HUGE CHALLENGES AWAIT 'CATS AT CBE CLASSIC

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Add up the victories from last year and the CBE Classic field includes 4 teams that won 113 games a year ago, which includes national title winner Duke, plus an Elite Eight entry in Kansas State. But before that possible matchup on Tuesday, Duke will play Marquette Monday at 6:30, while K-State will play Gonzaga at 8:30 in Kansas City's Sprint Center.

Tuesday's games will have at 6:45 and 9:00 start.

Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin has won 21, 22 and 29 games in seasons prior to the start of this 3-0 2010-11 campaign. Those teams have reached two NCAA Tournaments and one NIT.

Those accomplishments for the first-time head coach have not only grabbed the attention of the Big 12, but also the nation.

Here's Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski: "Kansas State is one of the best teams in the country and Frank is a top notch guy and an outstanding coach. His teams play hard, they play smart and they play together in an exciting brand of basketball."

At Marquette, coach Buzz Williams says of Martin-coached teams, "They are the hardest playing, meanest, scrappiest, not going to give an inch group that you'll find in college basketball. I love Frank. I love his past. I love his story and I have a great respect for how he goes about things.

"Nothing against K-State, but when you look at the body of work over the last 20 years, statistically what Frank has done since taking over the program is extraordinary," said Williams.

And from Gonzaga, here's Mark Few: "The thing that jumps out with Frank's team is how hard they play, which is a talent and skill in itself. I can't think of a team that plays harder than Kansas State in college basketball. That's to the credit of Frank and his staff. "Hugs (Bob Huggins) got it going and handed it over to Frank, and he's gone out and raised it up a couple notches. His teams play hard and are tough-minded."

K-STATE VS. NO. 1:

K-State has played 16 games against teams when they were ranked No. 1 in the nation. The most recent came last year when the Wildcats lost to Kansas, 72-64, in the Big 12 Tournament, but defeated Texas, 71-62, in regular season play.

The other two wins came in 1994 over Kansas, 68-64, and, in 1990 over Missouri, 65-58.

WHEN BOTH ARE RANKED:
With the chance to play two ranked teams – No. 12 Gonzaga and No. 1 Duke – it could mark the 25th and 26th times in KSU history that the Wildcats will play in a game where both teams are ranked.

In such games, K-State is 11-13. The most recent victory came last week when No. 3 K-State topped No. 22 Virginia Tech.

On the two-game set, Martin said, "We're going to play two great games in a great atmosphere. We'll be a much better basketball team from the experience."

PLAYING THE ‘D':
Coach Few is high on the Wildcats overall, but specifically at the defensive end where he says, "It's a crusade to score against them."

K-State's Martin is equally impressed with the defense that Duke throws at teams. It's a ‘D' that he started studying as a high school coach, and developed through the years with a Bob Huggins influence.

"I've blended those looks together and then created my own philosophy and teaching points," said Martin. "They (Duke) hound the ball, get in passing lanes and don't allow you to run your offense."

TOP 50 PLAYERS:
The CBE Classic is attracting some of the best talents as on the Preseason John Wooden Award list are Jacob Pullen of K-State, Nolan Smith and Steven Gray from Duke, and Elias Harris of Gonzaga.

Of Pullen, Williams says, "He's so hard to guard because he can pass, he can dribble and he can shoot. He plays with poise and energy. He's the engine that makes them go."

But to that, Martin adds, "We don't want to be a one-pony show here. That's not who we've been. We work hard at spreading the wealth."


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