K-State Hits the Road for Surging Iowa State Tuesday

Junior Rodney McGruder has led the Wildcats in scoring nine times in the last 10 games.

Jan. 30, 2012

Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

RV/RV KANSAS STATE (15-5, 4-4 Big 12) AT RV/RV IOWA STATE (15-6, 5-3 Big 12)
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 * 8 p.m. CST * Ames, Iowa * Hilton Coliseum (14,356)

Television: FOX Sports Midwest HD (ESPN Full Court)
Ben Boyle (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Channels: DirecTV 671, Dish 418, AT&T U-verse 748, TWC 309
HD Channels: DirecTV 671-1, Dish 418-1, AT&T 1748, TWC 1309
Internet: www.ESPN3.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Matt Walters (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 93/XM 190 (home broadcast only)
Live Stats:  www.k-statesports.com/multimedia
Live Audio: www.k-statesports.com/allaccess (free)
Twitter Updates: twitter.com/kstate_gameday
K-State vs. Iowa State: 135-77 (W, 67-55, 3/5/11)
In Ames: 50-44 (W, 86-85, 2/5/11)

Kansas State (15-5, 4-4 Big 12) wraps up the first month of the Big 12 season on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats travel to Ames, Iowa to take on the surging Iowa State Cyclones (15-6, 5-3 Big 12) at Hilton Coliseum.   The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Midwest (as well as ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com) at 6 p.m. CST with Ben Boyle and Stan Weber on the call.  K-State saw its three-game Big 12 winning streak come to a screeching halt on Saturday night, as Oklahoma completed the season sweep with an 63-60 win at Bramlage Coliseum.  It marked the fewest points scored by the Wildcats at home this season and the fewest in Bramlage Coliseum since the Sooners held them to 53 in a 61-53 victory on Jan. 10, 2009.  The squad was once again struck by the turnover bug, tying a season-high with 20 turnovers leading to 22 points.  In Big 12 play, K-State is allowing 16.4 turnovers per game with opponents averaging 18.9 points off those mistakes.  The Wildcats are doing their part to lessen the disadvantage, pressuring their league foes into 17.0 turnovers per game and scoring nearly 20 points (19.6) off those miscues.  K-State will play an Iowa State (15-6, 5-3 Big 12) team playing its best basketball of the year after handing No. 5/5 Kansas its first conference loss with a 72-64 victory on Saturday.  The Cyclones have lost just twice at home this season (Northern Iowa and Missouri).  

Tuesday’s game will be the seventh and final broadcast on FOX Sports Midwest this season.  The contest will be available to most of the FSN Midwest footprint, including more than 5.9 million cable and satellite homes in the states of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois.  It will not be available in the state of Indiana due to a conflict with a Pacers game.  For fans looking to find the game is in your area, a channel finder for FOX Sports Kansas City/Midwest can be found at www.FOXSportsKansasCity.com.

