MANHATTAN, Kan. OPENING TIP
Kansas State (7-2) continues its homestand on Wednesday night, as the Wildcats host Conference USA foe Southern Miss (7-3) at 7 p.m., CT. The contest is the second of four straight games at home venues to end non-conference play, which includes Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt (7-2) at the Sprint Center in Kansas City and a Dec. 29 matchup with George Mason (5-6) at Bramlage Coliseum.
Led by former Nebraska coach Doc Sadler, Southern Miss enters Wednesday’s game with a 7-3 record, which includes road wins at SMU (74-64) and Troy (81-66) and a home victory over South Alabama (71-67). The Golden Eagles saw their 3-game winning streak end in Saturday’s 63-60 loss at Wichita State. Sadler has slowly rebuilt a Southern Miss program that was rocked by NCAA scandal, going from 3 wins in his first season in 2014-15 to 16 last season. The team is led by the duo of seniors Cortez Edwards (14.2 ppg.) and Oklahoma State transfer Tyree Griffin (13.6 ppg.).
K-State holds a narrow 4-3 lead in the all-time series with Southern Miss, including a current 3-game winning streak (1993, 2008, 2012). However, the Golden Eagles have won both meetings in Manhattan, including 71-69 at Ahearn Field House on Dec. 17, 1987 and 74-60 at Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 27, 1993. This will be the first meeting between the schools since the 2012 NCAA East Regional in Pittsburgh.
K-State has won 27 consecutive games against non-conference opponents at Bramlage Coliseum since the 2015-16 season. Overall, the school has a 102-6 (.944) record at home venues (includes home games played at Bramlage Coliseum, INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita and the Sprint Center in Kansas City), including a 94-5 mark at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats have won 89 of their last 93 non-conference home games, which includes the current 27-game winning streak.
K-State snapped a 2-game losing streak on Saturday, as the Wildcats used a 21-6 run in the last nine minutes to post a 71-59 victory over Sun Belt favorite Georgia State at Bramlage Coliseum. Down 53-50 with just under 10 minutes to play, the team erupted for 12 consecutive points, including 8 from senior Barry Brown, Jr., to start the 21-6 run that turned a 3-point deficit into a 14-point lead (71-57) with 1:22 remaining. Brown led four Wildcats in double figures with his 17th career 20-point game with a game-high 21 points, while senior Kamau Stokes (15), junior Xavier Sneed (14) and senior Dean Wade (12) also registered double digits.
The K-State offense got back on track against Georgia State, as the Wildcats tied a season-high with 12 made 3-point field goals, connecting on 47.2 percent (25-of-53) from the field, including 46.2 percent (12-of-26) from 3-point range. Five players had at least 3 assists, as the team recorded an assist on 23 of its 25 made field goals. The performance came on the heels of averaging just 58.5 points on 36 percent shooting in the back-to-back loss at Marquette and Tulsa.
Saturday’s win was tempered by injuries to Stokes and Wade, who both left the game in the second half due to injuries. Wade is expected to be out for an undetermined period of time, while Stokes is considered day-to-day.
NOTES ON SOUTHERN MISS
Southern Miss (7-3) enters Wednesday’s game with wins in 3 of its last 4 contests, including home victories over South Alabama (71-67), Rust (106-46) and Millsaps (81-47), before Saturday’s road loss at Wichita State (63-60). The Golden Eagles have road wins over SMU (74-64) and Troy (81-66).
Southern Miss was picked seventh (out of the 14-team league) in the Conference USA Coaches preseason poll with Western Kentucky tabbed as the favorite with nine first-place votes.
The Golden Eagles return seven lettermen, including three starters (Cortez Edwards, Tyree Griffin and Dominic Magee) from a squad that posted a 16-18 record and finished tied for ninth in C-USA with a 7-11 mark.
USM is averaging 77.2 points on 46.9 percent shooting, including 36.3 percent from 3-point range, to go with 39.3 rebounds, 18.2 assists, 8.5 steals and 4.3 blocks per game, while allowing 62.4 points on 38.6 percent shooting, including 31.7 percent from 3-point range. The team is connecting on 60.9 percent from the free throw line.
Edwards paces three players averaging in double figures at 14.2 points per game on 45.5 percent shooting to go with 6.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game, while Griffin, a Oklahoma State transfer, is averaging 13.6 points on 43.1 percent shooting, including 35.8 percent from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 6.8 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. Magee also averages double figures at 10.3 points per game on 50.7 percent shooting, including 45.9 percent from 3-point range, to go with 3.7 rebounds. Two others (LaDavius Draine and Leonard Harper-Baker) are averaging better than 8 points per game for the Golden Eagles, while Harper-Baker grabs 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per outing.
