MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State will play a regular season game at Kansas City's Sprint Center for the seventh time in eight seasons, as the Wildcats will host former Big 12 foe Texas A&M in the Wildcat Classic on Dec. 20, 2014.
"It is our goal every year to play a non-conference game in Kansas City at the Sprint Center," said head coach Bruce Weber. "It is a terrific, world-class venue that provides an NCAA-Tournament type atmosphere for our players and this game will provide a great warm-up for the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship later in the year. Obviously, we have a tremendous fan base in Kansas City and it is always great to see the building packed with purple."
The two-game agreement calls for a return game to Reed Arena in College Station in December 2015.
An on-sale date and full pricing options for the Wildcat Classic will be announced at a later time, while season ticket holders can pre-order tickets, including special discounts and priority seating, through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office beginning Monday, June 23, when 2014-15 season tickets go on sale.
Fans have packed the Sprint Center with purple for its six previous Wildcat Classic games, including an average of more than 17,000 for its last three contests against UNLV, Alabama and Florida. Overall, this will be K-State's 20th game in the building with a 10-9 record, including a 5-1 mark in Wildcat Classic games.
The two schools have played 24 times on the hardwood in their respective histories, including at least once a year as Big 12 Conference foes from 1997 to 2012. The Wildcats have won four of the last five meetings in the series, including a 64-53 win in Manhattan and a 76-70 victory in College Station to sweep the regular season series in 2012.
The Wildcat Classic will mark the fifth meeting between the schools in Kansas City, including the second in the Sprint Center, and the first during the regular season since the 1990 BMA Holiday Classic at Kemper Arena. The Wildcats are 3-1 in those previous meetings in Kansas City, including match-ups in the 1999, 2005 and 2008 Big 12 Championships.
"Texas A&M adds yet another strong component to our non-conference schedule," said Weber. "They return a majority of their team after winning 18 games and playing in the postseason (CBI) this past year, so our team will have to be prepared for another challenging game."
Both teams are coming off successful seasons in 2013-14, as K-State advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the school-record fifth consecutive season with a 20-13 overall record and Texas A&M returned to the postseason for the eighth time in 10 seasons in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) Tournament. The Aggies, who have posted consecutive 18-win seasons under head coach Billy Kennedy, tallied an 18-16 overall record and 8-10 mark in 2013-14.
The Wildcats are expected 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 Aggies are set to return three of their top 4 scorers, including leading rebounder and rising senior Kourtney Roberson (9.8 ppg., 6.8 rpg.). Roberson, who was the only player to start all 34 games, also ranked first on the team in field goal percentage (58.5) and second in scoring. He will be joined by rising junior Alex Caruso (9.0 ppg., 3.6 rpg.), who paced the Aggies in assists (5.0 apg.), steals (2.0 spg.) and minutes (29.8 mpg.).
Texas A&M will mark the third SEC opponent that K-State will face in 2014-15, as the Wildcats will play at Tennessee as part of the second annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday, Dec. 6 before playing a home game with Georgia on Wednesday, Dec. 31. The Wildcats have played at least one SEC opponent in each of the last six seasons with the possibility of playing a fourth SEC foe (Missouri) in the EA Sports Maui Invitational in November.
Overall, K-State is 158-145 all-time against teams from the SEC, including a 61-58 win over Ole Miss at home on Dec. 5 and a 56-49 loss to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament on March 21 this past season.
With K-State's participation in the EA Sports Maui Invitational and the previously-announced games with Georgia and Tennessee, the non-conference schedule is nearly complete and expected to be released in the coming weeks.