Kansas State has been solid on the road in Big 12 play under head coach Frank Martin, posting a 18-18 (.500) 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 five years of the Big Eight (1991-96) and the first 10 in the Big 12 to equal the 18 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. 
Iowa State enters Tuesday’s game with a 15-6 record and 5-3 mark in Big 12 play after knocking off No. 5/5 Kansas on Saturday.  The Cyclones are a game ahead of the Wildcats in the league standings in fourth place and have their most league wins after eight games since 2001.  Under second-year head coach Fred Hoiberg, the Cyclones are averaging 74.2 points on 44.9 percent shooting, including 37.6 percent from 3-point range, to go with a 37 rebounds, 14 assists, 5.9 steals and 2.9 blocks per game.  Iowa State is the Big 12’s best 3-point shooting team, ranking first in makes (8.8 per game) and third in percentage.  Three players are averaging in double figures led by sophomore forward Royce White, who ranks in the Top 15 in the Big 12 in scoring (13.6 ppg.), rebounding (9.6 rpg.), assists (4.5 apg.) and blocked shots (1.1 bpg.).  In all, six players are averaging eight or more points on the season.
Tuesday’s game will be the 213th meeting between Kansas State and Iowa State dating back to Jan. 12, 1909 with the Wildcats holding a 135-77 (.637) lead in the series.  The Wildcats are 50-44 (.532) on the road in the series, including five straight wins at Hilton Coliseum for the first time since winning six in a row from 1972-77.  K-State is 17-14 (.548) since the start of Big 12 play.  Frank Martin is 7-1 (.875) against the Cyclones, including 4-0 on the road, while Fred Hoiberg is 0-2 (.600) against K-State.  
Lon Kruger continued his mastery of the alma mater this season, as the first-year coach and his Oklahoma Sooners held on for a 63-60 win over Kansas State at Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday night.  In his first visit to Manhattan as a visiting head coach and his first on the Bramlage Coliseum floor since his last game in 1990 as Wildcat head coach, Kruger was able to the Sooners complete the season sweep of the Wildcats in the first year of the new 18-game Big 12 format and the first time since the 1991-92 season.  K-State was held to a season-low 60 points at home and the fewest overall at Bramlage Coliseum since the Sooners held the Wildcats to 53 on Jan. 10, 2009.  The Wildcats connected on a higher field goal percentage (41.2 to 40.0) and posted a season-best 83.3 percent (15-of-18) from the free throw line, but could not overcome a season-tying 20 turnovers, in which, Oklahoma scored 22 points.  K-State struggled from long range for third consecutive game, connecting on just 3-of-17 from 3-point trange.  Junior Steven Pledger was a one-man wrecking crew for the Sooners by tying an opponent high with 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-7 from long range.  Junior Rodney McGruder was one of two Wildcats in double figures with a team-best 19 points, while rookie Angel Rodriguez added 10 points before fouling out.  McGruder has now scored in double figures in 10 consecutive games and has been the leading scorer nine times in that span.  Senior Jamar Samuels had a near double-double with nine points and a game-high eight rebounds to go with two blocks in 30 minutes of action.     
K-State dropped back to .500 in Big 12 play after the loss to Oklahoma, but it is still remarkable after dropping three of its first four league games.  The 1-3 start 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 occasions to earn one of the four byes at the 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 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 20 games and the only ones averaging 29 or more minutes played.   Senior Jamar Samuels and freshman Thomas Gipson have started 17 games each, while junior Martavious Irving has 14, junior Jordan Henriquez six, freshman Angel Rodriguez four and sophomore Shane Southwell 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.  Martin has used the same lineup in each of the last four games with Rodriguez moving to point guard, Spradling shifting to shooting guard and Gipson returning to the lineup at one of the forward spots.  Rodriguez earned his first career start against Texas on Jan. 18.

Since jumping into the starter’s role, Rodriguez is averaging 9.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, a team-high 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals in 17.5 minutes per game.  He scored in double figures for the second time in four games (sixth time overall) with 10 points against Oklahoma on Saturday night after posting double-digits for the first time in Big 12 play with 14 points in the school’s first win at Oklahoma State since 1993.  On the other hand, Irving has embraced his new role off the bench for the Wildcats, averaging 7.5 points on 47.8 percent shooting to go with 3.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.5 steals in 25.5 minutes per game.  He had a career-best 16 points in the win at Texas Tech last Wednesday on 6-of-10 shooting to go with a team-high four assists in 26 minutes.   

K-State has been struck by the turnover bug in Big 12 play with the Wildcats averaging 16.4 turnovers and allowing 18.9 points off those miscues.  The squad has had at least 12 turnovers in each of its eight league games, including a season-worst 20 against both No. 4/4 Baylor and Oklahoma (second meeting) and total of 39 committed against the Sooners.  Opponents have scored 11 or more points off these miscues in seven of those games, including a Frank Martin era-worst 30 for both the Bears and Sooners.  Nearly 30 percent (151) of the opponents’ point total (531) have come directly from turnovers, including 40 percent (60) against Baylor and Oklahoma in back-to-back games in mid-January.  The Sooners scored 22 points off of 20 Wildcat turnovers on Saturday.  During non-conference play, 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 minimize the disadvantage by forcing its eight Big 12 foes into an average of 17.0 turnovers to go with an average of 19.6 points generated from those mistakes.  The team has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in five of the last eight games, including 21 vs. Missouri, 26 vs. Baylor, 20 vs. Oklahoma, 21 vs. Texas, 19 vs. Oklahoma State and a season-high 27 vs. Texas Tech.  The 27 points against the Red Raiders were the most off of turnovers since posting 28 against Savannah State on Jan. 3, 2011 and the most in a Big 12 game since posting 29 vs. Nebraska on Feb. 17, 2010. 
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 four or more rebounds per game.  Just 5.5 points separates the team’s leading scorer (Rodney McGruder - 15.7 ppg.) with the No. 3 scorer (Will Spradling - 10.2 ppg.), while Samuels’ team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game are just 1.7 more than Jordan Henriquez’s No. 4 average of 4.9 rebounds.  The team has seen 10 different players collect 64 double-digit scoring games with McGruder posting a team-leading 16 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 three of five losses this season, the squad had just two players (vs. Kansas, Baylor and Oklahoma) in double-figure scoring.   

