18/18 K-State Hosts 4/4 Baylor in Top 20 Battle Tuesday

Junior Rodney McGruder has led the Wildcats in scoring in each of the last four games.

Jan. 9, 2012

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18/18 KANSAS STATE (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) vs. 4/4 BAYLOR (15-0, 2-0 Big 12)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 * 7:10 p.m. CST * Manhattan, Kan. * Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

Television: FOX Sports Midwest HD (ESPN Full Court)
Ben Boyle (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Channels: DirecTV 672, Dish 447, AT&T U-verse 750, TWC 309
HD Channels: DirecTV 672-1, Dish 447-1, AT&T 1750, TWC 1309
Internet: www.ESPN3.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Matt Walters (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 93
Live Stats:  www.k-statesports.com/multimedia
Live Audio: www.k-statesports.com/allaccess (free)
Twitter Updates: twitter.com/kstate_gameday
NCAA RPI: K-State #18, Baylor #4
K-State vs. Baylor: 13-10 (W, 69-61; 1/24/11)

No. 18/18 Kansas State (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) plays host to its second unbeaten team in four days on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats entertain No. 4/4 Baylor (15-0, 2-0 Big 12) at Bramlage Coliseum.  The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Midwest and FOX Sports Southwest (as well as ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com) at 7 p.m. CST with Ben Boyle and Stan Weber on the call.  One of just three unbeatens (Murray State and Syracuse) remaining in Division I, the Bears are off to their best start in school history at 15-0.  K-State will be looking to knock off its second consecutive unbeaten opponent and win back-to-back games against Top 10 teams for the first time in school history after a 75-59 victory over No. 7/6 Missouri on Saturday afternoon. 

The Wildcats also enter the game with 15 consecutive wins at its home venues (includes Sprint Center game with Alabama on Dec. 17) dating back to last season, including 14 straight at Bramlage Coliseum.  The 14-game streak ties for the longest in the arena’s history with the 14 won from Feb. 17, 2009 to Jan. 18, 2010.  Of note, the two teams will meet as ranked foes for the just the second time in series history, including the first time since No. 11 K-State posted a 76-74 win over No. 24 Baylor at Ferrell Center on Jan. 26, 2010.  The Wildcats are 19-62 (.235) all-time against The Associated Press’ Top 5, including 2-12 (.143) against the nation’s No. 4 team.  The squad has lost the last 10 games against the No. 4 squad with the last win coming against N.C. State, 69-67, on Dec. 19, 1958.

Tuesday’s game will be the fifth of seven broadcasts that will be available on the entire FOX Sports Midwest footprint, which includes more than 5.9 million cable and satellite homes in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana, while the Baylor game will be available on FOX Sports Southwest.  Other games on FSN Midwest include Oklahoma on Jan. 28 and Iowa State on Jan. 31.  In addition, the game may be available on FOX Sports Midwest Plus on some cable systems.  For fans looking to find the game is in your area, a channel finder for FOX Sports Kansas City/Midwest can be found at www.FOXSportsKansasCity.com.

No. 4/4 Baylor enters Tuesday’s game with a 15-0 record and 2-0 mark in Big 12 play after a 73-60 win at Texas Tech on Saturday.  Baylor is off to its best start in school history, which including wins over Top 25 foes San Diego State, West Virginia and Mississippi State and road victories at Northwestern and BYU.  Under ninth-year coach Scott Drew, the Bears are averaging 76.2 points on 48.4 percent shooting (398-of-822), including 40.6 percent (106-of-261) from 3-point range, to go with 39.1 rebounds, 14.9 assists, 8.6 steals and 6.8 blocks per game.  They are holding opponents to just 58.4 points on 36.3 percent shooting and have held 11 teams to 60 points or less.  Five players are averaging in double figures led by All-American candidate Perry Jones III, who paces the team in both scoring (13.0 ppg.) and rebounding (7.2 rpg.) on 52.9 percent shooting.  Senior Quincy Acy is averaging 12.1 points on 56.2 percent shooting with a team-tying 7.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, while junior college transfer Pierre Jackson adds 12.1 points on 52.2 percent shooting and a team-high 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game.  Forward Quincy Miller is a candidate for Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors as he averages 11.2 points and 5.6 rebounds, while Boston College transfer Brady Heslip paces the squad with 44 3-pointers to go with a 10.5 points per game. 

