K-State Returns Home To Face Texas A&M Saturday

Freshman Angel Rodriguez has started each of the last five games, averaging a team-best 3.0 assists.

Feb. 3, 2012

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rv/rv KANSAS STATE (15-6, 4-5 Big 12) vs. TEXAS A&M (12-9, 3-6 Big 12)
Saturday, February 4, 2012 * 3 p.m. CST * Manhattan, Kan. * Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

Television: Big 12 Network (ESPN Full Court)
Mitch Holthus (play-by-play); Jon Sundvold (analyst)
Channels: KMCI (Kansas City), KSAS (Wichita), KSNT (Topeka)
Internet: www.ESPN3.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 94/XM 191
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 #41, Texas A&M #142
K-State vs. Texas A&M: 15-7 (L, 56-64, 1/22/11)
In Manhattan: 9-0 (W, 88-65, 1/12/10)

Kansas State (15-6, 4-5 Big 12) begins a two-game homestand on Saturday, as the Wildcats play host to Texas A&M (12-9, 3-6 Big 12) at 3 p.m. CST for the final time as conference members at Bramlage Coliseum.  The Aggies are departing the Big 12 after 16 seasons for the Southeastern Conference in 2012-13.  The game will be broadcast on the Big 12 Network (as well as ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com) with Mitch Holthus and Jon Sundvold on the call.  Both teams are coming off last-second losses this week, as Royce White’s jumper with 1.8 seconds lifted Iowa State to a 72-70 win over K-State on Tuesday in Ames, while Pierre Jackson’s 3-pointer helped No. 6/6 Baylor get past Texas A&M, 63-60, on Wednesday at home.  The Wildcat loss snapped a five-game winning streak at Hilton Coliseum.  The contest begins the second half of a grueling 18-game Big 12 schedule with K-State sitting in a tie for fifth place with Oklahoma State at 4-5, while Texas A&M is just a game back in a three-way tie for seventh at 3-6 with Oklahoma and Texas.  The Wildcats have lost three league games by a combined seven points, including back-to-back to the Sooners (63-60) and Cyclones (72-70).  The Iowa State loss was particularly disappointing, as K-State saw a 14-point second-half lead evaporate in the waning minutes after leading for all but 49 seconds of the half.  The Wildcat offense, which got double-digit scoring from four different players, showed life after a dismal outing against Oklahoma, connecting on 48.3 percent from the field, including 58.3 percent from 3-point range.  The offensive improvement will be challenged by the Big 12’s best scoring defense (59.7 ppg.), as Texas A&M has held 17 of 21 opponents to below 70 points, including 15 under 65 points.  The contest will also be the first of a doubleheader, as the women’s basketball team (15-6, 6-3 Big 12) will host top-ranked and unbeaten Baylor (22-0, 9-0 Big 12) at 7 p.m. on “Pack the House” night.  All women’s basketball tickets are only $1 as well as selected concessions.   

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

Texas A&M enters Saturday’s game with a 12-9 record and 3-6 mark in Big 12 play after losing a heartbreaker to No. 6/6 Baylor on Wednesday.  The Aggies, who were without starters Dash Harris and Khris Middleton, fought valiantly against the Bears leading by as many as five points in the second half after trailing by 13 early in the half.  Under first-year head coach Billy Kennedy, the Aggies are averaging 62.9 points on 44.2 percent shooting, including 31.9 percent from 3-point range, to go with 36.7 rebounds, 13.0 assists, 5.5 steals and 2.6 blocks per game.  Texas A&M is the Big 12’s best defensive team, ranking first in scoring defense (59.7) and 3-point field point percentage defense (27.4) and second in field goal percentage defense (38.2).  Three players are averaging in double figures led by junior Elston Turner, who averages a team-best 14.4 points per game to go with 45 3-point field goals.  Middleton, who has played in just 11 games due to injury, is second at 12.4 points, while senior David Loubeau is third at 11.1 points per game.  Junior Ray Turner is tops in rebounds at 6.0 per game to go with 9.9 points per outing. 
Saturday’s game will be the 23rd meeting between Kansas State and Texas A&M dating back to Dec. 3, 1960 with the Wildcats holding a 15-7 (.682) lead in the all-time series.  The Wildcats are 9-0 at home in the series, including 7-0 in the Big 12 era.  Overall, K-State is 11-7 (.611) since the start of Big 12 play.  Head coach Frank Martin is 3-2 (.875) against the Aggies, including 2-0 at home, while this will be the first meeting for Texas A&M’s Billy Kennedy against the Wildcats. 