K-State has seen six different scoring leaders (with McGruder leading the way 10 times) and four leading rebounders (Samuels leading seven times), while eight players have led or tied for the team lead in assists.  Nine players have collected double-figure assists this year, including 40 or more assists by Will Spradling (53), Shane Southwell (50) and Angel Rodriguez (44), and five players have double-figure steals led by McGruder’s 26.  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.

The lack of a threat from beyond the 3-point line has hurt Kansas State since the start of Big 12 play with the Wildcats connecting on just 4.8 makes per game on 29 percent shooting (38-of-131).  The team ranks eighth in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage and ninth in 3-point field goals through eight league contests.  This deficiency has been particularly stark in the last three games where the Wildcats have connected on just 17.5 percent (7-of-40) from beyond the arc with an average of 2.3 makes per game.  The team hit just 3-of-14 vs. Oklahoma State, 1-of-9 vs. Texas Tech and 3-of-17 vs. Oklahoma on Saturday.  During this span, only freshman Angel Rodriguez is hitting above 40 percent (4-of-9) from 3-point range, while the rest of the team is a combined 9.7 percent (3-of-31).  Junior Rodney McGruder is shooting just 18.2 percent (2-of-11) from long range, while sophomore Will Spradling, who made at least one 3-pointer in each of the first 17 games, is 0-of-10 in the last three contests.   

K-State has taken advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line this season with nearly 25 percent of their points (354) coming from the line.  The Wildcats rank fourth nationally in free throw attempts per game (27.2), trailing New Mexico State (32.7), LIU-Brooklyn (27.7) and Oregon State (27.3), while they are tied for 15th in the country in free throws made per game (17.7).  K-State is first in the Big 12 with more than three more attempts per game than second-place Texas (24.3), while it is slightly ahead of the Longhorns (17.5) in makes per game. Opponents are averaging 24.2  personal fouls per game, while they have 88 fewer free throws attempted and 39 fewer free throws made.  The team has attempted at least 23 free throws in 17 of 20 games this season, including a season-best 40 against Oklahoma State on Jan. 21.  The Wildcats have also converted on at least 20 free throws in six games, including a season-best 24 vs. Southern Illinois on Dec. 22.  The squad has more free throws made and attempted in all but seven opponents.  K-State is 79-11 (.875) under head coach Frank Martin, including 12-1 this season, when the squad attempts more free throws, while they are just 31-35 (.470) under Martin, including 3-4 this year, when they equal or are surpassed by their opponent in attempts.  
Kansas State has been a solid defensive team this season, allowing opponents 63.5 points on 39.3 percent shooting, including 28.7 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 39.5 rebounds, 17.0 turnovers forced, 6.1 steals and 4.6 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have held 11 foes to under 65 points, including eight below 60 points and two under 50 points.  The team is 11-1 this season when holding an opponent below 65 points, including 8-0 when they score fewer than 60.  Under head coach Frank Martin, the squad has a 40-2 (.952) record when an opponent scores less than 60 points.  The Oklahoma game on Saturday marked the first time since Colorado (58) on Feb. 12, 2011 that an opponent scored fewer than 65 points and won.   
K-State ranks among the Top 50 nationally in three defensive categories, including 12th in 3-point field goal percentage defense, 26th in field goal percentage defense and 40th in scoring margin.  The squad also places in the Big 12’s Top 5 in seven defensive categories, including first in rebounding, offensive rebounds and rebounding margin, second in 3-point field goal percentage defense, third in field goal percentage defense, fourth in scoring defense and blocked shots.  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 three players rank in the Top 15 in rebounding (Jamar Samuels - 7th, Thomas Gipson - 14th and Rodney McGruder - 15th) and the only league team to have three players (Samuels - 4th, McGruder - 7th and Gipson - 12th) in the Big 12’s Top 15 in offensive rebounds. 

