22/24 Kansas State Travels To Texas Tech Wednesday

Freshman Adrian Diaz had a season-high 9 rebounds at Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Jan. 24, 2012

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22/24 KANSAS STATE (14-4, 3-3 Big 12) AT TEXAS TECH (7-11, 0-6 Big 12)
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 * 8 p.m. CST * Lubbock, Texas * United Spirit Arena (15,098)

Television: ESPNU
Mitch Holthus (play-by-play); Reid Gettys (analyst)
Internet: www.ESPN3.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Brian Smoller (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 92/XM 191 (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 #25, Texas Tech #218
K-State vs. Texas Tech: 14-12 (W, 94-60, 1/15/11)
In Lubbock: 4-7 (W, 83-64, 2/23/10)
Martin vs. Gillispie: First meeting

No. 22/24 Kansas State (14-4, 3-3 Big 12) continues its road swing on Wednesday, as the Wildcats travel to Lubbock, Texas to face Texas Tech (7-11, 0-6 Big 12) at the United Spirit Arena at 8 p.m. CST.  It will be the squad’s second consecutive road game and the second in a four-game span.  The contest will be broadcast on ESPNU with Mitch Holthus (play-by-play) and Reid Gettys (analyst) on the call.  It will be the Wildcats’ fifth and final appearance on ESPNU this season and the first since the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.  K-State was able to earn its first Big 12 road win of the season at Oklahoma State on Saturday, snapping an 11-game losing streak at Gallagher-Iba Arena.  The 66-58 victory was the first against the Cowboys in Stillwater since a 75-62 overtime win on Jan. 9, 1993, the longest active losing streak at a Big 12 venue.  After allowing a Big 12-worst 72.6 points through the first five league games, the Wildcats were able to regain their defensive prowess against OSU, holding the squad to just 58 points on 34.8 percent shooting, including just 6.3 percent (1-of-16) from 3-point range.  It marked the sixth time this season that the team has held an opponent to less than 60 points, including the first since the home Big 12 opener with Missouri on Jan. 7.  The Wildcats play a Texas Tech squad in search of their first Big 12 win of the season after they dropped a 76-52 decision at home to surging Iowa State on Saturday.  Under first-year head coach Billy Gillispie, the Red Raiders are one of the youngest teams in the country with just one senior to go with seven true freshmen and three sophomores on the roster.  

Kansas State has been solid on the road in Big 12 play under head coach Frank Martin, posting a 17-18 (.486) 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 17 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.
Texas Tech enters Wednesday’s game with a 7-11 record and 0-6 mark in Big 12 play after dropping its sixth straight game at home to Iowa State on Saturday.  Under former UTEP, Texas A&M and Kentucky head coach Billy Gillipsie, the Red Raiders are averaging 63.3 points on 45 percent shooting, including 36.8 percent from 3-point range, to go with 32.2 rebounds, 11.6 assists, 5.3 steals and 3.2 blocks per game.  Freshman Jordan Tolbert paces the Red Raiders in both scoring (12.5 ppg.) and rebounding (6.3 rpg.) on 55.6 percent shooting, while sophomore Javarez Willis and junior college transfer Ty Nurse are averaging 8.9 and 8.6 points per game, respectively.  The team’s lone senior - Robert Lewandowski - is averaging 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds to go with a team-best 16 blocked shots.  The Red Raiders are balanced with seven players averaging at least five points per game.    

Wednesday’s game will be the 27th meeting between K-State and Texas Tech dating back to Dec. 6, 1955 with the Wildcats holding a slight 14-12 (.538) edge in the series.  The Red Raiders are 11-7 (.611) in the series since the start of Big 12 play in 1997, but the Wildcats have won four of the last five meetings, including an 83-64 victory in the most recent visit to the United Spirit Arena on Feb. 23, 2010 and a 94-60 win in the last overall meeting on Jan. 15, 2011 in Manhattan.  This will mark the first of two regular-season contests between the two schools for the first time in both schools’ histories.  Overall, K-State is 5-5 (.500) in Lubbock.  Head coach Frank Martin is 3-1 (.750) against the Red Raiders, while Billy Gillipsie is 3-2 (.600) vs. the Wildcats in his career.

