18/18 K-State Travels To Oklahoma on Saturday

Junior Jordan Henriquez has posted double-figure points in the last 2 games.

Jan. 12, 2012

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18/18 KANSAS STATE (12-3, 1-2 Big 12) AT OKLAHOMA (10-5, 0-3 Big 12)
Saturday, January 14, 2012 * 12:30 p.m. CST * Norman, Okla. * Lloyd Noble Center (12,000)

Television: Big 12 Network (ESPN Full Court)
Brad Sham (play-by-play); Stephen Howard (analyst)
Channels: KSHB (Kansas City), KSAS (Wichita), KTMJ (Topeka)
Internet: www.ESPN3.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 117 (home team broadcast)
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, Oklahoma #65
K-State vs. Oklahoma: 91-102 (W, 77-62; 2/19/11)
In Norman: 25-59 (W, 83-68; 2/20/10)

No. 18/18 Kansas State (12-3, 1-2 Big 12) hits the road for the second time in Big 12 play on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats invade Norman, Okla., to face all-time great and former head coach Lon Kruger and his Oklahoma Sooners (10-5, 0-3 Big 12) at the Lloyd Noble Center.  The game will be broadcast on the Big 12 Network (as well as ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com) at 12:30 p.m. CST with Brad Sham and Stephen Howard on the call.  K-State is coming off a tough 75-73 loss to unbeaten Baylor at home on Tuesday, which snapped the school’s 15-game homecourt winning streak and 14-game streak at Bramlage Coliseum.  The 14-game winning streak tied for the longest in the arena’s 24-year history.  Oklahoma enters Saturday’s game with losses in four of the last five games, including three consecutive defeats to start league play.   However, the Sooners have been stellar at home this season, posting a 7-1 mark at the Lloyd Noble Center with the lone loss coming to No. 14/15 Kansas on Jan. 7.

Saturday’s game will be the third of at least 10 regular-season broadcasts on the Big 12 Network.  The league television package can be seen locally on KSHB-TV in Kansas City, KSAS-TV in Wichita and KTMJ-TV in Topeka.  The contest can also seen throughout the Big 12 region on Altitude2 in Denver, KPLR-TV in St. Louis, KOCB-TV in Oklahoma City, KTUL-TV in Tulsa, KNVA-TV in Austin, Texas, WOI-TV in Des Moines, KXVO-TV in Omaha and KZOU-TV in Columbia, Mo.  It will also be on the YES Network in New York City and KDOC-TV in Los Angeles.  All games on the Big 12 Network can be found on ESPN Full Court as well as ESPN3.com.

Kansas State and Oklahoma have faced two of the more difficult early-season conference schedules.  The Wildcats have losses to No. 14/15 Kansas and No. 4/4 Baylor to go with a win over No. 7/6 Missouri at home, while the Sooners have road defeats at No. 7/6 Missouri and rival Oklahoma State to go with a home setback to No. 14/15 Kansas.  For K-State, it marked the first time in school history that the team has played three consecutive ranked foes to start league play and the first time since the 2002-03 season (No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 11 OSU and No. 12 Kansas) that they have played a stretch of three consecutive ranked opponents.

Oklahoma enters Saturday’s game with a 10-5 record and 0-3 mark in Big 12 play after dropping a 72-65 decision at rival Oklahoma State on Monday night.  Under first-year head coach Lon Kruger, the youthful Sooners are averaging 73.3 points on 43.2 percent shooting, including 38.7 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 40.9 rebounds, 13.9 assists, 6.5 steals and 3.6 blocks per game.  Four players are averaging in double figures led by junior Steven Pledger, who ranks fourth in the Big 12 in scoring at 17.2 points per game on 49.4 percent shooting.  Fellow junior Andrew Fitzgerald averages 12.5 points on 47 percent shooting.  Transfer Romero Osby averages a near double-double with a team-best 8.5 rebounds (No. 3 in Big 12) to go with 10.9 points per game.  Junior college transfer Sam Grooms is the squad’s primary ball-handler and averages a team-high 5.1 assists per game.  

