- Kansas State (7-9, 0-4 Big 12) continues its most challenging spans of the season on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats welcome former head coach Bob Huggins (2006-07) and his nationally ranked West Virginia Mountaineers (14-2, 3-1 Big 12) to Bramlage Coliseum. No. 12/13 West Virginia will be the second of 3 consecutive Top 25 teams for K-State, which will continue with No. 6/7 Kansas (13-3, 3-1 Big 12) on Jan. 21. Saturday’s game will tip at 1 p.m., CT on ESPNU with Chuckie Kempf (play-by-play) and Tim Welsh (analyst) on the call. It will also be Legends Weekend, as the program welcomes back a number of men’s basketball lettermen.
- Saturday’s contest will mark the 100th visit by a Top 25 opponent to Bramlage Coliseum since 1988 with K-State posting a 38-61 (.384) record against those ranked foes, including a 35-58 (.376) mark against ranked Big 12 teams. Those numbers are even better under head coach Bruce Weber, where the Wildcats have tallied a 16-15 (.516) record vs. Top 25 teams. Among those 16 wins are 11 over Top 15 opponents, including No. 1 Oklahoma in 2016 and No. 14 Texas Tech and No. 13 Kansas last season.
- With K-State’s 77-63 loss to No. 23/23 Texas Tech on Tuesday, the Wildcats fell to 0-4 in Big 12 play for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The good news is that squad rallied from their 0-4 start to post 6 consecutive wins in league play and finish with a 9-7 record and a tie for fourth place. The current Wildcats have been close in all 4 contests, losing their first 2 games (Oklahoma and TCU) by a combined 8 points, and rallying from a 15-point first-half deficit against the Red Raiders to actually lead 46-45 with 13:24 to play before fading down the stretch. Junior Cartier Diarra (19) and senior Xavier Sneed (14) combined for more than half of the Wildcats’ 63 points, but freshman Montavious Murphy had his best game of the season with 11 points.
- The last time K-State and West Virginia met at Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats overcame their largest deficit in school history (21 points) when then senior Barry Brown, Jr., laid in the go-ahead bucket with 29 seconds remaining to cap a 50-point second half in a 71-69 defeat on the Mountaineers on Jan. 9, 2019. K-State trailed by as many as 21 points a little more than a minute into the second half in that matchup before spouting off a 17-0 run to bring the margin to 42-38 with 13:07 left in the game. A 4-point play by current Wildcat Xavier Sneed gave the Wildcats their first lead with 2:30 remaining before Brown’s layup in the final minute put the team up for good at 70-69. Current junior Mike McGuirl had 18 points off the bench on 7-of-12 field goals, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, while Sneed added 10.
- West Virginia has made an impressive turnaround this season under Hall of Fame head coach Bob Huggins, who is just 2 wins shy of tying legendary coach Adolph Rupp (876) on all-time wins list. The Mountaineers need just 1 win to tie their entire total from the 2018-19 (15) season with notable victories over Wichita State (75-63), Ohio State (67-59) and Texas Tech (81-49). The team is one of the top defensive teams in the country, ranking in the Top 10 in 4 defensive categories, including ninth in scoring defense (59.3 ppg.) and sixth in rebounding (42.0 rpg.).
NOTES ON 12/13 WEST VIRGINA
- No. 12/13 West Virginia (14-2, 3-1 Big 12) enters Saturday’s contest with wins in 7 of its last 8 games, including 3 in a row (Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and TCU) in Big 12 play after dropping the opener at Kansas, 60-53, on Jan. 4. The Mountaineers are coming off an impressive 81-49 win over the Horned Frogs, in which, they connected on 57.7 percent from the field, including 74.2 percent from inside the 3-point line.
- West Virginia is averaging 72.1 points on 43.4 percent shooting, including 30.3 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 42.0 rebounds, 13.0 assists, 7.7 steals and 4.3 blocks per game, while allowing 59.3 points on 35 percent shooting, including 23.8 percent from 3-point range. They rank second in field goal percentage defense and 3-point field goal percentage defense, while they are ninth in scoring defense and sixth in rebounding.
- The Mountaineers are led by one of the top front courts in the country in freshman Oscar Tshiebwe (11.8 ppg., 9.6 rpg.) and sophomore Derek Culver (10.8 ppg., 9.7 rpg.), who are both nearly averaging a double-double. Tshiebwe is connecting on nearly 59.8 percent from the field to go with a team-best 23 blocked shots, while Culver is hitting on 48 percent. Freshman Miles McBride is averaging 10.1 points on 42.3 percent shooting to go with a team-best 34 assists and 18 steals. Returnees Jermaine Haley and Emmitt Matthews, Jr., are averaging 9.2 and 7.4 points per game.
