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Junior Brandon Brekke and his teammates open their Big Sky era on Friday night at Kansas State.
Game Notes: UND opens Big Sky era at K-State
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Updated: Saturday 11/08/2012 14:20:54 (ET)
by Ryan Powell, UND Media Relations
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Manhattan, Kan. - The North Dakota men’s basketball team opens its Big Sky era with a road tilt at Big 12 power Kansas State on Friday. Tipoff is slated for 8:10 p.m. CT and will be televised on Fox Sports Midwest and North. 

UND VS. KANSAS STATE SERIES
All-time: First Meeting
In Manhattan: First Meeting
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Kansas State: 0-0
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber vs. UND: 0-0

WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
Radio: 100.3 FM (Grand Forks) or iHeart Radio App (computer or smart phone)
Live Audio Stream: www.UNDSports.com (free)
Television: Fox Sports Midwest (check local listings)
Live Streaming: www.KStateHD.tv (subscription required)
Live Chat: www.UNDSports.com (free)

IN THE PAINT...
• This will be the first meeting between the two teams on the hardwood and first match up between the respective head coaches. UND head coach Brian Jones is in his seventh season, while Bruce Weber enters his first season at K-State after nine seasons at Illinois and five at Southern Illinois.
• The contest against the Wildcats will be followed by UND’s only home game in the month of November vs. Crown College on Nov. 14. The team has three more road games to close out the season-opening month of play at Northern Iowa (Nov. 17), at Hawaii (Nov. 20) and at South Dakota State (Nov. 28).
• This will be the fifth straight season UND has played at least one Big 12 opponent. The Green and White are still in search of their first win in those contests (0-2 vs. Texas A&M, 0-2 vs. Iowa State, 0-1 vs. Nebraska and 0-1 Kansas).
• North Dakota is 3-3 in season openers under Jones. The last time UND won a season opener on the road was at Kansas City (UMKC) on Nov. 14, 2008 (61-56).
• The last time UND opened a season on the road was during the 2009-10 season at the Grizzly Classic vs. Montana. The Griz won that match up 61-37.
• Jones has four starters back and six of his top seven scorers from his 2012 Great West Conference Tournament championship team. The seventh-year head coach will have to replace second team All-Great West performer Patrick Mitchell, who averaged 10.4 ppg and 4.4 rpg during his final season with the program.
• The 2011-12 squad posted a 17-15 record and earned an automatic berth to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament for the second consecutive season. UND lost at Drake, 70-64, in the opening round of postseason play.
• The 2012-13 season will mark the first one for the team in the Big Sky Conference and first chance at an NCAA Tournament automatic bid. UND wrapped up its five-year transition to Division I and three-year run in the Great West Conference last season. 
• UND split its four contests against Big Sky opponents in 2011-12. The Green and White defeated eventual regular season and tournament champion Montana 88-81 in overtime at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. UND also split a home-and-home series with Idaho State and lost at Sacramento State (75-64) after leading the Hornets by six at halftime.
• Jones bolstered in already loaded junior class with a trio of transfers. Forward Jaron Nash (6-8, 185) transferred to UND from Texas Tech and the Waterloo, Iowa native is seeking a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately due to family health reasons. Forward Alonzo Traylor (6-7, 214) comes to UND from Iowa Western Community College. Traylor averaged 14.0 ppg and 6.6 rpg as a sophomore en route to earning All-Region XI second team honors. Fellow post player Ryan Salmonson (6-9, 216) rounds out the trio and joins UND after two seasons of JUCO basketball at Cosumnes River College in California. He averaged 9.5 ppg and 5.3 rpg in his final season with the Hawks.
• The 2011-12 season was the last for the UND men’s basketball team to compete under the Fighting Sioux nickname. The longtime nickname was retired this past summer and all University athletic teams will go by the University of North Dakota, North Dakota or UND until Jan. 1, 2015.

TOUGH SLEDDING
Seven teams on UND’s 2011-12 docket advanced to postseason tournaments, including four to the NCAA Tournament (Kansas, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota State). UND beat two of those teams at home (Montana and South Dakota State). North Dakota State and Western Illinois both made the CBI Invitational, while GWC foe Utah Valley earned an at-large bid to join UND in the CIT Tournament.

The schedule does not get any easier in 2012-13, as UND’s slate has seven more teams on it that advanced to postseason tournaments. Kansas State advanced to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Northern Iowa made the second round of the NIT. Both Montana and South Dakota State lost their first games in the NCAA Tournament. Bowling Green and Weber State joined UND in the CIT Postseason Tournament, while NDSU lost in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational.

