K-State Concludes Homestand Tuesday vs. Texas Tech

Freshman Angel Rodriguez has started the last six games, averaging 9.5 points and 3.2 assists in that span.

Feb. 6, 2012

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GAME 23
KANSAS STATE (16-6, 5-5 Big 12) vs. TEXAS TECH (7-15, 0-10 Big 12)
Tuesday, February 7, 2012 * 7 p.m. CST * Manhattan, Kan. * Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

GAME INFORMATION
Television: Big 12 Network (ESPN Full Court)
Dave Armstrong (play-by-play); Jon Sundvold (analyst)
Channels: KMCI (Kansas City), KMTW (Wichita), KSNT (Topeka)
Internet: www.ESPN3.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 128/XM 193
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 #50, Texas Tech #233
K-State vs. Texas Tech: 15-12 (W, 69-47, 1/25/12)
In Manhattan: 9-3 (W, 94-60, 1/15/11)

THE GAME
Kansas State (16-6, 5-5 Big 12) concludes its brief two-game homestand on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats play host to Texas Tech (7-15, 0-10 Big 12) at 7 p.m. CST at Bramlage Coliseum.  K-State will be looking to sweep the season series after posting a 69-47 win at the United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas on Jan. 25.  The game will be broadcast on the Big 12 Network (as well as ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com) with Dave Armstrong and Jon Sundvold on the call.  The Wildcats snapped a two-game losing skid on Saturday with a 64-53 win over Texas A&M at home to even its Big 12 record at 5-5.  Down one at the half, the team shot 54.5 percent in the second half against the Big 12’s best defensive team and received a boost from sophomore Will Spradling, who posted a career-high 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.  Spradling entered the Texas A&M game averaging just 7.0 points on 23.6 percent shooting in the last seven games, including 20 percent from beyond the arc.  K-State has now won 10 consecutive games at home in February dating back to the 2008-09 season and moved to 24-8 (.750) in the month under head coach Frank Martin.  The Wildcats sit alone in fifth place in the Big 12 standings, two games behind fourth-place Iowa State (17-6, 7-3 Big 12) and one game ahead of sixth-place Oklahoma State (11-12, 4-6 Big 12) and Texas (14-9, 4-6 Big 12).  After Tuesday’s game, K-State enters a critical stretch, in which, it will play three of its next four games on the road, beginning on Saturday against the Longhorns.  Following that game, the Wildcats will play the trio of first-place teams (Kansas, Baylor and Missouri) in a nine-day span, including the seven-time defending champion Jayhawks on Big Monday on Feb. 13.

TELEVISION NOTE
Tuesday’s game will be the sixth 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, KMTW-TV in Wichita and KSNT-TV in Topeka.  The contest can also seen throughout the Big 12 region on KBVO-TV in Austin, Texas, KZOU-TV in Columbia, Mo., Altitude2 in Denver, KUBE-TV in Houston, KARK-TV in Little Rock, Ark., KJTV-TV in Lubbock, Texas, KPTM-TV in Omaha, Neb., KCWX-TV in San Antonio, KOZL-TV in Springfield, Mo., KPLR-TV in St. Louis and KTUL-TV in Tulsa.  All games on the Big 12 Network can be found on ESPN Full Court as well as ESPN3.com.

THE OPPONENT
Texas Tech enters Tuesday’s game with a 7-15 overall record and 0-10 mark in Big 12 play after dropping a 74-57 decision at Texas on Saturday.  The Red Raiders have lost 10 straight games -- all in Big 12 play -- and are looking for their first win of 2012.  Under former UTEP, Texas A&M and Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie, the squad is averaging 61.7 points on 44.7 percent shooting, including 36.6 percent from 3-point range, to go with 31.2 rebounds, 11.4 assists, 5.0 steals and 3.1 blocks per game.  Freshman Jordan Tolbert paces the Red Raiders in both scoring (11.9 ppg.) and rebounding (6.0 rpg.) on 55.1 percent shooting, while junior college transfer Ty Nurse and sophomore Jaye Crockett are averaging 9.0 and 8.0 points per game, respectively.  The team’s lone senior - Robert Lewandowski of Overland Park, Kan. - is averaging 7.2 points and 3.8 rebounds to go with a team-best 21 blocked shots.  The Red Raiders are balanced with six players averaging at least seven points per game.     
 
