'Cats Make Final League Trek to Colorado Saturday

Sophomore Rodney McGruder is the Wildcats' leading rebounder at 6.5 per game.

Feb. 11, 2011

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Kansas State (16-8, 4-5 Big 12)
at Colorado (15-10, 4-6 Big 12)

Date: Saturday, February 12, 2011  |  Tipoff: 8 p.m. CT
Location: Boulder, Colo.  |  Arena: Coors Events Center (11,064)  |  Live Stats: www.cubuffs.com
Television: ESPNU (Dan McLaughlin, play-by-play; Sean Farnham, analyst; Joe McCoy, producer)  |  Internet: ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst)  |  Satellite Radio: Sirius 121/XM 141 (home team only)  
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International ‘93) is 88-40 (.688) in his fourth season as a head coach and at the school.  Colorado - Tad Boyle (Kansas ‘85) is 71-76 (.483) in his fifth season as a head coach and 15-10 (.600) in first season at the school.
Series: K-State leads 96-45 (32-32 on the road)  |  Martin vs. Colorado:  6-1 (3-0 on the road)  |   Martin vs. Boyle:  0-1 (0-0 on the road)
Last Time Out:  K-State won at Iowa State, 86-85, on Feb. 5, while Colorado lost in overtime to Texas A&M, 73-70, at home on Wednesday.
Rankings: Neither team is ranked in The Associated Press and/or USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Top 25 polls.   
Tickets: Limited number are available by calling the CU Athletics Ticket Office at (303) 492-7931 or online at www.cubuffs.com.

‘Cats make final road league trip to Boulder on Saturday
Kansas State (16-8, 4-5 Big 12) will make its final conference road trip to Boulder, Colo., on Saturday night, as the Wildcats play Colorado (15-10, 4-6 Big 12) at the Coors Events Center at 8 p.m. CT.  The Wildcats and Buffaloes will meet for the 142nd and final time as league opponents on Saturday in a series that dates back to 1933.  The teams have met twice annually since 1948 when Colorado became the seventh member of the Big Six Conference and has continued through the evolution of the Big Eight and Big 12 Conferences.  The school will leave the Big 12 in the coming months when it joins Utah and the rest of the Pac-10 in forming the new Pac-12 Conference in 2011-12.  K-State has won nine of the last 10 meetings, including four consecutive in Boulder, however, Colorado snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 74-66 win at Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 12.  The Buffaloes will be looking to sweep the regular-season series for the first time since the 2003-04 season.  The contest will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU with Dan McLaughlin (play-by-play) and Sean Farnham (analyst) on the call and will also be available on ESPN Full Court as well as on the internet at ESPN3.com.  Fans can listen to the “Voice of the Wildcats” Wyatt Thompson and analyst Stan Weber throughout the 33-station K-State Sports Network as well as free of charge online at www.k-statesports.com.  

The Wildcats will look to continue their winning ways in the month of February, as they head to Ames with a 10-game winning streak in the month dating back to a 77-72 victory over Nebraska at home on Feb. 28, 2009.  The 10-game streak is the longest in the month since the team also won 10 straight from 1976-77 to 1977-78.  The current 10-game winning streak, includes a perfect 7-0 mark in 2009-10, which was the first unbeaten February since the 1976-77 squad went a perfect 8-0.  The recent success in the month is in contrast to its performance in January, where the Wildcats just wrapped up a 3-5 mark, its first losing mark in the month since going 2-6 in 2003-04.   

