No. 25 K-State Returns Home to Face Texas Wednesday

Junior Rodney McGruder is averaging a Big 12-best 21 points through 4 league games.

Jan. 17, 2012

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25/RV KANSAS STATE (12-4, 1-3 Big 12) vs. TEXAS (12-5, 2-2 Big 12)
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 * 8 p.m. CST * Manhattan, Kan. * Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

Television: ESPN2
Jon Sciambi (play-by-play); Fran Fraschilla (analyst)
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 94
Live Stats:
Live Audio: (free)
Twitter Updates:
NCAA RPI: K-State #33, Texas #62
K-State vs. Texas: 12-9 (W, 75-70; 2/28/11)
In Manhattan: 6-3 (W, 71-62; 1/18/10)

No. 25 Kansas State (12-4, 1-3 Big 12) returns home to Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday night, as the Wildcats play host to Texas (12-5, 2-2 Big 12) at 8 p.m. CST before a nationally-televised audience on ESPN2.  It will mark the third appearance on ESPN2 this season for K-State with Jon Sciambi and Fran Fraschilla on the call.  The Wildcats are coming off an 82-73 loss at Oklahoma on Saturday, which dropped the squad to 1-3 in Big 12 play for the second consecutive season.  The team has struggled defensively in league play, allowing 70.8 points on 46.9 percent shooting through four games, including 78.5 points on 54.3 percent in losses last week to Baylor and Oklahoma.  The turnover bug has also hit in Big 12 play with K-State averaging 16.5 turnovers and allowing 22.3 points off those miscues. 

Texas enters Wednesday’s game having split its last six games, including its first four league games, after a seven-game winning streak.  The youthful Longhorns, who start three true freshmen, are led by the Big 12’s leading scorer in junior guard J’Covan Brown, who averages 19.1 points on 45.3 percent shooting.  The Wildcats will look to get back on track at home after seeing their 14-game winning streak fall in a 75-73 loss to unbeaten Baylor.  The team has not lost back-to-back home games in Big 12 play since 2010 when K-State lost to Oklahoma State on Jan. 23 and No. 2 Kansas on Jan. 30.  

K-State is enduring another slow start to Big 12 play with its current 1-3 mark after four conference games.  It marks the third time in the past four years that the Wildcats have struggled out of the gate, which includes a 0-4 record in 2008-09 and 1-3 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.  K-State and Kansas are the only conference schools to earn a bye to the Big 12 Championship each of the past four seasons.  However, 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.  

Texas enters Wednesday’s game with a 12-5 record and 2-2 mark in Big 12 play after dropping an 84-73 decision at Missouri on Saturday afternoon.  Under 14th-year head coach Rick Barnes, the dean of Big 12 coaches, the Longhorns are averaging 75.5 points on 45 percent shooting, including 33.8 percent from 3-point range, to go with a 37.9 rebounds, 13.3 assists, 7.2 steals and 4.1 blocks per game.  Two players are averaging in double figures led by junior J’Covan Brown, who ranks first in the Big 12 in scoring at 19.1 points per game to go with 3.9 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 33.3 minutes per game.  Brown is aided by a quartet of freshmen led by Sheldon McClellan, who averages 11.4 points.  Myck Kabongo is third in scoring at 9.8 points to go with a team-high 5.5 assists per game, while Jonathan Holmes and Julien Lewis average 8.8 and 8.4 points per outing.  Senior Clint Chapman, who has started each of the four Big 12 games, is averaging a team-best 5.7 rebounds and 6.1 points.

