12/12 KANSAS STATE (11-1, 0-0 Big 12)
vs. Cleveland State (4-9, 0-2 Horizon)
Date: Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Tipoff: 7:10 p.m. CT
Location: Manhattan, Kan. | Arena: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)
Television: FOX Sports Kansas City/ESPN Full Court (Ben Boyle, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst; Max Leinwand, producer | Channel Directory: DirecTV 672, Dish Network 445, AT&T U-Verse 750 | Internet: www.ESPN360.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Matt Walters, analyst) | Live Stats: www.kstatesports.com | Local Stations: Sports Radio 1350 AM (KMAN; Manhattan), 101.5-FM (KMKF; Manhattan) | Satellite Radio: Sirius 130
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International '93) is 54-25 (.684) in his third season at K-State. Cleveland State - Gary Waters (Ferris State '75) is 61-54 (.530) in his fourth season at Cleveland State and 232-189 (.551) in his 13th season overall.
Last Time Out: K-State defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 90-76, on Dec. 21, while Cleveland State lost at No. 17/17 Ohio State, 72-59, on Dec. 22.
Series: K-State leads 2-0 (1-0 at home) | Last time: K-State won 69-59 in Cleveland, Ohio on Nov. 22, 2008 | vs. Horizon League: K-State leads 6-5 (5-0 at home) | Frank Martin is 1-0 vs. Cleveland State, while Gary Waters is 1-2 all-time vs. K-State.
Rankings: K-State is ranked 12th in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25 polls. Cleveland State is not ranked in either poll.
Tickets: $15 (bench and Cat Cushion), $25 (chairbacks) at the Athletics Ticket Office at 800.221.CATS or via www.k-statesports.com.
K-State returns from Holiday Break to face Cleveland State
Kansas State (11-1) looks to continue where it left off before the Holiday break on Tuesday, as the Wildcats play host to Cleveland State (4-9) at Bramlage Coliseum beginning at 7 p.m. It will mark the first of two games this week to close out the non-conference slate, which also includes South Dakota (6-5) on Sunday at noon. The team, which is off to their best start since 1958-59, is in the midst of their longest winning streak (eight) under third-year head coach Frank Martin and their longest streak since winning eight in a row to start the 2004-05 season. In addition, K-State has won 21 consecutive non-conference home games dating back to 2007-08 as well as 20 straight home games in the December. The squad will also look to close the month unbeaten for the just the eighth time in school history and for the first time since the 1998-99 team went 6-0. The Wildcats, who earned their first national ranking since the 2007-08 season on Dec. 14, remained steady in the AP poll at No. 12 and moved up three spots to No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll on Monday. It matches the highest ranking in the AP poll since head coach Jack Hartman led the Wildcats to a No. 9 ranking in the poll on March 13, 1973 with a 23-5 record, while it is the highest ranking prior to conference play since K-State was ranked No. 10 in the preseason poll in 1965. The squad, whose 14 non-conference opponents boast a .636 winning percentage through Dec. 28, currently has the second-best RPI (according to all four major services) and a consensus Top 5 strength of schedule. Tuesday's contest will be broadcast regionally on FOX Sports Kansas City with Ben Boyle (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) on the call. It will also be available on the ESPN Full Court plan as well as on ESPN360.com.
The Wildcats matched their best start in more than 40 years on Dec. 21, as the squad knocked off winless Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 90-76, at home. The team's 11-1 start matches three other teams (1947-48, 1957-58, 1958-59) for the second-best start after 12 games in school history and trails just the 1918-19 squad which opened the year with a school-record 17 consecutive victories. The team shot 50 percent from the field, a feat done in three straight games for the first time since Jan. 7-19, 2008, while they topped the 80-point barrier for a school-record ninth time in 12 games. The squad converted 21 turnovers into 29 points (marking the sixth time this year the Wildcats have scored 20 or more points off turnovers including the third straight contest) and scored 20 or more points from the free throw line for the ninth time this season against the Lions. Junior Jacob Pullen led the Wildcats in scoring for the fifth consecutive game with 18 points, while four other Wildcats (Dominique Sutton, Curtis Kelly, Denis Clemente and Jamar Samuels) also had double figures. Pullen, who is second in the Big 12 in scoring at 20.0 points per game, has scored in double figures in 12 consecutive games with six games of 20 or more points in that stretch. Sutton, who has averaged 9.0 points and 5.6 rebounds during the team's winning streak, had 14 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists. Kelly had 13 points, a team-tying eight rebounds and three blocks, while Clemente and Samuels added 12 points each.