Tuesday’s game will be the 24th meeting between K-State and Baylor dating back to March 20, 1948 with the Wildcats holding a slight 13-10 lead in the series.  The Bears hold a 9-8 edge since the start of Big 12 play in 1997.  The Wildcats are 8-4 (.667) all-time at home in the series, including a 69-61 win in its most recent meeting on Jan. 24, 2011.  Overall, K-State has won three in a row over Baylor, which includes a 76-74 win in Waco on Jan. 26, 2010 and an 82-75 win at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on March 12, 2010.  Head coach Frank Martin is 3-2 (.600) against Baylor, including 1-1 at home.

K-State was stellar on both ends of the floor, as the Wildcats ended the No. 7/6 Missouri’s unbeaten 14-0 start with a 75-59 win before a sold-out crowd at Bramlage Coliseum.  The squad connected on 49.1 percent of their field goals, including 58.6 percent in the first half, while holding the Tigers to season-low in both points (59) and field goal percentage (32.7).  K-State broke open a 3-all game with nine consecutive points and were never seriously challenged by Missouri the rest of the way, as the Wildcats led by double figures for the last 28 minutes of the game.  A game after pulling down a Frank Martin era-low 26 rebounds, the team was much more aggressive on the boards, grabbing a 39-25 edge on the glass and scoring a season-best 46 points in the paint.  The Wildcats also converted 14 Tiger turnovers into 21 points.  Junior Rodney McGruder collected his fourth 20-point game of the season to pace three players in double figures, while sophomore Will Sprading added 14 points.  Junior Jordan Henriquez had a near double-double with 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds to go with four blocks.  The win extended K-State’s home winning streak over Missouri to eight games, the longest such streak since winning 10 in a row from 1966-75.  
The 75-59 win over No. 7/6 Missouri on Saturday was significant in a number of ways, including serving as the program’s milestone 1,500th victory.  K-State currently stands at 1,500-1,058 (.586) in 108 seasons, which ranks 41st all-time in NCAA Division I history.  The school becomes the sixth Big 12 program to eclipse the milestone, following Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri, while it is the fifth team to top 1,500 wins this season, joining  St. Joseph’s, Ohio State, Michigan State and Washington State.  Overall, it was the 89th win over a Top 25 team in school history, including the 35th over the Top 10.  The Wildcats have now posted 23 Top 25 wins at Bramlage Coliseum, including 11 wins over the Top 10.  Three times in the last four seasons the squad has posted at least one home win over a Top 10 opponent (No. 1 Texas in 2010, No. 1 Kansas in 2011 and No. 7 Missouri in 2012).  Frank Martin earned his 18th Top 25 win (18-19) in five seasons, including his sixth Top 10 win (6-10). 

K-State, like the rest of its Big 12 brethren, will face a daunting 18-game league schedule where a true conference champion will be crowned after each team is played home-and-home.  The Big 12 is the only Bowl Championship Series (BCS) league to have such a format.   The start of this league slate will be a gauntlet for the Wildcats, in which, they will play three consecutive ranked foes (No. 14/15 Kansas, No. 7/6 Missouri and No. 4/4 Baylor) to start Big 12 play for the first time in school history.  It is the first time since the 1996-97 season (No. 1 Kansas and No. 22 Texas) that K-State will open conference play with consecutive ranked league foes.  Overall, it is the first time since the 2002-03 season (No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 12 Kansas) that the Wildcats will play a stretch of three consecutive ranked opponents. 

K-State has proved to be a balanced team across the board with seven players averaging six or more points, including three in double figures, and four averaging five or more rebounds per game.  Just 1.8 points separates the team’s leading scorer (Rodney McGruder - 13.2 ppg.) with the No. 3 scorer (Jamar Samuels - 11.4 ppg.), while Samuels and freshman Thomas Gipson’s team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game are just 1.5 more than McGruder’s No. 4 average of 5.1 boards.  The team has seen nine different players collect 47 double-digit scoring games with Samuels and McGruder each posting a team-best 10 such games, while Will Spradling is not far behind with nine games of 10 or more points.  The Wildcats have had five scoring leaders (with Gipson and McGruder leading the way five times each) and four leading rebounders (with Jordan Henriquez and Samuels leading five times each), while eight players have led or tied for the lead in assists.  Eight players have collected double-figure assists this season, including 30 or more assists by Will Spradling (39), Shane Southwell (38) and Angel Rodriguez (33), and five players have double-figure steals led by McGruder’s 18.  In addition, K-State players have tallied seven double-doubles already on the season with Gipson and Samuels each tallying three and McGruder also posting one.