K-State earned back-to-back wins in Big 12 play for the first time this season, including its first conference road victory in five tries, with an 86-85 come-from-behind victory at Iowa State on Feb. 5.  Down 81-75 with just over three minutes to play after a jumper by senior guard Scott Christopherson, the Wildcats out-scored the Cyclones, 11-4, to end the game capped by senior Jacob Pullen’s lay-up with 2.6 second remaining.  It was Pullen’s first game-winning basket of his career and gave him his 85th of his distinguished career.  The run began with a 3-pointer by freshman Will Spradling from the top of the key with 2:46 left then was capped by eight consecutive points by Pullen in the last 2:20 of the contest.  He made two lay-ups, a 3-pointer and went 1-of-2 from the free throw line in that span.  It marked just the second time in 39 instances under head coach Frank Martin that the team has won a game trailing with under five minutes to play.  For his efforts, he was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Monday for the second time in his career after averaging 19.5 points, 7.0 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals in 37.5 minutes in wins over Nebraska and Iowa State.  It was the Wildcats’ ninth win in the last 10 meetings with the Cyclones, including the fifth straight win at Hilton Coliseum.  It is the longest road winning streak in the series since they won six straight in Ames from 1972-77.  The 50 wins at Iowa State are the most on an opponent’s home court, while it remains the only home court that they hold a winning record.

The Wildcats connected on 50.8 percent from field, including 51.9 percent from 3-point range, to top 80 points in a conference game for just the second time this season.  The 86 points were the most in a Big 12 contest since tallying 94 against Texas Tech at home on Jan. 15.  The squad is now 21-0 under Frank Martin when shooting 50 percent or better from the field and 8-0 when shooting 40 percent or better from 3-point range.  K-State connected on a season-best 14 baskets from long range, which ties for the third-most in a game in school history and the most since also having 14 against UNLV on Dec. 12, 2009.  It was the most 3-pointers in a league game since also having 14 at Texas on Feb. 3, 2007.  The 27 attempts are the most this season and tie for the ninth-most in a game in school history and most in a conference game since playing Texas at home on Feb. 25. 2008.  The 14 treys came from seven different players, including a career-best four from Spradling.          

K-State got another strong effort from senior Jacob Pullen, who tallied at least 20 points for the seventh time in the last 10 games, with a team-high 21 points to go with a season-high eight assists and two steals in 36 minutes.  It marked the 18th time that Pullen has led in scoring in just 21 games played, including the ninth time in 10 games since his return from a 3-game suspension for NCAA rules violations.  He has scored in double figures now 95 times in his career, which has only been accomplished more by Rolando Blackman (100, 1977-81) in school history.  The all-time leader in 3-point field goals (269), 3-point field goals attempted (768) and steals (195), Pullen moved into second place all-time in scoring at K-State with his 21-point effort at Kansas on Jan. 29, moving him past Rolando Blackman (1,844, 1977-81) and Askia Jones (1,834, 1989-94).  He is now within 226 points of all-time leader Mike Evans, who scored 2,115 points from 1974-78.  Pullen now needs five steals to become the first player in school history with 1,800 points, 400 assists, 300 rebounds and 200 steals in a career. 

The Wildcats got outstanding production from its bench, which totaled more than half (44) of the team’s 86 points against the Cyclones.   The 44-point output from the bench was second-highest this season and the highest in a Big 12 contest since Frank Martin became head coach in 2006.  Three players - Will Spradling (14), Nick Russell (13) and Martavious Irving (13) - combined for 37 of these 44 bench points on 63.6 percent (14-of-22) shooting from the field, including 56.3 percent (9-of-16) from 3-point range.  

The Wildcats continue to try to find some consistency, as they have just one player - Rodney McGruder - who has started all 24 games this year, while there are just two others - Spradling and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts - who have played in all 24 games.  The team has used eight different starting lineups, while Spradling and fellow freshman Shane Southwell are just the second and third rookie guards to start a game in four years under Frank Martin.  The two’s only two seniors - Pullen and Kelly - missed three and six games, respectively, due to NCAA rules violations, while the team’s four upperclassmen - Pullen, Kelly, Jamar Samuels and Victor Ojeleye - have only been eligible to play in the same game 12 times.  Two players have left the team this season, beginning with junior Freddy Asprilla, who played in 16 games with 13 starts, before departing on Jan. 15, and lastly, sophomore Wally Judge, who opted to leave on Feb. 1 after playing in 17 games this season.  

