Frank Martin (Steve Puppe photo)
News, notes and quotes on the Sunflower Showdown between No. 6 KU and Kansas State at Allen Fieldhouse tonight at 6 with ESPN College GameDay in the Phog. The date also marks Kansas Day — the 150th anniversary of Kansas becoming the 34th state in the Union.
Dick Vitale, Dan Shulman and Erin Andrews will call the game for ESPN
as KU (19-1, 4-1 in Big 12) looks to start a new homecourt winning
K-State returns nine letterwinners and two starters off last season’s
team, which went 29-8 and 11-5 in the Big 12. KSU (14-7, 2-4 in Big 12)
has lost four of its last six games and is 0-3 on the road in Big 12
play. The Wildcats are coming off a 69-61 home victory over Baylor on
Senior guard Jacob Pullen leads the attack with a team-high 17.9 points
per game and also team-best 63 assists and 29 steals. He’s followed in
scoring by sophomore guard Rodney McGruder (11.2 ppg, team-high 6.7
rpg), senior forward Curtis Kelly (10.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), junior forward
Jamar Samuels (9.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg), and freshman guard Will Spradling
KSU is averaging 73.5 points per game and allows 64.6. The Wildcats are
shooting 43.8 percent from the field, 36.6 percent from three-point
range, and 60.6 percent at the free-throw line. They’re holding
opponents to 40.5 percent shooting and 35.1 percent from beyond the
arc, while outrebounding foes 40.3 to 31.5 boards per game.
SELF ON THE CATS
KU coach Bill Self is concerned about K-State’s offensive rebounding.
“They do a lot of things well, but the thing they probably do as well
as anything is the percentage of rebounds that they get back (on their
missed shots),” Self said. “I am sure they are leading the country in
that. I think it’s well over 40 percent, so we need to keep that around
25 percent if at all possible. Hopefully our first shot defense will be
Self said he’s a big fan of Pullen.
“He’s a lot like (former KU standout guard) Sherron (Collins),” Self
said. "I don’t know if Jacob will go down as the winningest player ever
at Kansas State, but you shouldn’t evaluate Jacob on his statistics.
You should evaluate him just like you did with Sherron, on wins. He’s
willed that program in many, many ways. He’s one of my favorite players
in the league.”
“A BIG GAME”
The Jayhawks are hyped about playing their Sunflower rival with ESPN
College GameDay in the Phog.
“It’s a big game,” senior guard Tyrel Reed said. “College GameDay is
going to be there and a lot of fanfare. It’s going to be a great
atmosphere to play in. K-State was picked to win the league to start
out so they’re definitely a capable team and a good team, so we’re
going to have to be focused and ready to play.”
“Even if they haven’t played up to everyone’s expectations this year so
far, that doesn’t mean anything,” senior guard Brady Morningstar added.
“They can still play with any team in the country.”
BACK TO PRACTICE
The Jayhawks practiced Thursday night and Friday after attending the
funeral of Thomas Robinson’s mother, Lisa, on Thursday morning in
“One thing that we have to do is get back to some normalcy,” Self said.
“(Thursday) night was a good start because I got after them pretty
good. I think they said, ‘OK, things are back to normal.’ We need to
have a routine that we follow. I think we are all creatures of habit,
especially athletes and athletic teams, and we haven’t had any routine.”
All the coaches and players felt grateful they were able to attend the
funeral and support Robinson.
“We just all wanted to be there for Thomas,” Reed said. “It was
definitely a tough thing to see and really heartfelt and saddening, but
it was the right thing for us to be there.”
KU leads the all-time series (dates back to 1907) with KSU 180-90,
including 81-35 in Lawrence (40-18 in Allen Fieldhouse). Self’s KU
teams have posted a 15-2 record over their Manhattan rival. Kansas has
won five straight and 10 of the last 11 meetings, while winning four
straight and 15 of the last 16 meetings in Allen Fieldhouse.
Clyde Lovellette holds KU’s record for most points against K-State in
Lawrence with 33 during the 1951-52 national championship season. The
Jayhawks’ highest point total versus the Wildcats in Lawrence was 103
during the 2001-02 Final Four season in their 103-68 victory.