Remember the Kansas State basketball team that that was headlined by Steve Mitchell, Ernie Kusyner and Lon Kruger in 1972-73? Well, that's the last time the Wildcats were ranked as high as No. 9 in the country.
That's exactly where the pollsters put the Wildcats yesterday in the latest Top 25 listing by the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll … No. 9.
On being ranked, KSU coach Frank Martin offered, "I'm proud of the fact we were able to get through last week at 2-0, and I'm proud of the fact that we've won enough games to be ranked.
For the state of Kansas, it's important. I know how much people care at K-State and I know how much the alums care, and it continues to grow on me every day that I'm the head coach here.
"For us to be able to give them a basketball program to be proud of and stick their chest out, and hold the chin up, and be proud that our guys are representing their school the way our guys are, that makes me proud," said Martin.
"But as a coach in the middle of the season, a ranking doesn't have a whole lot to do with what's important right now."
The Wildcats have now been ranked among the nation's Top 25 in both polls for nine consecutive weeks, while they have been ranked among the AP Top 15 for six straight weeks.
It is the longest stretch in the Top 25 since ranking 16 consecutive weeks in the AP poll from 1972-73, while it is the longest stretch in the AP Top 15 since the 1961-62 team was among the Top 10 for 14 weeks in a row from Dec. 19, 1961 to March 13, 1962.
The Wildcats, who are past the mid-way point of the Big 12 season, are off to their best start in nearly 50 years with their current 19-4 overall mark.
It is the sixth-best start in school history and the best since the 1961-62 squad opened the year at 21-2.
Clemente averaged 26.5 points as he scored 23 points against Nebraska in a 76-57 victory, and added 30 against Iowa State in a 79-75 Wildcat win.
The Wildcat senior hit 50 percent of his shots (16-of-32), which included 11-of-17 (65 percent) from 3-point range. He also was true on all 10 of his free throws.
In scouting Clemente, Colorado assistant coach Steve McClain offered, "He puts so much pressure on your defense. His motor is always running and he gets from end-to-end as quick as anybody in our league. If you don't get him slowed down, he's going to get his shot, or create one for someone else. He has a winner's mentality that makes him what he is."
At 19-4 and with national rankings of No. 9 in the polls and No. 7 in the RPI, Kansas State's a lock for the NCAA Tournament.
But for those wondering, in Big 12 history, 14 of 17 teams that finished with a conference record at 9-7 made the tournament, 13 of 16 that finished 10-6 advanced to the "Dance," and eveyr team to finish 11-5, or better, received an invitation to March Madness.