Game Preview // K-State Returns Home to Face Oklahoma Wednesday

GAME 20
KANSAS STATE (8-11, 1-5 Big 12) vs. OKLAHOMA (13-6, 3-3 Big 12)
Wednesday, January 29, 2020 >> 7:02 p.m., CT >> Bramlage Coliseum (12,528) >> Manhattan, Kan.
 
K-STATE PROUD
K-State Proud is the premier student philanthropy, led by the leaders of Student Foundation. Over the past 13 years, they have raised over $1.36 million for Student Opportunity Awards to help more than 700 students stay at K-State who otherwise would not have been able to continue their education.
 
TELEVISION
Big 12 Now on ESPN+

  • Mark Neely (play-by-play)
  • Lance Blanks (analyst)
  • Sean Jackson (producer)

 
RADIO
K-State Sports Network
Flagships: // KMAN 1350 & WIBW 580
Online: TuneIn.com [free] / www.kstatesports.com/watch [free]
Satellite Radio: XM 388 / Internet 978

 
LIVE STATS
www.kstatesports.com
kstate.statbroadcast.com [media only]
 
TICKETS
www.kstatesports.com/tickets
(800) 221.CATS [2287]
 
Gameday: $20 (bench & GA)/$40 (chairback)
Wildcat 4-Pack: $70 ($17.50 each)
 
COACHES
Kansas State: Bruce Weber (Wis.-Milwaukee ’78)
Overall: 471-255/22nd season
At K-State: 158-100/8th season
vs. Oklahoma: 10-5 (7-0 at home)
 
Oklahoma: Lon Kruger (Kansas State ’75)
Overall: 652-415/34th season
At Oklahoma: 173-111/9th season
vs. Kansas State: 9-11 (2-7 on the road)
 
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Kansas State (8-11)
G: #4 David Sloan
G: #3 DaJuan Gordon
G/F: #20 Xavier Sneed
F: #23 Montavious Murphy
F: #14 Makol Mawien
        
Oklahoma (13-6)
G: #2 Kira Lewis, Jr.
G: #23 John Petty, Jr.
G: #5 Jaden Shackelford
G: #1 Herbert Jones
F: #3 Alex Reese
 
SERIES HISTORY
Overall: Oklahoma leads 109-101
Current Streak: Oklahoma, 1
In Manhattan: K-State leads 62-36
At Bramlage Coliseum: K-State leads 16-8
Last Meeting: L, 61-66 [1/4/2020 in Norman]
Weber vs. Kruger: Weber leads 11-5 [7-0 at home]
 
OPENING TIP

  • Kansas State (8-11, 1-5 Big 12) jumps back into Big 12 play on Wednesday night, as the Wildcats welcome former lettermen, assistant coach and head coach Lon Kruger and his Oklahoma Sooners (13-6, 3-3 Big 12) to Bramlage Coliseum. The Sooners are the first repeat Big 12 opponent, as they seek to sweep the season series from the Wildcats for the first time since 2012 after rallying for a 66-61 win at home in the Big 12 opener on Jan. 4. The game will tip at 7:02 p.m., CT on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with Mark Neely (play-by-play) and Lance Blanks (analyst) on the call. 
  • K-State nearly rallied from a double-digit effort for the fourth time in the last 6 games in Saturday’s 77-74 loss at Alabama, but the Crimson Tide converted from the free throw line in final minutes to clinch a win for the SEC to help secure a 5-all tie in the seventh annual Big 12/SEC Challenge. Down 16 points with just over 12 minutes to play, the Wildcats used an 18-3 run that closed the deficit to 62-61 on a 3-pointer from junior Cartier Diarra with 6:34 remaining. K-State would have 6 chances to either tie or take the lead before Alabama closed from the line. It was yet another frustrating loss for the Wildcats, who have now lost 7 games by 8 points or less. 
  • Oklahoma (13-6, 3-3 Big 12) has won just twice in the last 5 games after splitting games at Baylor (57-61) and at home to Mississippi State (63-62) last week. The Sooners, who are an impressive 8-1 at home, are just 2-4 on the road this season, but do have a 72-62 win at Texas in league play. They are led by the triple scoring threat of Brady Manek (15.7 ppg.), Kristian Doolittle (15.4 ppg.) and Austin Reaves (14.4 ppg.), who combine to average more than 45 points per game.  
  • This will be the 211th meeting between K-State and Oklahoma on the hardwood with the Sooners holding a 109-101 advantage, including a narrow 17-16 edge in the Big 12 era. The Wildcats have a 62-36 all-time record at home over the Sooners, including a 16-8 mark at Bramlage Coliseum. The team boasts a 7-game winning streak over Oklahoma at home under head coach Bruce Weber. The Sooners won the first meeting, 66-61, at home in the Big 12 opener on Jan. 4 on the strength of a 12-0 run to end the game and will be looking for their first win in Manhattan since a 63-60 victory on Jan. 28, 2012.
  • The Wildcats have received a spark since junior David Sloan has moved into the starting point guard role, allowing junior Cartier Diarra to move off the ball. The team has averaged 72.7 points and 14.7 assists in the last 3 games after averaging 57.8 points and 8.8 assists in the previous 4 games. During this 3-game span, Sloan is averaging 10.3 points, 3.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 26.7 minutes per game, which included a season-high 17 points at No. 3/3 Kansas. Prior to the West Virginia game, he was averaging 3.7 points and 1.9 assists in 15.5 minutes per game.
  • Injuries have been a big part of K-State’s season, as 5 different players have missed a combined 43 games, which has caused head coach Bruce Weber to use 6 different starting lineups. The 6 starting lineups are the most since using 11 in 2014-15.