K-State has taken advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line this season with nearly 25 percent of their points (248) coming from the line.  The Wildcats rank sixth nationally in free throw attempts per game (27.4), trailing New Mexico State (36, Duke (28.2), LIU-Brooklyn (27.9), North Carolina (27.7) and Oregon State (27.5), while they tied for 18th in the country in free throws made per game (17.7).  The squad is first in the Big 12 with two more attempts than second-place Texas (25.5), while they are second in makes behind the Longhorns’ 18.3 per game average.  Opponents are averaging 24.4 personal fouls per game, while they have 64 fewer free throws attempted and 39 fewer free throws made.  Prior to the Kansas game, where the Wildcats posted season-lows for both free throw makes (8) and attempts, the team had attempted at least 23 free throws in every game this season, including a season-best 33 vs. Charleston Southern, Virginia Tech and Alabama.  The team has more attempts than every opponent except West Virginia, UTEP, Kansas and Missouri.  K-State has also converted on at least 20 free throws in five games, including a season-best 24 against Southern Illinois.  The team is 77-10 (.885) under Frank Martin, including 10-0 this season, when they attempt more free throws than their opponent, while they are just 30-34 (.469) under Martin, including 2-2 this season, when they equal or are surpassed by their opponent in free throw attempts. 

One of the key components of K-State’s success has been the play of its defense, which is allowing opponents 61.9 points on 37.1 percent shooting, including 28.4 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 40.4 rebounds, 6.1 steals and 5.5 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have held eight foes to under 65 points, including six to below 60 points.  The squad held Missouri to a season-low 59 points (nearly 30 points below their average) on 32.7 percent shooting, including 29.2 percent from 3-point range.

Heading to Tuesday’s game, K-State ranks among the Top 30 nationally in four defensive categories, including 14th in field goal percentage defense, 20th in 3-point field goal percentage defense, 24th in blocked shots and 25th in scoring margin.  The squad also places in the Big 12’s Top 5 in six defensive categories, including first in rebounding, second in 3-point field goal percentage defense and offensive rebounds, third in blocked shots, fourth in field goal percentage defense and scoring defense.  Under Frank Martin, the Wildcats have finished no lower than fourth in rebounding (twice leading the Big 12 in 2007-08 and 2008-09) and have led the league in offensive rebounds each season.  Kansas State is the only Big 12 school to have four players in the Top 20 in rebounding (Thomas Gipson - 6th, Jamar Samuels - 8th, Jordan Henriquez - 14th, Rodney McGruder - 19th).

A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent’s mistakes.  Since he became head coach in 2007, the Wildcats have scored 2,782 points off of 2,495 turnovers in 152 games - an average of 18.3 points per game.    Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past five years have come off of offense generated from turnovers, including the current season, in which the team has outscored its foes, 246-197.  The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 16.7 turnovers per game, including a season-high 22 by Charleston Southern and 21 against North Florida.  Six times the Wildcats have scored 20 or more points off miscues, including 26 vs. UMES, 25 vs. Howard, 23 vs. North Florida and 21 vs. West Virginia and Missouri.

Kansas State has taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 34.1 points in the paint and 17.9 points off of second-chance opportunities.  The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-best 40.4 rebounds per game, including 14.9 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponent 10 times in 14 games, including seven times in the last eight.  The team has collected 40 or more rebounds in seven games, including a season-best 50 against George Washington and North Florida.  K-State ranks 10th nationally in rebounds per game (40.4), including first in the Big 12, while it ranks 16th nationally in offensive rebounds (14.9) and second in the league.  The team is also 50th nationally (and sixth in the Big 12) in rebounding margin.

The Wildcats have posted at least 30 points in the paint in 12 of 14 games, including a combined 90 in overtime games with West Virginia (44) and North Florida (46).  The squad took advantage of its size advantage against Missouri by tying the season-high with 46 points in the paint.  K-State also collected 20 or more second-chance points vs. Loyola Chicago, George Washington, Virginia Tech and North Florida.  These numbers were particularily important in the overtime win over North Florida, as K-State posted season-bests in both categories, including a decisive 27-8 edge in second-chance points. 