A Quick Look at Kansas State
K-State is averaging just over 80 points per game (82.8 ppg.) on 48.4 percent shooting (323-of-668), including 37.2 percent from 3-point range (80-of-215), with 37.9 rebounds, 15.7 assists, 6.8 steals and 4.8 blocks per game. The squad has topped 80 or more points in nine of 12 games (for the first time in school history), while hitting on 45 percent or better from the field on eight occasions. The 993 points scored are the second-most through 12 games in school history and the most since the 1997-98 squad scored 1,008 points. The team is averaging over 35 points per game (35.2) in the paint (10 more than their opponents), while averaging just over 21 free throw makes (22.3) per game. They are out-scoring their opponents, 138-37, in fast-break points. The defensive effort has also been solid, holding opponents to 68.6 points on 40.9 percent shooting while averaging 20.2 points off of 17.3 turnovers per game. Before allowing an average of 76.7 points in the last three games, the Wildcats had been even more stingy on the defensive end, holding both Washington State and Xavier to just 62.5 points on 37.6 percent shooting from the field, including just 26.1 percent from 3-point range, and posting a 39-31 rebounding advantage. The rebounding edge is still more than four per game.
The Wildcats are 11-1 for the first time under head coach Frank Martin and for the first time as a program since the 1958-59 squad also opened at 11-1 (also matched by the 1947-48 and 1957-58 squads). Only one other team has fared better after 12 games in school history, as the 1918-19 team started the season with 17 straight wins. This is just the fifth time in school history that the team has won 11 of their first 12 games.
The one-time Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week, junior Jacob Pullen leads four players in double figures at 20 points per game on 45.6 percent shooting from the field to go with team bests in field goals (68), 3-point field goals (34), free throws (70), free throw percentage (82.4) and steals (18), while backcourt mate Denis Clemente is second in scoring at 14.3 points per game on 38.5 percent shooting from the field and is tops on the team in assists (44) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.75). The duo has combined for over 40 percent of the scoring (411) so far this season, while historically, they are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 30.3) 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. Clemente recently topped the 1,000-point plateau for his career (includes his two-year stint at Miami) with a pair of free throws just over a minute into the IUPUI game on Nov. 28. Pullen became the 21st player in school history, including the eighth guard, to score 1,000 career points with his 30-point effort against Alabama on Dec. 19. His 1,031 points in 79 career games ranks 17th all-time in school history, while he has scored in double figures in all 12 games and a team-best 51 times in his career. Pullen needs just four more double-digit games to crack the school's all-time top 10 list.
Sophomore Jamar Samuels ranks third in scoring at 11.7 points per game on 59.7 percent shooting from the field. Samuels, who has come off the bench in 11 of 12 games, ranks second on the squad in rebounding at 5.2 per game. He has scored in double figures in nine of 11 games played, including a career-best 21 points against Fort Hays State on Dec. 1. Dubbed the "X-Factor" for his ability to change the game off the bench, 23 of Samuels' 24 double-digit scoring efforts have come as a reserve. Junior transfer Curtis Kelly is the lone other player averaging in double figures at 11.3 points per game. Kelly, who leads the team with two double-doubles, is shooting a team-best 60 percent from the field and leads all players with 6.4 rebounds per contest. In all, the squad has six players averaging five or more points and six averaging three or more rebounds.
Postgame Notes vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
--Kansas State moved to 4-0 all-time against Arkansas-Pine Bluff with all four wins coming at home... The 14-point win was the second-closest game between the two teams in the series behind a six-point win in 1996... The Wildcats also moved to 5-0 against teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference with all five wins also coming at home... UAPB is one just two teams that K-State has faced from the league with the other coming against Alabama State in 1994... The team moved to 11-1 on the season for the first time since the 1958-59 season.
--The Wildcats' starting lineup was junior guard Jacob Pullen, senior guard Denis Clemente, junior forward Dominique Sutton, junior forward Curtis Kelly and freshman forward Wally Judge... It marks the fifth time this season the team has used this starting combination... Pullen has now started in 46 straight games for the Wildcats, extending his streak as the team's leader in most consecutive games played to 79.
--The victory gave the Wildcats' eight consecutive wins for the first time in the Frank Martin era (three different times the squad had won six games) and their longest winning streak since winning eight straight from Nov. 19 to Dec. 21, 2004 under former head coach Jim Wooldridge. The last time the team won more than eight in a row came when the 1997-98 team opened the year with nine consecutive victories.