Wednesday’s game will be the 22nd meeting between Kansas State and Texas dating back to Dec. 8, 1971 with the Wildcats holding a 12-9 (.571) lead in the series.  K-State has won three of the last four meetings, including the last two.  Last season, the Wildcats earned their first Top 10 road victory since 1994 with a 75-70 win over the seventh-ranked Longhorns in Austin on Feb. 28.  K-State is 6-3 (.667) all-time at home in the series with an upset of No. 1 Texas, 71-62, in the last meeting at Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 18, 2010.  Texas holds a 9-7 (.563) since the start of Big 12 play in 1997, including a 3-4 (.429) mark in Manhattan.  This will be the first meeting against an unranked Texas team since 2005.  Head coach Frank Martin is 3-2 (.600) against the Longhorns, including 1-1 at home.  Texas’ Rick Barnes is 8-6 (.571) against the Wildcats, including 3-3 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Oklahoma jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead and never trailed in earning an 82-73 victory over K-State at the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday.  The Sooners shot an opponent-high 54.9 percent from the field, including an opponent-best 70 percent in the second half, and connected on 84.6 percent (22-of-26) from the free throw line to snap a two-game losing streak at home in the series.  K-State struggled offensively throughout the game, connecting on just 39.1 percent from the field, including 33.3 percent from 3-point range.  The Wildcats held the Big 12's best rebounding team to just 24 rebounds and a 44-24 edge on the glass.  However, the team allowed the Sooners to score 30 points off of 19 turnovers, marking the second straight game that K-State has allowed an opponent to score 30 points off miscues.  Junior Rodney McGruder earned his fourth career double-double with a team-high 19 points and a game-high 10 rebounds in 39 minutes of action.  He has led the team in scoring in six straight games and has now scored in double figures a team-best 12 times.  Reserves Jeremy Jones and Nino Williams both netted career-highs with 12 points each, while senior Jamar Samuels had a near double-double with a game-high 11 rebounds and nine points.     

One of the issues with the slow start to Big 12 play has been lapses on defense, which has allowed opponents to score 70.8 points on 46.9 percent shooting, including 35.5 percent from 3-point range.  Kansas State currently ranks seventh in league-only games in both scoring defense and 3-point field goal percentage defense, while the team is 10th in field goal percentage defense.  During non-conference play, the Wildcats were solid defensively, allowing opponents just 61.7 points per game on 36.7 percent shooting from the field, including 27.7 percent from 3-point range.  Those numbers have been worse in the last two games, where K-State has allowed 78.5 points on 54.3 percent shooting and 40 percent from 3-point range in losses to No. 4/4 Baylor and Oklahoma.  In consecutive games, the squad has allowed an opponent to top the season-high for field goal percentage, as the Bears connected on 53.7 percent of its field goals before the Sooners shot 54.9 percent from the field.  In the second half against Baylor and Oklahoma, K-State allowed a combined 66.7 percent (30-of-45) shooting from the field, including 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from 3-point range.  The Sooners became the first team (and second overall) to top 80 points in regulation.

K-State has been struck by the turnover bug in Big 12 play with the Wildcats averaging 16.5 turnovers and allowing 22.3 points off those miscues.  The squad has had at least 13 turnovers in each of its four league games, including a season-worst 20 against No. 4/4 Baylor and another 19 against Oklahoma on Saturday.  Opponents have scored at least 11 points off these miscues, including 18 for Kansas and a Frank Martin era-worse 30 for both the Bears and Sooners.  Over 30 percent (89) of the opponents’ point total (283) have come directly from turnovers, including nearly 40 percent (60) against Baylor and Oklahoma.  During the non-conference season, K-State averaged nearly 15 turnovers per outing (14.7) and allowed 14 points off those mistakes, while its opponents were forced into nearly 17 turnovers per game (16.7) with an average of 17.8 points scored off those miscues. 

On a positive note, the Wildcats have been able to force its four Big 12 foes into an average of 16.3 turnovers to go with an average of 19.5 points generated from those mistakes.  The team has scored 20 or more points off turnovers in three consecutive games for the first time this season, including 26 against Baylor, 21 against Missouri and 20 against Oklahoma.       

K-State was unable to hold off Baylor to secure its second consecutive win over an undefeated team on Jan. 9, 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. 
K-State has proved to be a balanced team across the board with seven players averaging five or more points, including three in double figures, and four averaging five or more rebounds per game.  Just 3.7 points separates the team’s leading scorer (Rodney McGruder - 14.6 ppg.) with the No. 3 scorer (Jamar Samuels - 10.9 ppg.), while Samuels’ team-leading 6.7 rebounds per game are just 1.4 more than Jordan Henriquez’s No. 4 average of 5.3 boards.  The team has seen 10 different players collect 53 double-digit scoring games with McGruder posting a team-leading 12 such games, while Samuels and Spradling are not far behind with 10 double-figure games each.  The Wildcats are a much better team when three or more players register double-digit points (11-2 on the season), including a 6-1 mark when four or more players collect 10 or more points.  In two of four 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 seven times) and four leading rebounders (with Samuels leading six times), 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 (47), Shane Southwell (43) and Angel Rodriguez (34), and five players have double-figure steals led by McGruder’s 21.  In addition, K-State players have tallied eight double-doubles already on the season with Gipson and Samuels each tallying three and McGruder also posting two.