K-State had quite the effective game on the boards against George Washington on Dec. 1, totaling a season-high 50 on the night, including 33 on the defensive end.  Three Wildcats registered double-digit rebounds, including a season-best 13 by freshman Thomas Gipson, a career-best 11 by junior Jordan Henriquez and 10 by senior Jamar Samuels.  Gipson had his first double-double (and first by a Wildcat freshman since Michael Beasley had one against Wisconsin in the 2008 NCAA Tournament) against the Colonials with a team-high 17 points, while Samuels recorded his sixth (of now seven) career double-double with 10 points.  It marked the first time in more than 11 years that three players tallied double-figure rebounds with two having double-doubles. The last time came in an overtime win over Tennessee State on Nov. 28, 2000 when three players - Kelvin Howell (11 points, 14 rebounds), Larry Reid (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Travis Reynolds (14 points and 14 rebounds) - registered double-doubles.  The Wildcats equaled their season-high of 50 rebounds, including a season-best 25 offensive rebounds, against North Florida on Dec. 11 with Gipson again leading the way with a game-high 12 boards.  Five other players totaled at least four rebounds.  Gipson managed his third double-double against the Ospreys, posting his first career 20-point game with 23 on the day.  It marked the first time since the 2009-10 season that the squad has collected at least 50 rebounds in a game twice in a season.
Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production it is getting from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 23.9 points this season, including 31.2 points during its six-game winning streak.  In wins over Alabama (35), Southern Illinois (48), UTEP (42) and Howard (34), the Wildcats received nearly half of their scoring from the bench (159 of 314 points), including double-figure efforts by Angel Rodriguez (4), Jordan Henriquez (1), Jamar Samuels (1) and Jeremy Jones (1). In fact, Rodriguez collected double figures in each of those four contests from the bench, including a season-best 17 against SIU, averaging a team-best 14.3 points on 53.1 percent shooting from the field.  He was not alone in his production, as the Wildcats got 17 points and eight rebounds from Henriquez against the Crimson Tide, Samuels added 14 points vs. the Salukis and Jones posted his first career double-digit effort (10) against Howard.  Reserves Adrian Diaz has also been a key contributor off the bench, as Diaz collected nine and eight points, respectively, in back-to-back games against SIU and UTEP.  Overall, the 48-point bench effort against SIU was the most of the Frank Martin era, while the 90 combined bench points were the most in consecutive games under Martin.    

Kansas State has taken advantage of its size in the paint to post nearly twice as many blocked shots (77-44) as their opponents this season, averaging nearly 5.5 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have posted at least six blocks in seven of 14 games, including a season-best 11 blocked shots against North Florida on Dec. 11.  Most of these blocks have come by way of 7-footer Jordan Henriquez, who ranks 29th nationally with 2.6 per game.  Henriquez has tallied 36 blocked shots on the year, which is eight shy of the entire opponent total, and represents nearly 47 percent of the team’s total.  His 36 blocks are more than his freshman total (26) and more than halfway to his sophomore (43) total.  Henriquez has recorded at least two blocks in 12 of 14 games this season and the Wildcats are now 25-5 (.833) when he registers at least two blocks in a game in his career.

K-State capped its non-conference schedule on New Year’s Eve with a 82-46 win over Howard.  The Wildcats have posted a 58-12 (.829) record in non-conference play under head coach Frank Martin, including five straight seasons of at least 10 wins.  The 58 wins are the most over a five-year span in non-conference play.  Overall, the team has collected 10 or more wins in non-conference play in six consecutive seasons dating back to 2006-07.  The squad played just 12 non-conference games in 2011-12 due to the expanded 18-game Big 12 Conference slate.  It is the fewest non-conference games in a single-season since playing 11 during the 2005-06 season.  K-State is one of seven Big 12 teams to have reached double-digit wins. 

K-State earned its first regular-season tournament title since 2006, as the Wildcats captured the 2011 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic with wins over Southern Illinois (83-58), UTEP (78-70) and Long Beach State (77-60).  It was the first tournament title since winning the 2006 Las Vegas Holiday Classic and the first under head coach Frank Martin.  The squad averaged nearly 80 points (79.3 ppg.) during the three-game tournament on 49.7 percent shooting (78-of-157), including 51.3 percent (20-of-39) from 3-point range, while holding its opponents to just 62.7 points on 36.6 percent shooting (59-of-161). 

Junior Rodney McGruder was named the tournament most valuable player (Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week two days later) after averaging 15.0 points on 64 percent shooting, including a career-best 28 points in the final against LBSU.  Senior Jamar Samuels was also named to the all-tournament team after averaging 11.7 points and a team-best 8.3 rebounds per game.  Four players averaged in double figures, while eight averaged more than five points.  It also marked the first time since the 1964 Big Eight Holiday Tournament in Kansas City that the Wildcats won three tournament games.