USM is led by veteran head coach Doc Sadler, who has posted a 43-84 record in his fifth season at the helm of the Golden Eagles. He has rebuilt a program rocked by NCAA scandal under former coach Donnie Tindall to move from 3 wins in his first season in 2014-15 to 8 in year two to 9 in year three to 16 last season. Overall, Sadler is 192-191 in his 13th season as head coach, which includes stints at UTEP (2004-06) and Nebraska (2006-12).
K-State and Southern Miss will meet for the eighth time in their histories on Wednesday with the Wildcats holding a narrow 4-3 edge. The series dates back nearly 30 years to a meeting at Ahearn Field House on Dec. 17, 1987, in which, the Golden Eagles posted a 71-69 victory.
K-State has won the last 3 meetings between the schools (1993, 2008 and 2012). The Wildcats earned a 74-55 win over the Golden Eagles at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on Dec. 11, 2008 before earning a 70-64 victory in the 2012 NCAA East Regional at CONSOL Energy Arena in Pittsburgh.
Southern Miss is 2-0 all-time in meetings in Manhattan, posting a 71-69 in the first matchup on Dec. 17, 1987 at Ahearn Field House and a 74-60 win on Nov. 27, 1993 at Bramlage Coliseum. The 1993 victory is one of just four losses in a home season opener in the arena’s 30-year history.
K-State is 25-8 all-time against schools from Conference USA, including a 16-2 mark at home. The other matchups have come against Charlotte (0-1), Louisiana Tech (1-0), Marshall (3-1), North Texas (6-1), Old Dominion (1-1), Southern Miss (4-3), UTEP (3-1), UTSA (4-0) and Western Kentucky (3-0).
The last meeting with a Conference USA opponent came on Nov. 21, 2013 at the Puerto Rico Tipoff, in which, Charlotte earned a 68-61 victory.
LAST TIME OUT: K-STATE 71, GEORGIA STATE 59
· No. 25/24 Kansas State outscored Georgia State, 21-6, in the last nine minutes to post a 71-59 victory and snap a 2-game losing streak on Saturday night in front of 9,563 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
· With the win, K-State has now 27 consecutive non-conference games at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats have won seven in a row at home dating back to last season, including all four to start the season.
· Down 53-50 to the preseason Sun Belt Conference favorite Panthers with just under 10 minutes to play, the Wildcats erupted for 12 consecutive points, including 8 from senior Barry Brown, Jr., to start a 21-6 run that turned a 3-point deficit into a 14-point lead (71-57) with 1:22 remaining. Brown and junior Xavier Sneed combined for 18 of the team’s final 21 points.
· Brown finished the day with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range. He led four Wildcats in double figures, along with senior Kamau Stokes (15), Sneed (14) and senior Dean Wade (12). Five different players had at least 3 assists, as K-State totaled a season-high 23 assists on 25 made field goals.
· The Wildcats played most of the second half without Wade and Stokes, who both left the game in the second half with injuries. Wade, who finished with a near double-double of 12 points and a game-high 9 rebounds to go with 3 assists and 2 steals, played just 6 minutes in the second half, while Stokes played 10 minutes after halftime and posted 15 points on 5-of-9 field goals, including 4 made 3s, to go with 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals.
· K-State held a potent Georgia State offense to 59 points on 43.1 percent shooting, including 25.8 percent from 3-point range. The Panthers entered the game averaging 75.4 points on 45.4 percent shooting, including 37.6 percent from long range. Brown held D’Marcus Simonds, who entered averaging 22.0 points a game, to just 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
· K-State has now held 75 opponents to 60 points or less under head coach Bruce Weber with the Wildcats boasting a 67-8 (.893) mark in those games including 6 of 9 opponents this season. The team is now 111-29 (.793) under Weber when holding opponents to 69 points or less.
K-STATE FALLS OUT OF THE POLLS
Despite its 71-59 win over Georgia State, K-State dropped out of both polls on Monday, collecting 90 points in The Associated Press poll and 45 in the USA Today Coaches poll to be among those receiving votes.
K-State fell nine spots to a tie for No. 25 in the AP poll and nine spots in the Coaches poll to No. 24 on Dec. 10 after its 47-46 loss at Tulsa. The team had moved into the Coaches Top 10 for the first time since 2010 on Nov. 26.
It marked the first time since the 2010-11 season that K-State has been ranked in the first six weeks of the AP poll and the eighth time overall in school history (1951-52, 1952-53, 1957-58, 1958-59, 1961-62, 1972-73 and 2010-11).
K-State now has a 264-104 record as an AP ranked team, which includes a 7-2 mark in 2018-19.
K-State opened the 2018-19 season in the Top 15 in both major polls, as the Wildcats earned a No. 11 ranking in the preseason USA Today Coaches poll to go with a No. 12 ranking in the preseason Associated Press poll.
It marks the first time that K-State has started with preseason rankings in both polls since the 2010-11 campaign when the school opened at No. 3 in the AP and USA Today Coaches polls.