SERIES
Tuesday’s game will be the 28th meeting between K-State and Texas Tech dating back to Dec. 6, 1955 with the Wildcats holding a slight 15-12 (.556) edge in the series.  The Red Raiders are 11-8 (.579) in the series since the start of Big 12 play in 1997, but the Wildcats have won five of the last six meetings, including a 69-47 victory at the United Spirit Arena in Lubbock on Jan. 25.  This will mark the first of two regular-season contests between the two schools for the first time in their respective histories.  Overall, K-State is 9-3 (.750) at home in the series, including back-to-back wins in 2009 and 2011   Head coach Frank Martin is 4-1 (.800) against the Red Raiders, including 2-0 at home, while Billy Gillispie is 3-3 (.500) vs. the Wildcats in his career.

LAST TIME OUT: rv/rv KANSAS STATE 64, TEXAS A&M 53
Kansas State shot 54.5 percent in the second half to overcome a one-point halftime deficit to Texas A&M at halftime, as the Wildcats remained unbeaten against the Aggies at home with a 64-53 victory.  The win snapped a two-game skid overall and a one-game losing streak at home.  In the last meeting at Bramlage Coliseum as league foes, K-State moved to a perfect 10-0 all-time at home against Texas A&M, including 8-0 in the Big 12 era.  A lay-up by Thomas Gipson at the 15:17 mark of the second half ignited an 11-0 run by the Wildcats.  The lead ballooned to as many as 17 points after a 3-pointer by Will Spradling with 5:54 remaining in the contest.  The resilient Aggies, playing without both point guard Dash Harris and forward Khris Middleton, didn’t go away, cutting the lead to 60-50 with 4:01 left.  However, K-State was able to hit its free throws down the stretch in the eventual 11-point victory.  The squad connected on 45.7 percent from the field and 77.3 percent from the free throw line, while holding their ninth opponent (and fourth in Big 12 play) under 60 points.  Spradling was able to snap out of his recent shooting slump to post a career-high 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with a perfect 5-of-5 effort from the free throw line.  Freshman Angel Rodriguez tallied double figures for the third time in five games with 13 points (all in the second half) to go with five rebounds and team-high four assists.  Senior Jamar Samuels collected eight points and a team-high six rebounds, while Gipson had nine points on 3-of-3 field goals to go with four rebounds in just 15 minutes.
 
STREAKING IN FEBRUARY
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 24-8 (.750) record under head coach Frank Martin, including a 15-2 (.883) mark at Bramlage Coliseum.  The squad has won 10 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 four years in February, where the Wildcats are 21-3 (.875), including 12-1 (.923) at Bramlage Coliseum.    
 
STARTING LINEUP
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 22 games and the only ones averaging 30 or more minutes.   Senior Jamar Samuels and freshman Thomas Gipson have started 19 games each, while junior Martavious Irving has 14 starts, junior Jordan Henriquez and freshman Angel Rodriguez six 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 six 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 9.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.3 steals in 18.5 minutes per game.  In this six-game stretch, he ranks first on the team in assists and steals and is second in scoring.  He posted double-digit points for the third time in five games with 13 points against Texas A&M on Saturday to go with five rebounds and a team-best four assists.  He also had double-figure scoring against Oklahoma State (14) on Jan. 21 and Oklahoma (10) on Jan. 28, helping the school to its first win in Stillwater since 1993.  Gipson has also excelled since re-entering the line-up against the Longhorns, connecting on a team-best 69.2 percent (18-of-26) from the field with an average of 7.8 points.  On the other hand, Irving has embraced his new role off the bench for the Wildcats, averaging 7.2 points on 53.3 percent shooting to go with 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals in 23 minutes per game.  He had a career-best 16 points in the win at Texas Tech on Jan. 25.   

TURNOVERS HAVING AN EFFECT IN BIG 12 PLAY
K-State has been struck by the turnover bug in Big 12 play with the Wildcats averaging 15.8 turnovers and allowing 18.2 points off those miscues.  The squad has had at least 12 turnovers in each of its 10 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 nine of those games, including a Frank Martin era-worst 30 for both the Bears and Sooners (first meeting).  Nearly 30 percent (182) of the opponents’ point total (656) 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 10 Big 12 foes into an average of 16.5 turnovers to go with an average of 18.7 points generated from those mistakes.  The team has scored 19 or more points off of turnovers in seven of the last 10 games, including 21 vs. Missouri, 26 vs. Baylor, 20 vs. Oklahoma, 21 vs. Texas, 19 vs. Oklahoma State, 27 vs. Texas Tech and 19 vs. Texas A&M.  The 27 points scored 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.  
       
