combined to play in 205 games in the past three seasons. Sutton has played in 76 consecutive games (which ranks second on the team), including starts in 70 of the last 73 games. Colon, who was one of only two players (Pullen) to start in all 34 games a year ago, has seen action in 117 games in his K-State career, including 74 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 167 games in their careers. A former walk-on, Merriewether has played in 99 games with six starts, including action in 87 of the last 102 contests. Samuels, who has come off the bench in all but three games in his career, has seen action in 68 of the last 69 games for the Wildcats. Four-year seniors Luis Colon and Chris Merriewether, who have won 94 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 24 times this season, including five or more double-digit scorers in eight contests. Even though Pullen (35) and Clemente (32) 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 (24), Curtis Kelly (23), Dominique Sutton (11), Rodney McGruder (six), Wally Judge (four) and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts (once). The Wildcats own a 21-3 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 39.1 rebounds per game. The squad is the league leader at 15.2 offensive boards per game, while they are fourth in rebounding margin (+5.2). The Wildcats have grabbed 40 or more rebounds 15 times, including in 10 of the last 22 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 (No. 1/1 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 14 points per game (13.8) 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 1,055 free throws attempted, 20.2 free throws made per game and 30.1 free throws attempted per game. The squad is 42 attempts ahead of Morgan State for the lead nationally, while they just ahead of North Texas (20.0) in makes per game and Cal State Northridge (29.2) in attempts per game. The team is second nationally in free throws made with 708, trailing leader Morgan State, which played three more contests.
K-State has broke the single-season marks for both free throws made and attempted, shattering the 51-year-old mark for makes (606; 1958-59) with 33 against Iowa State on March 6. The squad broke the record for free throws attempted (862; 2008-09) for the second straight season with 34 against Missouri on Feb. 27. 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 (second and eighth). The team has also broke the Big 12 records for both free throws and free throws attempted, surpassing the marks of Kansas in 1996-97 (698 makes on 1,007 attempts).
The team has connected on 20 or more free throws in 21 of their 35 games, including 17 of the last 28 contests, while they have attempted at least 30 free throws in 19 games. The Wildcats made the most of their opportunities in the win over BYU on March 20, converting on a season-high 90 percent (27-of-30) from the stripe, including 13-of-14 in the last five minutes of the game. The 90 percent conversion rate is the fifth-highest in game with a minimum of 20 attempts, including the highest in an NCAA Tournament game. It surpassed the previous high of 80 percent (32-of-40) this season against Nebraska on Feb. 17, which included a 14-of-14 effort in the last five minutes of the game. 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.
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 15-4 mark away from Bramlage Coliseum this season, including a 7-2 mark in 'true' road games and a 6-2 mark in Big 12 road contests. The 15 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 6-2 mark in Big 12 road games trails just Kansas for the best in the league. 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, 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, which has 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 success this season has been its ability to pick up the pace in the second half. The Wildcats have averaged 42.1 points in the second half this season on 48.4 percent shooting, including 41.4 percent from 3-point range. This is in comparison to the first half, where the team has averaged 37.2 points on 42.3 percent shooting, including just 31.4 percent from beyond the arc. K-State scored at least 40 or more points in the second half in 24 games (including both NCAA Tournament games) and have combined to out-score their foes, 1472-1350. Although the squad has out-scored their opponents, 1320-1075, they have also posted 40 or more points in the first half just 10 times. The Wildcats have also connected on 50 percent or better from the field in the second half of 15 games, including both NCAA Tournament games.
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 1,945 points off of 1,702 turnovers in 102 games, an average of 19.1 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 20.1 points off of 16.8 opponent mistakes per game. K-State has scored 20+ points off of turnovers 17 times, including a school-record 40 against South Dakota on Jan. 3. The team also scored 20 or more 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), OSU (23) and Baylor (22). The Wildcats have a 43-5 record when scoring 20+ points off turnovers under Martin, including 17-0 this season.
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 2,514 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 35.5 points per game through 35 games this season, including Pullen's team-leading 19.2 points per game. The duo ranks as the third-highest scoring backcourt in the Big 12 in both overall (35.5 ppg.) and league-only games (35.5 ppg.), trailing Colorado's Cory Higgins and Alec Burks and Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter. The 35.5-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 30.1) 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 61 times in 67 games dating back to last season, including 30 or more points on 43 occasions and 40 or more points 16 times. The duo combined for 50 points for the third time this year in the win over No. 17/16 BYU on March 20, as the two combined for 53 points on 45.5 percent shooting from the field, including 47.6 percent from 3-point range. The duo has topped 20 or more points in the same contest five times, including Kansas twice (Feb. 19, 2009 and March 3, 2010), No. 18/21 Dayton on Nov. 22, 2009 and WSU on Dec. 5, 2009 and Baylor on March 12.
