Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 Tipoff: 7 p.m. CT Location: Manhattan, Kan. Arena: Bramlage Coliseum (1988) Capacity: 12,528
Record in NIT: K-State is 5-7 (5-2 at home) Series vs. Illinois State: K-State leads 1-0 (Won 87-86 in OT on 12/19/86 at Music City Invitational in Nashville)
Satellite Highlights: To be released at a later date
Radio: K-State Sports Network (29-station); Yahoo! Internet Radio (Free during the NIT); Sirius/XM Satellite 212
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play)
Stan Weber (analyst)
Tickets: Available beginning on Monday for $5 (Students/Children under 18), $12 (general admission), $15 (reserved bench) and $20 (reserved chairback) at Ticket Office, by calling 1.800.221.CATS.
Kansas State Wildcats
Record: 21-11 (9-7 Big 12)
Ranking (AP/Coaches): --/--
Coach: Frank Martin
Alma Mater: Florida International, ‘93
Career Record: 42-23/2
School Record: 42-23/2 vs. Illinois State: 0-0
‘07-08 Record: 21-12 (10-6 Big 12)
Last game: March 12, 2009
Lost to Texas, 61-58
SID: Tom Gilbert
Illinois State Redbirds
Record: 24-9 (11-7 MVC)
Ranking (AP/Coaches): --/--
Coach: Tim Jankovich
Alma Mater: Kansas State, ‘82
Career Record: 102-75/6
School Record: 49-19/2
vs. Kansas State: 0-0 ‘
07-08 Record: 25-10 (13-5 MVC)
Last game: March 8, 2009
Lost to Northern Iowa, 60-57, in OT
SID: Todd Kober
Kansas State (21-11, 9-7 Big 12)
G - #0 Jacob Pullen (6-0, 200, So.)
G - #21 Denis Clemente (6-1, 175, Jr.)
F - #23 Dominique Sutton (6-5, 210, So.)
F - #42 Darren Kent (6-11, 230, Sr.)
F - #15 Luis Colon (6-10, 265, Jr.)
Illinois State (24-9, 11-7 Missouri Valley)
G - #0 Osiris Eldridge (6-3, 190, Jr.)
G - #1 Emmanuel Holloway (6-2, 190, Sr.)
G - #12 Lloyd Phillips (5-10, 170, Jr.)
G - #25 Champ Oguchi (6-6, 198, Sr.)
F - #42 Dinma Odiakosa (6-8, 240, Jr.)
Kansas State (21-11, 9-7 Big 12) was rewarded for its successful 2008-09 season on Sunday night, as the Wildcats earned their 30th postseason appearance and its seventh in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) with an at-large bid to the tournament. It marks the first time in 15 years that the team has advanced to the postseason in three consecutive seasons since the 1991-92 and 1993-94 teams went to the NIT and the 1992-93 squad advanced to the NCAA Tournament. It is the first trip to the NIT since 2007 when the No. 2 seed Wildcats defeated No. 7 seed Vermont, 59-57, in the first round before losing 70-65 to No. 3 seed DePaul in the second round. The program has posted a 5-7 all-time record in NIT play, including a 5-2 mark in home games. K-State made its most successful trip to the NIT in 1994, where the Wildcats defeated Mississippi State (78-67), Gonzaga (66-64) and Fresno State (115-77) before advancing to the Final Four. The team lost to Vanderbilt (82-76) in the semifinals and Siena (92-79) in the third-place game at Madison?Square Garden.
