K-State to Face Pittsburgh in Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off


Courtesy of K-State Sports Information

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State will match up against ACC foe Pittsburgh in the semifinals of the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off, which is set for Monday-Wednesday, November 25 and 27 at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida.

Kansas State Wildcat Basketball can be heard on Classic Hits 106.7 KQNK in Northwest Kansas & Southwest Nebraska as well as Classic Country FM 94.1 & 1570 AM KNDY in Northeast Kansas & Southeast Nebraska.

K-State Basketball can be streamed live via our website and mobile apps.

The Wildcats and Panthers will be part of a doubleheader on Monday, November 25 in the semifinals of the second annual Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off, which includes a contest between Missouri Valley Tournament champion Bradley and the Big Ten’s Northwestern. Game times will be announced later.

The winners of the two semifinals games will meet in the championship game on Wednesday, November 27 with the remaining two teams facing off in the third-place game. All four game will air on FS1.

Travel packages for the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off are now available, which includes tickets to each tournament game, hotel accommodations and parking at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena. For more information, log on to Ticket-only packages, based on availability, will become available in September.

K-State will play four games in the Tip-Off, including previously announced home games at Bramlage Coliseum against Monmouth (Wednesday, November 13) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Tuesday, November 19) prior to traveling to the championship rounds of the tournament in Fort Myers.

“Pitt was one of the youngest teams in the country a year ago under Coach (Jeff) Capel,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “They return four starters, including a pair of elite scorers (Xavier Johnson and Trey McGowens), so this is going to be another challenge for our team in the preseason. Obviously, you throw in Bradley, who won the (Missouri) Valley Tournament Championship and went to the NCAA Tournament, and an always-strong Northwestern squad and this should be a terrific field for the Fort Myers Tip-Off.”

This will be just the second meeting between K-State and Pitt on the hardwood with the inaugural matchup coming in the consolation game of the 2014 Maui Invitational with the Panthers – under the direction of current TCU head coach Jamie Dixon – posting a 70-47 win on November 26.

Under second-year head coach Jeff Capel, Pittsburgh returns four starters in 2019-20, including double-figure scorers Xavier Johnson (15.5 ppg., 4.5 apg.) and Trey McGowens (11.6 ppg., 1.9 spg.), after nearly doubling their win total from the previous season. An All-ACC Freshman Team selection, Johnson set Pitt freshman records for scoring, double-figure scoring games, games with 15 or more points and 20-point scoring games and was the only ACC player to average at least 15.5 points and 4.5 assists in 2018-19. McGowens tallied a pair of 30-point games as a rookie, including a Pitt freshman record of 33 in a win over Louisville.

Capel is familiar with K-State having spent six seasons (2006-11) as the head coach at Oklahoma, posting a 2-4 mark against the Wildcats. He led the Sooners to the 2009 Elite Eight.

Under fifth-year head coach Brian Wardle, Bradley returns four of its top five scorers from a year ago, including double-digit scorers Darrell Brown (14.8 ppg.) and Elijah Childs (12.4 ppg.). The Braves (20-15) made an inspiring run to capture the 2019 Missouri Valley Tournament, defeating Missouri State, regular-season champion Loyola Chicago and Northern Iowa, before losing to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament.

Northwestern must replace its top three scorers after posting a 13-19 overall mark in 2018-19 under seventh-year head coach Chris Collins. The Wildcats return three players with significant starting experience, including senior A.J. Turner (8.7 ppg.), junior Anthony Gaines (6.9 ppg.) and sophomore Miller Kopp (4.9 ppg.), to go with an eight-man recruiting class.

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 has posted consecutive 25-win seasons 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.

Boston College won the inaugural Fort Myers Tip-Off in 2018, knocking off Loyola Chicago, 78-66. The Eagles knocked off Wyoming, 88-76, and the Ramblers beat Richmond, 82-66, in the semifinals, while the Cowboys won the third-place game with a 68-66 win over the Spiders.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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