 
NOTES ON OKLAHOMA

  • Oklahoma is coming off a 63-62 win over Mississippi State on Saturday to score a point for the Big 12 and secure a tie in the Big 12/SEC Challenge series. Junior Brady Manek scored a game-high 18 points on 6-of-11 field goals, while junior Alondes Williams added 13 points off the bench.
  • Among Oklahoma’s 13 wins are neutral site victories over Minnesota (71-62), Oregon State (77-69) and Missouri (77-66), road wins over North Texas (82-80) and Texas (72-62), while the 5 of the 6 losses have come to teams like Stanford (54-73), Wichita State (75-80), Creighton (73-83), Kansas (52-66) and Baylor (57-61) with a combined record of 82-16 this season. 
  • Oklahoma is averaging 71.8 points on 42.2 percent shooting, including 32.5 percent from 3-point range, with 36.8 rebounds, 12.0 assists, 6.4 steals and 3.8 blocks per game, while allowing 68.1 points on 39.8 percent shooting, including 31.9 percent from 3-point range. The team has connected on a Big 12-best 76.1 percent from the free throw line.
  • Oklahoma is led by the triple scoring threat of junior Brady Manek (15.7 ppg.), senior Kristian Doolittle (15.4 ppg.) and junior Austin Reaves (14.4 ppg.), who are averaging more than 45 points per game. A preseason All-Big 12 selection, Doolittle averages a near double-double with a team-high 8.6 rebounds, while connecting on 43.7 percent from the field, including 38.6 percent from 3-point range. Manek is hitting on 47.2 percent from the field, including 43 percent from long range and leads the Sooners with 49 triples. Reaves, a transfer from Wichita State, is connecting on 37.1 percent from the field to go with 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
  • Oklahoma is led by ninth-year head coach Lon Kruger, who has a 173-111 (.609) record, which includes 6 NCAA Tournaments and the 2016 Final Four . He is 652-415 (.611) in his 34th season as a head coach, which includes an 81-46 (.638) mark and 4 NCAA Tournaments at K-State from 1986-90.  

 
SERIES HISTORY

  • K-State and Oklahoma will meet for the 211th time in their histories with the Sooners holding a 109-101 advantage in a series that dates to 1920. The Wildcats are 62-36 at home, including a 16-8 mark at Bramlage Coliseum. 
  • K-State has won 7 of the last 11 meetings with Oklahoma, which includes  a 68-53 win in the last meeting at Bramlage Coliseum on March 9, 2019. The Wildcats have won 7 in a row at home in the series with the last Sooner win in Manhattan coming in a 63-60 win on Jan. 28, 2012. 
  • Cartier Diarra is averaging 9.5 points on 46.7 percent shooting (14-of-30) in 4 career games against Oklahoma, while Xavier Sneed is averaging 10.7 points on 40.3 percent shooting (25-of-62) in 7 games vs. the Sooners.
  • Head coach Bruce Weber is 10-5 all-time against Oklahoma, including a 7-0 mark at home, while he is 11-5 against head coach Lon Kruger. Kruger is 9-11 all-time against his alma mater, including 2-7 on the road.

 
KRUGER VS. HIS ALMA MATER

  • Lon Kruger is one of 10 Wildcats to have their jerseys raised to the rafters, as the Silver Lake, Kansas, native was a 2-time Big Eight Player of the Year (1973, 1974) and 2-time Academic All-American for K-State from 1971-74.
  • Coached by legendary head coach Jack Hartman, Kruger led the Wildcats to 61-22 (.735) record during his career, which included 2 Big Eight titles and pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. He later served as assistant coach (1978-82) for Hartman before succeeding him as head coach in 1986 where he became the first head coach in school history to lead the Wildcats to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, posting an 81-46 (.638) record.

 
OTHER K-STATE/OU CONNECTIONS

  • Senior Makol Mawien and Oklahoma junior Kur Kuath are cousins with both growing up outside of Salt Lake City. Both are of South Sudan descent with Mawien being born in Cairo before migrating to the U.S. 
  • Oklahoma assistant coach Jim Molinari played two seasons (1973-75) at K-State before transferring to Illinois Wesleyan.