Sophomore Royce White hit the game-winning jumper with 1.8 seconds left, as Iowa State rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat Kansas State, 72-70, at home on Tuesday night.  White finished with 22 points and Chris Allen had 15 for the Cyclones, who have won four of their last five and have already doubled their league win total from last season.  The win also snapped a five-game losing streak to the Wildcats at Hilton Coliseum.  Chris Babb tied the game at 70 with a free throw with 49 seconds left.  The Cyclones then corralled a loose ball to gain possession with the shot clock off, and White drove to the baseline and floated in the deciding bucket from about 8 feet.  K-State led by as many as 14 points in the second half, including a 53-39 lead with 14:27 to go on a 3-pointer by Samuels.  However, ISU used a 19-7 run over the next six minutes capped by a 3-pointer by Allen to cut the lead to just 60-58 with 7:55 to go.  The game stayed close the rest of the way, as the Cyclones closed it to 68-67 with 1:57 remaining on a pair of free throws by Scott Christopherson.  Freshman Thomas Gipson led the Wildcats  with 13 points, while three others - Rodney McGruder, Jamar Samuels and Martavious Irving - all added 11 points.  It marked just the second loss this season when at least four score in double figures.  Senior Victor Ojeleye led all players with a career-best 10 rebounds.  Iowa State shot 51 percent for the game, including 53.6 percent in the second half, while K-State connected on 48.3 percent, including 58.3 percent from 3-point range.  The Wildcats scored 40 points in the paint and held a 34-31 edge on the glass, but the Cyclones were able to convert 12 turnovers into 14 points.  K-State posted season-lows for both free throws made (7) and free throws attempted (11) after coming into the game with averages of 17.7 makes and 27.2 attempts.  
After posting a 4-5 mark in January, Kansas State will look to continue its recent success in the month of February, where the Wildcats have posted a 23-8 (.742) record under head coach Frank Martin, including a 14-2 (.875) mark at Bramlage Coliseum.  The squad has won nine consecutive games at home in the month dating back to the 2008-09 season with the only losses under Martin coming to No. 5 Texas (74-65, Feb. 25, 2008) and No. 16 Kansas (85-74, Feb. 14, 2009).  The record is even better in the last three years in February, where the Wildcats are 20-3 (.870), including 11-1 (.917) at Bramlage Coliseum.    
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 21 games and the only ones averaging 30 or more minutes played.   Senior Jamar Samuels and freshman Thomas Gipson have started 18 games each, while junior Martavious Irving has 14, junior Jordan Henriquez six, freshman Angel Rodriguez five and sophomore Shane Southwell two.  Four 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 five 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 8.8 points, a team-high 3.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 17.6 minutes per game.  He dished out a team-high five assists in the loss at Iowa State to go with eight points, three rebounds and a steal in 18 minutes.  He has tallied double-figure points in two of the five starts, including a Big 12-high of 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 8.2 points on 53.6 percent shooting to go with 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals in 24.6 minutes per game.  He had a career-best 16 points in the win at Texas Tech on Jan 25 on 6-of-10 shooting to go with four assists in 26 minutes.   

K-State has been struck by the turnover bug in Big 12 play with the Wildcats averaging 15.9 turnovers and allowing 18.3 points off those miscues.  The squad has had at least 12 turnovers in each of its nine league games, including a season-worst 20 against both No. 4/4 Baylor and Oklahoma (second meeting) and total of 39 committed in two games against the Sooners.  Opponents have scored 11 or more points off these miscues in eight of those games, including a Frank Martin era-worst 30 for both the Bears and Sooners (first meeting).  Nearly 30 percent (165) of the opponents’ point total (603) have come directly from turnovers, including 40 percent (60) against Baylor and Oklahoma in back-to-back games in Jan. 10 and Jan 14.  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 nine Big 12 foes into an average of 16.2 turnovers to go with an average of 18.7 points generated from those mistakes.  The team has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in five of the last nine 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 5.4 points separates the team’s leading scorer (Rodney McGruder - 15.4 ppg.) with the No. 3 scorer (Will Spradling - 10.0 ppg.), while Samuels’ team-leading 6.4 rebounds per game are just 1.6 more than Jordan Henriquez’s No. 4 average of 4.8 rebounds.  The team has seen 10 different players collect 68 double-digit scoring games with McGruder posting a team-leading 17 such games, while Samuels and Spradling are not far behind with 13 and 11 double-figure games, respectively.  The Wildcats are a much better team when three or more players register double-digit points (13-3 on the season), including a 7-2 mark when four or more players collect 10 or more points.  In three of six 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 five 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 (58), Shane Southwell (51) and Angel Rodriguez (49), and five players have double-figure steals (including three with 20+) led by McGruder’s 28.  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.