K-State was selected as a No. 4 seed in this year's NIT and will play host to No. 5 seed Illinois State (24-9, 11-7 Missouri Valley) on Wednesday, March 18 at Bramlage Coliseum beginning at 7 p.m. The game will not be televised. The winner of the game will advance to play either No. 1 seed San Diego State (23-9, 11-5 Mountain West) or No. 8 seed Weber State (21-9, 15-1 Big Sky) on the higher-seed's homecourt on date to be determined. Other match-ups in the regionals include No. 3 seed South Carolina (21-9) hosting No. 6 Davidson (26-7) and No. 2 seed St.?Mary's (26-6) hosting No. 7 Washington State (17-15). The winners of the first and second rounds will meet in the quarterfinals on either March 24 or 25 for the right to advance to the semifinals in Madison Square Garden in New York City on Tuesday, March 31 with the championship set for Thursday, April 2. K-State is one of nine Big 12 schools playing in the postseason, including one of three in the NIT. Nebraska travels to play New Mexico on Tuesday at 9 p.m., while Baylor hosts Georgetown on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Wednesday's game will not be televised. However, fans will also be able to listen to the audio broadcast on the K-State Sports Network (Yahoo! Internet Radio; Sirius Satellite 212) with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) on the call.
Illinois State enters Wednesday's game with a 24-9 overall record and a third-place finish in the Missouri Valley with an 11-7 mark. The Redbirds, who are coached by K-State alumnus Tim Jankovich, won 14 consecutive games to start the season and advanced to the title game of the Missouri Valley Tournament where they lost in overtime to Northern Iowa, 60-57. This will mark the first meeting between the teams since an 87-86 overtime win in the first round of the Music City Invitational in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 19, 1986. This will be the first meeting with a Missouri Valley team since 2004. The squad is 58-31 all-time against Missouri Valley teams, including 37-5 at home.
Last Time Out for Kansas State
Kansas State saw its trip to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship end in the quarterfinals, as the Wildcats dropped a 61-58 decision to fifth-seeded Texas on Thursday at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Okla. The squad, which received a bye to the tournament's quarterfinals for the third consecutive season, shot a season-low 29.2 percent from the field, including 27.3 percent in the second half, in falling to the Longhorns for the first time this year. Despite the disappointing offensive output, K-State was solid on the defensive end, holding Texas to just 61 points. It marked the 17th time this season that the Wildcats have held a foe to 65 points or less. The team also scored 18 points off 22 turnovers, marking the 11th time this season that the squad has forced an opponent into 20 or more turnovers.
Sophomore Jacob Pullen led three players in double figures with his team-leading seventh 20-point game of the season with a game-high 21 points. He has now led the team in scoring 10 times, while posting double figures for the 21st time. Redshirt freshman Jamar Samuels was again solid off the bench with 11 points and seven rebounds, while junior Denis Clemente added 10 points. K-State is now 13-3 when both Clemente and Pullen score in double figures.
News and Notes
Kansas State will be making its 30th postseason appearance and its seventh in the NIT. It marks the first time in 15 years that the team has advanced to the postseason in three consecutive years since the 1991-92 and 1993-94 teams went to the NIT and the 1992-93 squad advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
K-State has now won 20 or more games for three straight seasons for the first time in over 25 years since the 1979-80, 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons. It is the 21st 20-win season in school history and the 14th posted during the regular season. It is just the fifth 20-win season in the last 20 years, joining the 1993-94 (20-14), 1998-99 (20-14), 2006-07 (23-12) and 2007-08 (21-12) teams.
K-State has posted nine or more Big 12 wins each of the past three seasons. The 29 league wins since 2006 are the most in a three-year span since the 1974-75, 1975-76 and 1976-77 team posted 32. The team has 11 road conference wins in that span, which is one more than they had in the first 10 seasons of the Big 12 (1996-2006). This season, the Wildcats won four consecutive conference road games for the first time since the 1979-80 season.
K-State became just the second school in Big 12 history to rally from 0-4 start to get back to at least .500 in league play. Iowa State did it first in 2004-05, rallying from a 0-5 start to win seven in a row and eventually finish 9-7 in Big 12 action. It has been 10 other times in Kansas State history, however, no other Wildcat team has ever rallied back to .500 after starting 0-4 in league play. K-State is became just the fourth team (Iowa State - 2002-03 and 2004-05 and Nebraska - 2007-08) in the Big 12 era who have started winless (0-4 or worse) in league play and made the postseason.