BALANCED ATTACK
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 4.6 points separates the team’s leading scorer (Rodney McGruder - 15.0 ppg.) with the No. 2 and No. 3 scorers (Will Spradling and Jamar Samuels - 10.4 ppg.), while Samuels’ team-leading 6.4 rebounds per game are just 1.8 more than Jordan Henriquez’s No. 4 average of 4.6 rebounds.  The team has seen 10 different players collect 70 double-digit scoring games with McGruder posting a team-leading 17 such games, while Samuels and Spradling are not far behind with 13 and 12 double-figure games, respectively.  The Wildcats are a much better team when three or more players register double-digit points (13-3), including a 7-2 mark when four or more players collect 10 or more points.  In three of six losses, the squad had just two players (vs. Kansas, Baylor and Oklahoma) in double-figure scoring.   

K-State has seen seven 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 50 or more assists by Will Spradling (61), Angel Rodriguez (53) and Shane Southwell (51) and five players have double-figure steals (including three with 20+) led by McGruder’s 29.  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.

GETTING DEFENSIVE 
Kansas State has been a solid defensive team this season, allowing opponents 63.5 points on 39.9 percent shooting, including 30.4 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 38.8 rebounds, 16.6 turnovers forced, 6.0 steals and 4.5 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have held 12 foes to under 65 points, including nine below 60 points and two under 50 points.  The team is 12-1 this season when holding an opponent below 65 points, including 9-0 when they score fewer than 60.  Under head coach Frank Martin, the squad has a 41-2 (.953) 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 four defensive categories, including 19th in rebounding margin, 39th in 3-point field goal percentage defense, 43rd in scoring margin and 45th in field goal percentage defense.  The team places in the Big 12’s Top 5 in six defensive categories, including first in rebounding, offensive rebounds and rebounding margin and fourth in scoring defense, blocked shots and 3-point field goal percentage 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 - 20th), while the Wildcats are the only conference team to have three players (Samuels - 6th, McGruder - 11th and Gipson - 12th) in the league Top 15 in offensive rebounds. 

BETTER DEFENSE IN BIG 12 PLAY
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 five games, allowing a combined average of 58.6 points on 41.4  percent shooting, including 33.8 percent from 3-point range, while holding an +9.2 rebounding margin.  The team has also forced more than 16.8 turnovers in those five games and scored an average of 17.6 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.  The squad has held four of the last five opponents (including three straight) to less than 65 points, including 47 by Texas Tech on Jan. 25 -- the fewest allowed in a Big 12 road game since Iowa State had 46 on Feb. 21, 2009.  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.  For their recent efforts, the Wildcats now rank among the Top 5 in five Big 12 defensive categories in league-only games, including first in offensive rebounds (14.7) and rebounding margin (+6.1), second in rebounding (35.3), third in scoring defense (65.6),  and fifth in blocked shots (3.6).

POINTS OFF TURNOVERS 
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 2,937points off of 2,626 turnovers in 160 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, 401-350.  The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 16.6 turnovers per game, including a season-high 25 by Texas Tech on Jan. 25, while 10 games into Big 12 play, foes are averaging 16.5 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 19 or more points off of turnovers in seven of the last 10 games, including 20+ points in four consecutive games against Missouri (21), Baylor (26), Oklahoma (20) and Texas (21). 

Turnovers have been particularly key in the last eight games, in which, the squads have combined for 262 turnovers with 308 of the 1,089 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.  The 27 points scored off turnovers against 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.   K-State scored 19 points off of 19 Texas A&M turnovers on Saturday.