 
HISTORY AT BRAMLAGE COLISEUM

  • K-State has posted a 385-121 (.760) all-time record at Bramlage Coliseum since its opening in the 1988-89 season. The 385 wins are the most at a home venue for the Wildcats, surpassing the 378 at Ahearn Field House (1950-88).
  • K-State has registered a 185-41 (.818) record at home over the past 14 seasons, including an 80-35 (.693) mark in Big 12 play. The 185 wins rank fourth among all Big 12 schools in that span, while the 80 league victories at home are only surpassed by Kansas and Texas.
  • Head coach Bruce Weber has tallied a 100-25 (.798) record at Bramlage Coliseum since taking over at K-State in 2012-13 with non-conference home losses to Northern Colorado (2013), Texas Southern (2014), Georgia (2014) and Marquette (2019). The 25 losses (21 of which have come in Big 12 play) have come by a grand total of 198 points or just 7.9 points per game.

 
LAST TIME OUT: ALABAMA 77, K-STATE 74

  • Down by 16 points with 12 minutes to play, K-State closed to within one possession on multiple occasions, including 69-67 with 2:48 left, but Alabama held strong at the free throw line to post a 77-74 win in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday before 11,824 fans at Coleman Coliseum. 
  • Alabama was led by a sensational scoring effort from sophomore guard Kira Lewis, Jr., who led five Crimson Tide starters in double figures with a game-high 26 points on 8-of-12 field goals and a perfect 8-of-8 effort from the free throw line. Lewis was coached by K-State head coach Bruce Weber at this past summer’s FIBA U19 World Cup Championship.
  • For K-State, it was yet another frustrating loss in close fashion, as the Wildcats led for more 15 minutes in the first half before surrendering the lead moments into the second half. Alabama scored the first 7 points after halftime, which was part of a 23-6 overall run, that gave the Crimson Tide a 59-43 lead with 12:14 to play after a 3-point play from junior Herbert Jones.
  • With the momentum clearing on the home team’s side before nearly 12,000 fans, K-State went to work on the next possession, as a 3-pointer from senior Xavier Sneed ignited an 18-3 run that closed the deficit to 62-61 on another 3-pointer from junior Cartier Diarra with 6:34 left. The Wildcats would have 6 opportunities to either tie it or take the lead down the stretch before the Crimson Tide sealed it at the free throw line.
  • Diarra led the Wildcats with 17 points in his first game off the bench this season, while senior Makol Mawien earned his fourth career double-double with 13 points on 5-of-9 field goals to go with a game-high and career-tying 12 rebounds. Senior Xavier Sneed and freshman Montavious Murphy added 14 and 10 points, respectively. Junior Mike McGuirl scored 7 points in his first game back from missing 3 games due to a concussion.
  • K-State posted season-highs for both total rebounds (45) and offensive rebounds (22), while its 74 field goals attempted were the most by a Wildcat team in more than 10 years. For the game, the team connected on just 35.1 percent (26-of-74) from the field, including 34.5 percent (10-of-29) from 3-point range, and went 12 of 19 (63.2 percent) from the free throw line.
  • K-State has now lost six games by 6 points or less this season.

 
LOVE, GORDON SUSPENDED FOLLOWING ACTIONS AT KANSAS

  • Redshirt junior James Love III and freshman Antonio Gordon have been issued suspensions by the Big 12 Conference following their actions at the conclusion of Tuesday night’s game at Kansas, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced Wednesday.
  • Love has been suspended for eight games, which will begin once he is medically cleared for competition, while Gordon’s suspension will be three games and begin immediately. Until each student-athlete has served their suspension, they are immediately prohibited from traveling with the team to away competition, participating in pregame activities, and being in the team’s bench area. However, each student-athlete may continue to practice and receive related support to their participation as a student-athlete.
  • Additionally, both programs were reprimanded for violations of the Big 12 Sportsmanship Policies as a result of players leaving the bench area.
  • “We do not condone this type of behavior in any circumstance and fully support Commissioner Bowlsby’s decision on this matter,” K-State Athletics Director Gene Taylor said. “There is no place for this type of conduct in the game of basketball, or any sport, and in particular this great rivalry. In addition, I would like to offer my appreciation to Jeff Long and the University of Kansas administration and staff for their efforts in resolving the situation.”
  • “I’m extremely disappointed in our team’s actions in the aftermath of last night’s game at Kansas,” added Head Coach Bruce Weber. “They do not reflect what our program is about here at K-State. Our team will live with the consequences of those actions and move forward in a positive manner. Our focus going forward is to help our players learn from this situation and ensure that it never happens again.”