K-State has proven to be a solid team offensively, averaging nearly 76 points per game. The current 75.7 scoring average is just outside the school's top-5 for highest scoring average, trailing the 1974-75 team for fifth place at 76.8 points per game. The team has scored 70 or more points in 23 games, including 80 or more points 12 times. In its 61-58 loss to Texas in Big 12 Championship, K-State topped 2,400 points for the third consecutive season for the first time in school history, while the Wildcats jumped into fifth place for most points in a single-season (2,421). Three of the top-5 seasons of most points have come in each of the past three years.
K-State is a balanced team with seven different leading scorers, nine different assist leaders and eight different rebounding leaders. Right now, six players are averaging seven or more points, while five players are averaging four or more rebounds. There have been 108 double-digit scoring games this season by 10 players. Of the 10 players, six have registered double figures 10 or more times.
The Wildcats have been a solid team defensively, allowing just 66.2 points on 41.7 percent shooting, including 34.9 percent from 3-point range. The team is forcing an average of 17.3 turnovers per game, while averaging 19.9 points off those turnovers. The squad has scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 14 games, including 30 or more twice with a season-best 41 against Gardner-Webb Dec. 14.
Quite a Turnaround
After starting Big 12 play with four straight losses, Kansas State has seemed to have found its groove again with wins in nine of its last 12 league games. The Wildcats have averaged 73.9 points on 42.0 percent shooting, including 37.7 percent from 3-point range, in the last 12 Big 12 games after averaging 60 points on 38.4 percent shooting, including 29 percent from beyond the arc, in the first four league contests. During this stretch, the team is also forcing three times as many turnovers (187-56) than the previous four games, while scoring 100 more points off those miscues (177-40). The defensive numbers have also improved with the Wildcats holding the 12 foes to an average of 70.8 points on 43.3 percent shooting compared to 76 points on 51 percent shooting in the first four games.
Kansas State has proven to be one of the top offensive teams in the Big 12, averaging nearly 76 points per game. The current 75.7-point scoring average is just outside the school's top-5 for highest scoring average for a single-season, trailing the 1974-75 team for fifth place at 76.8 points per game. The team has scored 70 or more points in 23 games, including 80 or more points 12 times. The four 90-point games are the most since 1997-98, while the 12 80-point games tie three others for the fifth-most in school history.
The 2,421 points are the fifth-most in a single-season in Kansas State history, trailing the 2007-08 (2,574), 1987-88 (2,565), 1986-87 (2,565) and 2006-07 (2,467) teams. This year's team topped 2,400 points for the third consecutive season for the first time in school history. Prior to 2006-07, the squad had scored 2,000 or more points just four times in the previous 12 years.
Since Frank Martin's arrival in 2007, K-State has shown the ability to score points, totaling three of the most prolific scoring teams in school history. Last year, the Wildcats set the school mark with 2,574 points, while also posting the second-most field goals attempted (2,067), the third-most field goals (916) and fourth-most 3-point field goals made (210) as well as the third-highest scoring average (78.0).
Beyond the Arc
Kansas State has been a big threat from the 3-point line this season, topping the 200-trey barrier for the fourth time in school history. The squad has already posted 214 3-point field goals on 596 attempts for a 35.9 percentage. The 214 treys rank third in school history, nine shy of 2006-07 second-place total (223), while the 596 attempts are the fourth-most in program's history. The 35.9 percentage is the highest since the 2004-05 squad connected on 37.7 percent (167/443). The Wildcats have posted 10 or more 3-pointers in five games, including a team-best 13 against Oakland on Nov. 25.
The trio of Jacob Pullen (69), Denis Clemente (58) and Fred Brown (54) became the first in school history to each tally 50 or more 3-pointers in a single season since the inception of the 3-point line. They are also just the third threesome to each post 40 or more treys, joining the group of Will Scott (70), Mitch Richmond (46) and Steve Henson (42) in 1987-88 and Brian Henson (48), Askia Jones (45) and Anthony Beane (42) in 1992-93. Pullen's 69 treys this season rank as the 10th-most by an individual in a single-season.
Unlike last season when consensus All-American Michael Beasley paced the squad at 26.2 points per game, the 2008-09 team has shown a lot more diversity with its scoring output thus far.