BONUS POINTS
K-State has taken advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line this season with nearly 25 percent of their points (378) coming from the line.  The Wildcats are tied for sixth nationally in free throw attempts per game (26.2), trailing New Mexico State (32.1), LIU-Brooklyn (27.8), Maryland (27.4), Oregon State (27.2) and Texas-Arlington (26.7), while they are tied for 24th in the country in free throws made per game (17.2).  K-State is first in the Big 12 with 1.6 more attempts per game than second-place Texas (24.6), while it is slightly behind the Longhorns (17.8) in makes per game. Opponents are averaging 23.6 personal fouls per game, while they have 80 fewer free throws attempted and 38 fewer free throws made.  The team has attempted at least 22 free throws in 18 of 22 games this season, including 20 or more attempts in six of 10 Big 12 games.  The Wildcats combined for 79 attempts in back-to-back games against Texas and Oklahoma State, including a season-best 40 against the Cowboys on Jan 21.  The team has also converted on at least 20 free throws in six games, including a season-best 24 vs. Southern Illinois on Dec. 22.  K-State has more free throws made and attempted than all but eight opponents.  The team set season-lows for both free throw made (seven) and attempted (11) against Iowa State on Jan. 31. 

K-State is 80-11 (.879) under Frank Martin, including 13-1 this season, when the squad attempts more free throws, while they are just 31-36 (.463) under Martin, including 3-5 this season, when they equal or are surpassed by their opponent in attempts. 

SECOND CHANCE POINTS
Kansas State has taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 33.3 points in the paint and 16.9 points off of second-chance opportunities.  The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-best 38.8 rebounds per game, including 15.0 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponents 18 times, including 15 times in the last 16 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 27th nationally in rebounds per game, including first in the Big 12, while it ranks eighth in the nation in offensive rebounds and tops in the league.  The team is also 19th nationally (and first in the Big 12) in rebounding margin (+6.6). 

K-State has posted at least 30 points in the paint in 18 of 22 games, including a combined 90 in overtime games with West Virginia (44) and North Florida (46), and have outscored their foes, 732-540, 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 17 in six 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 149-89 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. 

BENCH PRODUCTION
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 18.1 points in Big 12 play.  Twice during league play the squad has gotten 30 or more points from its bench, including 33 vs. Oklahoma on Jan. 14 and 38 vs. Texas Tech on Jan. 25.  Reserves (33) scored nearly half of the team’s points (73)  against the Sooners with Jeremy Jones and Nino Williams each posting 12 points.  Williams also nearly posted his first career double-double with nine rebounds.  With the starters struggling against the Red Raiders, 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.  Since the installation of the new starting line-up against Texas on Jan. 18, Irving has been a big contributor from the bench, averaging 7.2 points on 53.3 percent shooting with 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals in 23 minutes per game.  Diaz and Ojeleye have also been key, combining to average 7.2 points on 48.7 percent shooting (19-of-39) and 7.3 rebounds in that six-game span.      

Bench scoring was particularly important during the team’s six-game winning streak from Dec. 11-31, where they averaged 31.2 points from reserves.  In wins over Alabama (35), Southern Illinois (48), UTEP (42) and Howard (34), the Wildcats received more than 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 Jones (1).  In fact, Rodriguez scored in double figures in each of the four games from the bench, including a season-best 17 vs. the Salukis, averaging a team-best 14.3 points on 53.1 percent shooting from the field.  Overall, the 48-point bench effort against Southern Illinois 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. 

SPRADLING BUSTS OUT OF SLUMP
Sophomore Will Spradling was finally able to break out of his recent shooting slump on Saturday, as he connected on a career-best 19 points against Texas A&M on 5-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with a perfect 5-of-5 effort from the free throw line.  Twice before he scored 17 points, first against Baylor last season and again earlier this year vs. 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.  The 19-point effort was the guard’s 12th double-digit scoring game of the season, but just the fourth in Big 12 play. He entered the game with the Aggies averaging 7.6 points in the previous nine league games on just 27.1 percent shooting (19-of-70), including 25 percent (10-of-40) from beyond the arc.  His four 3-pointers tied his career-best.

Despite his recent slump, Spradling is one of only two players (Rodney McGruder) to have started all 22 games and average more than 30 minutes per game.  For the season, he is averaging 10.4 points on 39.4 percent shooting with a team-best 37 3-point field goals, 2.8 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 30.5 minutes per game.  Interestingly enough, most of his scoring has come at critical times, posting 63 percent (144) of his scoring total (229) 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. 

McGRUDER’S STREAK ENDS
Junior Rodney McGruder saw his incredible scoring streak end on Saturday, as he scored just five points to snap an 11-game streak of double-figure scoring game.  It was his fewest points scored since posting just four against UTEP on Dec. 23.  Despite the poor shooting day, he still has a team-leading 17 double-digit scoring games, including six games of 20+ points.  He ranks sixth in the Big 12 at 15.0 points per game, including fourth in league-only games at 17.9 points per game. 