--The 90 points gave K-State its third 90-point game of the season and marked the first time in school history that it has turned in nine 80-point efforts in the first 12 games of the season... Five players scored in double figures for the Wildcats and 12 of the 13 players scored in the contest... The team connected on 50 percent (28-of-56) from the field, including 59.1 percent (13-of-22) in the second half... It marked the fifth game this season that the squad has hit on 50 percent or bettern from the field, including the third consecutive game (shot 57.1 percent vs. UNLV and 59.2 vs. Alabama)... It marked the first time since 2007-08 that the team has hit on 50 percent or better from the field in three straight games since the Savannah State (50.9), Oklahoma (52.8) and Texas A&M (51.9) games from Jan. 7-19, 2008.
--K-State scored 29 points off of 21 Arkansas-Pine Bluff turnovers, marking the sixth time this season (including the third straight game) that the team has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers... It also marked the fourth time that the team has forced 20 or more turnovers in a contest.
--Junior Jacob Pullen led five players in double figures with 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range... It was the first time since the Boston University game that the team had five or more players score in double figures... Pullen has led the team in scoring seven times this season, including 19 times in his career... He has also scored in double figures in all 12 games and has 51 double-digit scoring games in his career... Fellow junior Dominique Sutton added 14 points to go with a team-tying eight rebounds, three steals and two assists in 29 minutes... It marked his third double-digit scoring game of the season... Junior Curtis Kelly had 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go with a team-tying eight rebounds and three blocks, while senior Denis Clemente and sophomore Jamar Samuels chipped in 12 points apiece.
The Book on Cleveland State
A member of the Horizon League, Cleveland State enters Tuesday's game with a 4-9 overall record after suffering a 72-59 loss at No. 17/17 Ohio State on Dec. 22. The Vikings have lost eight of their last nine games, including a pair of conference games, after starting the year with wins in three of their first four games. However, those defeats have come against really stiff competition, with losses to No. 3 Kentucky (73-49) and Virginia (76-65) at the Cancun Challenge, at home to Wichita State (69-54) and West Virginia (80-78) and on the road to Ohio State. Also, the squad has dropped conference tilts at Wright State (73-64) and Detroit (69-62) in back-to-back games. The team opened the year with a 72-62 loss at St. Bonaventure on Nov. 13 before winning three in a row against Wilmington (99-74), Florida A&M (78-64) and Sam Houston State (80-65).
Cleveland State is averaging just over 70 points per game (71.8) on the season on 43.3 percent shooting, including 34.4 percent from 3-point range, with 30.5 rebounds, 12.8 assists, 10.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. The team is shooting a solid 73.1 percent from the free throw line.
A young squad with no seniors, the Vikings have a balanced scoring team with seven players averaging six or more points on the season. The team is led by junior Norris Cole, who averaging 15.9 points on 44.5 percent shooting. Cole paces the squad in field goals (69), free throws (53) and assists (28), while is second in steals (28). Sophomore Trevon Harmon is averaging 11.1 points on 35.8 percent shooting with a team-best 26 3-point field goals. He is also averaging 2.0 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Sophomore Jeremy Montgomery is the other player in double figures with 10.2 points on 46.2 percent shooting, including 43.8 percent from 3-point range. Montgomery is second in 3-point field goals (21).
Cleveland State is led by fourth-year head coach Gary Waters, who has posted a 61-54 (.530) record at the school. Last season, he led the school to a 26-11 overall record, the Horizon League Tournament championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Once there, the Vikings knocked off Wake Forest, 84-69, in the first round before losing to Arizona, 71-57, in the second round. Waters, who has a 232-189 (.551) overall record in 13 seasons, has also had head coaching stints at Kent State (1996-2001) and Rutgers (2001-06).
Series vs. Cleveland State
This will be just the third all-time meeting between K-State and Cleveland State on the hardwood. The Wildcats won two previous meetings in 2006 and 2008, which started the current three-game contract between the two schools. K-State earned a 93-60 win in Manhattan on Dec. 5, 2006 before posting a 69-59 victory in Cleveland on Nov. 22, 2008. This will be the second meeting with a school from the Horizon League this season after the Wildcats earned a 92-54 win in the season opener against Loyola Chicago on Nov. 13.