Kansas State fell out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll on Jan. 17 for the first time in 23 consecutive polls dating back to Dec. 14, 2009 after starting the year at No. 3 for their highest-ever preseason ranking.  The No. 3 ranking was the highest in an AP poll in almost 50 years since the team ranked No. 3 on March 6, 1962.  The team fell out of the Coaches’ poll after 24 weeks on Jan. 24 after consecutive losses the week before.

The Book on Colorado
Colorado enters Saturday’s game with a 15-10 overall record after the Buffaloes dropped a heartbreaker at home to No. 22 Texas A&M, 73-70, in overtime on Wednesday night.  The loss was the team’s sixth in the last seven games and the second in a row at home after starting the year with 12 straight victories.  Leading 60-57 with just under two seconds to play in regulation, the Aggies connected on a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.  In the extra period, the squad was a near perfect 80 percent from the field to go with a 5-of-9 effort from the free throw line to earn the come-from-behind victory.  Colorado struggled from the field in the game, connecting on just 38.7 percent, including just 25 percent in the overtime period.  The backcourt duo of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins combined for 43 of the Buffaloes’ 70 points, including a game-high 24 points by Burks.  Higgins dished out five assists to go with 19 points, while Austin Dufault and Marcus Relphorde each added nine points.  The team returns nine lettermen, including all five starters, from a squad that posted a 15-16 overall record, including a 6-10 mark in Big 12 play, in 2009-10.

The Buffaloes are averaging 80.8 points on 47.3 percent shooting from the field, including 38.6 percent from 3-point range, with 35.9 rebounds, 13.6 assists, 7.5 steals and 3.0 blocks per game.  The squad ranks first in the Big 12 in both free throw percentage (78.6) and fewest turnovers per game (11.9), while they are second in 3-point field goal percentage and turnover margin (+2.68) and third in scoring, field goal percentage and steals.  They are led by the duo of Burks and Higgins, who both rank among the Big 12’s top 10 in scoring.  Burks is averaging 20 points on 46.2 percent shooting to go with 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 30.7 minutes per game, while Higgins is averaging 16.2 points on 43.6 percent shooting to go with 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 31.6 minutes per game.  Relphorde and Levi Knutson - also score in double figures at 11.5 and 11.1 points per game, while Austin Dufault adds 8.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per outing.  Andre Roberson is top in rebounding at 7.2 per game.   

Colorado is led by first-year coach Tad Boyle, who has guided the school to a 15-10 (.600) record.  He has a 71-76 (.483) in three years as a head coach, which includes a two-year stint at Northern Colorado.  He led the Bears to a 25-8 record and a second-place finish in the Big Sky last year.  
       
Series vs. Colorado
This will be 142nd meeting between K-State and Colorado on the hardwood and the 65th and final regular-season conference game between the two longtime rivals.  The two teams have played at least twice annually since 1948, but that will end in the current season as the Buffaloes head to the Pac-12 in 2011-12.  The Wildcats hold a 96-45 all-time record in this series, including a 32-32 mark in games played in Boulder.  The two teams have been nearly even since the start of Big 12 play with K-State holding a slight 16-15 edge, however, the Wildcats have won nine of the last 10 meetings dating back to 2006, including four in a row on the road.  The Buffaloes broke a nine-game losing streak in the series, including a five-game skid in Manhattan, with an impressive 74-66 win at Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 12.  The team shot 50 percent from the field, including 66.7 percent from 3-point range, while posting a 38-29 mark on the glass against the Wildcats.  Senior Jacob Pullen led all scorers with 22 points to go with six assists and four steals, while senior Levi Knutson posted 20 points off the bench, including a 6-of-8 effort from beyond the arc.  Colorado will be looking to sweep the season series for the first time since 2003-04 with a win on Saturday night.