Saturday’s game will be the 194th meeting between K-State and Oklahoma dating back to Jan. 23, 1920 with the Sooners holding a 102-91 (.528) lead in the series.  Oklahoma and Kansas are the only conference schools to hold a lead in an all-time series with K-State.  The Sooners are 59-25 (.702) all-time at home in the series, however, the Wildcats have won last two meetings at the Lloyd Noble Center in 2008 and 2010.  The school has not won three straight in Norman since a five-game streak from 1952-56.  Oklahoma holds a 10-6 (.625) edge since the start of Big 12 play in 1997, including a 2-5 (.286) mark at home.  Head coach Frank Martin is 3-1 (.750) against the Sooners, including 2-0 on the road.  Lon Kruger is 2-1 (.667) against his alma mater.  
Saturday’s game will reunite K-State with one of its all-greatest players in first-year Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger.  The native of Silver Lake, Kan., Kruger was twice named Big Eight Player of the Year (1973 and 1974) during his playing career (1971-74) as a Wildcat, helping the school to a pair of Elite Eight appearances and two conference regular season titles.  He is one of 10 players to have his jersey retired to the rafters of Bramlage Coliseum.  Kruger also coached the Wildcats from 1986-90, becoming the first head coach in school history to lead K-State to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.  Kruger’s coaching staff also includes several K-Staters, including all-time assists leader Steve Henson (1986-90) and former manager Mike Shepherd.   This will be Kruger’s fourth meeting with his alma mater with the others coming at Illinois (1999) and UNLV (2009, 2010).

Kansas State has been solid on the road in Big 12 play under head coach Frank Martin, posting a 16-17 (.485) since the 2007-08 season.   Prior to Martin’s arrival (which includes a 4-4 road mark as Bob Huggins’ top assistant in 2006-07), the Wildcats won just 10 road games (out of 70) in their first 10 years of Big 12 play, including winless marks in 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2003.  You would have to count up the last four years of the Big Eight (1992-96) and the first 10 in the Big 12 to get more than the 16 road wins that Martin has posted in his career.  Last season, the Wildcats went 3-5 on the road, including an upset of No. 7 Texas in Austin on Feb. 28, 2010, which was the first over a Top 10 on the road since beating top-ranked Kansas on Jan. 17, 1994.

K-State is enduring another slow start to Big 12 play with its current 1-2 mark after three conference games.  It marks the third time in the past four years that the Wildcats have struggled out of the gate, which includes a 0-3 record in 2008-09 and 1-2 mark in 2010-11.  However, the team managed to rally in those previous two occasions to earn one of the four byes at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with the 2008-09 team winning six in a row after a 0-4 start and the 2010-11 team winning eight of its last nine after a 1-4 start to league play.  Kansas State and Kansas are the only conference schools to earn a bye to the Big 12 Championship each of the past four seasons.  The format for the championship changes in 2011-12 with the top-6 seed all getting byes to the quarterfinals with seeds 8 and 9 and 7 and 10 playing each other in the first round.  

K-State could not knock off an unbeaten team for the second consecutive game on Tuesday, as No. 4/4 Baylor remained unbeaten on the season with a 75-73 win over the Wildcats at home.  The loss snapped the team’s 15-game homecourt winning streak (which includes the Sprint Center game with Alabama on Dec. 17), including its 14-game streak at Bramlage Coliseum.  Down two points and the ball with 20 seconds left, K-State could not get a shot off before time expired.  The Wildcats, who shot 50 percent from the field, including 52.4 percent in the second half, lost for the first time this season (4-1) and the first time under Frank Martin (28-1) when connecting on 50 percent or better of its field goals.  The squad led by as many as 10 points in the first half and nine points in the second half before the Bears used a 25-8 run to take an eight-point lead with 10 minutes to play.  K-State used an 11-2 spurt to take back the lead, 63-62, on Will Spradling 3-pointer with 7:02 remaining.  However, senior  Quincy Acy scored five of Baylor’s last six points to hold off the upset.  Junior Rodney McGruder had a career night with 30 points on 10-of-14 field goals, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, to go with an 8-of-8 effort from the free throw line in 36 minutes.  Fellow junior Jordan Henriquez added 12 points on 5-of-9 field goals, while senior Jamar Samuels and freshman Angel Rodriguez added seven points each.  Sophomore Perry Jones III led four Bears in double figures with 17 points. 