Although K-State made stride from 3-point range against Iowa State, the lack of a threat from long range has hurt the squad since the start of Big 12 play with the Wildcats connecting on just 5.0 makes per game on 31.5 percent shooting (45-of-143).  The team ranks seventh in the league in both 3-point field goals and 3-point field goal percentage through nine league contests.  K-State was able to snap out of its recent slump (17.5 percent in previous three games) against the Cyclones, connecting on 58.3 percent (7-of-15) with four different players knocking down at least one 3-pointer.  Sophomore Will Spradling, who made at least one 3-pointer in each of the first 17 games, snapped a streak of 11 straight misses for long range by going 1-of-3 from beyond the arc.  Prior to Tuesday, the squad had combined to make seven treys in 40 attempts in the previous three games with an average of 2.3 makes.  The Wildcats hit just 3-of-14 vs. Oklahoma State, 1-of-9 vs. Texas Tech and 3-of-17 vs. Oklahoma.  In league play, only juniors Martavious Irving (50.0, 6-of-12) and Rodney McGruder (40.0, 14-of-35) are hitting above 40 percent from 3-point range, while the rest of the team is a combined 26 percent (25-of-96). 

K-State has taken advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line this season with nearly 25 percent of their points (361) coming from the line.  The Wildcats rank sixth nationally in free throw attempts per game (26.4), trailing New Mexico State (32.3), LIU-Brooklyn (27.6), Maryland (27.4), Oregon State (27.3) and Texas-Arlington (26.7), while they are tied for 26th in the country in free throws made per game (17.2).  K-State is first in the Big 12 with more than two more attempts per game than second-place Texas (24.3), while it is slightly behind the Longhorns (17.5) in makes per game. Opponents are averaging 23.8 personal fouls per game, while they have 73 fewer free throws attempted and 29 fewer free throws made.  The team has attempted at least 23 free throws in 17 of 21 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 eight opponents.  The team set season-lows for both free throw makes (seven) and attempts (11) against Iowa State on Tuesday night.  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 31-36 (.463) under Martin, including 3-5 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 64 points on 39.8 percent shooting, including 29.2 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 39.2 rebounds, 16.5 turnovers forced, 6.0 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 Jan. 28 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, 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 year.  K-State and Baylor are the only schools to have three players rank in the Big 12’s Top 20 in rebounding (Jamar Samuels - 7th, Thomas Gipson - 15th and Rodney McGruder - 17th), while the Wildcats are the only league team to have three players (Samuels - 6th, McGruder - 10th and Gipson - 11th) in the league 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 four games, allowing a combined average of 60 points on 41.1 percent shooting, including 26.5 percent from 3-point range, while holding an +9.5 rebounding margin.  The team has also forced more than 16.3 turnovers in those four games and scored an average of 17.3 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 six Big 12 defensive categories in league-only games, including first in offensive rebounds (15.3) and rebounding margin (+5.9), second in rebounding (35.8), fourth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (31.6) and blocked shots (3.6) and fifth in scoring defense (67.0). 

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 2,918 points off of 2,607 turnovers in 159 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, 382-333.  The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 16.5 turnovers per game, including a season-high 25 by Texas Tech on Jan. 25, while nine games into Big 12 play, foes are averaging 16.2 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 eight games, including four in a row against Missouri (21), Baylor (26), Oklahoma (20) and Texas (21). 

Turnovers have been particularly key in the last seven games, in which, the squads have combined for 228 turnovers with 272 of the 972 points (nearly 28 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.  The 27 points off turnovers by Texas Tech on Jan. 25 were 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 33.4 points in the paint and 16.9 points off of second-chance opportunities.  The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-best 39.2 rebounds per game, including 15.3 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponents 17 times, including 14 times in the last 15 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 21st nationally in rebounds per game, including first in the Big 12, while it ranks seventh in the nation in offensive rebounds and tops in the league.  The team is also 18th nationally (and first in the Big 12) in rebounding margin (+6.6). 

