K-State Returns Home To Face Iowa State Saturday

Junior Jordan Henriquez has 56 blocks this season, including 13 in the last three games.

Feb. 24, 2012

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KANSAS STATE (19-8, 8-7 Big 12) vs. IOWA STATE (20-8, 10-5 Big 12)
Saturday, February 25, 2012 n 12:30 p.m. CST n Manhattan, Kan. n Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

Television: Big 12 Network (ESPN Full Court)
Mitch Holthus (play-by-play); Jon Sundvold (analyst)
Channels: KSHB (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 93/XM 194
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 #49, Iowa State #40
K-State vs. Iowa State: 135-78 (L, 70-72, 1/31/12)
In Manhattan: 78-24 (W, 67-55, 3/5/11)

Kansas State (19-8, 8-7 Big 12) returns to the friendly confines of Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats play host to Iowa State (20-8, 10-5 Big 12) at 12:30 p.m. CST.  The game will be broadcast on the Big 12 Network (as well as ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com) with Mitch Holthus (play-by-play) and Jon Sundvold (analyst) on the call.  The Wildcats will be looking for 20 wins for the 25th time in school history, including the sixth consecutive season and fifth under head coach Frank Martin.  Prior to the 2006-07 season, the school had not posted more than three consecutive 20-win seasons (done twice).  Saturday’s game has major implications in the Big 12 standings with fifth-place K-State sitting two games behind Iowa State, which is locked in a third-place tie with No. 13/14 Baylor, with just three league games remaining in the season.  Only the top six seeds receive a bye to the quarterfinal round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship and the Wildcats, along with Kansas, are the only two schools to receive a bye to quarterfinals each of the past five years.  K-State wrapped up its brutal stretch of Top 10 opponents on Tuesday night with a 78-68 win over No. 3/3 Missouri at Mizzou Arena.  It not only stopped a 10-game losing streak against the No. 3 team in the country (and first since 1988), but also gave the Wildcats consecutive Top 10 victories for the first time in school history after posting a 57-56 win over No. 9/10 Baylor on Feb. 18.  After struggling on the offensive end, the Wildcats recorded 78 points on 53.8 percent shooting (both highs by a Missouri opponent in Columbia this season) in handing the Tigers their first loss at home.  The win gave Martin his eighth Top 10 victory and 20th overall vs. Top 25 foes, which both rank second in school history.

Saturday’s game will be the ninth of at least 10 regular-season broadcasts on the Big 12 Network.  The league television package can be seen locally on KSHB-TV in Kansas City, KSAS-TV in Wichita, KSNT-TV in Topeka and KFJX-TV in Pittsburg, Kan./Joplin, Mo.  The contest can also seen in the Big 12 region on KNVA-TV in Austin, Texas, KFXA/Mediacom in Cedar Rapids, KQFX-TV in Columbia, Mo., WOI-TV in Des Moines, KXVO-TV in Omaha, Neb.,  KCWX-TV in San Antonio, KOZL in Springfield, Mo., KPTH-TV in Sioux City, Iowa and KPLR-TV in St. Louis.  All games on the Big 12 Network can be found on ESPN Full Court as well as ESPN3.com.

Saturday will mark a milestone birthday for legendary K-State basketball coach Tex Winter, as he celebrates his 90th birthday.  A member of numerous Halls of Fame, including the College Basketball and Naismith Memorial Halls of Fame, Winter owns the second-most wins (261) of any K-State coach and laid claim to more conference titles (eight) than any other Wildcat mentor during his coaching tenure from 1953-68.  He is the only coach to be affiliated with all four of K-State’s Final Four appearances.
Iowa State enters Saturday’s game with a 20-8 record and a 10-5 mark in Big 12 play after a 72-54 win over Texas Tech on Wednesday at home.  The victory gave the Cyclone 20 wins in the regular season for the sixth time in school history, including the third time in February, while they collected their 10th in league play for fourth time.  Under second-year coach Fred Hoiberg, the team is averaging 73.6 points on 45.3 percent shooting, including 38.2 percent from 3-point range, to go with 36.4 rebounds, 14.5 assists, 5.8 steals and 2.9 blocks per game.  ISU is the Big 12’s best 3-point shooting team, ranking first in makes (8.8 per game) and third in percentage.  Three players are averaging in double figures led by sophomore Royce White, who is the only player in the Big 12 to rank in the Top 15 in scoring (12.9 ppg.), rebounding (9.1 rpg.), assists (5.0 apg.) and blocked shots (1.0 bpg.).

