#10 Kansas State Wildcats (13-1) AT Missouri Tigers (12-3)
Mizzou Arena — Columbia, Mo.
Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010 — 1:05 PM CST
Big 12 play is here at last! A brief preview follows after the jump.
From the K-State Sports Information Department:
Kansas State (13-1) opens its 14th season of Big 12 Conference action today, when the Wildcats travel to Columbia, Mo., to face the Missouri Tigers (12-3) at Mizzou Arena, at 1 p.m. CT.
The game not only will match two of the league's top offensive teams (both average 83.5 ppg), but also squads with impressive winning streaks.
The Wildcats, who are off to their best start since 1958-59, are in the midst of their longest winning streak (10) under third-year head coach Frank Martin and their longest streak since winning 10 in a row during the 1993-94 season.
The Tigers rebounded from a road loss at Oral Roberts on Dec. 9 to win seven straight, while they hold one of the nation's longest home-court winning streaks — 29 games — at Mizzou Arena.
K-State is 49-47 (.510) all-time in conference openers, dating back to the old Missouri Valley in 1914, including a 16-29 (.355) mark in openers on the road.
The squad is 5-8 (.385) in Big 12 openers, including 2-6 (.250) in those on the road.
Despite playing 229 times in their respective histories, this will be just the 10th time that the two teams have met in a league opener, including just the eighth time in Columbia, Mo.
Saturday's matchup will be the first between the two rivals in a conference opener in Columbia, Mo., since 1993-94, when the Tigers ended the Wildcats' then-10-game winning streak with a 63-43 win at the Hearnes Center on Jan. 8, 1994.
K-State is 5-4 all-time vs. Missouri in league openers, including a 3-4 mark on the road.
The contest will be the first of back-to-back nationally-televised contests on ESPN2, with Ron Franklin (play-by-play) and Fran Fraschilla (analyst) on the call.
The Wildcats earned their first Top 10 ranking in more than 35 years on Monday, when the squad jumped two spots to No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll.
It was the highest ranking for K-State in the coaches' poll since USA Today took over ownership of the poll in 1991-92.
Only 12 other teams in school history have reached the Top 10 at any point in a season — 1949-50 (10th), 1950-51 (3rd), 1951-52 (2nd), 1952-53 (1st), 1956-57 (10th), 1957-58 (1st), 1958-59 (1st), 1960-61 (4th), 1961-62 (3rd), 1964-65 (8th), 1965-66 (10th) and 1972-73 (9th).
The team rose one spot in the AP poll to No. 11, marking its highest ranking in the poll since head coach Jack Hartman led the Wildcats to a No. 9 ranking in the poll on March 13, 1973, with a 23-5 record.
It also is the highest ranking prior to conference play since K-State was ranked No. 10 in the preseason poll in 1965.
The squad, whose 14 non-conference foes boast a .615 winning percentage through Jan. 7, currently has a consensus Top 10 RPI and a strength of schedule ranked 38 or better.
K-State capped non-conference play on Sunday with a 91-69 win over South Dakota, which tied the 1993-94 team for the most non-conference wins (13) in school history.
Five players scored in double figures for the third consecutive games, led by junior Jacob Pullen's seventh 20-point game of the season.
The team set season highs in a number of categories, including points in the paint (56), points off turnovers (40) and fast-break points (35).