Head coach Frank Martin became the fourth K-State head coach to earn his 100th career victory, including the second-fastest, in the 69-61 win at Virginia Tech on Dec. 4.  He joined Naismith Hall of Fame coaches Jack Gardner (147-81, 1939-42, 1946-53) and Fred “Tex” Winter (261-118, 1954-68) and all-time wins leader Jack Hartman (295-169; 1970-86).  He is the first to do so since Hartman did it midway through the 1975-76 season.  Martin accomplished the feat in just 143 games, which is one shy of the 142 it took Winter to produce his 100th victory midway through the 1958-59 season.  Hartman’s 100th win came in 149 games, while Gardner did it in his 170th game in his second stint as head coach in 1950-51.  The 2009-10 Big 12 Coach of the Year, Martin is the first Wildcat coach to post a 20-win season in each of his first four years and joined (current Oklahoma head coach) Lon Kruger as the only head coaches in school history to guide teams to the postseason in his first four seasons.

Of note, Martin has posted a winning streak of at least five games on 10 different occasions in just five short seasons at K-State, including the team’s recent streak of six straight wins.  His longest streak of 10 games came during the 2009-10 season.  The Wildcats have also won 14 straight at home, which is the one of four double-digit home winning streaks under Martin. 

After a roller coaster of a year shooting the ball, junior Rodney McGruder is starting to hit his stride in the last few games.  He is averaging 19.3 points in the last four games on nearly 60 percent shooting (29-of-49), including 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from 3-point range.  McGruder earned most valuable player honors at Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 25 after torching Long Beach State for a career-best 28 points in the championship game on near perfect 10-of-11 shooting, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, to go with a 6-of-7 effort from the free throw line.   He followed that up with a 14-point effort against Howard on Dec. 31 before a team-high 15 points against Kansas to go with a team-best 20 points against Missouri on Saturday.  He has a team-leading 10 double-digit scoring games, including four games of 20 or more points.  McGruder ranks in the Top 20 in both scoring (13.2 ppg; 11th) and rebounding (5.1 rpg; 19th), while he is ninth in field goal percentage (45.5) and 13th in steals (1.3 spg.).  He paces the Wildcats in five categories, including scoring, field goals (71), field goals attempted (156), steals (18) and minutes played (30.2 mpg.).  McGruder and Will Spradling are the only players to start all 14 games this season.

The 28 points surpassed his previous high of 24 against UMKC on Dec. 23, 2010, while it was his seventh career 20-point game and his third this season.  Remarkably, by making 10-of-11 field goals against LBSU, he posted one of the best shooting nights by an individual in school history.  Only Joe Wright (11-of-11 vs. Oklahoma State on Jan. 23, 1985) and Eddie Elder (11-of-11 vs. Colorado on Feb. 23, 1985) had a better field goal percentage in a game when attempting more than 10 shots.    

Junior Rodney McGruder followed up his most valuable player performance at the Diamond Head Classic with his first career Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week award on Dec. 26.  In helping the Wildcats win their first regular-season tournament title since 2006, he averaged 15.0 points on 64 percent shooting, including 44.4 percent from 3-point range, with 6.0 rebounds in 24.3 minutes per game.  He scored in double figures in two of three games, including a career-best 28 points in the championship game against Long Beach State on Christmas Day.  He went a near perfect 10-of-11 from the field against the 49ers, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, and 6-of-7 from the free throw line.  He also added six rebounds and a steal in 25 minutes. 

McGruder is the third Wildcat to receive a weekly award from the Big 12 this season.  Senior Jamar Samuels was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 5, while freshman Thomas Gipson was the league’s Rookie of the Week on Dec. 12.

Senior Jamar Samuels has been a key component to the Wildcats’ 12-2 start to season, leading the team in rebounding (6.6 rpg.) and ranking second in scoring (11.4 ppg.).  Despite missing the exhibition game and the first two games due to violations of team rules, he responded well so far, collecting double-figure scoring games in 10 of 12 contests (including a stretch of seven consecutive such games from Dec. 11 to Jan. 4) and back-to-back double-doubles (vs. George Washington and Virginia Tech) for the first time in his career.  His seven consecutive double-figure scoring games was the longest since he had 10 in a row in 2009-10.  He also ranks first on the team in both free throws (58) and free throws attempted (81), while he is third in minutes (25.7).  