Through 32 games, all 12 players have totaled double-digit points with eight scoring in triple digits. The duo of junior Denis Clemente and sophomore Jacob Pullen are averaging in double figures led by Clemente's 15.4 points per game. Six players are averaging seven or more points, including senior Darren Kent (8.7 ppg.), redshirt freshman Jamar Samuels (8.7 ppg.), sophomore Fred Brown (8.3 ppg.) and sophomore Dominique Sutton (7.6 ppg.). Since statistics became available in 1950, there has been just one team - the 1955-56 squad - to have six players average seven or more points in a season.
There have already been seven different leading scorers in 32 games, including a league-best six players with 20-point outings. In all, there have been 108 double-digit scoring games with Clemente doing it a team-best 22 times. Ten players have tallied double figures with six of those players doing it 10 or more times.
Backcourt Play Key
A big key to Kansas State's hopes this season has been the play of its three primary guards - Fred Brown, Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen. The trio represent nearly half of the team's point (1,166), field goals (399) and field goals attempted (990) total this season as well as over 85 percent of the 3-point field goals (181). They became the first in school history to each tally 50 or more 3-pointers in a single season since the inception of the 3-point line.
The play of these three guards has been key to the team's fortunes this season. In the 21 wins, the trio is averaging 37.4 points on 43.1 percent (268-of-625) shooting from the field, including 40.6 percent (128-of-315) from 3-point range. The squad is 2-0 when all three players score in double figures, while they are 13-3 when both Clemente and Pullen score 10 or more points. In the 11 losses, the trio averages 34.6 points on 35.9 percent (131-of-365) shooting, including just 31.4 percent (53-of-169) from beyond the arc.
Rebounding Still a Strength
Most critics wondered how Kansas State would replace two of the best Big 12 rebounders - Michael Beasley and Bill Walker - after the duo helped the program average 41.3 rebounds a year ago. The duo plus departed seniors Clent Stewart and Blake Young averaged over 25 boards per game.
Despite their absence, rebounding continues to be a strength with seven players averaging at least two boards per game. Through 32 games, K-State is averaging 39.2 rebounds, including a Big 12-best 16.3 on the offensive end, with five players averaging four or more boards. The team ranks among the best in the Big 12 in four categories, including first in overall rebounds and offensive rebounds, second in margin (+6.6) and third in rebounding defense (32.7). Five players - Ron Anderson, Luis Colon, Darren Kent, Jamar Samuels and Dominique Sutton - have grabbed double-digit rebounds 13 times with Kent averaging a team-best 5.7 boards per game. Kent has a team-leading four double-doubles thus far this season, while Anderson, Colon and Sutton each has two and Samuels has one.
Pressure is the Key
Pressure has been a big key for the Wildcats so far, as the team has scored 638 points (almost 30 percent of season total of 2,421 points) off 555 opponent turnovers. The squad has also outscored its foes, 325-207, on fast-break opportunities. Kansas State has scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 15 of the team's 32 games, including 30 or more points twice with a season-best 41 against Gardner-Webb.
In its 21 wins, the squad has outscored its foes, 471-235 (22.4 ppg.), in points off turnovers with an average of 18.0 turnovers. In contrast, the team has been outscored 205-167 (15.2 ppg.) in points off turnovers in its 11 losses with an average of 16.0 turnovers. In all, the Wildcats have forced 11 foes into 20 or more turnovers. The squad is averaging 7.2 steals per game with six players grabbing 20 or more this year led by Jacob Pullen's 54 steals.
After dominating the paint a year ago with the likes of Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, Kansas State's strength has shifted to the backcourt where the Wildcats start two of the best at their positions in junior Denis Clemente and sophomore Jacob Pullen.
The duo, which has started 30 of 32 games, have combined for 900 points on 39.8 percent shooting (303-of-762), including 35.5 percent from 3-point range (127-of-358), with 203 of the team's 452 assists. Clemente ranks first on the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game on 41.5 percent shooting with team-highs in field goals made (160) and free throw percentage (79.4). He is second to Pullen in assists (99) and minutes (886) and third in 3-point field goals (58) and steals (26). Pullen is second in scoring at 13.7 points per game on 38.0 percent shooting with team-highs in 3-point field goals made (69), assists (104), steals (54) and minutes (971).