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 26-point effort against Baylor on March 12, he became just the seventh player in school history to eclipse 1,400 career points and the first since Cartier Martin (1,546; 2003-07) in 2006. His current total of 1,464 points in 102 games ranks seventh all-time on the scoring list, as he passed Chuckie Williams (1,364; 1972-76) with 19 points against Oklahoma State on March 11. If he keeps up his current scoring average (14.4 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 3 in both 3-point field goals made and attempted in school history, ranking second in attempts with 616 and third in makes with 217. He needs just nine attempts to surpass Askia Jones (624 attempts; 1989-94) for the all-time lead in attempts, while he is one of three players in school history (Steve Henson (240; 1987-90) and Jones (237) with 200 or more 3-point field goals in school history with his effort at the Big 12 Championship. By topping 200 3-pointers, Pullen joined 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 several other career categories. He ranks second in steals with 154, trailing just all-time leader Steve Henson (190; 1986-90), while he is third in assists with 336. He places in the top-10 in six other categories, including third in free throws made (349), sixth in minutes played (2,888), double-digit scoring games (74) and free throws attempted (456), eighth in field goals attempted (1,119) and ninth in field goals made (449).
Right Man, Right Time
Senior Denis Clemente seems to play his best basketball against the best competition. He was just edged out by Jacob Pullen as the team's leading scorer in Big 12 play, averaging 17.7 points on 40 percent shooting (94-of-235), including 35.5 percent (44-of-124) from 3-point range, this year. This included a stretch in the last nine game of the Big 12 season, in which, he averaged 19.3 points on 43.3 percent shooting, including 39.2 percent from beyond the arc. In all, he scored in double figures in 15 of 16 league games, including six 20-point outings. For his career, he was even better in Big 12 contests, averaging 18.1 points on 41.1 percent shooting (192-of-467), including 37.7 percent (80-of-212) from 3-point range, in 32 career games. He scored in double figures in 29 of these conference games, including 10 20-point games. He also led the Wildcats in scoring 16 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.
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 35 games, Kelly is third on the team in scoring at 11.2 points per game on a team-best 56.6 percent shooting to go with team-bests in rebounds (6.2) and blocks (1.9) per game. He continued his solid play against Missouri on Feb. 27, recording his fourth double-double (his 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 back-to-back 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 first team All-Big 12 performer to just nine points on 3-of-12 field goals with seven rebounds and four turnovers. In all, Kelly has scored in double figures 23 times, including in key wins against Xavier (15) and UNLV (13), while he has led the team in rebounding 11 times. He has shot over 60 percent in 17 games, including connecting on 85.7 percent (6-of-7) against Iowa State on March 6 with Big 12-high 19 points. He had a season-high 22 points in the opener against Loyola Chicago. He set the school's single-season record for blocked shots with 60th in the win over No. 21/20 Baylor in the semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. He has at least two blocks in 17 games, including a career-best six against South Dakota.
Sophomore Jamar Samuels proved himself one of the top bench scorers in the country this season, as his near 12-point, five-rebound average earned him the Big 12's Sixth Man Award from the league coaches on March 6. He is the second Wildcat to win the award and the first since Cartier Martin in 2007. Samuels, who is third in scoring at 11.3 points per game, had a breakout game in the win over Oklahoma State on March 11, posting his fourth career double-double with a career-best 27 points on 7-of-9 field goals with a game-high 10 rebounds. He also played well in the win over No. 1 Texas on Jan. 18, earning his first double-double of the year 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 fourth of his career and just one point off the 21 he scored against Fort Hays State 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 24 times with 23 of those coming off the bench, including in 19 of the last 27 games. For his career, 38 of Samuels' 39 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve. He is averaging 9.9 points on 55.1 percent (199-of-361) in 65 games off the bench, including 11.6 points per game on a team-best 57.8 percent shooting (108-of-187) this season. He was solid in Big 12 play, averaging 11.1 points on 54.9 percent shooting (62-of-113) and 5.4 rebounds per game. His 62 field goals in conference-only play ranked fourth on the squad.