Samuels continued his stellar play in Hawai’i , earning Diamond Head Classic All-Tournament team honors after averaging 11.7 points, a team-best 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 28.7 minutes per game.  He also took advantage of his opportunities from the free throw line in tournament, scoring 21 of his 35 points from the line on 77.8 percent (21-of-27) shooting.  In the last eight games, he has scored 46 of his 90 points from the charity stripe, while connecting on 76.7 percent (46-of-60) from the line.     
Senior Jamar Samuels was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 5 after averaging a double-double in wins over George Washington and Virginia Tech.  Samuels, who earned the weekly honor for the first time in his career, averaged 13.5 points on 64.7 percent shooting (11-of-17), including 50 percent (1-of-2) from 3-point range, in the two wins with 12.0 rebounds in 27.0 minutes per game.  He recorded double-doubles in each contest, marking the first time in his career he has done that in back-to-back games, and raised his career total to seven.  He began the week with a 10-point, 10-rebound effort in the win over George Washington.  Playing in front of numerous friends and family from nearly Washington, D.C., in the Wildcats’ first road game, he was sensational in the clutch against Virginia Tech.  He snagged a game-high 17 points on 7-of-8 field goals to go with a career-tying 14 rebounds in 28 minutes.  After struggling in the first half due to foul problems, he registered a double-double in the second half alone with 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting and 13 rebounds against the Hokies.

Senior Jamar Samuels earned his 1,000 career point in the double-overtime loss to West Virginia on Dec. 8, becoming the 23rd player in school history and the third (Jacob Pullen & Denis Clemente) under head coach Frank Martin to eclipse the milestone.  He is current total of 1,096 points ranks 14th in school history (three more than Denis Clemente) and is just 16 shy of passing Willie Murrell (1,112; 1962-64) for 13th place.  He can crack the Top 10 with 208 points.  Samuels also ranks in the Top 5 all-time in school history in both career free throws (352) and free throws attempted (582).  His 352 makes rank fourth on the all-time list, while his 582 attempts are third behind only Bob Boozer (702; 1956-59) and Jacob Pullen (684; 2007-11).  He is also close to cracking the career rebounding Top 10, just 11 shy of 10th-place Rolando Blackman (607; 1977-81), and is two games away from the career games played Top 10 with 115 games.  He already ranks ninth in career blocks (82) and 10th in steals (91).  In addition, his 355 personal fouls are the most in school history.    
Sophomore Will Spradling has solidified the starting point guard spot so far this season, averaging 11.5 points on 45.8 percent shooting with a team-best 27 3-point field goals, 2.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 29.7 minutes per game in 13 starts.  He has posted double figures in nine of 14 games, including tying his career-high with 17 points against Long Beach State on Dec. 25.  He also scored 16 points against West Virginia to go with a pair of 15-point efforts against Charleston Southern and Loyola Chicago.  Spradling ranks among the Big 12 leaders in both 3-point field goal percentage (5th, 44.3) and 3-point field goals made per game (10th, 1.9), while he has at least one trey in every game this season.  He collected a season-best four 3-pointers against the Mountaineers, while he had three each against LBSU, Howard and Missouri.  He has also taken care of the ball, registering a 1.86 assist-to-turnover ratio (39-21).  Since the opener where he turned it over three times, he has had three turnover-free games and four others where he had just one miscue.  He has 14 assists to just two turnovers against North Florida and Alabama, including a near double-double against the Ospreys with a career-best nine assists (to just one turnover) to go with 12 points. 
In addition to his ball-handling skills, Will Spradling has continued to demonstrate his toughness on the court, registering a team-best 19 charges taken.  He has posted at least one charge taken in 12 of 14 games this season, including a career-best three each on three occasions.  He nearly has twice as many charges taken (19) as the entire rest of the team combined (14).  For his career, Spradling has taken 40 charges in 48 games, which is five more than second-place Jamar Samuels (35).  He saw his streak of consecutive games with at least one charge taken end against Howard on Dec. 31.     

Freshman Thomas Gipson has made an impact in just his first season as a Wildcat.  A 6-foot-7, 275-pound forward, he ranks second on the team in rebounding (7.0 rpg.) to go with 9.6 points per game in 13 starts.  He has scored in double figures in five games, leading the team against Loyola Chicago (19), UMES (13), George Washington (17) and North Florida (23), while collecting a team-high three double-doubles.  He became the first freshman since Michael Beasley in 2007-08 to collect a double-double with 17 points and season-best 13 rebounds against George Washington on Dec. 1.  He followed that up with his second double-double with 15 points in the loss to West Virginia on Dec. 8, earning Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week honors.  He made it three double-doubles in four games against North Florida with a season-high 23 points and game-high 12 boards.