Kansas State ended an 11-game losing streak at historic Gallagher-Iba Arena on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats held off a late Oklahoma State rally for a 66-58 win.  After holding as much as a 13-point lead in the second half, K-State was able to convert 7 of its last 10 free throws to close out the game after OSU had cut the deficit to 59-56 with two minutes to play.  Although the Wildcats shot just 36.4 percent from the field, including 21.4 percent from 3-point range, they were able to hold a 50-29 edge on the glass, including 22 offensive rebounds, to earn an 18-4 advantage in second-chance points.  Overall, K-State was stellar defensively, holding OSU to just 34.8 percent shooting, including 6.3 percent from 3-point range.  Nearly half of the Cowboys’ points came from the free throw line (25).  Angel Rodriguez and Rodney McGruder paced three Wildcats in double figures with 14 points each, while Jamar Samuels grabbed his ninth career double-double and fourth this season with 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.  K-State is now 9-0 when Samuels has a double-double in his career.  Despite an off-shooting day (5-of-13), McGruder still led the team in scoring for the eighth straight game.  It was Rodriguez’s first double-figure scoring game in Big 12 play, while he also added a season-best six rebounds, three assists and two steals in 22 minutes of action.
K-State has managed to even to its Big 12 record to current 3-3 mark after dropping three of its first four league games.  It marked the third time in the past four years that the Wildcats have struggled out of the gate, which includes a 1-4 record in 2008-09 and 1-4 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 Phillips 66 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. 

With depth a significant strength for Kansas State in 2011-12, head coach Frank Martin has used six different starting lineups this season.  The only constants in the lineup have been junior Rodney McGruder and sophomore Will Spradling, who are the only players to start each of the team’s 18 games and the only ones averaging 30 or more minutes played.   Senior Jamar Samuels, junior Martavious Irving and freshman Thomas Gipson have started 15 games each, while junior Jordan Henriquez has six starts, sophomore Shane Southwell two and freshman Angel Rodriguez two.  Five of the lineups have been used three or fewer times, while Martin has used the lineup of Spradling, Irving, McGruder, Samuels and Gipson the most at nine times.  Against Texas,  Rodriguez earned his first career start and shifted Spradling to shooting guard, while Gipson returned to the lineup.

K-State has been struck by the turnover bug in Big 12 play with the Wildcats averaging 15.7 turnovers and allowing 20.3 points off those miscues.  The squad has had at least 12 turnovers in each of its six league games, including a season-worst 20 against No. 4/4 Baylor and another 19 against Oklahoma.  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.  Nearly 30 percent (122) of the opponents’ point total (421) have come directly from turnovers, including 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 six Big 12 foes into an average of 16.2 turnovers to go with an average of 19.7 points generated from those mistakes.  The team has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in four of the last five games, including  21 against Missouri, 26 vs. Baylor, 20 vs. Oklahoma and 21 vs. Texas.  The last time the Wildcats posted 20 or more points off of turnovers in more than four consecutive games was five games from Dec. 12, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010.       
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 4.7 points separates the team’s leading scorer (Rodney McGruder - 15.6 ppg.) with the No. 3 scorer (Will Spradling - 10.9 ppg.), while Samuels’ team-leading 6.9 rebounds per game are just 1.8 more than Jordan Henriquez’s No. 4 average of 5.1 rebounds.  The team has seen 10 different players collect 60 double-digit scoring games with McGruder posting a team-leading 14 such games, while Samuels and Spradling are not far behind with 12 and 11 double-figure games, respectively.  The Wildcats are a much better team when three or more players register double-digit points (13-2 on the season), including a 7-1 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 nine 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 (50), Shane Southwell (48) and Angel Rodriguez (39), and five players have double-figure steals led by McGruder’s 23.  In addition, K-State players have tallied nine double-doubles with Samuels posting a team-high four such games to go with Gipson’s three and McGruder’s two.

K-State has taken advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line this season with nearly 25 percent of their points (323) coming from the line.  The Wildcats rank third nationally in free throw attempts per game (27.9), trailing New Mexico State (33.5), and LIU-Brooklyn (28.4), while they tied for 15th in the country in free throws made per game (17.9).  K-State is first in the Big 12 with more than four more attempts per game than second-place Texas (24.9), while it is tied for the most makes with the Longhorns (17.9).  Opponents are averaging 24.6 personal fouls per game, while they have 93 fewer free throws attempted and 37 fewer free throws made.  The team has attempted at least 23 free throws in 16 of 18 games this season, including a season-best 40 against Oklahoma State.  The Wildcats have more free throws attempted than all but five opponents and more makes than seven foes.  The squad has also converted on at least 20 free throws in six games, including a season-best 24 against SIU.

K-State is 79-11 (.875) under Frank Martin, including 12-1 this season, when the squad attempts more free throws, while they are just 30-35 (.462) under Martin, including 2-3 this year, when they equal or are surpassed by their opponent in attempts.   