Martin, Three Wildcats Earn All-Big 12 Honors
Junior Jacob Pullen and senior Denis Clemente were named to the Coaches' All-Conference team, sophomore Jamar Samuels was announced as the winner of the Sixth Man Award and Frank Martin was named Coach of the Year, as the Big 12 office announced its awards on March 7.
Pullen became just the second men's basketball player to earn first team All-Big 12 honors since the inception of the league in 1997, joining former teammate Michael Beasley who received the award in 2008. The leading scorer at 18.9 points per game also earned first team accolades from The Associated Press, Kansas City Star, Yahoo! Sports and The Sporting News. He was also selected to the six-man All-Defensive Team. He has averaged 18.9 points on 41.6 percent shooting, including 38.4 percent from 3-point range, to go with 3.5 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 31.3 minutes per game. He has led the squad in double-figure scoring (33), 20-point games (14), 3-point field goals (93) and steals (53).
Clemente was named to the league's second team for the second consecutive season. He has averaged 16.2 points on 40.2 percent shooting, including 33.6 percent from 3-point range, with a team-best 4.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 34 minutes per game. He scored in double figures in 30 games, including 10 20-point games. He was also named to the Kansas City Star's second team and to Yahoo! Sports' third team.
Samuels becomes the second Wildcat to earn the Sixth Man Award following Cartier Martin in 2007. The third-leading scorer at 11.9 points per game, he scored in double figures off the bench in 23 games, including three 20-point efforts and four double-doubles. He ranks third on the team in rebounding at 5.2 per game. He had a breakout game in the win over No. 1 Texas with 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
Martin was named Big 12 Coach of the Year by both the league coaches, The Associated Press and The Sporting News. He is the first coach since Dana Altman in 1993 to earn league Coach of the Year honors, while he is the fifth coach overall to earn the distinction, following Tex Winter (1958, 1959, 1960), Cotton Fitzsimmons (1970), Jack Hartman (1975, 1977) and Altman, in school history.
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 then became the school's 22nd 1,000-point scorer and just the sixth in a two-year playing career (and first since Mitch Richmond in 1987-88) with 17 points against top-ranked Kansas on March 13. Clemente, who transferred after playing two seasons at Miami (Fla.), has totaled 1,050 points his two-year career on 40.5 percent shooting (363-of-897) from the field, including 35 percent (142-of-406) from 3-point range, in 67 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 third on the list, trailing 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 both makes (142) and attempts (406).
Clemente Named Big 12 Player of the Week Twice
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.
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.
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 38.7 shooting percentage (87-of-225), including a 28.1 percentage (18-of-64) 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 on Jan. 12.
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 22 of the last 23 games, including 21 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.
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.
Martin Named Finalist For National Coach of the Year Awards
Kansas State head coach Frank Martin was recently named as one of four finalists for the Naismith Men's College Basketball Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. He was selected along with New Mexico's Steve Alford, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and Kentucky's John Calipari. The quartet was voted on by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's National Voting Academy, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The academy based its criteria on coaching performances this season. The winner will be announced in early April.
Martin was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year by the league coaches, The Associated Press and The Sporting News, while he has been named District Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). He was selected as one of 15 finalists for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year by CollegeInsider.com on March 8.
Martin has guided K-State to a school-record 28-7 overall record, including its first trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 since 1988. The Wildcats finished in a tie for second place in Big 12 play with an 11-5 mark and finished as the runner-up at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The squad was also awarded their highest ever seed (No. 2) in the NCAA Tournament. The 28 wins have surpassed the previous school-record of 25 set by the 1950-51 and 1987-88 squads, while the 11 conference victories and second-place finish were the highest of the Big 12 era and the highest since the 1987-88 season. He has also helped the Wildcats to Top 25 rankings in both major polls for 15 consecutive weeks, including seven weeks in a row in the Top 10. He guided the school to its highest ranking in more than 50 years on March 1 when the squad rose to No. 5 in both major polls. The Wildcats' 15-week stay in the AP Top 25 is the longest since the 1972-73 squad was ranked for 16 straight weeks, while the 12 weeks in the Top 15 is the longest since the 1961-62 team was ranked among the Top 10 for 15 weeks.
Martin has posted a 71-31 (.696) record in three seasons at K-State, including a 30-18 (.625) mark in Big 12 play. His 71 wins are the most by a K-State coach in his first three seasons, while he is the first to have three straight 20-win seasons to start a career. He has guided the Wildcats to a school-record six wins over Top 25 teams, including just the third over a No. 1 team and the first since 1994 with the win over Texas on Jan. 18.