K-State has posted at least 30 points in the paint in 17 of 21 games, including a combined 90 in overtime games with West Virginia (44) and North Florida (46), and have outscored their foes, 702-526, in the paint.  Four 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 132-80 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 22.8 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 19.6 points in the last 11 games on 51.3 percent shooting (78-of-152), including 47.6 percent (20-of-42) 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 5.5 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 11 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 11-point effort vs. Iowa State, he now has a team-leading 17 double-digit scoring games, including six games of 20+ points. 

Junior Rodney McGruder is one of nine players to rank in the Big 12’s Top 20 in both overall scoring (15.4 ppg; 6th) and rebounding (5.5 rpg; 17th) this year, joining the likes of Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Missouri’s Marcus Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe, Iowa State’s Royce White and Baylor’s Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller.  He also ranks among the Top 10 in three other Big 12 categories, including seventh in minutes (32.1), eighth in field goal percentage (46.3) and 10th in offensive rebounds (2.4 rpg.) and steals (1.3 spg.).  Through nine Big 12 games, he is in the Top 10 in six league categories, including second in scoring (19.3 ppg.), fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (40.0), seventh in offensive rebounds (2.6 rpg.), eighth in free throw percentage (85.0) and steals (1.4 spg.) and ninth in field goal percentage (47.0).  Overall, McGruder paces the team in five categories, including scoring, field goals (120), field goals attempted (259), steals (28) and minutes (32.1 mpg.).  He joins Will Spradling as the only players to start all 21 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’ 15-6 start to season, leading the team in double-doubles (4) and rebounding (6.5 rpg.), while ranking second in scoring (10.5 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 13 of 19 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 (75) and free throws attempted (107), while he is third in minutes (25.5).  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 15 games, he has scored 64 of his 152 points from the charity stripe, while connecting on 74.4 percent (64-of-86) 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 1,158 points ranks 13th in school history, just 146 points from the all-time Top 10.  He also ranks in the Top 5 all-time in school history in both career free throws (369) and free throws attempted (608).  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 Iowa State, he moved up the career Top 5 in games played (122), while his current rebounding (638) 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 (96) 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 points on 38.3 percent shooting with a team-best 33 3-point field goals, 2.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 30.2 minutes per game in 21 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 (137) of his scoring total (210) 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, 36.3) and 3-point field goals made per game (14th, 1.6), while he has at least one trey in 18 of 21 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 1.61 assist-to-turnover ratio (58-36).  Since the opener when he turned it over three times, he has had four turnover-free games and seven 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 21 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 (32).  For his career, Spradling has taken 43 charges in 55 games, which is three 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 (5.6 rpg.) to go with 8.5 points per game in 18 starts.  He has scored in double figures in seven games, leading the team vs. Loyola Chicago (19), UMES (13), George Washington (17), North Florida (23) and Iowa State (13), 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), Gipson responded well in his first game as a reserve against Missouri on Jan. 7, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds.  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 five consecutive starts for the first time in Big 12 play, averaging 7.6 points on 65.2 percent shooting with 4.2 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game in that span.

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 five consecutive starts in Big 12 play.  During this five-game span, he is averaging 8.8 points, a team-best 3.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 17.6 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 against Oklahoma with 10 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 16 minutes, while he had eight points, a team-high five assists and three rebounds in 18 minutes. The start against Texas came on the heels of seeing action in 15 games as a reserve, where he collected four double-figure scoring games, 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 19 games, including a season-best 29 against UTEP.
Senior Victor Ojeleye has made an impact off the bench of late, averaging 3.8 points on 47.4 percent shooting with 5.0 rebounds in 17.2 minutes in the last five 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.  After a four-point, two-rebound effort against Oklahoma, he grabbed a career-best 10 rebounds against Iowa State to go with three points and two blocks in a season-best 21 minutes.  Before the five-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. 

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 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. 

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 TECH (7-14, 0-9 BIG 12)
K-State concludes its brief two-game homestand on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats play host to Texas Tech (7-14, 0-9 Big 12) at 7 p.m. on the Big 12 Network.  The Wildcats will be looking for the season sweep after a 69-47 win in Lubbock on Jan. 25.