- West Virginia is led by Hall of Fame head coach Bob Huggins, who has posted an 874-364 (.706) record in 38 years of coaching. His 874 victories rank third among all active Division I head coaches and seventh all-time. He has a 284-153 (.650) mark in his 13th season with the Mountaineers, having led them to 9 NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 2010 Final Four.
- K-State and West Virginia will meet for the 18th time in their histories on Saturday with the Mountaineers owning a 10-7 advantage, including a 9-6 mark since the start of the Big 12. The two schools met twice before the start of Big 12 play in 2013, including the first meeting in 1949.
- West Virginia won 9 of the last 12 meetings with K-State, including 4 in a row, before the Wildcats swept both matchups with a 71-69 win at home on Jan. 9 and a 65-51 win in Morgantown on Feb. 18.
- K-State leads the all-time series in Manhattan at 4-3, which includes the come-from-behind win last season at Bramlage Coliseum, as the Wildcats rallied from a school-record 21-point deficit to post the 71-69 win on Jan. 9.
- Head coach Bruce Weber is 6-9 all-time against West Virginia, including a 4-3 mark at home, while Weber is 8-9 against head coach Bob Huggins.
- Senior Xavier Sneed has had the most success against West Virginia in his career, averaging 10.7 points on 46.2 percent shooting and 3.9 rebounds in 7 career games with 5 starts.
HISTORY AT BRAMLAGE COLISEUM
- K-State has posted a 384-121 (.760) all-time record at Bramlage Coliseum since its opening in the 1988-89 season. The 384 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 184-41 (.818) record at home over the past 14 seasons, including a 79-35 (.693) mark in Big 12 play. The 184 wins rank fourth among all Big 12 schools in that span, while the 79 league victories at home are only surpassed by Kansas and Texas.
- Head coach Bruce Weber has tallied a 99-25 (.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: 23/23 TEXAS TECH 77, K-STATE 63
- No. 23/23 Texas Tech broke open a 48-all tie with a 13-2 run midway through the second half, as the Red Raiders posted a 77-63 win over Kansas State on Tuesday night before 7,327 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
- The loss spoiled yet another valiant comeback effort by K-State, which rallied from a 15-point first half deficit to take a 46-45 lead with 13:24 to play behind a 9-0 run. Freshman Montavious Murphy played a pivotal role in the run, scoring 5 consecutive points before a layup by junior Cartier Diarra gave the Wildcats the lead.
- Texas Tech started its 13-2 run with 7 consecutive points, including 4 in a row from redshirt freshman Kevin McCullar, and was capped by a 3-pointer from sophomore Kyler Edwards with 10:22 left. After a basket by Diarra closed it to 55-50 with just under 10 to play, the Red Raiders rattled off 6 in a row to push it back into double figures at 61-50 with 7:13 to go.
- The Wildcats again rallied to within 62-56 after a layup by freshman DaJuan Gordon off a missed free throw by Diarra at the 4:51 mark, but they could get no closer, as the Red Raiders responded with 7 in a row to push it back to double digits at 69-56 with 3:31 remaining.
- Edwards led all players with 24 points on 9-of-14 field goals, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, while junior Davide Moretti chipped in 14 points on 3-of-6 field goals (all from 3) and a 5-of-6 effort from the free throw line. Freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey and McCullar each added 10 points.
- K-State was led by 19 points from Diarra, who connected on 7-of-11 from the field, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, while senior Xavier Sneed and Murphy added 14 and 11 points, respectively. It was Murphy’s first career double-digit scoring effort, who went 9-of-9 from the free throw line.
- Both teams connected on 47.2 percent of its field goals, but Texas Tech took advantage of 20 K-State turnovers to post 30 of its 73 points. The 30 points off turnovers tied for the most by an opponent under head coach Bruce Weber and the most since Kansas also had 30 points on Feb. 3, 2016.
- The teams were whistled for a combined 46 personal fouls and attempted 60 free throws. The Wildcats hit on 73.5 percent (25-of-34) of their attempts.
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 16 opponents to 61.8 points on 40.9 percent shooting (345-of-844), including 32.7 percent (105-of-321) from 3-point range, while posting a Big 12-best 8.6 steals and forcing 16.8 turnovers per game (third in the Big 12).
- K-State ranks among Top 40 in 3 defensive categories, including 41st in scoring defense, 34th in turnovers forced (16.8) and 37th in steals per game.
- K-State has held 25 of its last 50 opponents to 60 points or less with just five eclipsing 70 (with 4 occurring in the last 17 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 16.8 turnovers per game, including 8.6 steals per game, while averaging 17.6 points per game off those opponent turnovers.
- K-State has scored 20 or more points off opponent turnovers 8 times this season, including a season-high 26 against Alabama State on Dec. 11. 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), Texas (23) and most recently vs. 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 nearly 4,000 points (3,956) 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 its last 3 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 (32.5; 54-of-166) as in losses (32.1; 59-of-184), 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 48.1 percent (247-of-513) from inside the 3-point line.