Saturday’s game will be the 214th meeting between K-State and Iowa State dating back to Jan. 12, 1909 with the Wildcats holding a 135-78 lead in the series.  The Wildcats are 78-24 at home in the series, including a 17-6 mark at Bramlage Coliseum.  K-State is 17-15 since the start of Big 12 play, including 11-4 at home.  Frank Martin is 7-2 against the Cyclones, including 3-1 at home.

Kansas State used an all-around performance to snap a 10-game losing streak to the No. 3 team in the country, as the Wildcats snapped No. 3/3 Missouri’s 15-game homecourt winning streak with a 78-68 win on Tuesday night.  The squad earned back-to-back wins over Top 10 opponents for the first time in school history, while snapping a four-game losing streak at Mizzou Arena.  It was the first against the nation’s No. 3 team since a 69-62 win over Oklahoma on Jan. 16, 1988, snapping a 10-game losing skid.  The Wildcats collected their fourth Top 25 win of the season, including third vs. the Top 10, while head coach Frank Martin earned his eighth in his short five-year tenure.  He now has 20 Top 25 wins in his career, including eight away from home, and is two shy of Jack Hartman’s (22) all-time record.  Missouri led by as many as six points early in the first half before a lay-up by Jamar Samuels gave K-State the lead for good at the 12:11 mark.  The Wildcats pushed their lead to as many as 12 in the half, including 40-30 at the halftime break.  After leading by 16 with just under13 minutes to play, the Tigers rallied to close the gap to just 63-60 at the 6:33 mark of the second half.  However, Rodney McGruder was able to answer the rally with his second 3-pointer, as the squad completed its second consecutive Top 10 win.  After scoring no more than 70 points in the previous nine games, K-State snapped out of its recent shooting slump with 78 points against the Tigers on 53.8 percent shooting, including 66.7 percent from 3-point range.  It was the most points and highest field goal percentage by a Missouri opponent at Mizzou Arena this season.  McGruder paced three Wildcats in double figures with his seventh 20-point game of the season with 24 points on 7-of-14 field goals, while Samuels earned his 11th double-double and sixth this season with 11 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.  Freshman Thomas Gipson was a big boost from the bench with 13 points on 6-of-7 field goals in 19 minutes.  Fellow rookie Angel Rodriguez dished out team-bests in both assists (six) and steals (two) to go with seven points.    