 
RECAPPING NON-CONFERENCE HISTORY

  • K-State concluded non-conference play with the 77-74 loss at Alabama on Saturday. Despite the setback, the Wildcats finished with a winning record in non-conference play for 14th season in a row.
  • K-State has a 111-8 (.932) record at home venues (includes home games played at Bramlage Coliseum, INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita and the Sprint Center in Kansas City) in non-conference play dating back to the 2006-07 season, including a 102-6 (.944) mark at Bramlage Coliseum.
  • Despite seeing their 33-game winning streak end at Bramlage Coliseum with a loss to Marquette on Dec. 7, the Wildcats have still won 98 of their last 104 non-conference home games. The last home non-conference loss before Marquette came against Georgia, 50-46, on Dec. 31, 2014.
  • K-State has posted a 147-42 (.781) record in non-conference play since the 2006-07 season, which includes a 10-3 (.769) mark in 2018-19. The team has posted double-digit non-conference wins in 12 of the last 13 years.
  • Since going 7-6 in non-conference in 2014-15, which included back-to-back losses to Texas Southern and Georgia, the Wildcats has won double-digit non-conference games each of the past four seasons and is 50-15 (.781) in non-conference play since the start of 2015-16 season.

 
LEADING WITH DEFENSE

  • K-State has continued its reputation as one of the top defensive teams in the country under head coach Bruce Weber, holding its first 19 opponents to 63.9 points on 41.8 percent shooting (421-of-1008), including 32.7 percent (128-of-391) from 3-point range, while posting a Big 12-best 8.5 steals and forcing 16.5 turnovers per game (third in the Big 12).
  • K-State ranks among Top 55 in 3 defensive categories, including 53rd in scoring defense, 30th in turnovers forced (16.5) and 31st in steals per game.
  • K-State has held 25 of its last 53 opponents to 60 points or less with just seven eclipsing 70 (with 6 occurring in the last 20 games). The squad has held 94 opponents to 60 points or less in Bruce Weber‘s tenure, boasting an 85-9 mark in those contests. The Wildcats are 6-1 this season when holding an opponent below 60 points, including their first 4 wins.
  • K-State had one of the top defensive teams in the country in 2018-19, holding opponents to 59.6 points on 41.5 percent shooting, including 31.4 percent from 3-point range, while forcing 14.8 turnovers per game and averaging 7.5 steals per game. The Wildcats ranked among the nation’s best in a number of defensive categories, including fourth in scoring defense, 16th in turnover margin (+3.5), 36th in 3-point field goal percentage defense, 43rd in total steals (256) and 48th in steals per game. 
  • The 59.6 points per game average was the lowest opponent scoring average since the introduction of the shot clock in 1985-86, surpassing the 60.4 points per game average in 2012-13, while it was the sixth-lowest all-time and the lowest since the 1982-83 team allowed 58.4 points per game. Only eight other teams (1948-49, 1949-50, 1950-51, 1961-62, 1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83) allowed less than 60 points per game in school history.
  • K-State held foes to an average of 14.5 points under their average in 2018-19, including a 14.6 average in Big 12 play. Eleven opponents (6 Big 12 foes) were held to 20 or more points under their average, most notably Texas Tech (26.6), TCU (25.4 and 23.5), Iowa State (24.3) and OSU (21.8).
  • In Big 12 play, K-State allowed 59.6 points per game on 42.6 percent shooting, including 33.8 percent from 3-point range. It is the school’s lowest defensive scoring average in a Big 12 season and a tie for the ninth-best in a conference season and the lowest since 1961-62. The Wildcats held Big 12 opponents (Iowa State, TCU [twice], Texas Tech, Oklahoma State [twice], West Virginia, Baylor and Oklahoma) to 60 points or less on 9 occasions.

 
POINTS OFF TURNOVERS

  • K-State is once again using its defense to generate offense, as the Wildcats are forcing 16.5 turnovers per game, including 8.5 steals per game, while averaging 17.5 points per game off those opponent turnovers.
  • K-State has scored 20 or more points off opponent turnovers 9 times this season, including a season-high 28 in the win over No. 12/13 West Virginia. The team has also scored 20 or more points off turnovers against Monmouth (21), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (20), Pittsburgh (24) Bradley (22), Florida A&M (20), Alabama State (26), Texas (23) and No. 23/23 Texas Tech (20).
  • K-State has forced 5 opponents into 20 or more turnovers, including a season-best 25 turnovers by UNLV and Monmonth.
  • K-State has scored over 4,000 points (4,008) off turnovers during head coach Bruce Weber‘s tenure, an average of 15.5 points per game. In 2018-19, the Wildcats averaged 17.4 points off turnovers, outscoring opponents, 590-362. The team posted 12 games of 20 or more points off turnovers.