'Cats in December
Kansas State will look to cap its strong play in the month of December against Cleveland State, where the Wildcats have won 39 of their last 49 games. The squad is 446-230 (.657) all-time in December with 32 wins in their last 33 games at home in the month dating back to the 2002-03 season, including a current of streak of 20 consecutive home victories dating back to the 2004-05 season. The team's last home loss in December came to Rutgers (76-66), which was coached by Gary Waters, on Dec. 28, 2004. K-State has won four or more games in the month in each of the last eight seasons, including six in 2002-03, 2006-07 and 2009-10. The squad has posted a winning mark in December 62 times, including eight straight seasons dating back to 2002-03. The Wildcats have posted 11 unbeaten marks in the month, including 1906-07 (1-0), 1909-10 (1-0), 1911-12 (2-0), 1926-27 (3-0), 1927-28 (1-0), 1928-29 (1-0), 1929-30 (2-0), 1930-31 (3-0), 1947-48 (9-0), 1993-94 (9-0) and 1998-99 (6-0).
Inside the Win Streak
--Kansas State is averaging 83.1 points on 49 percent shooting (212-of-433), including 40.3 percent from 3-point range (58-of-144), during its eight-game winning streak... The team has scored at least 70 points in all eight games and has connected on 45 percent or better in five of the contests... The squad is averaging 33.8 points in the paint (compared to 26.8 for its foes), 22.6 points off turnovers, 14.3 points in second chance points, 12.0 points in fast-break points and 23.5 points off the bench... The Wildcats have held their opponents to 70.4 points in the stretch on 43.9 percent shooting, including 35 percent from 3-point range... The team also holds an impressive averaging rebounding margin of 36.4 to 31.3.
--During the winning streak, the Wildcats have earned wins over six teams with RPI ratings in the top 100, including four in the top 50 (according to RealTimeRPI.com)... The other win came against Fort Hays State, a Division II team that has posted a 9-1 record and ranks 14th nationally in that Division II... Also included in those wins are two over Top 25 opponents (No. 18/21 Dayton and No. 18/17 UNLV), marking the first time in over 50 years that a Wildcat team has beaten two Top 25 foes during the non-conference season and first since the 1958-59 squad defeated No. 4 N.C. State (69-67) and No. 14 St. Joseph's (68-55) on consecutive days on Dec. 19-20, 1958 in Kansas City, Mo.
--Junior Jacob Pullen paces three players in double figures during the seven-game streak at 23 points per game... He is shooting 48.1 percent from the field, including 50 percent from the 3-point range, while adding highs in both field goals (52), 3-point field goals (28) and steals (11)... Senior Denis Clemente is averaging 15.5 points on 42.6 percent shooting, including 32.1 percent from 3-point range with highs in assists (32)... The two have combined to average nearly 40 points per game during the stretch... Sophomore Jamar Samuels also is in double figures at 12.3 points per game on a team-best 60.5 percent shooting... Juniors Curtis Kelly and Dominique Sutton are averaging 9.3 and 9.0 points per game.
Sizzling in the Second Half
Kansas State has proved itself to be a strong team in the second half this season, averaging over 45 points (45.2) on 53.4 percent shooting (164-of-307), including 43.4 percent (43-of-99) from 3-point range. The team has scored 40 or more points in the second half in 11 of their 12 games, including 50 or more on three occasions, while they have connected on 50 percent or better from the field eight times (including 60 percent clips against Western Illinois, UNLV and Alabama). This statistic has especially been a factor during the current eight-game winning streak where the Wildcats have connected on 54.2 percent (104-of-192) in the second half, including 44.8 percent (30-of-67) from beyond the arc. In the last three games alone, K-State is averaging 48 points in the second half on 62.7 percent shooting (42-of-67), including 47.4 percent from 3-point range.
Seizing on its Opportunities
Kansas State has capitalized this season on its opportunities from the free throw line, where the Wildcats rank first nationally in free throws made per game (22.3) and second in free throws attempted per game (34.2). The squad has connected on 20 or more free throws in nine of their 12 games, including five consecutive games, while they have attempted at least 30 free throws in eight contests. The team tied its season high with 28 free throws against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 21 (also had 28 vs. Boston University on Nov. 19), while they attempted at least 40 free throws (42) for the fourth time this season. The Wildcats also seem to make them in clutch situations, hitting on 72 percent in the last five minutes.