After struggling in the past six games (averaging 4.5 points on 30 percent shooting with 5.2 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game), he responded well in his first game as a reserve against Missouri, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds in 12 minutes.

Sophomore Shane Southwell has made an impact in a number of areas for the Wildcats in 2011-12, averaging 4.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and a team-best 2.9 assists in 22 minutes per game.  For the third time in five games, he tied his career-high with six assists against Missouri on Saturday with zero turnovers.  He also dished out six assists (with zero turnovers) against both UTEP on Dec. 23 and Howard on Dec. 31.  During this five-game span, he has 19 assists to just three turnovers (6.33 assist-to-turnover ratio).  He has surpassed Will Spradling for the team’s best assist-to-turnover ratio (2.24) through 14 games with seven games of one or fewer turnovers.  He has also made an impact on the scoreboard, scoring in double figures twice this season, including a career-best 11 points against Charleston Southern in the opener and Virginia Tech on Dec. 4.   

Although it has taken some time to adjust to the college level, freshman Angel Rodriguez is starting to make an impact from the bench, where both his scoring and minutes have gradually increased in the past few weeks.  He has scored in double figures in four of the last six games, including a season-best 17-point effort on five treys in the win over Southern Illinois on Dec. 22.  He followed that up with 16 points against UTEP on Dec. 23 before adding 11 points against Howard on Dec. 31.  During the team’s six-game winning streak, he averaged 11.4 points on 44.7 percent shooting, including 52.4 percent from 3-point range, to go with 3.0 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 22.0 minutes per game.  His shooting has also drastically improved.  In the first seven games, he was averaging 4.4 points on 20 percent shooting, including just 14.3 percent from 3-point range.  He has nearly tripled his scoring output, while shooting nearly 25 points higher from the field, including nearly 40 point higher from long range.

Kansas State was selected to finish sixth in the preseason 2011-12 Big 12 Conference coaches’ poll released by the league office in early October.  The Wildcats received 39 points to earn sixth place in the new 10-team conference configuration, just 12 points behind fifth-place Texas (51) and six points ahead of seventh-place Oklahoma State (33).  The coaches were deadlocked on the preseason favorite with Kansas and Texas A&M each garnering 73 points, however, the Jayhawks did receive five of 10 first-place votes.  Baylor (63) and Missouri (61) followed the preseason duo in third and fourth-places, respectively, while Texas and K-State rounded out the top 6.  The rest of the poll included OSU, Iowa State (27), Oklahoma (15) and Texas Tech (15).  The sixth-place prediction is the lowest since K-State was picked eighth prior to the 2008-09 season.  The Wildcats, who tied Texas A&M for third place in the Big 12 in 2010-11, are one of only two teams to finish in the league’s top-4 and receive a bye at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship each of the past five seasons.  With only 10 teams, the top-6 will earn a bye in the 2012 event with the lower four seeds playing on the first day.  Of note, coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.

K-State capped its non-conference schedule with an 82-46 victory over Howard on Dec. 31, which extended the school’s non-conference winning streak at Bramlage Coliseum to 39 games.  The Wildcats also extended their homecourt winning streak in Manhattan in the month of December to 24 games at the “Octogon of Doom,” including a 16-0 mark under Frank Martin.  The last loss non-conference at home came to Rutgers, 76-66, on Dec. 28, 2004.  Overall, K-State is 36-1 (.973) in December at Bramlage Coliseum the past nine years (2002-10).  Martin has posted a stellar 28-6 (.824) record in the month since 2007-08.  Overall, the Wildcats have won 14 consecutive games at home venues, including 13 straight at Bramlage Coliseum.  The current 13-game winning streak is the second-longest in the arena’s history to the 14-game streak from Feb. 17, 2009 to Jan. 18, 2010.      

