Kansas State Wildcats
Big 12 Conference (26-7, 11-5)
Big Wins: 12/8 Xavier (71-56), 1/12 Texas A&M (88-65), 3/12 vs Baylor (82-75)
Bad Losses: 11/20 vs Mississippi (74-86), 1/9 at Missouri (68-74), 3/6 Iowa State (82-85)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, Second Round loss to Wisconsin
Coach: Frank Martin (1-1 in 1 NCAA appearance)
Why They Can Surprise:
Kansas State has two great scorers in Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente. Last season it was Clemente who took over the team, but this time around it is Pullen who is leading the team in the scoring department. Part of the reason for Pullen’s success is because Clemente’s scoring ability is no longer a secret in Big 12 country. However, Pullen has also become a much, much more consistent shooter as an upperclassman. Pullen knocks down 38.4 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, but he is equally adept at attacking the basket and will get to the free-throw line more than anybody else on the team.
Clemente is also a multi-dimensional scorer who is a capable outside shooter and has the size and experience to finish around the basket. Those two also combine for 7.7 assists per game and stopping both of them on any given night is nearly impossible.
Why They Can Disappoint:
While Clemente and Pullen are capable ballhandlers, the rest of the team commits way too many turnovers. It is understandable on a team that likes to run, but 15.0 turnovers per game is too many for any team that hopes to make a deep tournament run. The other issue for the Wildcats is up front. Coach Frank Martin certainly has options, but Jamar Samuels and Luis Colon seem to be in foul trouble before they even step foot on the floor. Samuels, a 6-7 sophomore, is a good scorer, but he lacks the size to play the five spot. Coach Martin has tried out freshman Wally Judge in the starting lineup as well, but he has been inconsistent. Colon is the least effective scorer of the bunch, but he is the best rebounder and a defensive menace as long as he can stay out of foul trouble.
Who To Watch:
The other two mainstays in the starting five besides Pullen and Clemente are forwards Curtis Kelly and Dominique Sutton. Kelly, a transfer from Connecticut, is a great slasher and the team’s best rebounder. His consistency has been a problem, but he, unlike the rest of the forwards on the team, can stay out of foul trouble. If Kelly is having a good day, he adds a much needed interior scoring threat to the offense and, assuming either Pullen or Clemente are knocking down their long range shots, KSU is difficult to defend. Sutton is not a bad scorer, but he is mostly a solid rebounder on the wing who will always play good defense and be a leader on the floor.
Denis Clemente, Senior, Guard, 16.2 ppg, 4.2 apg
Jacob Pullen, Junior, Guard, 18.9 ppg, 3.5 apg, 1.6 spg
Dominique Sutton, Junior, Forward, 7.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg
Curtis Kelly, Junior, Forward, 11.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.8 bpg
Luis Colon, Senior, Center, 2.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg
Wally Judge, Freshman, Forward, 3.1 pg, 2.7 rpg
Rodney McGruder, Freshman, Guard, 4.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Jamar Samuels, Sophomore, Forward, 11.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.9 (13th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.3 (196, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.3 (82, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.8 (104, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.6 (125, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.1 (123, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.5 (247, 8)
Rebound Margin: 5.2 (29, 4)
Assists Per Game: 14.7 (59, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 15.0 (263, 12)
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