K-State has taken advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line this season with nearly 25 percent of their points (279) coming from the line.  The Wildcats rank seventh nationally in free throw attempts per game (26.5), trailing New Mexico State (34.8), LIU-Brooklyn (28.5), Maryland (27.5), Oregon State (27.2), Northwestern State (27.1) and Duke (27.1), while they are 26th in the country in free throws made per game (17.4).  The squad is first in the Big 12 with nearly two more attempts than second-place Texas (25.2), while they are third in makes behind the Longhorns (18.0) and Missouri Tigers (17.5).  Opponents are averaging 24.1 personal fouls per game, while they have 64 fewer free throws attempted and 37 fewer free throws made.  The team has attempted at least 23 free throws in 14 of 16 games this season, including a season-best 33 vs. Charleston Southern, Virginia Tech and Alabama.  The Wildcats have more free throws attempted than every opponent except West Virginia, UTEP, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, while they have more makes in nine of 16 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 30-35 (.462) under Martin, including 2-3 this season, when they equal or are surpassed by their opponent in free throw attempts. 

Although K-State has struggled of late, the squad has still been solid overall on defense, allowing opponents 63.9 points on 39.1 percent shooting, including 29.5 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 39.9 rebounds, 6.1 steals and 5.1 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 Wednesday’s game, K-State ranks among the Top 50 nationally in four defensive categories, including 36th in field goal percentage defense, 30th in 3-point field goal percentage defense, 34th in blocked shots and 44th in scoring margin.  The squad also places in the Big 12’s Top 5 in six defensive categories, including first in rebounding and offensive rebounds, third in blocked shots and 3-point field goal percentage defense and fifth in scoring defense.  Under 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 rank in the Top 20 in rebounding (Jamar Samuels - 6th, Thomas Gipson - 11th, Rodney McGruder - 17th and Jordan Henriquez - 18th).

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 2,828 points off of 2,526 turnovers in 154 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, 292-257.  The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 16.6 turnovers per game, including a season-high 22 by Charleston Southern and 21 against North Florida.  Eight times the Wildcats have scored 20 or more points off miscues, including a season-best 26 against UMES and Baylor.  This statistic has been particularly important in the last two games, in which, the squads have combined for 70 turnovers with 106 of the 303 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.  Oklahoma scored 30 points off of 19 K-State turnovers, while the Wildcats garnered 20 points off of 13 Sooner miscues. 

Kansas State has taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 33.1 points in the paint and 18.0 points off of second-chance opportunities.  The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-best 39.9 rebounds per game, including 15.3 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponent 12 times in 16 games, including nine times in the last 10.  The team has collected 40 or more rebounds in eight games, including a season-best 50 against George Washington and North Florida.  K-State ranks 16th nationally in rebounds per game (39.9), including tops in the Big 12, while it ranks ninth nationally in offensive rebounds (15.3) and tops in the league.  The team is also 31st nationally (and second in the Big 12) in rebounding margin.  The Wildcats have posted at least 30 points in the paint in 13 of 16 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 has also collected 20 or more second-chance points five times, including a season-best 27 against North Florida and 25 each against George Washington and Oklahoma.  These numbers were particularly important in the win over North Florida, as the Wildcats posted season-bests in both categories, including a 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). 

Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production it is getting from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 23.8 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.  On Saturday, the Wildcats finally got their bench back involved in the offense with their reserves totaling (33) nearly half of the team’s 73 points.  Most this production came from Jones (12) and freshman Nino Williams, who nearly posted his first career double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.  Williams tied or posted career-highs in 11 categories, including points, rebounds and minutes played (15) against the Sooners.  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.  