After allowing a Big 12-worst 72.6 points through the first five league games, Kansas State has stepped up its efforts in the last three games, allowing a combined average of 56 points on 37.6 percent shooting, including 21.1 percent from 3-point range, while holding an +11.6 rebounding margin.  The team has also forced more than 18.3 turnovers in those three games and scored an average of 19.3 points off those miscues.  During this span, the Wildcats have posted consecutive Big 12 road wins (at Oklahoma State and Texas Tech) for the first time since 2010, including their first win at Gallagher-Iba Arena since 1993.  It marked the first time since late January 2008 that the squad has held three consecutive Big 12 opponents under 65 points.  From Jan. 19-26, 2008, K-State held Texas A&M (54), Colorado (56) and Iowa State (57) all under 60 points in three straight contests.  The 47 points scored by Texas Tech on Jan. 25 were the fewest allowed in a Big 12 road games since Iowa State had 46 on Feb. 21, 2009.  For their recent efforts, the Wildcats now rank among the Top 5 in seven Big 12 categories in league-only games, including first in offensive rebounds (15.8) and rebounding margin (+6.2), second in rebounding (36.0), third in 3-point field goal percentage defense (30.3), fourth in scoring defense (66.4) and blocked shots (3.4) and fifth in field goal percentage defense (43.5). 

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 2,907 points off of 2,597 turnovers in 158 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, 371-319.  The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 16.8 turnovers per game, including a season-high 25 by Texas Tech on Jan. 25, while just eight games into Big 12 play, foes are averaging 17.0 turnovers.  Ten times this season the Wildcats have scored 20 or more points off miscues, including a season-best 27 against the Red Raiders   The team has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in five of the last seven 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 six games, in which, the squads have combined for 206 turnovers with 247 of the 830 points (nearly 30 percent) coming directly from those miscues.  Baylor converted 20 K-State turnovers into 30 points, while the Wildcats scored 26 points off 18 Bear mistakes.  In two games with Oklahoma, the Sooners scored 52 points off of 39 K-State turnovers, while the Wildcats tallied 32 points off of 27 Sooner mistakes.  K-State posted 21 points off 16 Texas turnovers, while the Longhorns had 19 points off 12 Wildcat errors.  In the win at Oklahoma State, both teams turned the ball over 16 times with the Wildcats outscoring the Cowboys, 19-14, off those miscues.  K-State posted season-bests in opponent turnovers (25) and points off turnovers (27) at Texas Tech on Jan. 25.  It was the most points scored off of turnovers since Savannah State surrendered 28 on Jan. 3, 2011, while it was the most in Big 12 play since Nebraska allowed 29 on Feb. 17, 2010. 

Kansas State has taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 33.1 points in the paint and 17.1 points off of second-chance opportunities.  The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-best 39.5 rebounds per game, including 15.5 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponents 16 times, including 13 times in the last 14 games.  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 16th 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 18th nationally (and first in the Big 12) in rebounding margin (+6.8). 

K-State has posted at least 30 points in the paint in 16 of 20 games, including a combined 90 in overtime games with West Virginia (44) and North Florida (46), and have outscored their foes, 662-494, 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 118-72 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 22.9 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 on Jan. 14, 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 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.  With the starters struggling against Texas Tech on Jan. 25, the bench again came through with a big effort, scoring 38 points on 60 percent shooting (15-of-25).  Reserve Martavious Irving tallied a career-best 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while Victor Ojeleye and Adrian Diaz added eight and six points, respectively.  It marked the seventh time that the team has posted 30 or more points from its bench.  Overall, the 48-point bench effort against SIU was the most of the Frank Martin era, while the 90 combined bench points (against SIU 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 20.5 points in the last 10 games on 53.7 percent shooting (73-of-136), including 47.5 percent (19-of-40) from 3-point range, while he is shooting 85.1 percent (40-of-47) 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 on Jan. 14).  He is also averaging 5.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.5 assists in the span.  The streak began at Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 25 when he earned MVP 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 nine times in last 10 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, 14 vs. Oklahoma State and 19 vs. Oklahoma.  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 19-point effort vs. Oklahoma, he now has a team-leading 16 double-digit scoring games, including six games of 20+ points. 