K-State was unable to hold off Baylor to secure its second consecutive win over an undefeated team on Tuesday, as the Wildcats lost for the first time this season (10-1) and for just the fourth time in 104 games (100-4) under head coach Frank Martin when holding a lead with 5:00 to play.  The squad led 71-67 after a pair of Jordan Henriquez free throws with 4:11 to play before the Bears rallied to tie it for the sixth time at 71-all and then take the lead for good on a free throw by Quincy Acy.  Although Rodney McGruder cut it to 74-73 with a lay-up with 2:06 to play, the Wildcats could not get a shot off in the last 20 seconds. 
The 75-59 win over No. 7/6 Missouri on Jan. 7 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 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 2.2 points separates the team’s leading scorer (Rodney McGruder - 14.3 ppg.) with the No. 2 and 3 scorers (Jamar Samuels and Will Spradling - 11.1 ppg.), while Samuels’ team-leading 6.4 rebounds per game are just 1.3 more than McGruder’s No. 4 average of 5.1 boards.  The team has seen nine different players collect 49 double-digit scoring games with McGruder posting a team-leading 11 such games, while Samuels and Spradling are not far behind with 10 and nine double-figure games, respectively.  The Wildcats are a much better team when three or more players register double-digit points (11-1 on the season), including a 6-0 mark when four or more players collect 10 or more points.  In two of three losses this season, the squad had just two players (vs. Kansas and Baylor) in double-figure scoring.   

K-State has had five different scoring leaders (with McGruder leading the way six times) 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.  Nine players have collected double-figure assists this season, including 30 or more assists by Will Spradling (43), Shane Southwell (40) and Angel Rodriguez (34), and five players have double-figure steals led by McGruder’s 19.  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 (266) coming from the line.  The Wildcats rank sixth nationally in free throw attempts per game (27.1), trailing New Mexico State (35.4, Duke (28.2), LIU-Brooklyn (27.9), Maryland (27.8) and Oregon State (27.5), while they tied for 19th in the country in free throws made per game (17.7).  The squad is first in the Big 12 with nearly two more attempts than second-place Texas (25.9), while they are second in makes behind the Longhorns’ 18.5 per game average.  Opponents are averaging 24.6 personal fouls per game, while they have 72 fewer free throws attempted and 46 fewer free throws made.  Aside from the Kansas game, where the team  
posted season-lows for both free throw makes (8) and attempts (16), they have 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, while they have more makes in nine of 15 games.  The squad has also converted on at least 20 free throws in five games, including a season-best 24 against Southern Illinois.  K-State is 77-11 (.875) under head coach Frank Martin, including 10-1 this season, when they attempt more free throws, 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 62.7 points on 38.2 percent shooting, including 28.9 percent from 3-point range, to go with 39.6 rebounds, 6.1 steals and 5.2 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 Saturday’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 second in rebounding and offensive rebounds, third in blocked shots, fourth in 3-point field goal percentage defense and fifth in scoring defense.  Under head coach 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.  K-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 2,808 points off of 2,513 turnovers in 153 games - an average of 18.4 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, 272-227.  The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 16.8 turnovers per game, including a season-high 22 by Charleston Southern and 21 against North Florida.  Seven times the Wildcats have scored 20 or more points off miscues, including a season-best 26 against both UMES and Baylor.  This statistic was particularly important against the Bears on Tuesday, in which, the squads combined for 38 turnovers with 56 of the 148 points coming directly from those miscues.  Baylor converted 20 K-State turnovers into 30 points, while the Wildcats scored 26 points off of 18 Bear mistakes. 

Kansas State has taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 34.0 points in the paint and 17.5 points off of second-chance opportunities.  The Wildcats are averaging 39.6 rebounds per game, including 14.7 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponent 11 times in 15 games, including eight times in the last nine.  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 20th nationally in rebounds per game (39.6), including second in the Big 12, while it ranks 15th nationally in offensive rebounds (14.7) and second in the league.  The team is also 50th nationally (and fifth in the Big 12) in rebounding margin.  The Wildcats have posted at least 30 points in the paint in 13 of 15 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 on Jan. 7 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 particularly important in the overtime win over North Florida on Dec. 11, as the Wildcats 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 eight) 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 posting his third double-double with a game-high 12 boards and his first career 20-point game (23). 

Kansas State has taken advantage of its size in the paint to post nearly twice as many blocked shots (78-46) as their opponents this season, averaging nearly 5.2 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have posted at least six blocks in seven of 15 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 2.5 per game.  Henriquez has tallied 37 blocked shots on the year, which is nine shy of the entire opponent total, and represents nearly 47 percent of the team’s total.  His 37 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 15 games this season and the Wildcats are now 25-5 (.833) when he registers at least two blocks in a game in his career.

Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production it is getting from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 23.1 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 games from the bench, including a season-best 17 against Southern Illinois, averaging a team-best 14.3 points on 53.1 percent shooting from the field.  He was not alone in his production from the bench, 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 he collected nine and eight points, respectively, in back-to-back games against Southern Illinois and UTEP.  Overall, the 48-point bench effort against the Salukis was the most of the Frank Martin era, while the 90 combined bench points (against Southern Illinois and UTEP) were the most in consecutive games under Martin.     

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 21.4 points in the last five games on 61.9 percent shooting (39-of-63), including 56.3 percent (9-of-16) from 3-point range.  He earned most valuable player honors at Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 25 after torching Long Beach State for 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 with a 14-point effort against Howard on Dec. 31 before a team-high 15 points at No. 14/15 Kansas to go with a team-best 20 points vs. No. 7/6 Missouri.  He broke his career-high for the second time in five games on Tuesday against No. 4/4 Baylor with a career-best 30 points, connecting on 10-of-14 field goals (2-of-3 from long range) and 8-of-8 from the free throw line in 36 minutes.  It marked the first time he has posted 20 or more points in back-to-back games. 

McGruder now has a team-leading 11 double-digit scoring games, including five games of 20 or more points.  He ranks in the Top 20 in both scoring (14.3 ppg; 7th) and rebounding (5.1 rpg; 19th) in the Big 12, while he is sixth in field goal percentage (47.6), 11th in offensive rebounds (2.2 rpg.) and 12th in steals (1.3 spg.).  Through just three league games, he is first in scoring (21.7 ppg.) and free throw percentage (14-of-14; 100%) and fourth in field goal percentage (53.3).  Overall, he paces the team in five categories, including scoring, field goals (81), field goals attempted (170), steals (19) and minutes played (30.6 mpg.).  He and Will Spradling are the only players to start all 15 games this season and the only ones averaging 30 or more minutes.

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.  Remarkably, by making 10-of-11 field goals against LBSU, he posted one of the best shooting nights 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 when attempting more than 10 shots.   

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’ 12-3 start to season, leading the team in rebounding (6.4 rpg.) and ranking second in scoring (11.1 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 13 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.  Playing the hometown Colonials, he picked up his first double-double this season with 10 points and 10 rebounds on Dec. 1 before he recorded 17 points and a career-tying 14 rebounds in the big road win at Virginia Tech on Dec. 4.  Samuels also ranks first on the team in both free throws (61) and free throws attempted (86), while he is third in minutes (26.1).  

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 nine games, he has scored 49 of his 95 points from the charity stripe, while connecting on 76.7 percent (49-of-65) 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 1,103 points ranks 14th in school history (three more than Denis Clemente) and is just nine shy of passing Willie Murrell (1,112; 1962-64) for 13th place.  He can crack the Top 10 with 201 points.  Samuels also ranks in the Top 5 all-time in school history in both career free throws (355) and free throws attempted (587).  His 355 makes rank fourth on the all-time list (just six shy of passing Steve Henson), 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 seven shy of 10th-place Rolando Blackman (607; 1977-81), and is one games away from the career games played  Top 10 with 116 games.  He already ranks ninth in career blocks (82) and 10th in steals (93).  In addition, his 358 personal fouls are the most in school history.    
Sophomore Will Spradling has solidified the starting point guard spot so far this season, averaging 11.1 points on 44.6 percent shooting with a team-best 28 3-point field goals, 2.9 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game in 15 starts.  He has posted double figures in nine of 15 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 (7th, 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 1.72 assist-to-turnover ratio (43-25).  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 15 games this season, including a career-best three each on three occasions.  He has more charges taken (19) as the entire rest of the team combined (18).  For his career, Spradling has taken 40 charges in 49 games, which is five more than second-place Jamar Samuels (36).  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 a season-low 12 minutes.  He came back with four points and two rebounds against Baylor on Tuesday.

Sophomore Shane Southwell has made an impact in a number of areas for the Wildcats in 2011-12, averaging 4.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and a team-best 2.9 assists in 21.1 minutes per game.  For the third time in five games, he tied his career-high with six assists against Missouri on Jan. 7 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 (2.00) through 15 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 seven 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.

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.

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. 

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.

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: TEXAS (12-4, 2-1 BIG 12)
Kansas State returns home to Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday, Jan. 18, as the Wildcats play host to Texas (12-4, 2-1 Big 12) on ESPN2 at 8 p.m.  The squad has won three of the last four meetings with the Longhorns, including two in a row.