KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSU release) OPENING TIP
No. 15/14 Kansas State (24-7, 14-4 Big 12) will open play as the No. 1 seed in the 23rd annual Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Thursday against the winner of the first-round game between No. 8 seed TCU (19-12, 7-11 Big 12) and No. 9 Oklahoma State (12-19, 5-13 Big 12) at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The Horned Frogs and Cowboys, which split their 2 regular-season meetings, will play Wednesday in the championship’s first game at 6 p.m., CT. The Wildcats swept both teams during the regular season. The game will tip at 1:30 p.m., CT on ESPN2 with Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Fran Fraschilla (analyst) and Holly Rowe (reporter).
K-State enters as the tournament’s No. 1 seed for the first time in the Big 12 era and the first time since being the top-seed in the inaugural Big Eight Championship in 1977. The Wildcats are 35-41 (.461) all-time in the Big Eight/12 Championship dating back to its inception in 1977, including a 14-22 (.389) mark in the Big 12 era. The school is 3-0 as a No. 1 seed in the Big Eight/12 Championship, while it is 1-2 vs. the No. 8 seed (TCU) and 2-1 vs. the No. 9 seed (Oklahoma State). The team is 1-1 all-time against the Horned Frogs (last appearance in 2018) at the Championship, while they are 4-4 against the Cowboys (last appearance in 2016).
K-State swept its 2 meetings with TCU and Oklahoma State this season and has played each squad in the last 5 games. The Wildcats held the Horned Frogs to their 2 season-lows for points, winning 65-55 on Jan. 19 at home before a 64-52 win in Fort Worth on March 4, while they averaged 80 points in 2 games against the Cowboys, first in a 75-57 win in Stillwater on Feb. 2 and lastly an 85-46 victory at home on Feb. 23. K-State has a 15-6 all-time record against TCU, including a 1-2 mark at neutral sites, and an 82-53 mark vs. Oklahoma State, including 15-4 at neutral sites.
Seniors Barry Brown, Jr., Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade all starred on Senior Day, as the trio all scored in double figures to help K-State clinch a share of the Big 12 regular season title with a 68-53 win over Oklahoma before a sold-out crowd at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats earned their 21st conference title, including its 19th regular-season crown, dating back to 1917. It was the second in the Big 12 era and the first since also sharing the Big 12 title with Kansas in 2013. The seniors combined to score 45 of the 68 points to go with 14 of the 15 assists in their final home game, as Stokes led the way in both points (19) and assists (6), while Brown chipped in 15 points, 4 assists and 3 steals and Wade added 11 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. It marked the 26th time (20-6 record) the trio has scored in double figures in the same game in their respective careers, including the eighth time (8-0) this season.
Defense continues to carry the Wildcats, as they are holding opponents to just 59.1 points (a Big 12-best 59.6 points in league games) on 41.3 percent shooting, including 31.4 percent from 3-point range. K-State has held 18 of 31 opponents (9 Big 12 foes) to 60 points or less with just two eclipsing 70. The team ranks among the Top 50 in several defensive categories, including fourth in scoring defense, 56th in field goal percentage defense, 36th in 3-point field goal percentage defense and 30th in turnover margin (+3.2). The Wildcats are averaging 17.3 points off 14.7 opponent turnovers this season, including 16.9 points on 13.9 opponent turnovers in Big 12 play.
AT BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
K-State is 35-41 all-time in the Big Eight/12 Championship dating back to its inception in 1977, including a 14-22 mark in the 22-year history of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The Wildcats have won two championships (1977, 1980), while they have advanced to the finals on five other occasions (1978, 1981, 1993, 2010 and 2013), including twice in the Big 12 era. Overall, K-State is 33-35 when the championship is held in Kansas City.
This will mark the second time that K-State has been the No. 1 seed at the championship and the first time since winning the inaugural Big Eight Tournament in 1977. The Wildcats are 3-0 as the top-seed, defeating No. 8 seed Iowa State (97-62), No. 4 Kansas (80-67) and No. 2 Missouri (72-67).
The Wildcats have now earned a bye to the quarterfinals in the Big 12 Championship 11 times (2007-14, 2017-19). Last season, as the tournament’s No. 4 seed, the team defeated No. 5 seed TCU, 66-64, in overtime before losing to top-seed Kansas, 83-67 in the semifinals.
K-State is 1-2 all-time (0-2 in the Big 12 era) vs. the No. 8 seed at the league championship with 3 appearances coming in 1977, 2004 and 2006. The team has lost the last two meetings (Iowa State in 2004 and Texas Tech in 2006) with the No. 8 seed. The last win against a No. 8 seed came in 1977 when the Wildcats defeated Iowa State, 97-62, in the first round.
K-State is 2-1 all-time (1-1 in the Big 12 era) vs. the No. 9 seed at the league championship with 3 appearances coming in 1998, 2015 and 2016. The team won its last meeting with the No. 9 seed, knocking off Oklahoma State, 75-71, in the first round of the 2016 Championship.
The Wildcats are 6-10 in the quarterfinals, including consecutive wins over Baylor (2017) and TCU (2018).
Head coach Bruce Weber is 5-6 in the Big 12 Championship, including 3-2 in the quarterfinals.