The two have scored in double figures 16 times in the same game (team is 13-3) with 36 points against Florida A&M, 31 against Cleveland State, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas, 45 against Oakland, 34 against Gardner-Webb, 39 against Wagner, 32 against Colorado, 33 against Missouri, 28 against Iowa State, 30 against Texas A&M, 27 against Texas Tech and 48 against Kansas. Clemente has led in scoring 13 times with a Big 12 record-tying 44 points against Texas, while Pullen, who is second to Clemente with 21 double-figure games, posted a career-best 26 against Oakland.
Clemente Newcomer of Year
Junior Denis Clemente was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year as well as a second team All-Big 12 selection on March 7. In addition, he was a unanimous pick to the All-Big 12 Rookie Team, while Jacob Pullen was named All-Big 12 honorable mention.
Clemente becomes K-State's third major award winner since 2007, joining current NBA players Cartier Martin (2007 Sixth Man of the Year) and Michael Beasley (2008 Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year). He becomes the 12th player in school history to be honored as the league's Newcomer of the Year and the first by the coaches in the Big 12 era. He joins Bob Zender (1970), Steve Mitchell (1971), Lon Kruger (1972), Mike Evans (1975), Curtis Redding (1977), Ed Nealy (1979), Randy Reed (1981), Norris Coleman (1986), Jean Derouillere (1990) and Anthony Beane (1993) as Wildcats to be named to Newcomer of the Year. Jeremiah Massey was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year by The Associated Press in 2004.
Clemente becomes the 10th player since 1997 to be selected to one of the three all-conference squads, while he and Pullen are the 20th and 21st players to earn either first, second, third or honorable mention accolades since the league's inception. He is the third Wildcat to be named to the All-Rookie Team after Beasley and Bill Walker were named to the squad a year ago.
Clemente Earns Weekly Honors
Junior Denis Clemente was named the ESPN.com National Player of the Week as well as the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week Feb. 2. In wins over Missouri and No. 11 Texas, he averaged 27.0 points on 54.8 percent shooting (17-of-31), including 77.8 percent (7-of-9) from 3-point range, with 5.0 assists, 1.5 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 31.0 minutes per game. He also went a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line, including a stellar 10-of-10 in the last five minutes against the Longhorns. He is the first K-State player to earn Big 12 Player of the Week honors this season and the first since Michael Beasley won it for a third time on March 9, 2008. He is the first guard to win the honor since Galen Morrison won it on Jan. 10, 2000.
Clemente's Big Day
Junior Denis Clemente tied Michael?Beasley's Big 12 single-game record for points with his career-best 44 points against Texas on Jan. 31. He went 13-of-25 from the field, including a perfect 6-of-6 from 3-point range, and 12-of-12 from the free throw line. He scored the first 17 points of the second half for the Wildcats, including five straight 3-point field goals. He tied Beasley for the fifth-most points in school history, including the second-most in a conference game. It marked just the 12th 40-point game in school history, including just the eighth in a conference game. It was the most points by a guard since Askia Jones broke the school mark with 62 points against Fresno State on March 24, 1994. The 44 points were also the most by a single player in Erwin Center history, surpassing the 43 by Texas' Reggie Freeman against Fresno State on Dec. 14, 1996.
Junior Denis Clemente saw his streak of 29 consecutive free throws end against Iowa State on Feb. 3. It had started in the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma on Jan. 10 and had run through seven consecutive games before ending on his second attempt of the second half at the 10:57 mark. He has been stellar from the line, connecting on a team-best 79.4 percent (85-of-107) overall for the season and 79.7 percent (63-of-79) in Big 12 play. Before missing three on Feb. 3 against Iowa State, he had connected on 33 of his last 34 attempts. He is an impressive 24-of-30 from the line in the last five minutes.
