Lamar (0-0) at Kansas State (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 12, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528) -- Manhattan, Kansas. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: Lamar 0-0, KSU 1-0. Away Record: Lamar 0-0, KSU 0-0. Neutral Record: Lamar 0-0, KSU 0-0. Conference Record: Lamar 0-0, KSU 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: A total of 16 schools are involved in the 2012 NIT Season Tip-Off, with two of those programs being the Lamar Cardinals and the Kansas State Wildcats who are set to tip off in Manhattan on Monday night.
Not only are the Cardinals involved in this event for the first time since 1985, when they fell to Duke (66-62) at The Summit in Houston, this game also marks the program's first of the 2012-13 campaign. Under the direction of head coach Pat Knight, who was in his first season with the squad, Lamar posted a record of 23-12 and 11-5 in Southland Conference action.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats now have Bruce Weber as their new head coach, formerly of Illinois where he led the Fighting Illini to the NCAA Tournament title game in 2004-05 versus North Carolina. Last season, Kansas State logged a record of 22-11 but was just 10-8 versus the rest of the Big 12 Conference.
Kansas State already has one game under its belt this season, an 85-52 blowout victory over North Dakota at home on Friday night.
The series between the teams is tied at one game apiece with the Wildcats posting an 81-64 in the first meeting back in 1990 and Lamar returning the favor a season later with an overwhelming 116-75 triumph in Beaumont, Texas.
Both teams will be back in action on Tuesday in the next round of the tournament, squaring off against Alabama-Huntsville and North Texas depending on the outcomes.
Picked to finish fifth in the Southland Conference by the league's coaches, Lamar is already staring at a long road to kick off the new campaign. The team is slated to play 11 straight road dates before even getting back to the Montagne Center three days before the new year when they entertain LIU- Brooklyn, and then it is back on the road for another two games before settling in for a three-game homestand. Being away from home for so long is one thing, but the Cardinals are also going to be hurting as they learn to play with each other. In addition to a host of new faces on the roster, there is very little scoring that returns from last season. Senior forward Stan Brown is the top returning scorer with a mere 4.9 ppg to his credit, while fellow starter Donley Minor was credited with 2.4 ppg last season. It is particularly distressing given that this program averaged 73.5 ppg a year ago and was one of the top scoring teams in the nation just a few years back.
Leading by as many as 35 points against North Dakota in the opener, coach Weber and the Wildcats saw an opportunity to empty the bench for the most part and get some players some time on the floor that might not otherwise be available to them later in the season. A total of 11 players saw at least 10 minutes of action and 11 players also made their way into the scoring column, which is why Angel Rodriguez and Thomas Gipson were the top scorers with just 13 points apiece. Martavious Irving knocked down 3-of-8 shots behind the three-point line to finish with 11 points in just 17 minutes. By holding the visitors to a mere 30.2 percent shooting from the floor, including 2-of-18 behind the three-point line, K-State created plenty of rebound opportunities and the Wildcats seized those chances as they built a 48-35 edge on the glass. Defensively, the hosts also forced 19 turnovers and allowed a mere seven assists. Although he scored just six points on 3-of-12 shooting from the floor, Rodney McGruder is still a player to watch for KSU since he is the top returning scorer (15.8 ppg).
With so much uncertainty on the roster this season, the Cardinals cannot expect to be able to keep up with a program like Kansas State, or many other schools for that matter.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas State 83, Lamar 65
11/12 10:36:06 ET