- K-State is connecting on 45.5 percent (181-of-398) of its field goals in the 7 wins, including 54.7 percent (127-of-232) from inside the arc, while the team is hitting just 38.5 percent (179-of-465) of their field goals in the 9 losses, including 42.7 percent (120-of-281) 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 17.1 points on 48.8 percent (42-of-86) shooting, including 61 percent (25-of-41) from inside the arc, in the 7 wins, while he is averaging 12.6 points on just 31.3 percent (31-of-99) shooting in the 9 losses, including 34.7 percent (17-of-49) from inside the arc.
- Diarra is averaging 13.4 points on 41.5 percent (34-of-82) shooting, including 52.2 percent (24-of-46) from inside the arc, in the 7 wins, while he is averaging 11.9 points on 41.1 percent (37-of-90) shooting, including 50.0 percent (25-of-50) from inside the arc, in the 9 losses.
RECAPPING NON-CONFERENCE HISTORY
- K-State wrapped up non-conference play with a 69-67 win over Tulsa on Dec. 30. The win snapped a 2-game skid and helped the Wildcats finish with a winning record in non-conference play with 14th consecutive season. The team has one more non-conference game at Alabama on Jan. 25.
- 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 147-41 (.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 50-14 (.781) in non-conference play since the start of 2015-16 season.
SNEED GETTING HOT
- Senior Xavier Sneed has led the Wildcats in scoring in 8 of the last 15 games, averaging 14.9 points on 40.1 percent shooting (69-of-172), including 33.3 percent (30-of-90) 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 89 points in the last 6 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 1,241 points in 121 career games to go with 540 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 20 in both scoring and rebounding, as he ranks ninth in scoring (14.6 ppg.) and 18th in rebounding (5.0 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 eighth in steals (1.63), 10th in 3-point field goals made (1.94), 12th in minutes (31.6) and 13th in free throw percentage (71.8).
SNEED MOVING UP THE CHARTS
- Senior Xavier Sneed continues to move up several career charts, as he ranks among the Top 20 in scoring (18th), 3-point field goals made (fifth) and attempted (fourth), steals (fourth) and minutes (10th).
- Sneed currently ranks 18th all-time in scoring with 1,241 points in 121 career games, but needs just 10 points enter the school’s Top 15. He would become 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).
- Sneed already ranks among the very best among all 3-point shooters in school history, tying Rodney McGruder for fifth in career makes (188) and ranking fourth in career attempts (552). He needs just 12 more 3-pointers to become just the fifth Wildcat with 200 more more triples in a career, joining former teammate Kamau Stokes.
- Sneed also continues to move up the steals chart with his 163 ranking fourth in school history, while he just cracked the school’s Top 10 in minutes played with 3,320 minutes in 121 games played.
DIARRA PROVING TO BE A SOLID PG
- Junior Cartier Diarra is proving to be a solid point guard for the Wildcats, averaging 12.6 points on 41.3 percent (71-of-172) shooting with 5.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 31.3 minutes per game. He has led the team in scoring 7 times, including 5 times in the last 9 games, while has led the way in assists in 14 of 16 games to start the season.
- Diarra’s 88 assists are the most by a Wildcat in the first 16 games since assists began being kept in 1976-77, surpassing the previous 16-game high of 85 done by (current UTSA head coach) Steve Henson in 1988-89. He has at least 5 assists in 12 of 16 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 45 nationally in both assists (39th/5.5 apg.) and total assists (45th/88). He ranks third in assists and fifth in steals in the Big 12, while he is 10th in assist/turnover ratio (1.76) and 15th in scoring.
- Diarra was the only player to score in double figures in the first 2 games, including a career-best 23 points in the opener against North Dakota State on Nov. 5 and 12 in the overtime win at UNLV on Nov. 9.
- Diarra has scored in double figures in 8 times in the last 12 games, including team-highs vs. Marquette (14), Mississippi State (20), Tulsa (25), Texas (14) and No. 23/23 Texas Tech (19). During that span, he is averaging 12.6 points on 42.6 percent shooting to go with 5.1 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 30.8 minutes per game.
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.
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 8 starts by Murphy, 7 by Antonio Gordon and 1 by DaJuan Gordon. Murphy missed 7 games due to injury.
- DaJuan Gordon has played in all 16 games, averaging 22.9 minutes per game to lead all reserves. He has scored in double figures 3 times, including a 13-point effort against Alabama State on Dec. 12. He has connected on 45.5 percent (40-of-88) from the field and 33.3 percent (12-of-36) from 3.
- Antonio Gordon has seen action in 14 games, averaging 20.9 minutes per game. He is averaging 5.2 points on 37.1 percent shooting (26-of-70), including 23.5 percent (8-of-34) from 3-point range, to go with 4.4 rebounds.
- 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 each of the last 5 games and averaging 24.4 minutes per game.
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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