Brown from Outside
Sophomore Fred Brown has emerged as a dangerous threat from the outside for the Wildcats, as he ranks third in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (42.9) and 15th in 3-point field goals (54). He has at least one 3-pointer in 24 games, including two or more 15 times. He would rank sixth in 3-point percentage in Big 12-only games at 42.3 percent (22-of-52) if he had enough attempts.
Brown has hit big 3-point shots at critical moments this season, knocking down an arching trey with 18.6 seconds left in overtime in the win at No. 11 Texas then hitting the clinching 3-pointer with 43 seconds left in the win at Texas A&M. He has scored in double figures 10 times, including two 20-point outings against SE Missouri State (21) on Nov. 16 and Chicago State (26) on Jan. 5.
Kent Stepping Up as a Senior
One of the bright spots for the Wildcats this season has been the play of Darren Kent. Kent, the team's only senior, has been a force on the boards, ranking first with 5.7 rebounds per game. He is averaging 8.7 points on 40.3 percent shooting (93-of-231) to go with 1.3 assists and 0.6 blocks in 22.6 minutes per game. His improvement has been evident this year, as he has already scored in double figures in 15 games, including nine times in Big 12 play, and totaled 278 points. In contrast, he came into the year with 104 career points and just one double-figure scoring game. Kent has also totaled his four career double-doubles all this season, which leads the squad. He turned in a career day against Centenary on Dec. 20 with career-highs in points (24), field goals (nine) and field goals attempted (14).
The win against Colorado on March 7 made Kent the 15th player in school history to post 80 wins in a career and the first since Steve Henson (82; 1986-90). The win total ties such notable players as Rolando Blackman (80; 1977-81), Dean Danner (80; 1976-80) and Mark Dobbins (80; 1985-89). Greg Prudhoe (1977-82) is the all-time leader in wins with 87, which included a redshirt season, while Tyrone Adams and Ed Nealy won 85 games from 1978-82.
Samuels a Spark off the Bench
Redshirt freshman Jamar Samuels has provided a spark off the bench, averaging over 20 minutes per contest despite just two starts this year. He is tied for third in scoring at 8.7 points on a team-best 52.9 percent shooting with 4.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.0 blocks in 20.6 minutes per game. He ties for third with 15 double-figure scoring games, including a season-high 20 points against Gardner-Webb on Dec. 14. He collected his first double-double against Iowa State on Feb. 21 with a team-best 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. He was sensational in wins against Missouri on Jan. 28 and Colorado on March 7. He collected a personal Big 12-high 18 points against the Tigers on 7-of-9 shooting with six rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 24 minutes, while he added 17 points against the Buffaloes with six rebounds, a career-high five assists and two steals.
Sutton Steals the Show
After getting a late start to his time at K-State, sophomore Dominique Sutton has become an all-around factor for the Wildcats this season. One of five Wildcats shooting 45 percent or better from the field, he is averaging 7.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.0 assists in 22.8 minutes per game. He posted double figures for the third time in five games against N.C.?Central on Feb. 17 with a team-high 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go with eight rebounds. He has now scored in double figures 10 times this season. Sutton collected his second double-double of the season against Iowa State on Feb. 3 and first in Big 12 play with 13 points and a career-tying 10 rebounds. He tied the school single-game record for steals against Idaho State on Jan. 3 with eight, matching a mark set by Lynn Smith against South Dakota on Nov. 29, 1986 then followed by Elliot Hatcher against Wichita State on Jan. 2, 1996. He posted a career night against Wagner on Dec. 30 with highs in six categories, including points (21), boards (10), field goals (7) and field goals attempts (11).
Colon a Force in the Middle
A starter in the post all season, junior Luis Colon is finally coming into his own this year. He is averaging 4.6 points on 48.8 percent shooting with 4.9 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game. He, along with sophomore Jacob Pullen, are the only Wildcats to start in all 32 games this season, while he has seen action in 38 games in a row. Like Kent, Colon's improvement has been dramatic this season. He has nearly doubled his career totals for points (147) and rebounds (156) in his previous two years combined. He has scored in double figures five times this season, while has collected double-figure rebounds three times after never doing it in the previous 57 games.