 
DEFICITS AND COMEBACKS

  • K-State has had to battle back from early deficits in each of 3 of its last 5 Big 12 games, but has found a way to rally from those deficits before losing down the stretch. The Wildcats trailed TCU and Texas both by 7 points before falling behind 10-0 to No. 23/23 Texas Tech on Tuesday. 
  • K-State was down 7-0 to start against TCU before slowing chipping away at the deficit to eventually take a 17-16 lead at the 8:19 mark of the first half and tying at 23-all before the Horned Frogs scored 12 of the last 14 points. Down 49-42 with just over 7 to play, the Wildcats tied the game at 57-all on David Sloan’s 3-pointer before losing on a tip-in with 2 seconds.
  • K-State trailed 9-2 to start against Texas before again rallying to take an 18-16 lead with 6:40 before halftime. With the Wildcats leading 25-23 with 2:48 to play in the first half, the Longhorns would score 20 of the next 22 points to take 43-27 advantage with 13:11 remaining.
  • K-State allowed No. 23/23 Texas Tech to score the first 10 points of the game, but the resilient Wildcats responded with 7 in a row to close to within one possession before trailing 37-30 at the half. The team again fought back to take a 46-45 lead on a layup by senior Cartier Diarra to cap an 11-2 run with 13:24 to play. The Red Raiders responded with a 16-4 run over the next 6 minutes to take a 61-50 lead with just over 7 minutes remaining.

 
2-POINTERS HAVE BEEN KEY

  • With its 3-point percentage nearly identical in wins (34.2; 63-of-184) as in losses (32.8; 77-of-2235), K-State’s 2-point field goal percentage has been a key factor in its wins this season. On the year, the Wildcats are connecting on 47.7 percent (298-of-625) from inside the 3-point line. 
  • K-State is connecting on 47 percent (210-of-447) of its field goals in the 8 wins, including 55.9 percent (147-of-263) from inside the arc, while the team is hitting just 38.2 percent (228-of-597) of their field goals in the 11 losses, including 41.7 percent (151-of-362) from inside the arc.
  • This has been illustrated in the losses to Marquette and Mississippi State, as K-State connected on 32.3 percent (20-of-62) of its field goals, including 33.3 percent (13-of-39) from inside the arc, in the 73-65 loss to the Golden Eagles and 32.6 percent (14-of-43) of its field goals, including 32 percent (8-of-25) from inside the arc, in the 67-61 loss to the Bulldogs.
  • No 2 players have been as impactful in this statistic, as senior Xavier Sneed and junior Cartier Diarra.
  • Sneed is averaging a team-best 17.0 points on 50 percent (46-of-92) shooting, including 63.6 percent (28-of-44) from inside the arc, in the 8 wins, while he is averaging 13 points on just 31.5 percent (40-of-127) shooting in the 11 losses, including 33.3 percent (20-of-60) from inside the arc.
  • Diarra is averaging 14.9 points on 43.8 percent (42-of-96) shooting, including 51.9 percent (28-of-54) from inside the arc, in the 8 wins, while he is averaging 11.9 points on 39 percent (46-of-118) shooting, including 47.6 percent (30-of-63) from inside the arc, in the 11 losses.

 
SNEED GETTING HOT

  • Senior Xavier Sneed has led the Wildcats in scoring 8 times this season, averaging 14.7 points on 39.3 percent shooting (86-of-219), including 33.0 percent (38-of-115) from 3-point range, which includes wins against UNLV, Monmouth, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Florida A&M and Alabama State.
  • Sneed scored 19 points in the overtime win over UNLV, including the go-ahead jumper with 28 seconds left, then followed that up with a 15-point effort in the win over Monmouth on Nov. 13 before posting 21 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 19. His 18-point effort against Florida A&M on Dec. 2 lifted him to the Top 20 scoring, while he claimed his second 20-point game with 20 against Alabama State on Dec. 11. He has a combined 121 points in the last 8 games, including a season-best 22 against Oklahoma on Jan. 4.
  • With his first rebound against Marquette on Dec. 7, Sneed became the 13th player in school history with at least 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds. He currently has 1,287 points in 124 career games to go with 551 rebounds. He joins a 1,000-point/500-rebound list that includes legends Dick Knostman, Jack Parr, Bob Boozer, David Hall, Steve Mitchell, Rolando Blackman, Ed Nealy, Jamar Samuels, Rodney McGruder, Thomas Gipson, Wes Iwundu and Dean Wade.
  • Sneed is one of 9 players to rank in the Big 12’s Top 25 in both scoring and rebounding, as he ranks ninth in scoring (14.7 ppg.) and 22nd in rebounding (4.8 rpg.). He joins Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton, Oklahoma’s Austin Reaves, Kristian Doolittle and Brady Manek, Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike, TCU’s Desmond Bane and West Virginia’s Oscar Tshiebwe. Sneed also ranks sixth in steals (1.63), ninth in 3-point field goals made (2.00), 11th in free throw percentage (71.7) and 13th in minutes (31.7).

