Saturday Night Showdown

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State will begin defense of its 2008 Big 12 regular season crown on Saturday night, as the Wildcats host in-state and Big 12 rival Kansas at 6 p.m. K-State will look to extend its season-opening win streak to 14 and also extend its home court winning streak to nine.

The contest can be heard live on 1350 KMAN, as the award-winning Brian Smoller delivers the play-by-play and former Wildcat Missy Heidrick provides the analysis.

K-State and Kansas will meet for the 97th time, as the Wildcats own a 55-41 edge in the series, including a 26-13 advantage in games played in Manhattan. The Wildcats captured the two meetings last season, including the Big 12 regular season finale in Lawrence (66-51) that cemented K-State as the Big 12 regular season champions. In the last 15 meetings, K-State has won 14 of those matchups including an 8-0 mark in Bramlage.

In Kansas State's first game of 2009, the Wildcats returned to Manhattan to defeat Central Arkansas, 81-38, on Jan. 3. K-State has now won eight straight home games and 29 against non-conference opponents.

The Wildcats were able to involve its entire roster, as everyone played 10 or more minutes and 10 of the 12 players registered points against the Sugar Bears.

K-State had four players in double figures, as junior forward Ashley Sweat tallied 15 points on 7-of-15 shooting and senior Marlies Gipson registered 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Also in double figures were junior guard Kari Kincaid with 10 points and senior guard Kelsey Nelson pumped in 11 points off the bench.

Wooden Award candidate Shalee Lehning diversified her stat line with five points, seven rebounds, 12 assists and three steals. This is the seventh time this season that Lehning has recorded double figures in assists and improved her NCAA?Division I leading assists per game total to 9.2.

Cats Tally Best Start in School History With 13 consecutive wins to open the 2008-09 season, K-State is off to the best start in school history, surpassing the 11-0 start in the inaugural season of 1968-69.

K-State's season-opening 13-game win streak is tied for the third-longest win streak in school history with the 2002-03 season's 13-game win streak from Dec. 2-Jan. 25. This is the eighth time in school history that the Wildcats have tallied a double-digit win streak and the fifth time in the Deb Patterson-era that K-State has tallied a double-figure win streak.

With the 13-0 start, K-State secured two consecutive unbeaten months for the first time in school history. This is the first time K-State has had two unbeaten months since the 2002-03 season and just the third time in school history.

The Defense Doesn't Rest
Kansas State's defense has picked up where it left off last season, holding the first 13 opponents of 2008-09 to under 70 points and an average of 49.5 points per game to lead the nation in scoring defense. This season the Wildcats have held six of its first 13 opponents to under 49 points in a game, which is one game from tying last season's total of seven games of 49 points or less allowed.

K-State's bench mark low allowed this season came against Alcorn State, as the Lady Braves scored 22 points on Dec. 5. The 22 points allowed to Alcorn State were the lowest since K-State held Mississippi Valley State to 18 points on Dec. 1, 2006. Following the first six home games of this season, the Wildcats have held 36 straight opponents in Bramlage Coliseum to 70 or fewer points. The Wildcats have not allowed an opponent to score 70 or more points in Manhattan since Nov. 13, 2006, when K-State defeated Creighton, 94-79. This season, K-State is allowing 47.5 points per game at home.

During the 2007-08 season, K-State held opponents to the third lowest opponent points per game average in school history at 58.0. At the conclusion of the 2007-08 season, K-State held 28 of its 32 foes to under 70 points which was the highest number since the 2002-03 season (29).

Sweat is Offensive
Ashley Sweat has been on an offensive tear to start the 2008-09 season. The junior from McPherson, Kan., has led the Wildcats in scoring in nine of the first 13 games of the season, has scored in double figures in 11 of 13 games this season and she is averaging 16.0 points per game (4th in Big 12; 95th in nation) on a .519 field goal percentage (7th in Big 12; 52nd in nation).

In the three games following the holiday break, Sweat has registered 67 points (22.3 ppg), including a team season-high 30 points on 14-of-19 shooting at Washington State and was the first Wildcat to score 30 since she scored 31 at Wyoming on March 28, 2007 in the triple-overtime WNIT semifinal contest. She was also the first Wildcat to tally 14 made field goals in a game since Nicole Ohlde registered 14 against Missouri on Jan. 7, 2004.

Sweat continues to climb the career scoring list this season with 954 points for her career to rank 36th in school history.

Lehning The Queen of Assists
Shalee Lehning became the Kansas State all-time leader in career assists, passing Megan Mahoney (2002-05; 589) for the milestone on Nov. 23 against UTSA. Lehning finished the game with a career-high and a school record-tying 13 assists and currently ranks fifth in Big 12 history with 690 career assists.

Through the first 13 games of the season, Lehning has tallied 119 assists (9.2 apg), including seven games with 10 or more assists. Her assists per game average leads the nation as of Jan. 5, 2009 and she is ranked seventh in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio and leads the Big 12 at 2.53.

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