Home Sweet Home
Bramlage Coliseum has become a strong homecourt advantage for Kansas State in its 21 years of existence, as the Wildcats have posted a 244-87 (.737) record since its opening in 1988. The team has earned 10 or more home wins in 16 of its 21 seasons, including a school-record 15 in 2008-09. The Wildcats have been even better in the last eight years. In the win over Iowa State, the squad posted its 100th home win since the 2001-02 season, where its record sits at 104-30 (.776) in that span. It is the longest stretch of consecutive seasons with 10 or more home wins since posting 122 from 1972-82.
K-State Retires Jerseys of Murrell, Richmond Kansas State honored two of the greatest players of its tremendous past with the jersey retirements of Willie Murrell (1962-64) and Mitch Richmond (1986-88) during the halftime ceremony of the game with Nebraska on Saturday, Feb. 28.
The duo became the fourth class of jersey retirements following those of Bob Boozer, Ernie Barrett and Jack Parr in 2005, Mike Evans, Lon Kruger and Chuckie Williams in 2006 and Rolando Blackman and Dick Knostman in 2007.
One of just 11 players to earn first team All-America honors, Murrell was a two-year letterman for head coach Tex Winter from 1962-64. He guided the Wildcats to a 38-16 record, including a pair of Big Eight titles and a Final Four appearance in 1964. The 6-foot-6 native of Taft, Okla., he is one of just six players in K-State history to average a double-double for his career, averaging 20.6 points and 10.7 rebounds in 54 career games. He was twice named an All-American during his senior season in 1964 and was also a two-time first team All-Big Eight selection. His career averages in scoring and rebounding still rank among the top-5 in school history, including third in rebounding (10.7 rpg.) and fifth in scoring (20.6 ppg.).
One of the most recognizable players in Kansas State history, Mitch Richmond was a two-year letterman for coach Lon Kruger from 1986-88. He helped guide the Wildcats to a 45-20 record, including a pair of NCAA Tournaments and a trip to the 1988 NCAA Elite Eight.
The 6-foot-5 native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Richmond assembled perhaps the greatest two-year playing career in school history. He is one of just 20 players in school history to top 1,000 points, while he ranks eighth on the all-time scoring list with 1,327 points and fourth in career scoring average (20.7 ppg.). His 1,327 points are the most by a player in a two-year career. He still ranks among the top 10 in 21 single-game, season and/or career statistical categories at K-State.
As a senior, he led the Wildcats to a school-record tying 25 wins, a second-place finish in the Big Eight and a rousing trip through the NCAA Tournament that led Kansas State to an Elite Eight appearance. He broke the then single-season scoring mark by pouring in 786 points. Fellow All-American Michael Beasley broke the record in 2007-08 with 866 points. He averaged 22.6 points on 51.4 percent shooting in 1987-88 with 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists en route to earning second team All-America honors from UPI, Basketball Weekly, The Sporting News and U.S. Basketball Writers of America (USBWA).
Solid Non-Conference Season
Kansas State's win against North Carolina Central on Feb. 17 gave the team 12 non-conference wins, including a perfect 11-0 mark at home. The 12 non-conference wins tie the 1985-86 team for the second-most in school history and the most since the 1993-94 squad tallied a school-record 13. It marks the first time the team has posted consecutive seasons of at least 10 non-conference wins since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons. The Wildcats have won at least 10 non-league contests four times in the last five seasons.
Recruiting Class Praised
The four-man recruiting class that Kansas State pulled down on Nov. 12 has been rated among the best in the country. The class, which includes McDonald's All-American and ESPNU100 prospect Wally Judge, has been rated the 17th-best class by ESPN Scouts, Inc., as well as 21st- best class by Rivals.com. The quartet includes Judge, fellow high school teammate Rodney McGruder, Dallas (Texas) point guard Nick Russell and prep school forward Jordan Henriquez. Judge recently became the fourth Wildcat to be named a McDonald's All-American, joining Tom Freeman (1976), Deryl Cunningham (1990) and Michael Beasley (2007).