 
SNEED MOVING UP THE CHARTS

  • Senior Xavier Sneed continues to move up several career charts, as he ranks among the Top 20 in scoring (14th), 3-point field goals made (fifth) and attempted (fourth), steals (fourth) and minutes (10th).
  • With his 16-point effort in the win over No. 12/13 West Virginia, Sneed moved into the school’s Top 15 in scoring at No. 15 with 1,257 points, moving past former teammate Kamau Stokes (1,242), current Orland Magic Wes Iwundu (1,249) and Tyrone Adams (1,251). He is the the fourth Wildcat under head coach Bruce Weber to rank in the Top 15 in scoring, following Barry Brown, Jr. (1,781 points/fifth), Rodney McGruder (1,576/eighth) and Dean Wade (1,510/10th). He currently ranks 14th in 1,287 points with sights set on Ed Nealy (1,304) and Mitch Richmond (1,327).
  • Sneed already ranks among the very best among all 3-point shooters in school history, passing Rodney McGruder for fifth in career makes (195) and ranking fourth in career attempts (572). He needs just 5 more 3-pointers to become just the fifth Wildcat with 200 more triples in a career.
  • Sneed also continues to move up the steals chart with his 168 ranking fourth in school history, while he just cracked the school’s Top 10 in minutes played with 3,416 minutes in 124 games played.

 
DIARRA PROVING TO BE A SOLID PG

  • Junior Cartier Diarra is proving to be a solid point guard for the Wildcats, averaging 13.2 points on 41.1 percent (88-of-214) shooting with 5.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 31.8 minutes per game. He has led the team in scoring 9 times, including 7 times in the last 12 games.
  • Diarra’s 97 assists are the most by a Wildcat in the first 19 games since assists began being kept in 1976-77, surpassing the previous 18-game high of 96 done by (current UTSA head coach) Steve Henson in 1988-89. He has at least 5 assists in 12 of 19 games, including a career-high 10 vs. Alabama State on Dec. 11. He became the first Wildcat with a 10-assist game since Marcus Foster (at Baylor) on Feb. 15, 2014.
  • Diarra ranks among the top 60 nationally in both assists (50th/5.1 apg.) and total assists (61st/97). He ranks third in assists and fifth in steals in the Big 12, while he is ninth in assist/turnover ratio (1.49) and 12th in scoring.
  • Diarra has scored in double figures in 10 times in the last 15 games, including team-highs vs. Marquette (14), Mississippi State (20), Tulsa (25), Texas (14), No. 23/23 Texas Tech (19) and No. 12/13 West Virginia (25).

 
DIARRA NAMED BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK DEC. 30

  • Junior Cartier Diarra earned his first career Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honor on Dec. 31 after scoring a career-best 25 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 22.4 seconds left, to help the Wildcats defeat Tulsa, 69-67, on Dec. 30.
  • Diarra is the first Wildcat to earn the Big 12’s weekly honor since Barry Brown, Jr., and Dean Wade won the accolade in back-to-back weeks on January 14 and 21, 2019. Overall, it marks the school’s 29th Player of the Week honor since the inception of the Big 12 in 1997, including the 13th under head coach Bruce Weber.
  • Diarra collected his third 20-point game of the season in Sunday’s victory over the Golden Hurricane, connecting on 8-of-16 from the field, including 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, to go with a 3-of-4 effort from the line, a game-high 7 assists and 5 rebounds in 33 minutes of action. His 6 3-pointers were a career-high and the most by a Wildcat since teammate Xavier Sneed knocked down 6 triples against West Virginia on Jan. 1, 2018.

 
SLOAN CREATES A SPARK

  • K-State has received a spark since junior David Sloan has moved into the starting point guard role, allowing junior Cartier Diarra to move off the ball, in the win over 12/13 West Virginia on Jan. 18.
  • The Wildcats have averaged 72.7 points and 14.7 assists in the last 3 games after averaging 57.8 points and 8.8 assists in the previous 4 games. During this 3-game span, Sloan is averaging 10.3 points, 3.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 26.7 minutes per game, which included a season-high 17 points at No. 3/3 Kansas. Prior to the West Virginia game, Sloan was averaging 3.7 points and 1.9 assists in 15.5 minutes per game.

 
FRESHMEN PLAYING A MAJOR ROLE

  • Three freshmen (DaJuan Gordon, Antonio Gordon and Montavious Murphy) are playing major roles for the Wildcats, as each are averaging 20 or more minutes this season, including 9 starts by Murphy, 7 by Antonio Gordon and 2 by DaJuan Gordon. Murphy missed 7 games due to injury.
  • DaJuan Gordon has played in all 19 games, averaging 23.0 minutes per game to lead all reserves. He has scored in double figures 4 times, including a 15-point effort against No. 12/13 West Virginia. He has connected on 48.6 percent (51-of-105) from the field and 39.5 percent (17-of-43) from 3. 
  • Antonio Gordon has seen action in 16 games, averaging 19.6 minutes per game. He is averaging 5.0 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
  • Murphy, who became the first true freshmen to start an opener since 2015, started each of the first 3 games of the season before his injury on Nov. 13. He returned to play 18 minutes against Saint Louis before starting 6 of the last 8 games and averaging 25.3 minutes per game.

