Utah State vs. Kansas State Game Preview

No. 12 Utah St. (30-3) vs. No. 5 Kansas St. (22-10)
Thursday, March 17, 2011 • 7:57 p.m. (MT)
Tucson, Ariz. McKale Center (14,545)
Aggie Radio Network • TruTV

Kansas State is 22-10 on the season and finished in a tie for third-place in the Big 12 Conference with a 10-6 league record. KSU had won six straight games before losing to Colorado, 87-75, in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big 12 Tournament. The Wildcats are 5-5 on the road and 1-3 on neutral courts this year and are led by senior guard Jacob Pullen who is averaging 19.5 points and 3.7 assists, while shooting 41.6 percent from the field, 37.0 percent from three-point range and 77.5 percent at the free throw line. Sophomore guard Rodney McGruder is averaging 11.4 points and 6.0 rebounds, and senior forward Curtis Kelly is averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. As a team, Kansas State is averaging 73.1 points and shooting 43.8 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three-point range and 64.7 percent at the free throw line. Defensively, KSU is allowing 66.0 points and its opponents are shooting 42.0 percent overall, including 34.8 percent from three-point range and 70.4 percent at the free throw line. Kansas State returns two starters and nine letterwinners from last year's team that went 29-8, finished in a tie for second-place in the Big 12 Conference with an 11-5 record and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament as it defeated No. 15 seed North Texas (82-62), No. 7 seed BYU (84-72) and No. 6 seed Xavier (101-96 2 OTs) before losing in the West Regional Final to eventual national runner-up Butler, 63-56. Frank Martin is in his fourth season as the Wildcats head coach and has a 94-42 (.691) record.

Utah State and Kansas State will be meeting for the fifth time in series history this week with the Wildcats holding a 4-0 advantage. The first game played in the series was on Jan. 3, 1950 season with KSU winning at home, 70-45. The Wildcats also posted a home win on Dec. 9, 1950, 66-56. KSU's only visit to Logan was on Dec. 31, 1987 with the Wildcats winning, 81-69. The last time the two teams met was on Nov. 30, 1988 in Manhattan with Kansas State winning, 86-67.

Utah State is 8-13 (.381) all-time against teams from the state of Kansas as it is 6-4 versus Wichita State, 2-5 versus Kansas and 0-4 against Kansas State.

Utah State is 12-58 (.171) all-time against ranked opponents, which includes a 6-15 (.286) record under head coach Stew Morrill. The last time USU played a ranked opponent was on Feb. 19, 2001 when it won at No. 23 Saint Mary's, 75-65. USU is 1-2 against ranked teams this year as it lost at then No. 14 Georgetown, 68-51 and lost at then No. 23 Brigham Young, 78-72. This is the first time in school history USU has played four ranked teams in one season according to available records.

Utah State is 16-36 (.308) versus current members of the Big 12 Conference as it is 1-0 versus Baylor, 5-18 versus Colorado, 2-2 versus Iowa State, 2-5 versus Kansas, 0-4 versus Kansas State, 1-1 versus Missouri, 0-2 versus Nebraska, 0-1 versus Oklahoma, 2-0 versus Texas, 2-1 versus Texas Tech and 1-2 versus Texas A&M. The last time USU played a team from the Big 12 Conference was on March 19, 2010 when it lost to fifth-seeded Texas A&M, 69-53, in the first round of the South Region in Spokane, Wash. The last time USU beat a team from the Big 12 was on Dec. 12, 1987 when it won at Texas, 80-75, in the Longhorn Invitational. USU is also 1-3 versus current members of the Big 12 in the NCAA Tournament as it lost to Oklahoma (50-39) and defeated Texas (51-49) in 1939, lost to Kansas (64-61) in 2003 and lost to Texas A&M (69-53) in 2010.

Utah State's second-round matchup with Kansas State is the only game with two top 25 teams playing one another as USU is ranked No. 17 in this week's ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll and No. 19 in this week's Associated Press Poll, while Kansas State is ranked No. 24 in the coaches' poll and No. 21 in the AP poll.

Utah State is 6-5 all-time in games played in the state of Arizona. The last time USU played a game in the Grand Canyon State was on Nov. 30, 1999 when it lost at Northern Arizona, 64-52. The last time Utah State won a game in the state of Arizona was on Feb. 11, 1967 when it won at Arizona State, 90-59.

Since the NCAA Tournament went to a 64-team format in 1985, 12th seeds in the tournament have an overall record of 54-104 (.342), which includes a 35-69 (.337) record in the first round. Since 1985, at least one 12th-seed has defeated a fifth-seed in the NCAA Tournament every year except 1988, 2000 and 2007. Last season, the No. 12 seed went 1-3 vs. the No. 5 seed, finishing 2-4 overall in the tournament. Last season, 12th-seeded Cornell defeated fifth-seeded Temple in the first round and No. 4 seed Wisconsin in the second round, before falling to No. 1 seed Kentucky in the Regional Semifinal.

Utah State is a 12th-seed in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time since seedings began in 1980 and is 1-5 all-time as the 12th-seed. In fact, the last time USU won a game in the NCAA Tournament was in 2001 when it was a 12th-seed and defeated fifth-seeded Ohio State, 77-68, in overtime in the East Region in Greensboro, N.C. Overall, this is the third No. 12 seed for Utah State in its last four NCAA Tournament appearances and second in a row, as last year, 12th-seeded Utah State lost to fifth-seeded Texas A&M, 69-53, in the first round at Spokane, Wash.