During this 11-game stretch, McGruder averaged 19.6 points on 51.3 percent shooting (78-of-152), including 47.6 percent (20-of-42) from 3-point range, while he connected on 85.1 percent (40-of-47) from the free throw line.  He led the team in scoring nine times in those 11 games, while collecting 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).  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 is the first player since Jacob Pullen in 2009-10 to lead the team in scoring in eight consecutive 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 against the Longhorns.  He is the first Wildcat to have 30 or more points twice in a three-game span since Michael Beasley in 2007-08. 

McGRUDER AMONG THE BEST IN BIG 12
Junior Rodney McGruder is one of nine players in the Big 12’s Top 20 in both overall scoring (15.0 ppg., 6th) and rebounding (5.2 rpg., 20th) this season, 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 15 in five other Big 12 categories, including eighth in field goal percentage (45.1), ninth in minutes played (31.9 mpg.) and 11th in both free throw percentage (77.0) and offensive rebounds (2.4 rpg.).  Through 10 Big 12 games, he is in the Top 10 in seven league-only categories, including fourth in scoring (17.9 ppg.), seventh in steals (1.4 spg.) and offensive rebounds (2.5), eighth in field goal percentage (44.8) and 3-point field goal percentage (35.7), ninth in free throw percentage (85.7) and minutes played (34.3).  Overall, he paces the Wildcats in six categories, including scoring, double-figure scoring games (17), field goals (121), field goals attempted (268), steals (29) and minutes played (31.9), while he is second in 3-pointers (30) and third in rebounds (5.2 rpg.).   He joins Will Spradling as the only players to start all 22 games this season and the only ones averaging 30 or more minutes.   

McGRUDER NAMED PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
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.

SAMUELS MAKING THE MOST OF HIS SENIOR SEASON
Senior Jamar Samuels has been a key component to the Wildcats’ 16-6 start to season, leading the team in double-doubles (4) and rebounding (6.4 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 13 of 20 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 (77) and free throws attempted (110), while he is third in minutes (25.7).  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 16 games, he has scored 66 of his 160 points from the charity stripe, while connecting on 74.2 percent (66-of-89) from the line.
 
SAMUELS JOINS 1,000-POINT CLUB
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 1,166 points ranks 13th in school history, just 138 points from the all-time Top 10.  He also ranks in the Top 5 all-time in school history in both career free throws (371) and free throws attempted (611).  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 Texas A&M, he moved up into the career Top 4 in games played (123), while his current rebounding (644) 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 (97) and ninth in blocks (85).
 
SAMUELS NAMED PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
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.
 
HURTS SO GOOD
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 22 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 (34).  For his career, Spradling has taken 43 charges in 56 games, which is one more than second-place Jamar Samuels (42).  He saw his streak of 11 consecutive games with at least one charge taken end against Howard on Dec. 31.     

FRESHMAN IMPACT
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 8.5 points per game in 19 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 six consecutive starts in Big 12 play, averaging 7.8 points on a team-best 69.2 percent shooting with 4.2 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game in that span.

NEW STARTER
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 six consecutive starts in Big 12 play.  During this six-game span, he is averaging 9.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, a team-best 3.2 assists and 1.3 steals in 18.5 minutes per game.  After being limited to just four points in his first career start against Texas on Jan. 18, he has scored in double figures three times in the last five games, including a 14-point effort in the win at Oklahoma State on Jan. 21.  He added a season-best six rebounds, a team-high three assists and two steals in 22 minutes against the Cowboys.  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 continued his progression against Texas A&M on Saturday, scoring all 13 of his points in the second half to go with five rebounds and a team-high four assists in 23 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 20 games, including a season-best 29 against UTEP. 
 
OJELEYE MAKING AN IMPACT 
Senior Victor Ojeleye has made an impact off the bench of late, averaging 3.2 points on 47.4 percent shooting with 4.3 rebounds in 15.2 minutes in the last six 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 six-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. 
 
UP NEXT: AT TEXAS (14-9, 4-6 BIG 12)
K-State hits the road this weekend, as the Wildcats head to Austin, Texas to take on the Texas Longhorns (14-9, 4-6 Big 12) at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center.  The game will be televised nationally on ESPN with Mark Jones and Fran Fraschilla.  The squad has won four of the last five meetings with the Longhorns, including three straight at the Erwin Center.