Junior Rodney McGruder is one of five players to rank in the Big 12’s Top 15 in both overall scoring (15.7 ppg; 6th) and rebounding (5.5 rpg; 15th) this year, joining Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Missouri’s Ricardo Ratliffe, Iowa State’s Royce White and Baylor’s Perry Jones III.  He also ranks among the Top 15 in four other Big 12 categories, including  eighth in field goal percentage (47.3), seventh in offensive rebounds (2.5 rpg.), eighth in minutes (32.0), 10th in steals (1.3 spg.) and 13th in free throw percentage (76.4).  Through eight Big 12 games, he is in the Top 10 in six league categories, including first in scoring (20.4 ppg.), fourth in offensive rebounds (2.9 rpg.), sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (39.4), seventh in field goal percentage (49.2), eighth in free throw percentage (85.0) and 10th in steals (1.4 spg.).  Overall, McGruder paces the team in five categories, including scoring, field goals (115), field goals attempted (243), steals (26) and minutes (32.0 mpg.).  He joins Will Spradling as the only players to start all 20 games this season and only one 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’ 15-5 start to season, leading the team in double-doubles (4) and rebounding (6.6 rpg.), while ranking second in scoring (10.4 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 18 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 (74) and free throws attempted (106), while he is third in minutes (25.9).  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 14 games, he has scored 63 of his 141 points from the charity stripe, while connecting on 74.1 percent (63-of-85) 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 1,147 points ranks 13th in school history, just 157 points from the all-time Top 10.  He also ranks in the Top 5 all-time in school history in both career free throws (368) and free throws attempted (607).  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, he moved up the career Top 5 in games played (121), while his current rebounding (635) total ranks seventh all-time.  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 (85).
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.  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.  He registered a double-double in the second half alone with 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting and 13 rebounds.
Sophomore Will Spradling has solidified the starting point guard spot so far this season, averaging 10.2 points on 39.1 percent shooting with a team-best 32 3-point field goals, 2.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 29.9 minutes per game in 20 starts.  He has posted double figures in 11 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 65 percent (133) of his scoring total (204) 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 (11th, 36.4) and 3-point field goals made per game (14th, 1.6), while he has at least one trey in 17 of 20 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 1.51 assist-to-turnover ratio (53-35).  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 had 14 assists to just two turnovers against North Florida and Alabama. 
In addition to his ball-handling skills, Will Spradling has continued to demonstrate his toughness on the court, registering a team-best 22 charges taken.  He has posted at least one charge taken in 14 of 20 games this season, including a career-best three each on three occasions.  He has taken nearly as many charges (22) as the entire rest of the team combined (30).  For his career, Spradling has taken 43 charges in 54 games, which is thre more than second-place Jamar Samuels (40).  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 (5.5 rpg.) to go with 8.3 points per game in 17 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 late December (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 has registered four consecutive starts for the first time in Big 12 play, posting eight points, six rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes against Texas Tech on Jan. 25.

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 four consecutive starts in Big 12 play.  During this span, he is averaging 9.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, a team-best 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals in 17.5 minutes per game.  Although he was limited to just four points in 15 minutes in his first career against Texas on Jan. 18, he played perhaps his best all-around game against Oklahoma State.  He posted his fifth (of now six) 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.  He also knocked down 4-of-6 free throws in the waning moments, helping the Wildcats earn their first win at Gallagher-Iba Arena since 1993.  He was again solid at Texas Tech, collecting eight points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 17 minutes, while he tallied 10 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 16 minutes against Oklahoma on Saturday. 

The start against Texas came on the heels of seeing time in 15 games as a reserve, where he scored in double figures four times, including a season-best 17-point effort against Southern Illinois on Dec. 22.  He followed that up with 16 points vs. UTEP before adding 11 points vs. Howard.  During the 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.  He has registered double-figure minutes in 18 games, including a season-best 29 against UTEP.

Senior Victor Ojeleye has made an impact off the bench of late, averaging 4.0 points on 57.1 percent shooting with 3.8 rebounds in 16.3 minutes in the last four games.  He posted two points and five rebounds against Texas in a season-best 19 minutes, while he had two points and four rebounds in 14 minutes against Oklahoma State.  His impact was even greater against Texas Tech, as he came off the bench to post eight points on 4-of-5 field goals and four rebounds in 18 minutes.  He added four points and two rebounds against Oklahoma on Saturday in 14 minutes.  Before the four-game stretch, 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 was 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.   

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 tournament on 49.7 percent shooting, including 51.3 percent from 3-point range, while holding its foes to just 62.7 points on 36.6 percent shooting.  Junior Rodney McGruder was named the tournament most valuable player after averaging 15.0 points on 64 percent shooting, including a career-best 28 points in the final against Long Beach State.  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 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: TEXAS A&M (12-8, 3-5 BIG 12)
K-State returns home on Saturday, as the Wildcats play host Texas A&M (12-8, 3-5 Big 12) for the last time as conference foes at 3 p.m. on the Big 12 Network.  The teams have split the last six meetings, which includes a 64-56 win by Texas A&M last season.