Kansas State has taken advantage of its size in the paint to post nearly twice as many blocked shots (81-48) as their opponents this season, averaging nearly 5.2 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have posted at least six blocks in seven of 16 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 33rd nationally with 2.4 per game.  Henriquez has tallied 38 blocked shots on the year, which is 10 shy of the entire opponent total, and represents nearly 47 percent of the team’s total.  His 38 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 16 games this season and the Wildcats are now 25-5 (.833) when he registers at least two blocks in a game in his career.

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 points in the last six games on 57 percent shooting (45-of-79), including 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from 3-point range, while he is shooting 92 percent (23-of-25) from the free throw line.  The streak began at Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 25 when he earned most valuable player honors 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 has led the team in scoring in each of the last six games, which includes 14 points vs. Howard, 15 points at No. 14/15 Kansas, 20 points  vs. No. 7/6 Missouri, a career-best 30 points vs. No. 4/4 Baylor and 19 points at Oklahoma.  His 30-point effort against the Bears marked the second time in five games he has broken his career-high in scoring, as he connected 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 registered his second double-double (and fourth overall) against the Sooners on Saturday with 19 points and 10 rebounds.  He also led the team in assists (4) and steals (2) in 39 minutes of action. 

McGruder now has a team-leading 12 double-digit scoring games, including five games of 20 or more points.  He ranks in the Top 20 in both scoring (14.6 ppg; 6th) and rebounding (5.4 rpg; 17th) in the Big 12, while he is seventh in field goal percentage (46.8), eighth in offensive rebounds (2.5 rpg.) and 12th in steals (1.3 spg.).  Through just four league games, he is first in scoring (21.0 ppg.), fifth in free throw percentage (17-of-18; 94.4%) and eighth in field goal percentage (49.2).  Overall, he paces the team in five categories, including scoring, field goals (87), field goals attempted (186), steals (21) and minutes played (31.1mpg.).  He and Will Spradling are the only players to start all 16 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’ 12-4 start to season, leading the team in rebounding (6.7 rpg.) and ranking third in scoring (10.9 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 14 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 (62) and free throws attempted (88), while he is third in minutes (26.3). 

He 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 10 games, he has scored 50 of his 104 points from the charity stripe, while connecting on 74.6 percent (50-of-67) from the line.  

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 1,112 points ties him for 13th in school history with all-time great Willie Murrell (1,112; 1962-64).  He can crack the Top 10 with 192 points.  Samuels also ranks in the Top 5 all-time in school history in both career free throws (356) and free throws attempted (589).  His 356 makes rank fourth on the all-time list (just five shy of passing Steve Henson), while his 589 attempts are third behind only Bob Boozer (702; 1956-59) and Jacob Pullen (684; 2007-11).  Against Oklahoma, he cracked the career Top 10 in two additional categories, as he is now tied for ninth in games played (117) with Mike Evans (1974-78) and Ayome May (1995-99) and ranks 10th in rebounds (611).   He is one of just 11 players in school history to tally at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career, joining the likes of Rolando Blackman (1977-81), Bob Boozer (1956-59), Ed Nealy (1978-82)and Jack Parr (1955-58) to accomplish the feat.  Samuels also ranks ninth in both career steals (93) and blocks (83).  

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.
Sophomore Will Spradling has solidified the starting point guard spot so far this season, averaging 11.1 points on 42.5 percent shooting with a team-best 31 3-point field goals, 2.9 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 30.2 minutes per game in 16 starts.  He joins McGruder as the only players to start all 16 games and the only ones to average 30 minutes per game.  He has posted double figures in 10 of 16 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, 40.3) 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 1.62 assist-to-turnover ratio (47-29).  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 16 games this season, including a career-best three each on three occasions.  He taken as nearly as many charges (19) as the entire rest of the team combined (20).  For his career, Spradling has taken 40 charges in 50 games, which is four 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 (6.0 rpg.) to go with 8.8 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 Jan. 10.

Sophomore Shane Southwell has made an impact in a number of areas for the Wildcats in 2011-12, averaging 4.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and a team-best 2.9 assists in 21.7 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 (1.95) through 116 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 eight 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.

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 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. 

Kansas State hits the road on Saturday with a trip to Stillwater, Okla., to take on Oklahoma State (9-8, 2-2 Big 12) at 12:30 p.m. on the Big 12 Network.  The Cowboys have won 11 straight games over the Wildcats at Gallagher-Iba Arena dating back to 1993.