Getting Defensive
K-State rebounded to post one of its best defensive performances against Nebraska to tip off the month of February.  The Wildcats held the Cornhuskers to an opponent-low 53 points after surrendering an opponent-high 90 points against Kansas just a few days earlier on Jan. 29.  It marked the 25th time that a Frank Martin-coached team has held an opponent below 60 points, including the fifth time this season.  Although the Huskers connected on 44.2 percent from the field, the squad was forced into 22 turnovers, which were converted into 21 points, and were out-rebounded 32-24.  Overall, the team has been solid defensively, holding foes to 66.0 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting, including 35.8 percent from 3-point range, while forcing them into 16.3 turnovers per game.  The Wildcats have held 16 opponents to 65 points or less and have limited 10 foes to under 40 percent shooting from the field.  The team has also been stellar on the boards, averaging 39.3 rebounds per game, including a Big 12-best 15.7 offensive rebounds, while holding its opponents to 31.3 rebounds per game for an impressive +8.0 rebounding margin.  The squad has paced in the league in offensive rebounds in each of Martin’s three seasons as head coach.  This rebounding edge has helped the Wildcats post 351 second-chance points (14.6 per game) compared to just 239 (10.0 per game) for its opponents.  They have out-scored their opponents in this regard in all but five games.  The team has scored 20 or more second-chance points in six game, including a season-high 25 against both UMKC on Dec 31 and Texas Tech on Jan. 15.  This statistic has been particularly stark in Kansas State’s 16 wins, where the team has averaged 16.3 second-chance points compared to just an average of 11.3 second-chance points in the eight losses.   

Digging the Long Ball
One of the more lethal components of the Wildcats’ offense under Frank Martin has been the ability to convert from long range.  The team has posted 200 or more treys in each of the last three seasons under Martin, including a school-record 253 makes in 2009-10.  This year’s squad seems to be on track to continue that trend, as they rank fourth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goals per game (7.0) and seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (37.0), while trailing just Iowa State (208), Missouri (182) and Kansas (179) in total 3-pointers (174).  The team has tallied double-digit treys in six contests, including a season-best 14 (on 51.9 percent shooting) against Iowa State on Feb. 5.  The 14 makes ties four others for the third-most in a game in school history, while they are most since the team also had 14 against UNLV on Dec. 12, 2009.  Seven different players converted on at least one 3-pointer against the Cyclones, including a season-high four by freshman Will Spradling.

Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been particularly solid from beyond the arc, ranking eighth in the league in 3-point field goals (2.17) and 10th in percentage (40.6).  He has posted at least one trey in 20 of 24 games, including two or more from long range on 16 occasions.  He has been impressive in the last 11 games, where he has connected on 45.3 percent (29-of-64) from 3-point range, which includes a 7-of-10 effort against UMKC on Dec. 31.  The seven makes tied 10 others for the fourth-most treys in school history, while he was the first to accomplish the feat since teammate Jacob Pullen did it twice a season ago.  His exploits are all the more impressive considering he shares the backcourt with Pullen, the school’s all-time leader in both 3-pointers (269) and attempts (768).  Pullen, who is ninth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goals per game (2.1), ranks second with 44 treys, including at least two in 12 games and a season-high four in five contests.  However, this statistic goes beyond the pair, as 10 others have at least one trey, including double-digit totals from Spradling (26), Martavious Irving (17) and Nick Russell (12). 

Practice Makes Perfect
One of the main concerns with this Kansas State team has been its ability to shoot free throws, where it 336th nationally (out of 346 teams) and last in the Big 12 at 61.5 percent (358-of-582).  However, the extra practice since the end of the semester has seemed to improve that percentage, as the Wildcats have connected on over 72 percent (183-of-254) in the last 11 games, including a season-best 84 percent (21-of-25) effort against Nebraska on Feb. 2.  During this span, the team has hit on more than 75 percent five times, including games against Texas Tech (81.3; 13-of-16), Baylor (80.6; 25-of-31), Oklahoma State (77.4, 24-of-31) and North Florida (76.9, 20-of-26).  Will Spradling, Victor Ojeleye and Nick Russell are perfect from the line in this stretch, while five more are hitting at greater than 70 percent.  Junior Jamar Samuels, who ranks sixth in school history in free throws attempted (477), has hit on nearly 80 percent (29-of-37) in Big 12 play after starting the season at under 60 percent (37-of-63).  Spradling’s 9-of-9 effort against Baylor was the best since Pullen went 11-of-11 against Washington State in 2009.       