Points Off Turnovers
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent's miscues. Since he became K-State's head coach in 2007, the Wildcats have scored 1,486 points off of 1,321 turnovers in 79 games, an average of 18.8 points per game. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past three years have come off of offense generated from opponent 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 per contest. This year has not been any different with the squad averaging 20.2 points off of 17.3 opponent mistakes per game. Six times this season K-State has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers, including 39 against Washington State on Dec. 5, which is the most against one foe since the stat has been kept starting in 2005-06. The Wildcats also scored 20 or more off of miscues against Loyola (29), IUPUI (28), UNLV (26), Alabama (22) and UAPB (29).
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 1,363 points in just over one season together, including finishing first and second in scoring in 2008-09. They have combined to average 34.3 points per game through 12 games this season, including Pullen's team-leading 20.0 points per game. The 34.3-point combined average is the third-highest by a guard duo in school history, trailing Chuckie Williams and Mike Evans in 1974-75 (39.1) and 1975-76 (38.8) and just ahead of Askia Jones and Anthony Beane in 1993-94 (33.5) and Steve Henson and Jean Derouillere in 1989-90 (33.1). Historically, Clemente and Pullen are the second-most productive (as far as combined points per game at 30.3) 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. They have combined to score 20 or more points 39 times in 44 games dating back to last season, including 30 or more points on 24 occasions. They were perhaps at their best in the win over No. 18/17 UNLV on Dec. 12, as the two combined for 50 points on 57.1 percent shooting (16-of-28) from the field, including 55.6 percent (10-of-18) from 3-point range, in the win. It marked the seventh time (now eighth) the pair has combined to score 40 or more points (in 44 career games together) with four of those games coming in last eight outings. 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, Dayton on Nov. 22 and Washington State on Dec. 5.
Clemente Tops 1,000
Senior Denis Clemente eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier with a pair of free throws just over a minute into the IUPUI game on Nov. 28. Clemente, who transferred to K-State after playing two seasons at Miami (Fla.), has totaled 651 points his two-year career on 40 percent shooting (224-of-560) from the field, including 34.6 percent (80-of-231) from 3-point range, in 44 games. He has a chance to break into the school's top-10 of career points by a transfer, needing just 152 points to tie Elliot Hatcher (803; 1994-96) for 10th place. He scored 450 points in his two years as a Hurricane, connecting on 38.7 percent (167-of-432) of his field goals, including 31.5 percent (57-of-181) from beyond the arc, in 61 games.
Pullen Moving Up the Charts
Junior Jacob Pullen is nearing several career milestone as he is in the midst of his third season as a Wildcat. With his team-best 18-point effort against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 21, Pullen now has 1,031 career points, which ranks 17th all-time in school history. He has a chance to crack into the school's all-time Top 10, where he is just 220 points short of 10th-place Tyrone Adams (1,251; 1978-82). His next milestone could be 1,100 career points, which has only been done by 12 players in school history, including most recently by Cartier Martin (1,546; 2003-07). Pullen became the 21st player in school history to tally 1,000 career points, including the eighth guard to do so, with his fourth 3-point field goal of the first half against Alabama on Dec. 19. He ranks in the top 5 in both 3-point field goals made and attempted, ranking fifth in both attempts with 434 and makes with 149. He needs five 3-point attempts to move ahead of Lance Harris (439, 2003-07) for fourth place, while he needs six 3-point field goals to move past Harris (154) for fourth place all-time. Pullen became the sixth player in school history to top 100 steals in a career with his three steals against Boston in the opener on Nov. 19 in the Puerto Rico. With his three thefts against Alabama, he now ranks fourth in school history in the categories and needs just eight more to move ahead of Elliot Hatcher (118, 1994-96) for third-place all-time. Pullen moved into the career Top 10 in assists with his 248th against Washington State on Dec. 5 and is just one behind Larry Reid (258; 2000-02) for ninth-place all-time. He could join Steve Henson (1987-90) and Askia Jones (1989-94) as the only players in school history with 1,000 points (already has 1,031), 200 3-pointers (needs 51), 250 assists (already has 257) and 100 steals (already has 111).
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. Sutton, who has been regularly assigned the opponent's top offensive performer for much of his career, has really become a top-line defender for the Wildcats in three of the last five games. During that stretch against the likes of Washington State's Klay Thompson, Xavier's Jordan Crawford and UNLV's Derrick Jasper, he held those three to a collective 32.3 shooting percentage (10-of-31), including 16.7 percent (2-of-12) from 3-point range. 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 one assist and nine turnovers. Although Thompson scored 22 points in the contest, 11 of those came from the free throw line. Crawford, another pro prospect, managed 16 points (five from the line) against Sutton, but shot just 5-of-13 from the field, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range, with one assist and three turnovers. Jasper was held scoreless for the first time in his UNLV career, going 0-of-3 from the field. Sutton's defense has helped boost his offensive game in the past four games, where he is averaging 9.6 points on 51.5 percent shooting.