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 27-10 (.730) record under head coach Frank Martin, including a 16-3 (.842) mark at Bramlage Coliseum.  The squad saw its streak of 11 consecutive wins at home in the month come to an end Feb. 13, as No. 4/5 Kansas handed K-State just its third home loss in February in the last four seasons.  However, the squad has rebounded to post back-to-back victories over Top 10 opponents for the first time in school history, including a 57-56 win over No. 9/10 Baylor on Feb. 18 and 78-68 win over No. 3/3 Missouri on Tuesday.  All three home losses in February since the 2008-09 season have come to ranked teams, following No. 5 Texas (74-65, Feb. 25, 2008) and No. 16 Kansas (85-74, Feb. 14, 2009).  The Wildcats have still won 16 straight at home against unranked teams in the month dating back to 2006, including a 12-0 record under Martin.  K-State’s record in February in the last four years has been stellar, where the team is 24-5 (.828) overall, including 13-2 (.867) at home. 
With depth a significant strength for K-State in 2011-12, head coach Frank Martin has used seven different starting line-ups this season.  The Wildcats are one of only three Big 12 schools (Baylor and Texas Tech) to have 10 players average 10+ minutes per game, while only Texas Tech has more players (10) averaging more than 10 minutes per game in league-only games. 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 27 games and the only ones averaging 30 or more minutes.  Senior Jamar Samuels is third in starts with 24 and freshman Thomas Gipson is next with 21 (third-most among Big 12 freshmen), junior Martavious Irving has 14 starts, freshman Angel Rodriguez 11, junior Jordan Henriquez nine and sophomore Shane Southwell two.  Five of the lineups have been used three or fewer times, while Martin has used the lineup of Spradling, Irving, McGruder, Samuels and Gipson the most at nine times.  Martin changed the lineup against Kansas on Feb. 11 for the first time in eight games, playing Rodriguez, Spradling and McGruder at the guard spots and Samuels and Henriquez at the forwards.  Rodriguez has started each of the last 11 games, while Henriquez has earned three consecutive starts early January.
Since jumping into the starter’s role, freshman Angel Rodriguez is averaging 9.2 points, team-leading 3.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 22.9 minutes per game.  In this 11-game stretch, he ranks first on the team in assists (42) and steals (17) and is second in scoring and field goals (36) and fourth in minutes.  After struggling against No. 4/5 Kansas (zero points on 0-of-8 field goals to go with a season-high seven turnovers) on Feb. 13, he rebounded for stellar efforts in wins over No. 9/10 Baylor and No. 3/3 Missouri.  He poured in a game-high 15 points on 7-of-12 field goals against the Bears to go with team-bests in both assists (six) and steals (four) in season-high 39 minutes to go with seven points, six assists and two steals in 20 minutes against the Tigers.  In the last 11 games, he has led the team in assists nine times and steals six times.  He has posted double figures five times in this span, including matching his Big 12-high of 15 points against Texas on Feb. 11 with 15 against Baylor.  He also scored in double figures against Oklahoma State (14) on Jan. 21, Texas A&M (13) on Feb. 4 and Oklahoma (10) on Jan. 28. 

Junior Jordan Henriquez has also provided a spark in three consecutive starts for the first time since early January, averaging 5.7 points on 50 percent shooting with 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 blocks in 23.7 minutes.  He posted nine points, a team-high seven rebounds and three blocks in the win over No. 9/10 Baylor after collecting a career-best six blocks vs. No. 4/5 Kansas in 26 minutes.  
His six blocks tie for the second-most in a single-game in school history and the most in a conference game, while four swats against No. 3/3 Missouri gave him the school’s all-time blocks mark at 125.  On the other hand, freshman Thomas Gipson has played better after coming off the bench the last three games after eight straight starts, averaging 8.0 points on 62.5 percent shooting with 4.7 rebounds in 17.0 minutes.  He tallied a Big 12-high 13 points against the Tigers on 6-of-7 field goals.
Freshman Angel Rodriguez has become a key element of the Wildcats’ attack in the last 11 games, ranking first on the team in assists (42) and steals (17), second in scoring and field goals (36) and fourth in minutes.  His ability to take care of the basketball has become a huge part of the team’s success, as K-State is 15-2 this season when he records a positive or at least even assist-to-turnover ratio and 4-5 when it is negative.  Factor in this statistic in the last 11 games in which he has started and it has become a significant one, as the Wildcats are 7-1 when he has a positive or even assist-to-turnover ratio and 0-3 when it is negative.  In this span, Rodriguez has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in five games -- Texas (2.0), Iowa State (5.0), Texas A&M (1.3), Baylor (1.5) and Missouri (3.0) -- and an even ratio twice -- Oklahoma State and Texas Tech (twice).  In these seven wins, he has a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio (27 assists to 18 turnovers), while he has a 0.83 assist-to-turnover ratio (15 assists to 18 turnovers) in the team’s four losses in that span.  He has a 1.17 assist-to-turnover ratio this season, including a 1.12 ratio in Big 12 action.