Young ‘Cats Step Up
Even before the suspension of seniors Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly before the UNLV game on Dec. 21, the play of Kansas State’s freshmen and sophomores have played a major role in the team’s record.  This nucleus has scored 869 of the team’s 1764 points thus far (49 percent), while posting 469 of 943 rebounds (50 percent), 191 of 345 assists (55 percent) and 68 of 148 steals (46 percent).  The group boasts six of the Top 10 scorers, while it includes three of the Top 5 rebounders and four of the Top 5 assists leaders.  Thirty-five of the team’s 77 double-digit scoring efforts have come from sophomores and freshmen led by guard Rodney McGruder, who is second on the squad in double-figure scoring games with 15.  He paces the team in 3-pointer (52) and rebounding (6.5 rpg.), while he is second in scoring (11 ppg.), field goals (92), steals (17) and minutes played (29.5 mpg.).  Freshman Will Spradling and sophomores Martavious Irving and Nick Russell rank in spots fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in scoring at 6.2, 5.1 and 4.9 points per game.  Spradling is first in free throw percentage (89.7) and second in assists (2.1 apg.) and steals (0.7 spg.), while he and fellow freshman Shane Southwell are just the second and third rookie guards to earn a start under head coach Frank Martin.  This group was even more impressive during Pullen’s three-game suspension (UNLV, UMKC and North Florida games), as the Wildcats averaged nearly 80 points per game (79.7 ppg.), including the school’s first 100-point game of the season, while connecting on 46 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range.  During this period, the team started three sophomores, one true freshman and one junior with three of the four double-digit scorers being either sophomores or freshmen led by McGruder’s 14.7 points per game.

Bench Points
One of the definite advantage of this year’s Kansas State squad is its depth and versatility.  The Wildcats have played at least nine players in each of its 24 games, including a high of 14 against No. 18/22 Gonzaga (11/22), Texas Southern (11/26), Emporia State (11/29) and Alcorn State (12/6).  The team has used this depth to its advantage, averaging 24.7 points per game off the bench, while out-scoring its foes by a margin of 593-395.  The squad has scored 20 or more points from the bench in 17 of 24 games, including three contests with 40 or more points of bench production.  The Wildcats received a season-best 46 points from their bench vs. Duke on Nov. 23, while they posted 44 against Iowa State on Feb. 5 and 41 against Texas Southern on Nov. 26.  The 46 points versus the Blue Devils was the most from the bench since scoring 59 against Chicago State on Jan. 5, 2009, while the 44 against the Cyclones was the most in a Big 12 game under head coach Frank Martin.  The team has seen a Big 12-high 12 different players record 77 double-digit scoring efforts this season, including 22 coming off the bench from seven separate players.  Sophomore Martavious Irving leads with six double-digit scoring efforts from the bench.            
    
Points Off Turnovers
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent’s mistakes.  Since he became coach, the Wildcats have scored 2,385 points off of 2,130 turnovers in 128 games, an average of 18.6 points per game.  Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past four years have come off of offense generated from turnovers, including the current season, in which, the team has outscored its foes, 409-373.  The squad has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in six games, including a season-best 33 points against Emporia State on Nov. 29.  The team has pressured their foes into 15 or more turnovers in 15 games, including a season-high 26 vs. James Madison on Nov. 12.  Before the North Florida game on New Year’s Eve, the Wildcats were one of just four schools (Louisville, Washington and Cincinnati) to force each of their foes into more turnovers than assists in every game.  The team’s streak of 17 consecutive games (which led the nation) holding a foe to more turnovers than assists ended on Dec. 31 when the Ospreys tallied 14 assists to just 11 turnovers. 