Kelly Becoming A Force Down Under
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 12 games this season, Kelly is fourth on the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game on a team-best 60 percent shooting to go with a team-best 6.4 rebounds per contest. He leads the team with two double-doubles, including an 18-point, 10-rebound effort against Ole Miss on Nov. 20 and an 11-point, 11-rebound effort against IUPUI on Nov. 28. Kelly has scored in double figures seven times this year including in back-to-back games in key wins against Xavier (15) and UNLV (13), while he has led the squad in rebounding in six of 12 contests. He has shot over 60 percent in seven games, including connecting on 81.8 percent (9-of-11) in the opener against Loyola Chicago with a career-best 22 points.
Sophomore Jamar Samuels has continued where he left off in 2008-09, becoming a key boost off the bench for the Wildcats. Samuels, who is third on the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game, has seen 23 of his 24 double-digit scoring efforts come as a reserve. This season, he has scored 10 or more points nine times with eight of those coming off the bench. Samuels' only start came in the opener against Loyola Chicago, where he scored 11 points on 3-of-6 field goals in just 14 minutes of action. He scored a career-high 21 points from the bench in the win over Fort Hays State (No. 14 team in Division II) on Dec. 1, knocking down 6-of-9 from the field and 9-of-12 from the free throw line. He has also been a big force on the rebounding end for the squad, totaling six or more boards in six games all off the bench.
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 component to the Wildcat attack last season, Colon 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.
Pullen Named Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week
Junior Jacob Pullen was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time in his career on Dec. 14 in an announcement by the league office. Pullen, who helped the Wildcats to wins over Xavier and No. 18/17 UNLV, averaged 22.0 points on 48.1 percent shooting (13-of-27), including 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from 3-point range, for the week with 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals in 27.5 minutes per game. Pullen began the week by scoring 14 of his game-high 16 points in the second half of a 71-56 win over the Musketeers in 24 minutes. He then followed with a season-high 28-point output in a 95-80 win over the nationally-ranked Runnin' Rebels, including a career-best 7-of-10 effort from beyond the arc. The seven 3-point field goals tied eight other players for the fourth-most in school history. Pullen is the first Wildcat to earn Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honors since teammate Denis Clemente claimed the distinction on Feb. 2, 2009.
Clemente Named Candidate for Bob Cousy Award
Senior Denis Clemente was named a candidate for the 2010 Bob Cousy Award on Dec. 17, which recognizes college basketball's top point guard. The annual award, which is named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic great Bob Cousy, is presented by The Hartford Financial Services and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. Clemente was one of 72 candidates nominated for the award, which includes players from all Division I, II and III schools across the country. He is one of 49 candidates from Division I, including fellow Big 12 players Diante Garrett (Iowa State), J.T. Tiller (Missouri), Ray Penn (Oklahoma State) and Sherron Collins (Kansas).
Clemente has helped guide the No. 17/22 Wildcats to their highest ranking in over 36 years in The Associated Press poll and an 11-1 overall record for just the fifth time in school history and for the first time since 1958-59. He is the team's second-leading scorer (and 12th in the Big 12) at 14.3 points per game and has scored in double figures in 10 of the team's 12 games. He ranks first in assists (44) and second to backcourt mate Jacob Pullen in field goals (57) and 3-point field goals (21). His current assist-to-turnover ratio is 2.75, which ties for third in the Big 12.
The original list of candidates will be narrowed down to a final 20 by Jan. 1, a final 10 by Feb. 1 and a final five by March 1. A Hall of Fame appointed screening committee will be narrowing down the candidates from 20 to 10 to 5 prior to the Blue Ribbon Selection Committee evaluating the final five candidates and ultimately choosing the winner. The winner will be presented at the Hall of Fame's Class Announcement on Monday, April 5 in Indianapolis as part of the NCAA Final Four weekend. Previous winner of the Bob Cousy award have included Jameer Nelson (St. Joseph's), Raymond Felton (North Carolina), Dee Brown (Illinois), Acie Law (Texas A&M), D.J. Augustin (Texas) and Ty Lawson (North Carolina).