No. 13/13 Kansas State (23-5, 12-3 Big 12) begins the month of March on the road, as the Wildcats travel to Waco, Texas to face Baylor (17-11, 8-7 Big 12) at the Ferrell Center on Saturday at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 with Mark Neely (play-by-play) and Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight (analyst) on the call. The squad finishes the regular season with two of their last three games on the road, including a tilt at Oklahoma State on March 9. After its 75-55 win over Texas Tech on Monday, K-State remains in a tie for first place with No. 6/5 Kansas (24-4) with a 12-3 league record, just one game ahead of No. 15/18 OSU (21-6), which sits in third place with an 11-4 mark. All three teams have clinched a bye to the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship (March 13-16, Kansas City, Mo.). The win over the Red Raiders not only kept the Wildcats in the Big 12 title race, it gave Bruce Weber a tie for the most wins by a first-year head coach in school history (Bob Huggins, 2006-07) and helped the school post 12 league victories for the first time in the Big 12 era and the first time since the 1972-73 season. The victory, which gave the team a 7-1 mark in February (tied with OSU for best in the Big 12), also made the three-man senior class of Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder the winningest in school history with its 97th victory.
K-State owns an 8-0 record against Texas-based schools (Baylor, Lamar, TCU, Texas, Texas Southern, Texas Tech) in 2012-13 with at least two more tries in the regular season, including Saturday’s game at Baylor and Tuesday’s home finale vs. TCU. The Wildcats have won these eight games by an average of 16.6 points, including sweeps of Texas and Texas Tech. In its six Big 12 games,
K-State has won games by 13, 26, 9, 20, 12 and 20 points over Texas schools, including an 81-61 win over Baylor on Feb. 16.
K-STATE IN THE POLLS
K-State remained at No. 13 in both The Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll on Monday. It marked the 10th straight week that the Wildcats have been ranked in the AP poll and eighth consecutive week the team has been ranked in both polls. The No. 10 ranking on Feb. 11 was the highest in the AP poll since placing No. 6 on Dec. 13, 2010. The program has now been ranked in the AP poll at least one week in each of the last four seasons. K-State is 252-94 (.728) all-time as a ranked team.
Baylor (17-11, 8-7 Big 12) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 65-62 win at West Virginia on Wednesday night to sweep the season series from the Mountaineers. The Bears are averaging 74.9 points on 45.3 percent shooting, including 34.3 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to 65.6 points on 40.7 percent shooting, including 30.6 percent from beyond the arc. The squad ranks among the leaders in several statistical categories, including second in scoring offense, 3-point field goals made (7.0) and 3-point field goal percentage defense and third in field goal percentage, rebounding (38.2) and assists (15.3). Big 12 Player of the Year candidate Pierre Jackson paces three players in double figures with a league-best 19.1 points per game with a team-best 66 3-pointers, while dishing out a league-high 6.4 assists per game. Freshman of the Year candidate Isaiah Austin (13.7 ppg. and 8.8 rpg.) and junior Cory Jefferson (11.8 ppg. and 8.3 rpg.) average near double-doubles. Head coach Scott Drew has a 194-146 record in his 11th season as a head coach, including a 174-135 mark in 10 seasons at Baylor.
LAST MEETING: 10/11 KANSAS STATE 81, BAYLOR 61 [FEB. 16, 2013]
Four Wildcats scored in double figures, as No. 10/11 K-State eclipsed the 20-win barrier for the seventh consecutive season with an 81-61 win over Baylor in the teams’ last meeting on Feb. 16 at Bramlage Coliseum. Angel Rodriguez tallied his first career double-double with career-bests in both points (22) and assists (10), while Jordan Henriquez tallied his first double-double of the year with 10 points and game-high 10 rebounds and Shane Southwell tied his career-high with 19 points on 6 3-pointers.
This will be 28th meeting between K-State and Baylor with the Wildcats holding a 15-12 lead in a series that dates back to the 1948 NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats won five of the first six meetings, but the Bears hold a slight 11-10 edge in the series since the start of Big 12 play with the teams splitting the last 18 meetings since 2000. Baylor is 5-4 at home, but K-State has won back-to-back games (2010 and 2012) at the Ferrell Center for the first time. Each of the last seven games in Waco have been decided by a combined 17 points, including three Bear wins by three points or less and three Wildcat victory by two points or less.
QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE
–Kansas State’s 23 wins tie five other teams for the sixth-most in a single-season in school history, only five other teams have 24 or more wins. The 23-5 start ties the 1972-73 squad for the third-best start in school history after 28 games and the best since the 2009-10 team went 24-4 (which ties 1950-51 for best start). It is the 26th 20-win season in school history, including a school-record seventh consecutive 20-win season. The 12 wins in Big 12 play are the most since the league’s inception and just the seventh time in school history (1958-59, 1960-61, 1961-62, 1963-64, 1971-72 and 1972-73) that a team has posted at least 12 league wins and the first time in 40 years. The Wildcats now have 10+ wins in conference play six times in the last seven seasons. Four of the five losses are to current Top 10 teams in No. 2/2 Gonzaga, No. 4/4 Michigan and No. 6/5 Kansas (twice), while the squad faced three Top 15 teams in non-conference play for the first time. The team won double-digit non-conference games for the seventh straight season, including its first regular-season Top 10 non-conference win (No. 8 Florida) since 1981.
–Bruce Weber’s 23-5 record is the second-best start by a first-year K-State head coach in its 109-year history with only Zora Clevenger (15-2, 1916-17) posting a mark. Weber’s 23 wins tie Bob Huggins (2006-07) for the most by a first-year coach, while he is just the fourth to win 20 games in his first year, joining Huggins, Frank Martin (21, 2007-08) and Lon Kruger (20, 1986-87). His eight-game winning streak (Dec. 18, 2012-Jan. 19, 2013) was the second-longest by a first-year head coach and the longest since Clevenger’s 1916-17 squad ended the year with 13 straight wins. His 12 Big 12 wins are also the most by first-year head coach.