 
EZEAGU JOINS TEAM JAN. 17

  • Head coach Bruce Weber announced on January 17 that transfer forward Kaosi Ezeagu (Brampton, Ontario/GTA Prep/UTEP) has signed a scholarship agreement to join the men’s basketball team. He will have three years of eligibility once he sits out the required time as a Division I transfer.
  • Ezeagu will enroll at K-State for the spring semester and will be able to start practicing with the team. He will have to sit out for the reminder of the 2019-20 season and the first semester of the 2020-21 season before being eligible in mid-December 2020.   
  • A 6-foot-10, 245-pound forward from Brampton, Ontario, Ezeagu played one season at UTEP for head coach Rodney Terry in 2018-19. He played in all 29 games for the Miners as a true freshman, averaging 3.2 points on a team-best 56.9 percent shooting (37-of-65) with 3.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 12.4 minutes per game. He led the team with 24 blocked shots with at least 2 blocks in eight contests. Twice he scored in double figures, including 10 in his first game against UTPB on Nov. 16, 2018 and a season-best 12 against Middle Tennessee State on March 6, 2019.
  • Ezeagu was born in the Bahamas but went to prep school in Brampton, Ontario, where he was rated one of the top prep players in Canada after averaging 11.4 points and 10.4 rebounds at GTA Prep in 2017-18.

 
WEBER NAMED USA BASKETBALL CO-NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR

  • After leading Team USA to a gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup this past summer, K-State men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber was selected as the co-recipient of the 2019 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year award.
  • Weber shared the honor with Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz, who also led the USA Women’s U19 World Cup Team to a gold medal on July 20-28 in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Since 1996, USA Basketball has awarded its National Coach of the Year honor to a USA Basketball head coach, who during the year of the award, made a significant impact on the success of the individual athlete and team performance at the highest levels of competition in a manner consistent with the highest ethical, professional and moral standards.
  • Weber, who served as a head coach in the USA Basketball system for the first time in his career, led Team USA to their seventh gold medal at the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) U19 World Cup, including the first since 2015, with a perfect 7-0 record. Team USA capped their perfect performance with a 93-79 win over Mali in the gold-medal game in Greece on July 7.
  • Team USA averaged better than 100 points per game and won the tournament by an average of 28.7 points per game, including victories over New Zealand (111-71), Lithuania (102-84) and Senegal (87-58) to capture Group A then wins over Latvia (116-66) in the group of 16, Russia (95-80) in the medal round, Lithuania (102-67) in the semifinals and Mali (93-79) in the finals. The team ranked first in points per game (100.9), field goal percentage (.475), assists per game (28.6 apg.) and steals per game (15.9 spg.).

 
A QUICK LOOK AT K-STATE

  • The Wildcats return nine lettermen, including four players (Xavier Sneed, Makol Mawien, Cartier Diarra and Mike McGuirl) who registered starts, in 2019-20 from a squad that posted a 25-9 overall record a year ago and earned a share of the Big 12 regular-season championship for the second time under head coach Bruce Weber. The 25-win season was the seventh in school history, including the first time in consecutive seasons. K-State is one of just 24 schools  — 15 in power conferences — and 3 in the Big 12 (Kansas and Texas Tech) — with 25 wins in each of the last 2 seasons.
  • All-Big 12 honorable mention Xavier Sneed (10.6 ppg., 5.5 rpg.), fellow senior Makol Mawien (7.0 ppg., 4.9 rpg.) and key reserve and junior Cartier Diarra (6.8 ppg., 3.3 rpg.) form the core of a group returning for the Wildcats,  who must replace their top three scorers in Barry Brown, Jr. (14.6 ppg.), Dean Wade (12.9 ppg.) and Kamau Stokes (11.0 ppg.). All three have played pivotal roles with the consecutive 25-win seasons, including 71 and 70 starts, respectively, by Mawien and Sneed and major minutes by Diarra.
  • Sneed is the team’s top returner in nearly every stat category, including scoring (349), rebounding (182), assists (64), steals (45) and minutes (1014). He enters his senior season ranking 29th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,008 points having seen action in 105 career games with starts in 70 of the last 71 games. Mawien, who has started every game of his K-State career, has the fifth-highest career field goal percentage (56.1; 204-of-364) in school history after posting the sixth-highest (59.8; 104-of-174) field goal percentage in a single season as a junior in 2017-18. Diarra scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including three in Big 12 play, before missing eight games due to a broken finger. He did come back to play in the last three games with Wade out for the season, including a 15-point effort against Iowa State in the semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship and a 9-point effort in the NCAA Tournament.
  • The Wildcats also return rising senior Pierson McAtee (0.5 ppg., 0.5 rpg.), juniors Mike McGuirl (3.6 ppg., 1.5 rpg.), Levi Stockard III (1.8 ppg., 1.5 rpg.) and James Love III (0.3 ppg., 0.4 rpg.), sophomores Nigel Shadd (0.2 ppg., 0.4 rpg.) and Shaun Williams [was Neal-Williams] (1.4 ppg., 1.1 rpg.).