Kansas State was able to make free throws when it needed them most on Saturday, as the Wildcats converted on 73.1 percent (19-of-26) in the second half against Oklahoma State, including 78.6 percent (11-of-14) in the last five minutes.  After the Cowboys rallied to within 59-56 with two minutes left, freshman Angel Rodriguez knocked down 4-of-6 from the free throw line then junior Rodney McGruder added a 3-of-4 effort from the line to put the game away.  The second half improvement came on the heels of a dismal first half, in which, the squad hit just 28.6 percent (4-of-14) from the line, and a near disasterous performance against Texas on Wednesday.  K-State connected on just 53.8 percent (21-of-39) from the charity stripe against the Longhorns, including just 25 percent (3-of-12) in the last five minutes.  The Wildcats led  the game, 80-73, with 1:14 left before Texas rallied to within 82-80 with 20 seconds left due mostly to a 2-of-8 effort from the free throw line.  The squad was able to get a big steal from Martavious Irving in the last possession followed by a dunk from Rodney McGruder to prevent the collapse.

Although K-State has struggled of late, the squad has still been solid overall on defense, allowing opponents 64.5 points on 39.3 percent shooting, including 28.4 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 40.1 rebounds, 5.8 steals and 4.8 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have held nine foes to under 65 points, including seven below 60 points.  The squad held No. 7/6 Missouri to a season-low 59 points (nearly 30 points below average) on 32.7 percent shooting, including 29.2 percent from 3-point range, while they held Oklahoma State to 58 points on 34.8 percent shooting, including just 6.3 percent from beyond the arc. 

K-State ranks among the Top 50 nationally in four defensive categories, including 13th in 3-point field goal percentage defense, 32nd in field goal percentage defense, 42nd in scoring margin and 44th in blocked shots.  The squad also places in the Big 12’s Top 5 in six defensive categories, including first in rebounding and offensive rebounds, second in 3-point field goal percentage defense, fourth in field goal percentage defense and blocked shots and fifth in 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.  K-State is the only Big 12 school to have four players rank in the Top 20 in rebounding (Jamar Samuels - 5th, Thomas Gipson - 12th, Rodney McGruder - 14th and Jordan Henriquez - 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 2,868 points off of 2,558 turnovers in 156 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, 332-290.  The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 16.5 turnovers per game, including a season-high 22 by Charleston Southern and 21 by North Florida, while just five games into Big 12 play, foes are averaging 16.2 turnovers.  Nine times the Wildcats have scored 20 or more points off miscues, including a season-best 26 against UMES and Baylor.   The team has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in four of the last five games, including four in a row against Missouri (21), Baylor (26), Oklahoma (20) and Texas (21).  The last time the Wildcats posted 20 or more points off of turnovers in more than four consecutive games was five games from Dec. 12, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010.      
Turnovers have been particularly key in the last four games, in which, the squads have combined for 130 turnovers with 179 of the 591 points coming directly from those miscues.  Baylor converted 20 K-State turnovers into 30 points, while the Wildcats scored 26 points off 18 Bear mistakes.  Oklahoma scored 30 points off of 19 K-State turnovers, while the Wildcats tallied 20 points off 13 Sooner miscues.  K-State posted 21 points off 16 Texas turnovers, while the Longhorns had 19 points off 12 Wildcat errors.  On Saturday, both teams turned the ball over 16 times with the Wildcats outscoring the Cowboys, 19-14, off those miscues. 

Kansas State has taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 33.3 points in the paint and 17.8 points off of second-chance opportunities.  The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-best 40.1 rebounds per game, including 15.8 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponent 14 times in 18 games, including 11 times in the last 12.  The team has collected 40 or more rebounds in nine games, including a season-best 50 against George Washington, North Florida and Oklahoma State.  The squad ranks 11th nationally in rebounds per game, including tops in the Big 12, while it ranks sixth nationally in offensive rebounds and tops in the league.  The team is also 23rd nationally (and second in the Big 12) in rebounding margin (+6.7). 

K-State has posted at least 30 points in the paint in 15 of 18 games, including a combined 90 in overtime games with West Virginia (44) and North Florida (46), and have outscored their foes, 600-450 in the paint.  Three times the team has collected 40 or more points in the paint, including tying a season-high with 46 in a win over then unbeaten Missouri on Jan. 7.  The Big 12’s top offensive rebounding team has tallied 20 or more second-chance points five times, while they have had at least 18 in four other contests, with a season-best 27 against North Florida and 25 each vs. George Washington and Oklahoma.  In league play, the Wildcats have posted a 98-50 edge in second-chance points, including a 25-5 advantage against Oklahoma and an 18-4 edge against Oklahoma State.  These numbers were particularly important in win over North Florida on Dec. 11, as the team posted season-bests in both categories, including a 46-34 edge in points in the paint and a 27-8 advantage in second-chance points. 

Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production it is getting from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 22.4 points this season, including 31.2 points during its six-game winning streak from Dec. 11-31.  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.  Against Oklahoma, 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 Southern Illinois 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 when it matters most for the Wildcats.  He is averaging 21.6 points in the last eight games on 56 percent shooting (61-of-109), including 56.3 percent (18-of-32) from 3-point range, while he is shooting 84.6 percent (33-of-39) from the free throw line.  During the streak, he has scored in double figures in each game with two 20-point outings and two 30-point efforts (with both coming in a three-game span) to go with a double-double (19 points and 10 rebounds vs. Oklahoma).  He is also averaging 6.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.5 assists in the span.  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 eight games, which includes 14 points vs. Howard, 15 at No. 14/15 Kansas, 20 vs. No. 7/6 Missouri, 30 vs. No. 4/4 Baylor, 19 at Oklahoma, career-high 33 vs. Texas and 14 vs. Oklahoma State.  He is the first player since Jacob Pullen in 2009-10 to lead the team in scoring in eight straight games.  McGruder’s 33-point effort against Texas on Jan. 18 marked the third time in seven games he has surpassed his career-high in scoring, as he connected on 11-of-17 field goals (4-of-6 from long range) and 7-of-10 from the free throw line.  He is the first Wildcat to have 30 or more points twice in a three-game span since Michael Beasley in 2007-08.  After his 14-point effort at Oklahoma State, he now has a team-leading 14 double-digit scoring games, including six games of 20+ points. 

Junior Rodney McGruder is one of six players to rank in the Big 12’s Top 15 in both overall scoring (15.6 ppg; 6th) and rebounding (5.7 rpg; 12th) this season, joining Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Missouri’s Ricardo Ratliffe, Oklahoma’s Andrew Fitzgerald, Iowa State’s Royce White and Baylor’s Quincy Acy.  McGruder also ranks among the Top 15 in six other Big 12 categories, including  fourth in field goal percentage (47.7), seventh in offensive rebounds (2.6 rpg.), eighth in minutes (31.4), 12th in steals (1.3 spg.), 13th in 3-point field goal percentage (37.0) and 15th in free throw percentage (75.0).  Through six Big 12 games, he is in the Top 10 in six league categories, including first in scoring (21.8 ppg.), second in 3-point field goal percentage (48.0), eighth in field goal percentage (50.5), ninth in rebounding (6.5 rpg.), 3-point field goals made (2.0) and free throw percentage (84.4) and 10th in steals (1.3 spg.).  Overall, McGruder paces the team in five categories, including scoring, field goals (103), field goals attempted (216), steals (23) and minutes (31.4 mpg.).  He joins Will Spradling as the only players to start all 18 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 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’ 14-4 start to season, leading the team in double-doubles (4) and rebounding (6.9 rpg.), while ranking second in scoring (11.2 ppg.).  Despite missing the exhibition game and the first two games due to violations of team rules, he has collected double-figure scoring games in 12 of 16 contests (including a stretch of seven consecutive such games from Dec. 11 to Jan. 4) and to go with a team-high four double-doubles, including back-to-back double-doubles against George Washington and Virginia Tech for the first time in his career.  His seven straight double-figure scoring games were the longest such stretch since he had 10 in a row in 2009-10.  Playing the hometown Colonials on Dec. 1, he picked up his first double-double this season with 10 points and 10 rebounds before he recorded 17 points and a career-tying 14 rebounds in the big road win at Virginia Tech on Dec. 4.  Playing with foul trouble, Samuels was near perfect in the second half against the Hokies, posting a double-double with 15 points (6-of-6 from the field) and 13 rebounds.  He has also tallied double-doubles against UTEP (10 points and 12 rebounds) and Oklahoma State (12 points and 12 rebounds).  In fact, K-State is 9-0 when Samuels registers a double-double in his career.  His four double-doubles are the most he has recorded in a single season.

