Wildcats to face Purdue at Maui Invitational

Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber directs his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against TCU in Manhattan, Kan., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)


COURTESY: K-State Sports Information

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber will face a familiar foe to open the EA Sports Maui Invitational, as the Wildcats will face Purdue on Monday, Nov. 24 at 1:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

The high-profile match-up of teams from the Big 12 and Big Ten was one of four first-round games announced by tournament organizers on Wednesday morning in a stellar field which also includes Arizona, BYU, Chaminade, Pittsburgh and San Diego State. Other first-round contests include Arizona and Missouri at 4 p.m. CT on ESPN2, Pittsburgh and Chaminade at 8 p.m. CT on ESPNU and BYU and San Diego State at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

All games will be played from Nov. 24-26 at the Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawai’i. A complete bracket for the tournament can be found on Maui Invitational homepage at www.mauiinvitational.com.

“The Maui Invitational is the premier preseason basketball tournament in the country,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “This year’s field – if not the best – is one of the best of all the preseason tournaments with teams like Arizona, BYU, Chaminade, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Purdue and San Diego State. It has a great atmosphere and an NCAA Tournament-type feel to all the games. You get to see where your team is and where it needs to go to be one of the best.”

The Wildcats will face either Missouri or Arizona on Tuesday, Nov. 25 with the winners of the first-round match-ups squaring off at 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN, while the losers will meet at 1 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

Weber has a long association with both Purdue and its 10th-year head coach Matt Painter. Weber spent 18 years as an assistant coach to 1958 K-State alumnus Gene Keady from 1980-98, where he helped mold the Boilermakers into one of the top programs in the country. During his stint, Purdue advanced to postseason play 17 times, including 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament and three appearances in the NIT. The squad averaged nearly 22 wins with Keady and Weber at the controls, including six Big Ten titles and a 394-168 (.701) record.

Weber recruited Painter to Purdue as an assistant coach, where the 10th-year head coach starred for the Boilermakers from 1989-93. After Weber became head coach at Southern Illinois, Painter joined his coaching staff in 1999 and followed him as head coach of the Salukis four years later when he left for Illinois in 2003. Painter returned to Purdue in 2004 as associate head coach and became the eventual successor to Keady in 2005.

“Purdue is a place I have spent the longest time in my career (18 years as an assistant coach) and I recruited and coached (head coach) Matt (Painter), so this game will bring back a lot of special memories for me,” said Weber. “Aside from that, Matt’s teams play as hard as any team in the country, so this will be strong first-round test for our team.”

This will mark the 15th meeting between Weber and Painter after their duels at Illinois and Purdue from 2003-12.

K-State and Purdue have met just eight times previously on the hardwood, including a memorable last meeting to open Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 26, 1988. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 6-2, including a 73-70 win over the top-seeded Boilermakers in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinals in Detroit on March 25, 1988 and an 81-77 victory in that first game at Bramlage Coliseum. This will mark the third meeting on a neutral court.

“K-State and Purdue haven’t played very often, but the last two have been very memorable,” said Weber. “The Sweet 16 match-up in the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit that featured Mitch Richmond and the first game in Bramlage Coliseum were both close games. Obviously, they aren’t great memories for me as I was an assistant coach at Purdue for both (losses), but they involved two historically, strong basketball programs.”

K-State is coming off its school-record fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance that saw the Wildcats post a 20-13 overall record and finish fifth in the Big 12 with 10-8 mark. Purdue is looking to rebound from a 15-17 mark in 2013-14, which saw the Boilermakers drop 11 games by single digits, including each of its last five.

The Wildcats are set to return nine lettermen, including five players with starting experience, in 2014-15 to go along with Division I transfers Justin Edwards and Brandon Bolden. The group is headlined by All-Big 12 Second Team selection Marcus Foster (15.5 ppg., 3.2 rpg.) and honorable mention pick Thomas Gipson (11.7 ppg., 6.5 rpg.). Overall, the team returns more than 70 percent of its scoring and 65 percent of its rebounding.

The Boilermakers are set to return eight lettermen, including four players who started at least 15 games in 2013-14. Junior center A.J. Hammons led the squad in rebounding (7.4 rpg.) and blocked shots (3.1 bpg.) to go with a 10.8 points per game average on 51.3 percent shooting, while sophomore guard Kendall Stephens averaged 8.0 points per outing with a team-best 64 3-point field goals.

A possible quarterfinal match-up with Missouri would ignite a long rivalry, which dates all the way back to 1907. The two schools have played 235 times, including at least twice a year as Big 6/7/8/12 Conference foes from 1928 to 2012. The 235 meetings are the second-most against one opponent in school history, trailing only the 279 against in-state rival Kansas. K-State leads the series, 119-116, including a 15-8 mark in neutral site contests.

Under first-year head coach Kim Anderson, Missouri is set to return five lettermen, including starters Johnathan Williams (5.8 ppg., 6.5 rpg.) and Ryan Rosburg (4.8 ppg., 4.1 rpg.), from a squad which posted a 23-12 record and advanced to the postseason for the sixth straight season in the NIT.

A match-up with Arizona in the quarterfinals would be the 14th meeting between the schools since 1951 and the first since 1999. K-State owns an 8-5 edge in the series, but Arizona has won each of the last two games. It would be the first neutral site meeting since the 1951 NCAA West Regional at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.

Led by fifth-year head coach and reigning Pac-12 Coach of the Year Sean Miller, the Wildcats return 10 lettermen, including five players with starting experience, from a squad which captured the Pac-12 regular season title and their 10th trip to the Elite Eight with a 33-5 overall record. Junior forward Brandon Ashley is the team’s top returning scorer at 11.5 points per game on 52.2 percent shooting, while junior Kaleb Tarczewski and sophomore Rondae Hollis-Jefferson averaged 9.9 and 9.1 points per game, respectively. Senior T.J. McConnell dished out a team-best 202 assists.

This will mark the Wildcats’ third trip to the Maui Invitational and the fifth overall in-season trip to Hawaii, which includes participation in the 1985 and 1998 Maui Invitationals, a 1993 trip to the University of Hawaii and the 2011 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. The team is 6-3 all-time on the island, including a 2-3 mark in the Maui Invitational. The Wildcats won the 2011 Diamond Head Classic in their last visit to the island.

As announced earlier, K-State will face UMKC at Bramlage Coliseum on Monday, Nov. 17 as part of the opening round games of the tournament, which also includes the six other mainland teams playing non-conference games with Arkansas-Little Rock, Cal State Northridge and Samford.

Season tickets for the 2014-15 season are currently on sale in the K-State Athletics Ticket Office with a variety of packages available for the 17-game home schedule. Fans can purchase these tickets toll free at (800) 221.CATS (2287), online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets and in-person at Bramlage Coliseum.

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