Kansas State enters the 2008-09 season with one its youngest teams in recent history, as senior forward Darren Kent is the lone senior on a roster of 13 players. When you factor in that four of the six juniors are either transfers from another Division I school or a junior college, the Wildcats are one of the youngest teams in its history. Dating back to the 1981-82 season, there has been just one team - the 1983-84 squad which had no seniors - with fewer seniors on its roster. The 1996-97 also had just one senior on its roster.
Martin Inks Stellar Class
Kansas State head coach Frank Martin announced the signing of four high school seniors to National Letters of Intent on the second day of the fall signing period on Nov. 13.
The four-man recruiting class, which was ranked 16th nationally by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and 21st by Rivals.com, includes prep school standout Jordan Henriquez (Winchendon [Mass.] School/Port Chester, N.Y.) and high school seniors Wally Judge (Arlington (Fla.) Country Day/Washington, D.C.), Rodney McGruder (Arlington (Fla.) Country Day/Washington, D.C.) and Nick Russell (Grace Preparatory Academy/Arlington, Texas).
The headliner of this class, Wally Judge is a 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward originally from Washington, D.C., who is entering his second year at Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla. Considered one of the top power forwards in the high school ranks, Judge was rated as a top 25 recruit by several recruiting services, including the No. 17 prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 23 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com. He was also rated as an ESPNU Top 100 recruit. In addition, he is ranked among the top-10 at his position, including No. 6 by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 9 by Rivals.com.
Judge is in his second year at Florida powerhouse, Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, where he helped the Apaches to their fourth consecutive Class 2A state title with a 24-6 record in 2007-08. Judge averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds and was named second team Class 2A All-State by the Florida Sports Writers Association.
A teammate of Judge at Arlington Country Day, Rodney McGruder is considered one of the best shooting guards in the country. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard is rated among the top players in the country, including the No. 89 overall prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 91 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com. McGruder is also ranked among the top-35 at the position by a number of outlets, including No. 23 by Rivals.com and No. 31 by ESPN Scouts, Inc.
McGruder transferred to Arlington Country Day in the off-season from Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. As a junior, he averaged 21.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.1 steals in leading the Lions to a 16-10 overall record and an appearance in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) semifinals in 2007-08. He was named to the Washington Post All-Met first team.
One of the top point guard prospects in the country, Nick Russell comes to K-State from Grace Preparatory Academy in Arlington, Texas. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard is rated among the top players in the country, including the No. 89 overall prospect by ESPN Scouts, Inc. and No. 114 prospect in the Rivals150 by Rivals.com. Russell is also ranked among the top-40 at his position by a number of outlets, including No. 20 by Rivals.com and No. 36 by ESPN Scouts, Inc. In addition, he is rated the No. 4 player in the state of Texas for the Class of 2009 by Texashoops.com.
Russell helped Grace Prep to a 26-12 overall record, including a 7-3 mark in league play, as a junior in 2006-07. He helped the Lions to a runner-up finish at the TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parachial Schools) Class 5A state tournament, where they lost to Midland Christian, 74-60. Russell averaged 23 points, six assists and five rebounds as a junior. He was named first team TAPPS Class 5A all-state as well as co-most valuable player of the District 1-5A and first team all-district.
Jordan Henriquez comes to Kansas State from The Winchendon School in Winchendon, Mass., where he is playing a postgraduate year in 2008-09. The 6-foot-11, 220-pound center from New Rochelle, N.Y. signed with the Wildcats this past May after finishing his career at Port Chester High School in Port Chester, N.Y. As a senior, he led the team to an 18-6 record and an 8-0 mark in league play en route to a runner-up finish at the Section I Championship. In averaging a team-best 15.3 points, Henriquez scored in double figures in 21 of 22 games in 2007-08, including six 20-point contests.
The recruiting class will join a loaded Kansas State squad in 2009-10, as the Wildcats will return all but one player. They will be joined by junior forward Curtis Kelly, who is sitting out the 2008-09 season after transferring from University of Connecticut this past summer.