Pullen Moving Up the Charts
Senior Jacob Pullen is nearing several career milestone in the midst of his final season at K-State.  With his team-high 21-point effort against No. 6 Kansas on Jan. 29, he moved into second place all-time in scoring in school history with 1,850 points, passing both Rolando Blackman (1,844, 1977-81) and Askia Jones (1,834, 1989-94).  His current total of 1,889 points in 125 games is less than 250 points behind all-time leader Mike Evans, who had 2,115 points from 1974-78.  He became the first Wildcat since Jones in 1994 to eclipse the 1,800-point barrier in a career with his 21-point effort at No. 11/10 Texas A&M on Jan. 22, while he is the 19th player in the Big 12 era to top 1,800 points, including the second this season (LaceDarius Dunn).  He also ranks among the Top 5 in double-digit scoring games (95, 2nd) and 20-point games (35, 3rd). 

Pullen ranks among the Top 5 in 17 career categories.  Already the school’s career record holder for 3-point field goals attempted (768), he became the leader in 3-point field goals (now at 269) in the win over Emporia State on Nov. 29 with four treys, breaking his second-place tie with Askia Jones (237, 1989-94) and passing former leader Steve Henson (240, 1987-90).  He also became the school leader in steals with his 191st theft against the Jayhawks on Jan. 29, passing Henson’s 190 total from 1987-90.  With his six makes against Florida on Dec. 11, he became the first Wildcat since Bob Boozer (1956-59) to connect on 400 free throws in a career, while his five dimes against Texas Tech on Jan. 15 made him the first since Henson to dish out 400 assists.  His start against the Red Raiders also gave him 100 for his career, making him one of just four players (Ed Nealy, Henson and Blackman) to tally that many starts.  Pullen ranks second in free throws attempted (592), games played (125) and minutes (3,637), third in consecutive starts (82), fourth in starts (106) and field goals attempted (1,446) and fifth in field goals made (584).  He needs five more steals to become the first Wildcat with 1,800 points (1889), 400 assists (418), 300 rebounds (301) and 200 steals (195).

Pullen Named Preseason AP All-American
Senior guard Jacob Pullen became the first Wildcat to earn preseason All-American honors from the Associated Press, as he was named first team selection by the organization in early November.  Pullen, who has been selected to a number of All-American teams, was joined on the first team by North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson and Duke’s Kyle Singler.  He was an honorable mention AP All-American as a junior after leading K-State to its first Elite Eight since 1988.  He was already been named a preseason All-American by a number of media outlets, including to the first team by ESPN.com, Blue Ribbon Yearbook and The Sporting News, the second team by Dick Vitale and the third team by Athlon Sports.  He was also selected a preseason Top 50 candidate for both the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, while he was recently named one of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award and the midseason Top 30 list for the Wooden Award.
 
McGruder Takes Off
Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been one of the team’s most consistent all-around players this season, averaging 11 points on 44 percent shooting, including 40.6 percent from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.7 steals in 29.5 minutes per game.  The only player to start all 24 games, McGruder also paces the team in 3-point field goals (52), while he is second in scoring, double-digit scoring games (15), field goals (92), steals (17) and minutes.  He had a career day against UMKC on Dec. 23, setting highs in five categories, including points (24), field goals (eight), field goals attempted (14), 3-point field goals (seven) and 3-point field goals attempted.  His seven treys tied 10 others players for the fourth-most in a single-game in school history, while he was the first to do it since Jacob Pullen had seven against BYU in the NCAA Tournament.  Despite the presence of the school’s all-time leader in Pullen, McGruder has been the team’s best long range threat with at least two makes from 3-point range in 16 of his 24 games.  All of 6-foot-4, he has also been the best rebounder, posting at least five boards in 19 contests, including a career-high 15 against Texas Tech on Jan. 15.  He has led the team in department on 12 occasions.  His 15 rebounds against the Red Raiders were the most by a Wildcat since Michael Beasley grabbed 17 against Missouri on Feb. 16, 2008.   

