MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State will face the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, January 25, 2020 at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama as part of the seventh annual Big 12/SEC Challenge, ESPN and the two conferences announced on Thursday morning (July 25).
The game will be one of 10 contested between the two conferences for the seventh consecutive season with ESPN providing coverage of all games on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. All the contests will occur on Saturday, January 25, 2020 with start times and complete television information to be released later.
“I think the Challenge series has really turned into a great event for both conferences,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “The SEC has continued to develop as a basketball league, including having one of their best years in 2019 with Auburn advancing to the Final Four. The timing of the event – falling in the middle of the season – creates a lot of excitement nationally for two of the best leagues in the country.”
Seven of the 10 games will feature matchups between teams that participated in either the 2019 NCAA Tournament or the NIT, while nine will highlight at least one team that advanced to the postseason last season.
The Big 12, which finished the 2018-19 season with nation’s No. 1 RPI and strength of schedule, has won four of the six Challenge series (2014, 2015, 2016, 2019), posting a 35-25 (.583) overall record. The Big 12 won its fourth Challenge series in 2019, 6-4, after splitting (5-5) in 2017 and narrowly losing (4-6) in 2018.
“Alabama has a new coach in Nate Oats, who had a tremendous amount of success at Buffalo running a fast-paced attack,” said Weber. “They return three starters from a team who went to the NIT, including a very experienced SEC point guard in Kira Lewis, Jr., who helped us win a gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup earlier this month. They also get an experienced guard in (graduate transfer) Beetle Bolden, who we are familiar with from being at West Virginia. The game just adds to our already solid non-conference schedule.”
This will be the fourth meeting between K-State and Alabama on the hardwood, including the first in nearly a decade since the Wildcats knocked off the Crimson Tide, 71-58, in the Wildcat Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on December 17, 2011. It was the second game in a pair of neutral site games between the programs that started in 2009 when K-State defeated Alabama, 87-74, in the Coors Classic in Mobile, Alabama on December 19.
The schools’ only meeting at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa came in its first, as the Crimson Tide earned a 79-48 win over the Wildcats in the NIT Season Tip-Off on November 16, 1994.
Alabama, which returns seven lettermen and three starters in 2019-20, will be led by a first-year head coach in 2019 National Coach of the Year finalist Nate Oats, who won nearly 100 games and advanced to three NCAA Tournaments in four seasons at Buffalo before becoming the Tide’s 21st head coach in late March.
The Crimson Tide were one of the last teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, earning one of the top four seeds in the NIT before finishing with an 18-16 overall record, including an 8-10 mark in SEC play. The squad returns three players with starting experience, including All-SEC Freshman Team member Kira Lewis, Jr. (13.5 ppg., 2.9 apg.) and juniors John Petty (10.2 ppg., 4.2 rpg.) and Herbert Jones (6.4 ppg., 3.5 rpg.).
Weber coached Lewis during Team USA’s perfect 7-0 run to the gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece earlier this month. Lewis was one of just five players to make the World Cup roster who played college basketball during the 2018-19 season.
The Crimson Tide will also welcome a Top 20 recruiting class in 2019-20, which includes three Top 150 recruits, a junior college All-American and West Virginia graduate transfer James “Beetle” Bolden.
Overall, K-State is 166-150 (.525) all-time against teams from the SEC, which includes a 3-3 mark in the Big 12/SEC Challenge series. All three wins have come at home (Ole Miss in 2013 and 2016 and Georgia in 2018, while all three losses have come on the road (at Tennessee in 2014 and 2017 and Texas A&M in 2019).
The Wildcats have met at least one SEC opponent in each of the last 11 seasons and will now face two in 2019-20 with games against Mississippi State (December 14 at the Never Forget Tribute Classic) and Alabama.
The reigning Big 12 regular-season co-champions, K-State returns eight lettermen in 2019-20, which includes All-Big 12 honorable mention selection Xavier Sneed (10.6 ppg., 5.5 rpg.) and fellow senior Makol Mawien (7.0 ppg., 4.9 rpg.), from a squad that won 25 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season a year ago.
The Wildcats also return rising juniors Cartier Diarra (6.8 ppg., 3.3 rpg.), Mike McGuirl (3.6 ppg., 1.5 rpg.) and Levi Stockard III (1.8 ppg., 1.5 rpg.) as well as a highly-regarded signing class that includes a trio of Top 200 high school players in DaJuan Gordon, Antonio Gordon and Montavious Murphy and NJCAA All-American David Sloan.
Season tickets for the 2019-20 season went on sale June 24 with a variety of pricing options available, including the new Flex Season Ticket and the popular Wildcat 4-Pack and Young Alumni packages.
Big 12 / SEC Challenge
Tennessee at Kansas
Kentucky at Texas Tech
Mississippi State at Oklahoma
LSU at Texas
Missouri at West Virginia
Baylor at Florida
Iowa State at Auburn
Kansas State at Alabama
TCU at Arkansas
Oklahoma State at Texas A&M