MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State will travel to former Big 12 Conference rival Texas A&M as part of the sixth annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas, the two conferences announced Thursday afternoon (May 24).
The game will be one of 10 contested between the two conferences for the sixth consecutive season with ESPN providing coverage of all games on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. All the contests will occur on Saturday, January 26, 2019 with start times and complete television information to be released later.
The Wildcats, which will face the Aggies for the 27th time and the first time since 2015, went a perfect 3-0 against the SEC a season ago with victories at Vanderbilt (84-79), at home against Georgia (56-51) in last year’s Challenge series and against Kentucky (61-58) in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Elite Eight.
K-State leads the all-time series, 18-8, between the former conference rivals, but Texas A&M owns a 7-3 advantage at home. The teams, which will meet for the first time in the Challenge event, faced off at least once a year for 16 consecutive seasons (1997-2012) and last met in a split of a home-and-home series during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. The Wildcats earned a 71-64 victory at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on December 20, 2014 before the Aggies posted a 78-68 victory at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas on December 12, 2015.
The Big 12, which finished the 2017-18 season with nation’s No. 1 RPI and strength of schedule, has won three of the five Challenge series, posting a 29-21 (.580) record. The Big 12 won the first three Challenge series (2014, 2015, 2016) before splitting (5-5) in 2017 and narrowly losing (4-6) in 2018. Overall, the Big 12 is 57-41 (.582) in its last five challenge series (vs. Pac-10 and SEC) dating back to 2007.
“The (Challenge) series has provided a big boost for both leagues and this year’s schedule should again be one of the best,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “We are familiar with Texas A&M having recently played them in 2015 and they should again be one of the best teams in the SEC. I know they have a few guys (Tyler Davis and Admon Gilder) still in the NBA Draft from their Sweet 16 team, but they have a number of other talented players coming back and should provide yet another big test during non-conference play.”
Overall, K-State is 164-149 all-time against teams from the SEC, which includes a 3-2 mark in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge series with home wins over Ole Miss in 2013 (61-58) and 2016 (69-64) and Georgia in 2018 (56-51) and losses at Tennessee in 2014 (64-65) and 2017 (58-70).
The Wildcats have met at least one SEC opponent in each of the last 10 seasons and could face up to three in 2018-19 with games against Vanderbilt and Texas A&M and a possible meeting with Missouri in the Paradise Jam.
Both teams are coming off 20-win seasons and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2017-18. K-State (25-12) earned its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and eighth in the last 12 seasons where the Wildcats defeated Creighton, UMBC and Kentucky to advance to its 12th Elite Eight and cap a 25-win season. Texas A&M (22-13) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons under head coach Billy Kennedy with its third 20-win campaign since 2014-15. The Aggies, which finished tied for the seventh in the SEC with a 9-9 record, knocked off Providence (73-69) and defending NCAA champion North Carolina (86-65) before losing to eventual national runner-up Michigan (72-99) in the NCAA West Regional semifinals.
K-State is expected to return 11 lettermen in 2018-19, including all six players who earned starts this past season, highlighted by All-Big 12 selections Dean Wade (16.2 ppg., 6.2 rpg.) and Barry Brown, Jr. (15.9 ppg., 3.1 rpg.). Wade and Brown were among the top scoring tandems in the country, ranking seventh and eighth, respectively, in scoring in the Big 12 and accounting for nearly 44 percent of the team’s scoring. Brown scored in double figures in a team-best 29 games, just one ahead of Wade’s 28, while the two combined for 22 20-point games.
The Wildcats also return rising juniors Xavier Sneed (11.1 ppg., 5.1 rpg.) and Makol Mawien (6.8 ppg., 3.4 rpg.) as well as point guards, senior Kamau Stokes (9.0 ppg., 3.4 apg.) and sophomore Cartier Diarra (7.1 ppg., 2.0 apg.). Sneed averaged 13.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in the Wildcats’ four-game run in the NCAA Tournament en route to earning NCAA South Regional All-Tournament honors with Brown.
Depending on their entrants in the NBA Draft, the Aggies could return a strong core of lettermen in 2018-19, including five players who started at least one game a season ago. First Team All-SEC selection Tyler Davis (14.9 ppg., 8.9 rpg.) and guard Admon Gilder (12.3 ppg., 4.1 rpg.) have both declared for the NBA Draft, but did not hire agents and could return for their senior seasons. In addition, the squad returns another of the SEC’s top players in sophomore guard T.J. Starks (9.9 ppg., 2.0 rpg.), who was named to the league’s All-Freshman Team.
The full non-conference slate, as well as 2018-19 season ticket plan details, will be released in the coming weeks.
SEC / Big 12 Challenge
Alabama at Baylor
Iowa State at Ole Miss
Kansas at Kentucky
K-State at Texas A&M
Vanderbilt at Oklahoma
South Carolina at Oklahoma State
Florida at TCU
Texas at Georgia
Arkansas at Texas Tech
West Virginia at Tennessee