From Reserve to Starter
A reserve for much of his career, junior Jamar Samuels has made the most of his 11 consecutive starts, which has included the team’s first nine Big 12 opponents.  The reigning Big 12 Sixth Man Award winner, he is averaging 10.6 points in the span on 44.7 percent shooting (38-of-85), including 38.9 percent (7-of-17) from beyond the arc, to go with 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 28.2 minutes per game. Pressed into the starting lineup against North Florida due to an illness, Samuels earned his first start since the first game of his sophomore season with perhaps his best offensive day.  He collected his second career 20-point game, as he came up just one short of his career-high of 27 against Oklahoma State last season at the Big 12 Championships on March 11, 2010.  He went 11-of-15 from the field against Ospreys, including 2-of-3 effort from 3-point range, to go with five assists in 23 minutes.  He earned a near double-double against Texas Tech on Jan. 15, as he tallied a team-high 22 points on 8-of-12 field goals with nine rebounds, five assists and one steal in 30 minutes.  Samuels is closing in on a feat that only eight other players have accomplished at K-State, as he is nearing 1,000 career points (899 currently) and 500 career rebounds (468).      

Coaching Staff Continuity
One of the main reasons that Kansas State has been able to win a school-record 72 games over the past three seasons has been its ability to not only keep head coach Frank Martin, who earned a new multi-year contract through the 2014-15 season during the off-season, but his entire staff, which includes associate head coach Dalonte Hill, assistants Matt Figger and Brad Underwood, director of operations Andy Assaley and strength coach Scott Greenawalt.  K-State is one of just two Big 12 schools (other being Missouri) to have kept their entire staff together for the last four seasons.  This has enabled the Wildcats to post 72 wins the past three seasons, which is the most by a coaching staff in their first three seasons and the most-ever by the school in that span.  They are the first staff to post three consecutive 20-win seasons since 1979-82 and just the second group to guide K-State to the postseason in each of their first three seasons.  The staff has also captured 30 Big 12 wins in last three years, which ties Jack Hartman’s staff from 1970-73 for the most in a three-year period.  They have also helped make the K-State one of just two in the Big 12 to finish in the top-4 in the league standings and receive a bye at the Big 12 Championship each of the past three years.

Season Tickets Sold Out
With preseason expectations for K-State at a near all-time high, officials announced on Oct. 22 that all reserved tickets for the 2010-11 season have been sold.  K-State has sold over 12,000 season tickets to the general public and students, surpassing last year’s total by over 750 tickets.  The school has ranked among the nation’s leaders in attendance in three of the last four seasons, including ranking 31st with an average of 11,884 fans per game to 17 home games in 2009-10.  The team also ranked fourth in attendance among Big 12 institutions and was second only to Kansas in sellouts with 14.  In addition, the school enjoyed the nation’s largest average attendance increase with nearly 3,000 more fans per game.  Three of the top-5 single-season attendance averages have come in the last four years.
   
Diaz, Gipson Sign with K-State for 2011-12
Head coach Frank Martin announced the signing of high school standouts Adrian Diaz (Miami, Fla.) and Thomas Gipson (Cedar Hill, Texas) to National Letters of Intent on Nov. 14.  Both players are listed on the Rivals150 by Rivals.com with the 6-foot-7, 245-pound Gipson listed at No. 142 and the 6-foot-11, 220-pound Diaz checking in at No. 145.  An emerging post prospect, Diaz is a senior at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School in Hialeah, Fla.  As a junior, he averaged 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Trojans.  Rated as the 13th-best prospect in the state of Texas by TexasHoops.com, Gipson is a senior at Cedar Hill High School in Cedar Hill.  As a junior, he led in scoring (16 ppg.) and rebounding (7.2 rpg.) en route to helping the Longhorns to a 28-4 record and a trip to the 2010 Class 5A Tournament.  He was a TABC first team Class 5A All-State selection and was co-MVP of District 7-5A.  He helped Cedar Hill to the 2009 Class 5A state final as a sophomore where he averaged 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.  He was named first team All-Area by the Dallas Morning News and was the District 7-5A Sophomore of the Year.