K-State's Most Valuable Player: Denis Clemente
K-State's Defensive Stopper: Dominique Sutton
K-State's Most Improved Player: Luis Colon
K-State's Unsung Hero: Darren Kent
Kansas State's lone senior is closing out his career playing by far his best basketball of his career.
The 6-foot-11 forward is averaging 8.8 points with 5.9 rebounds, which ranks 13th high in the Big 12 Conference.
But assistant coach Brad Underwood adds, "People aren't noticing the defense Darren is playing. Against Texas he guarded their 3-man in Damian James (6-of-15) and power-forward Gary Johnson; he held Iowa State's Craig Brackins to 6-of-20 shooting; and, he stopped A&M's Bryan Davis cold (0-of-2).
"Darren has really bought in to our scouting reports and is making it a tough night for whomever he guards," Underwood said. Plus, he's averaged 10 points and 5-plus rebounds during K-State's five-game winning streak.
All are pretty fancy numbers for a guy who never averaged more than 2.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game in his first three years of his KSU career.
Kent's rebounding has been a huge plus as K-State ranks second overall and first in offensive rebounding in the league.
"When you have that many opportunities, usually you have the opportunity for a point-blank shot from short range," Underwood said. "Hopefully, you're going to make a good share of those."
It's part of why K-State has won five games in a row heading into Wednesday's home date with Texas Tech.
"We're playing with energy and moving the ball. We've had different guys involved in each game whether it be with scoring, rebounding or taking a charge," Kent said. "We're playing together."
If K-State can keep playing together, and keep the roll going, it would become only the fourth team in Big 12 history to begin a league season 0-4, or worse, and end up in postseason play.
The others: * 2008 - OSU started 0-4, ended up 7-9 and in the NIT. * 2005 - ISU started 0-5, ended up 9-7 and in the NCAA. * 2003 - ISU started 0-4, ended up 5-11 and in the NIT.
Never before has a K-State team opened 0-4 and ever got back to .500 ... until now. With a win Wednesday over Texas Tech, K-State will have only its second six-game conference win streak in the last 20 years - 2007 in the Big 12 and 1988 in the Big 8.
Should the Wildcats stretch that run to seven straight with a win on Saturday against Kansas, the guys in Purple would have their longest success run since Mike Evans and Curtis Redding led the 1977 gang to eight straight regular-season Big 8 wins, which they stretched to 10 with two Big 8 Tournament wins.