CARDIAC KIDS
UND, which had only overcome a halftime deficit to win once during the regular season, rallied from such deficits in both 2012 GWC Tournament wins. UND trailed by as many as 14 to No. 3 seed Texas-Pan American before storming back to post a 63-59 victory. And, against the fourthseeded Highlanders in the championship game, UND trailed by two before outscoring NJIT 48-31 after the break.

COUNT ME IN
Junior Aaron Anderson and Huff were the only two UND players to start all 32 games in 2011-12. Anderson had started one game as a true freshman. He ranked second on the team in scoring at 11.0 ppg and fi nished tops among GWC players with 40 assists (4.0/g) in league games.

LIGHTS OUT
Junior Brandon Brekke was one of the top field goal shooters at the NCAA Division I level last season, making 68.2 percent of his shots (116-for-170). Brekke did not have enough makes (five per game required) to qualify in the national rankings (Missouri’s Ricardo Ratliff led the country at 69.3 percent), but he did lead the Great West Conference in both regular season and league games.

WEBB NETS HARDWARE
Sophomore Jamal Webb (Buffalo, N.Y.) earned GWC Tournament MVP honors after averaging 15.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.0 spg and 2.0 apg in Chicago. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with six rebounds and three steals in leading the rally past the Broncs in the semifinals. Webb, then added 11 points, seven rebounds and two steals in the title tilt with NJIT. Webb was joined on the All-GWC Tournament team by classmate Troy Huff (Milwaukee, Wis.), who had a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds in the title game. Huff also averaged 3.5 apg and 3.5 spg in tournament play.

HUFF, MITCHELL EARN ALL-GWC HONORS
Huff and senior Patrick Mitchell (Des Moines, Iowa) were named to the All-Great West second team following the regular season. Huff earned the accolade for the second straight year after leading UND in scoring in GWC play at 13.2 ppg. Mitchell landed a spot on the team after averaging a career-high 10.4 ppg and pulling down 4.4 rpg.

ONLY TWO BETTER
Huff ’s 872 career points are the third most in UND history for a sophomore. Only Scott Guldseth (1989-93), who is UND’s all-time leading scorer with 2,190 points, had 981 points and Travis Tuttle (1992-97) had 878.

MORE HONORS
Webb along with classmates Aaron Anderson (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) and Brandon Brekke (East Grand Forks, Minn.) collected All-Great West honorable mention honors for their play during the regular season. Webb was the top 3-point shooter in GWC games, knocking down 48.6 percent of his attempts (18-for-37). He also ranked third in assists (3.5/g; 108) and first in steals (1.8/g; 57) in overall games. Webb’s career-high 57 steals are tied for the fifth most in a single season, while his two-year total of 108 is already the eighth most in school history. Anderson averaged 11.0 ppg in his first season as a starter – a clip that ranked second on the squad. He led the GWC with a 48.1 percent clip from 3-point range in overall games (37-for-77). Anderson went 9-for-9 from the foul line in the GWC Tournament, averaging 10.0 ppg in the two wins. He was the top free-throw shooter on the team (88-for-144; 77.2 percent) for the second straight season.
Brekke led the GWC in field-goal percentage this season with a 67.9 percent clip (116-for-170). He did not have enough attempts to rank in the NCAA. He also led the club with four double-doubles and averaged 9.2 ppg and 6.1 rpg.

SOPHOMORE SIZZLE
UND’s quintet of Aaron Anderson, Brandon Brekke, Troy Huff , Josh Schuler and Jamal Webb produced 65.4 percent of UND’s points in 2010-11, which was tops among any freshman class in the country. As sophomores, that unit upped that number to 70.9 percent of the team’s scoring (1,526 of 2,153). However, that sophomore unit had company at the top of the national charts. The Memphis sophomores, a unit UND edged out last season (63.9 percent as freshmen), produced 73.6 percent (1,923 of 2,614) and North Dakota State’s sophomores concluded the Bison season scoring 71.3 percent (1,564 of 2,194) of their team’s points.

BEST AT THE BETTY
UND wrapped up its home slate with a 13-1 record and 10 straight wins thanks to a thrilling 57-56 victory over Utah Valley. The last time a UND team finished with only one home loss was the 2001-02 team that went 14-1 at the Hyslop Sports Center. The 13-1 mark was the best for the program since moving into the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center prior to the 2003-04 season. The 1989-90 (16-0) and 1990-91 (18-0) teams were the last to go undefeated at home. UND is 896-256 all-time at home.

DOUBLE-DIGIT DYNAMO
Huff led the team with 23 double-figure scoring games during the 2011-12 season after sharing the team lead as a freshman with 25.

