MANHATTAN, Kansas – Kansas State’s home game with Ole Miss as part of the third annual Big 12/SEC Challenge Presented by Sonic will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday, January 30, 2016 from Bramlage Coliseum, it was announced on Wednesday morning.
For the first time, all 10 games in the Challenge series are slated to be played on one day – January 30, 2016 – during a common break in each conference’s schedule. Each league will host five contests in a field that includes nine teams ranked in the ESPN.com preseason Top 25 – including five from the Big 12.
The match-up will mark the second time in the past three seasons that the Wildcats have hosted the Rebels in the event, as K-State won the inaugural game in the Challenge, 61-58, over Ole Miss at home on December 5, 2013.
The Big 12 has won the first two Challenge series, posting a cumulative 13-7 (.650) record. Overall, the league is 41-27 (.603) in its last three challenge series (vs. Pac-10 and SEC) dating back to 2007.
“The Challenge series provides great competition and exposure for both leagues,” said head coach Bruce Weber upon the initial announcement of the event in May. “High-quality, non-conference opponents are always hard to find, so to be able host a team like Ole Miss, which has been to the NCAA Tournament twice in the past three seasons, is not only a great opportunity for our team but also gives our fans another terrific home game.”
Overall, K-State is 159-147 against teams from the SEC, which includes a 65-64 loss at Tennessee in the second edition of the Challenge last season at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.
K-State has met at least one SEC opponent in each of the last seven seasons and will now play four in 2015-16 as the school will play Missouri in the semifinals of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at the Sprint Center on Monday, November 23 before returning games to Georgia on Friday, December 4 and Texas A&M on Saturday, December 12.
Ole Miss leads the all-time series, 3-1, including a 1-1 mark in its two previous meetings at Bramlage Coliseum. All four previous match-ups have come since 2000 with the Rebels sweeping a home-and-home series during the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons to go with an 86-74 win at the 2009 Puerto Rico Tipoff.
The Wildcats return four players with starting experience in 2015-16 to go with the influx of seven newcomers, including PARADE All-American Dean Wade (St. John, Kansas/St. John) and NJCAA First Team All-American Carlbe Ervin II (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma/Connors State College). Senior guard Justin Edwards (6.3 ppg., 3.3 rpg.) is the team’s top returner in both scoring and steals (37), while junior forward Wesley Iwundu (5.8 ppg., 3.5 rpg.) is the leading returner in rebounding (108), assists (61), blocks (20) and minutes (780).
Ole Miss is set to return nine lettermen and three starters in 2015-16 from a team that posted a 21-13 overall record and advanced to the round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament, where the Rebels lost to Xavier. Among the team’s returning starters are first team All-SEC selection Stefan Moody (16.6 ppg., 3.4 rpg.), junior forward Sebastian Saiz (7.6 ppg., 5.5 rpg.) and senior forward Martavious Newby (4.0 ppg., 5.4 rpg.).