K-State played consecutive overtime games on Dec. 4 and 8 for the first time in nearly 50 years, as the Wildcats lost in two overtimes to West Virginia, 85-80, on Dec. 8 at INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita before coming home to knock off a pesky North Florida squad, 79-68, in single overtime on Dec. 11.  It marked just the second time in school history that the team has played in back-to-back overtime games and the first time since they played in three consecutive from Feb. 3-15, 1964 (all on the road and all wins).  The two-overtime loss to the Mountaineers was just the 13th in school history to go at least two overtimes, while it was the first since the Wildcats knocked off Xavier, 101-96, in two overtimes to advance to the Elite Eight on March 25, 2010.  Overall, the squad is now 66-39 (.629) in overtime games, including 30-11 (.732) at home.  The North Florida game was the first home non-conference regular-season overtime contest since a 69-67 victory over Tennessee State on Nov. 28, 2000. 

Looking to maintain the program’s momentum and consistency, head coach Frank Martin announced coaching staff promotions in early June, including the elevation of Lamont Evans as a full-time assistant.  In addition, he also promoted Brad Underwood to associate head coach and assistant coach Matt Figger to recruiting coordinator.  Evans has played a pivotal role in the development of the program the past three years, beginning as an undergraduate manager in 2008-09 the continuing as a graduate manager from 2009-11.  During this span, he helped K-State post a 74-31 (.705) record, which including three trips to the postseason highlighted by consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2010 and 2011.  A native of Eleuthera, Bahamas, Evans came to the U.S. at the age of 5, eventually settling in Deerfield Beach, Fla.  He played his first two years of college basketball at Seminole (Fla.) Junior College in Sanford, Fla., and St. Catharine College in St. Catharine, Ky., before enrolling as Drake in 1999.  He played two seasons for the Bulldogs, appearing in 42 games from 1999 to 2001.  For his career, he averaged 8.0 points on 41.5 percent shooting with 5.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.  He spent seven years playing professionally, including stops internationally in Slovenia, Germany, Finland, Belgium and Venezuela.  A former Wildcat lettermen, Underwood is in his 24th season as a college coach, including his sixth at K-State.  He received much acclaim last season, as Martin took his suggestion of adjusting the offensive scheme to the “pinch-post” in early January.  Figger is in his 19th season as a coach, including his fifth at K-State and assumes the recruiting coordinator position.

Junior Rodney McGruder and sophomore Will Spradling both competed for all-stars teams in Europe this past summer.  Spradling played for Athletes in Action’s tour of Macedonia and Kosovo in Eastern Europe from May 25-30, while McGruder played with the East Coast All-Stars during their trip to the Four Nations Cup in Estonia in early August.  Spradling, playing alongside Big 12 brethren Cory Jefferson and A.J. Walton of Baylor and Jordan Juenemann and Jeff Withey of Kansas helped the AIA squad to a 6-1 record, including the tournament championship against Poland.  He was named the most valuable player and to the All-Tournament team.  He scored 20 or more points twice in the tournament, including a team-high 23 in the team’s only loss to Poland (May 24) and a team-best 25 vs.  the Bulgarian U20 National Team (May 27).  He posted 14 vs. Bulgaria Select (May 26), while he had eight points and four assists vs. the Kosovoan National Team (May 31).  McGruder was named to the Four Nations Cup All-Tournament, as the East Coast All-Stars finished third in the event behind Estonia (2-1) and Georgia (2-1) and ahead of fourth-place Sweden (1-2).  He was the only All-Star named to the all-tournament team after averaging 13.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals in the three-game tournament.  He hit the game-winning shot in the win over Sweden (August 5) before pouring in 22 points and 14 rebounds in the 98-81 loss to Georgia (August 6). 

Senior Victor Ojeleye was recently elected by his peers to serve as Vice-Chair of the Big 12’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) during the 2011-12 athletics season.  A two-time first team Academic All-Big 12 selection, Ojeleye saw action in 24 games as a junior in 2010-11, averaging 1.8 points on 46.2 percent shooting with 1.6 rebounds in 8.0 minutes per game.  He scored in 10 games, including a season-high 12 points against North Florida on Dec. 31, 2010.  A double major in accounting and finance, Ojeleye earned the inaugural Dr. Gerald Lage Award from the Big 12 in 2010-11, which is given to student-athletes who have earned 100 or more hours of credit with a cumulative 3.8 GPA.  He also has been named to the Fall and Spring Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Rolls each of the past two years, including a perfect 4.0 GPA during the Spring 2011 semester.  
UP NEXT: AT OKLAHOMA (10-4, 0-2 BIG 12)
Kansas State hits the road for the second time in Big 12 play on Saturday, as the Wildcats travel to Norman, Okla., to face all-time great and former head coach Lon Kruger and the Oklahoma Sooners (10-4, 0-2 Big 12) at 12:47 p.m. CST on the Big 12 Network.