MITCHELL WINDS UP 20TH ON ALL-TIME SCORING CHARTS, SECOND IN CAREER BLOCKS
With the game in hand against NJIT on Jan. 26, senior Patrick Mitchell (Des Moines, Iowa) had one more matter of business to attend to in the waining moments of what would turn out to be an 80-63 victory over the Highlanders. He entered the game needing 13 points to become the 31st member of UND’s 1,000-point club. He had been stuck on nine until with just under three minutes to play when sophomore Aaron Anderson lobbed a pass for the high-flying Mitchell, who flushed it home for points 997 and 998. The alley-oop provided a 19-point cushion for the home team and the two nearly hooked up again for the milestone basket, but Mitchell would have to earn the elusive point from the foul line where he went with 57 seconds left to play. He calmly sank both charity shots and left the court with the milestone under his belt and to a standing ovation from the home crowd. The last player to reach the elite club was a teammate of Mitchell’s during his freshman and sophomore seasons -- Travis Bledsoe (21st on the list; 1,130 points). Mitchell would end up bumping his former teammate to 22nd on the list as he closed out his career in the 20th spot with 1,136 points.

SENIOR NIGHT DRAMA
The last home triumph of the season came on Senior Day as Mitchell and classmate Mike Mathison (Walhalla, N.D.) were honored in a pre-game ceremony. The real celebrating did not start until Mitchell’s 12-footer swished through the nets as the buzzer sounded, giving UND a 57-56 victory and snapping a three-game losing skid against UVU. He finished with only four points, but his bucket prevented a perfect regular season for the Wolverines.

WELCOME TO MY CLUB
For 18 seasons, Chris Gardner was the only player in UND history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 150 blocks in a career. But, the former Sioux great now has company after senior Patrick Mitchell swatted away two shots in the 67-59 victory at Longwood (Feb. 20). Mitchell had already secured the 1,000-point total and 500-rebound total earlier in the season before getting to the magic number of blocks against the Lancers. He wound up second on UND’s all-time blocked
shots chart with 157.

SOPHOMORE SIZZLE
UND’s quintet of Aaron Anderson, Brandon Brekke, Troy Huff , Josh Schuler and Jamal Webb produced 65.4 percent of UND’s points in 2010-11, which was tops among any freshman class in the country. As sophomores, that unit upped that number to 70.9 percent of the team’s scoring (1,526 of 2,153). However, that sophomore unit had company at the top of the national charts. The Memphis sophomores, a unit UND edged out last season (63.9 percent as freshmen), produced 73.6 percent (1,923 of 2,614) and North Dakota State’s sophomores concluded the Bison season scoring 71.3 percent (1,564 of 2,194) of their team’s points.

DOWN GO THE BISON
UND and North Dakota State played in Grand Forks for the fi rst time since the 2003-04 season and the Green and White pulled off a 59-54 victory over its in-state rivals. Sophomore Brandon Brekke led UND in scoring with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the fl oor, while Aaron Anderson added 12 and senior Patrick Mitchell chipped in with 10. Brekke broke a 52-52 tie with a free throw with under three minutes to play and Mitchell’s tip-in with under a minute to play put the home team ahead by three. Anderson and classmate Josh Schuler each made two free throws after that to seal the victory.

OPPONENT PREVIEW: KANSAS STATE
• Long-time Illinois head coach Bruce Weber takes over a Kansas State program that is coming off a 22-11 record and a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Weber spent nine seasons with the Illinis and the previous five before that at Southern Illinois. He enters his 15th season as a head coach at the DI level and has taken eight of his teams to the NCAA Tournament and two more to the NIT.
• The Wildcats have four starters and 12 letterwinners back from the 2011-12 club. 
• The team won both of its exhibition games and were led in scoring by freshman D.J. Johnson.
• Guard Rodney McGruder is the team’s top returning scorer after averaging 15.8 ppg during the 2011-12. He was named to the preseason All-Big 12 Team and was one of only three players in the league to rank in the top 20 in both scoring and rebounding (5.2) a season ago.
• Forward Jamar Samuels, the only starter not returning, was the only other Wildcat to average in double figure (10.0 ppg).
• Will Spradling joined McGruder as the only two Wildcats to start all 33 games last season. Spradling averaged 9.3 ppg.
• K-State won its opening contest in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, defeating Southern Miss 70-64. It was the 33rd NCAA Tournament victory in school history. 
• The Frank Martin-led Wildcats fell victim to No. 1 seed Syracuse in the next round. The Orange won that game  75-59. Martin is now the head coach at South Carolina.
• The Wildcats drew a record home attendance figure of 204,527 during the 2011-12 season.  

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