K-State, Vanderbilt Face Off in Wildcat Classic in Kansas City Saturday

March 09,2016: during the NCAA Big 12 Championships Basketball game between the Kansas State Wildcats and the Oklahoma State Cowboys at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Kendall Shaw/CSM

MANHATTAN, Kan. (K-State release) Kansas State (8-2) makes the familiar trek to Kansas City on Saturday night, as the Wildcats play host to SEC foe Vanderbilt (7-2) at 6 p.m., CT in the ninth Wildcat Classic at the Sprint Center. Despite its distance from the K-State campus, the contest will count as a home game, as the school controls the tickets and game operations.

This will be the ninth Wildcat Classic (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016), but the first since K-State earned a 70-56 victory over Washington State on Dec. 10, 2016. The Wildcats are 7-1 all-time in the Wildcat Classic at the Sprint Center, earning wins over Florida A&M (87-60) in 2007, Southern Miss (74-55) in 2008, IUPUI (70-57) in 2009, Alabama (71-58) in 2011, Florida (67-61) in 2012 and Texas A&M (71-64) in 2014. The lone loss came to UNLV, 63-59 on Dec. 21, 2010.
K-State has a long history in Kansas City, which dates back to a 45-26 loss to the Kansas City Athletic Club on Feb. 23, 1926. Overall, the school has played in 192 games in the city with a 111-81 (.578) mark in those contests. The Wildcats are 16-14 all-time in the Sprint Center, which includes the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, the CBE Hall of Fame Classic (2010, 2015) and the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Saturday’s game marks the return of a home-and-home series between the two schools after K-State earned an 84-79 win over Vanderbilt on Dec. 3, 2017 at Memorial Gym in Nashville. Xavier Sneed and Levi Stockard III connected on clutch free throws in the final minute to help the Wildcats to their first win in Nashville since 1977. Sneed and Kamau Stokes led the way with 21 and 20 points, respectively.

K-State leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt, 6-4, including a 4-0 mark in games played at home venues (1969, 1970, 1976, 1988). This will be the first meeting in Kansas City and the first location outside of Manhattan and Nashville since the Commodores posted a 82-76 win in the 1994 Postseason NIT in New York.

K-State had to rally from a 16-point second-half deficit to post a 55-51 win over a pesky Southern Miss team on Wednesday night at home to extend its winning streak in home non-conference games at Bramlage Coliseum to 28. The 16-point deficit overcome for victory tied for the third-largest in school history, including the largest since coming from 16 points down to defeat New Mexico on Nov. 23, 2005.

Stokes scored 16 of his season-high 18 points in the second half, as he ignited a 24-2 run with 13 consecutive points off his own, turning a 35-19 deficit into a 43-37 lead with 7:57 remaining. The Golden Eagles closed to within a possession on several occasions down the stretch, but a pair of Barry Brown, Jr., free throws with 11 seconds closed out the victory.

K-State held Southern Miss to just 51 points on 31.7 percent shooting (20-of-63), including 21.2 percent (7-of-33) from 3-point range, marking the seventh time in 10 games that the Wildcats have held an opponent to 60 points or less this season. The team ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense (57.8 ppg.), 13th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (27.0) and 37th in field goal percentage defense (39.1). K-State has now held 76 opponents to 60 points or less in the Bruce Weber era with the Wildcats boasting a 68-8 (.895) mark in those contests.