Samuels ranks first on the team in both free throws (71) and free throws attempted (102), while he is third in minutes (26.4).  He was stellar in Hawai’i during Christmas week, 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 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 12 games, he has scored 60 of his 132 points from the charity stripe, while connecting on 74.1 percent (60-of-81) 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.  His current total of 1,138 points ranks 13th in school history, just 166 points from the all-time Top 10.  He also ranks in the Top 5 all-time in school history in both career free throws (365) and free throws attempted (603).  Both totals rank third on the all-time list, as only Bob Boozer (529/702; 1956-59) and Jacob Pullen (527/684; 2007-11) have made and attempted more free throws in school history.  Against Oklahoma State, he moved up the career Top 10 of two additional categories, now ranking seventh in games played (119) and rebounding (627).  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 eighth in career steals (94) and ninth in 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 10.9 points on 41.1 percent shooting with a team-best 32 3-point field goals, 2.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game in 18 starts.  He joins McGruder as the only players to start all 18 games and the only ones to average 30 minutes per game.  He has posted double figures in 11 of 18 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.  Most of his scoring has come at critical times, as he has posted nearly 65 percent (127) of his scoring total (196) in the second half and overtime this season.  He has scored in double figures three times in the second half, including a season-best 15 vs. Loyola Chicago. 

Spradling ranks among the Big 12 leaders in both 3-point field goal percentage (9th, 40.0) and 3-point field goals made per game (12th, 1.8), while he has at least one trey in 17 of 18 games 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 1.52 assist-to-turnover ratio (50-33).  Since the opener when 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 21 charges taken.  He has posted at least one charge taken in 13 of 18 games this season, including a career-best three each on three occasions.  He has taken nearly as many charges (21) as the entire rest of the team combined (22).  For his career, Spradling has taken 42 charges in 52 games, which is four more than second-place Jamar Samuels (36).  He saw his streak of 11 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 (5.7 rpg.) to go with 8.8 points per game in 15 starts.  He has scored in double figures in six games, leading the team against Loyola Chicago (19), UMES (13), George Washington (17) and North Florida (23), while collecting 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 against 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 returned to the starting lineup against Texas on Jan. 18, posting double figures for the first time in more than a month with 11 points on 4-of-7 field goals and six rebounds in 16 minutes.  He registered back-to-back starts for the first time in Big 12 play at Oklahoma State, but played a season-low seven minutes due to foul problems.

Although it has taken some time to adjust to the college level, freshman Angel Rodriguez is starting to make an impact on the floor, earning back-to-back starts against Texas and Oklahoma State last week.  Although he was limited to just four points in 15 minutes in his first career against the Longhorns, he played perhaps his best all-around game against the Cowboys on Saturday.  He posted fifth double-figure scoring game with a game-tying 14 points against OSU to go with a season-best six rebounds, a team-high three assists and two steals in 22 minutes of action.  He also knocked down 4-of-6 free throws in the waning moments of the game, helping the Wildcats earn their first win at Gallagher-Iba Arena since 1993.  The start against Texas came on the heels of seeing time in 15 of 16 games as a reserve, where he scored in double figures four times, including a season-best 17-point effort on five treys against Southern Illinois on Dec. 22.  He followed that up with 16 points vs. UTEP on Dec. 23 before adding 11 points against Howard on Dec. 31.  During the team’s six-game winning streak from Dec. 11-31, 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 minutes per game.  Rodriguez has registered double-figure minutes in 16 games, including a season-best 29 against UTEP. 

Senior Victor Ojeleye has made an impact off the bench of late, averaging 16.5 minutes in wins over Texas and Oklahoma State last week.  He posted two points and five rebounds against the Longhorns in a season-best 19 minutes of action, while he had two points and four rebounds in 14 minutes against the Cowboys.  Before last week, he had just collected 10 total points and 11 rebounds in 13 games played this season.  The walk-on has been a leader on and off the court during his career, twice earning first team Academic All-Big 12 honors and recently being 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 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. 

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 (18-20) in five seasons, including his sixth Top 10 win (6-11).

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 consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins.  The 58 wins are the most over a five-year span in non-conference play in school history.  Overall, the squad has collected 10 or more wins in non-conference play in six straight 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 was one of seven Big 12 teams to have reached double-digit wins in non-conference play. 

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).

UP NEXT: OKLAHOMA (12-6, 2-4 BIG 12)
Kansas State returns home from a two-game road trip to face Oklahoma (12-6, 2-4 Big 12) for the second time in four games on Saturday at 6 p.m. on FOX Sports Midwest.  The Sooners snapped a two-game skid with an 82-73 win over K-State on Jan. 14.  It will be K-State great and current Oklahoma mentor Lon Kruger’s first visit to Bramlage Coliseum as a visiting head coach.