Lamar opens basketball season at Kansas State

GO CARDINALS <strong>Pat Knight begins his second season on the Lamar sideline</strong>
GO CARDINALS
Pat Knight begins his second season on the Lamar sideline
GO CARDINALS

Nov. 10, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - For just the second time ever Lamar University will open its basketball season in the NIT Season Tip-Off as the Cardinals head to Kansas State to face the Midwest Regional host Monday evening at 7 p.m.

Joining Lamar and K-State in the regional will be North Texas and Alabama-Huntsville. The winner of each of the four regionals will move on to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and finals, while the 12 other teams will play third- and fourth-round doubleheaders on the campuses of the three highest remaining seeds.

The Cards last played in the NIT Season Tip-Off to open the 1985 season in a one-and-done format, falling to Duke 66-62 from the Summit in Houston. The Blue Devils would go on to win the NIT championship and advance to the NCAA national championship game to close the season.

This will be the third meeting between Lamar and Kansas State with the two teams splitting the first two contests. The Wildcats won at home 81-64 in the first meeting on Dec. 15, 1990, while the Cardinals returned the favor a year later in Beaumont with a 116-75 victory.

While Monday's game will serve as the Cardinals' season opener, Lamar has played a pair of exhibition games from the Montagne Center. LU knocked off McMurry 74-66 on Nov. 3 before defeating Northwood 87-76 two days later.

Senior guard Donley Minor, one of five returning letterwinners on Lamar's young squad, scored 18 points in each game to lead the Cardinals. Also returning for the Cards are senior forwards Stan Brown and Nikko Acosta, junior forward Osas Ebomwonyi and sophomore forward Sebastian Norman.

Brown is the only returning starter for Lamar. The 6-foot-8 forward posted averages of 4.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Ebomwonyi averaged 1.8 blocks per game last year to rank second in the Southland Conference.

The Cardinals are coming off a 23-12 year which included winning the Southland Conference Tournament and the school's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since the 1999-2000 season. Lamar lost six seniors, including its top five scorers from last year's team.

Lamar will be putting its six-game winning streak in season openers on the line Monday evening. The Cardinals, who have won eight of their last nine season openers, began last season with a 65-62 home win over Arkansas State.

The Cardinals' last season opener on the road came in 2002 with Lamar falling 73-69 at Pacific. LU head coach Pat Knight is 4-0 all time in season openers, winning three at Texas Tech and last year's at Lamar.

K-State is 1-0 on the young season after opening at home with an 82-52 win over North Dakota on Friday. The Wildcats, who have a new head coach in veteran Bruce Weber, return four starters off last year's 22-11 team which advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

Senior guard Rodney McGruder is the leading returning scorer after averaging 15.8 points per game last season. McGruder scored just six in the season opener on 3-of-12 shooting against UND.

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