 
‘CATS WELCOME FIVE NEWCOMERS

  • The Wildcats will welcome five newcomers in 2019-20, including a pair of junior college transfers (David Sloan and Joe Petrakis) and three true freshmen (Antonio Gordon, DaJuan Gordon and Montavious Murphy). 
  • Sloan was regarded as one of the top community colleges players in the country (and a Top 150 player out of high school) in 2018-19 after helping John A. Logan College to a 27-5 overall record as a sophomore. The NJCAA All-American twice led the NJCAA ranks in both total assists and assists per game, including 10.2 assists per game a year ago.
  • The freshmen were all consensus Top 200 prospects, as the recruiting class was a consensus Top 40 class nationally by a number of recruiting services, ranking No. 39 by Rivals.com and No. 40 by 247Sports.com. DaJuan Gordon was a consensus Top 150 player by both recruiting services.
  • Antonio Gordon scored nearly 1,600 points in his high school career at Eisenhower High School in Lawton, Okla., and averaged 26.3 points and 10.1 rebounds as a senior in 2018-19. DaJuan Gordon was the Chicago Sun-Times City Player of the Year after averaging 17.6 points in leading Curie to the school’s first city title. Murphy was one of the best players in Houston and a finalist for the Guy V. Lewis Award, averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds as a senior at Concordia Lutheran.

 
‘CATS PICKED NINTH IN BIG 12 POLL;
SNEED NAMED HONORABLE MENTION ALL-BIG 12

  • K-State was picked to finish ninth by the league coaches in the annual Big 12 Preseason poll released on Oct. 17, as the Wildcats received 23 points. Kansas was selected first for the ninth consecutive season, while Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas and West Virginia rounded out the Top 5.
  • The ninth-place selection tied for the lowest by a K-State team in the history of the 10-team poll, joining the 2016-17 team which was also picked to finish ninth by the league coaches. The team has been picked to finish eighth or worse 13 times in the history of the 24-year poll, including eighth in 2001-02, 2003-04, 2008-09, 2015-16 and 2017-18, ninth in 1996-97, 2004-05, 10th in 1999-2000, 11th in 2002-03 and 2005-06 and 12th in 1997-98 and 2000-01.
  • Senior Xavier Sneed was one of eight players to be selected to the honorable mention All-Big 12 preseason team, along with Oklahoma’s Kristian Doolittle, Oklahoma State’s Yor Anei, Texas’ Matt Coleman, Texas Tech’s Chris Clarke, Davide Moretti and Jahmi’us Ramey and West Virginia’s Derek Culver.
  • Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson, along with Baylor’s Tristan Clark, Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton and TCU’s Desmond Bane were named to the Preseason All-Big 12 team. Azubuike was the Preseason Player of the Year, while Chris Clarke was the Preseason Newcomer of the Year and West Virginia’s Oscar Tshiebwe was the Preseason Freshman of the Year.

 
SNEED NAMED CANDIDATE FOR JULIUS ERVING AWARD

  • Senior Xavier Sneed was named one of 20 watch list members for the 2020 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award, as announced by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Oct. 16.
  • Sneed was one of two Big 12 players named to the watch list, including Texas Tech transfer Chris Clarke. Other candidates include Arizona’s Josh Green, Duke’s Matthew Hurt, Florida’s Scottie Lewis, Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, Harvard’s Seth Towns, Kentucky’s Kahlil Whitney, Louisville’s Jordan Nwora, Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa, Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle, Providence’s Alpha Diallo, Purdue’s Nojel Eastern, St. John’s L.J. Figueroa, Syracuse’s Elijah Hughes, Vermont’s Anthony Lamb, Villanova’s Saddiq Bey, Washington’s Jaden McDaniels, Washington State’s C.J. Elleby and Xavier’s Naji Marshall.
  • Wade is the first K-State player to be a preseason candidate for the Wooden Award since Rodney McGruder in 2012. Jacob Pullen, who was a preseason candidate in 2010, was the last Wildcat to earn recognition to the Wooden All-American team, while Michael Beasley (2008) was the last finalist.
  • The 20-member watch list for the Erving Award will be narrowed to just 10 by mid-February. In March, five finalists will be presented to Julius Erving and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winner will be presented at The College Basketball Awards presented by Wendy’s on April 10, 2020.

 

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Source: Kansas State Sports