K-State has proved to be a balanced team across the board with seven players averaging five or more points, including three in double figures, and four averaging four or more rebounds per game.  The Wildcats have had eight different leading scorers (with Rodney McGruder leading the way 12 times) and six leading rebounders (Jamar Samuels leading 10 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 Angel Rodriguez (76), Will Spradling (72) and Shane Southwell (58) and six players have double-figure steals (including five with 20+) led by McGruder’s 32.  This balance has been even more evident in the last 10 games with a different player pacing the team in scoring seven times and a different rebounding leader on five occasions.    

Overall, the Wildcats have seen 11 players collect 85 double-digit scoring games with McGruder posting a team-leading 22 such games, while Spradling and Samuels are not far behind with 15 double-figure games each.  The team is much better team when three or more players register double-digit points with a 15-5 record, including a 7-3 mark when 4+ players collect 10 or more points.  In three losses, the squad have had just two players (vs. Kansas, Baylor and Oklahoma) in double-figure scoring. 
Kansas State has been a solid defensive team this season, allowing opponents 63 points on 39.6 percent shooting, including 30.7 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 38.2 rebounds, 16.5 turnovers forced, 6.1 steals and 4.7 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have held 15 foes to under 65 points, including 12 below 60 points and three under 50 points.  The team is 14-2 this season when holding an opponent below 65 points, including 11-1 when they score fewer than 60.  Under head coach Frank Martin, the squad has a 43-3 (.933) record when an opponent scores less than 60 points.  In Big 12 play, K-State is holding foes to 64 points on 42.2 percent shooting, including 33.5 percent from 3-point range, to go with 30.9 rebounds, 16.3 turnovers forced, 6.1 steals and 4.2 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have held nine opponents to 65 points or less in league play.    
K-State ranks among the Top 50 nationally in four defensive categories, including 27th in rebounding margin, 31st in field goal percentage defense, 41st in 3-point field goal percentage defense and 42nd in blocked shots.  The team places in the Big 12’s Top 3 in six defensive categories, including first in rebounding, second in field goal percentage defense and rebounding margin, third in scoring defense, 3-point percentage defense and blocked shots.  During Frank Martin’s coaching tenure, the Wildcats have finished no lower than fourth in rebounding (twice leading the Big 12 in 2007-08 and 2008-09) in the Big 12 and have led the league in offensive rebounds each of the past four seasons.  K-State is the only two schools (Oklahoma State) to have three players rank in the Big 12’s Top 20 in rebounding (Jamar Samuels - 9th, Rodney McGruder - 15th, Thomas Gipson - 17th) and the only one with three players (Samuels - 3rd, McGruder - 10th, Gipson - 14th) in the league’s Top 15 in offensive rebounds.

After allowing a Big 12-worst 72.6 points through the first five league games, K-State has stepped up its efforts in the last 10 games, allowing a combined average of 59.7 points on 39.7 percent shooting, including 32.9 percent from 3-point range, while holding an +5.2 rebounding margin.  The Wildcats have also forced more than 16.4 turnovers in those 10 games and scored an average of 15.8 points off those miscues.  The team has held eight of the last 10 opponents to less than 70 points (including six below 60 points), while twice holding Texas Tech to less than 50.  The 47 points scored by the Red Raiders on Jan. 25 were the fewest allowed in a Big 12 road game since Iowa State tallied 46 on Feb. 21, 2009, while the 46 scored on Feb. 7 were the fewest allowed in a league home game under Frank Martin.  Seven times the squad has held its Big 12 opponent to below 40 percent shooting from the field, including three consecutive vs. No. 4/5 Kansas (39.6), No. 9/10 Baylor (38.5) and No. 3/3 Missouri (38.3).  During a five-game stretch from Feb. 4-18, the Wildcats held its conference brethren to just 57.8 points on 38.9 percent shooting, which is the fewest five-game average point total in conference play since the 1981-82 squad allowed 56.0 points against Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska from Feb. 13-27, 1982.  K-State held Kansas to a season-low 59 points (16.3 points below scoring average) before allowing Baylor to its third-fewest point total (56) and 19.1 points below its average.    Missouri was held to 68 points (11.9 point below its average) on 38.3 percent shooting on Tuesday -- both season-lows at home. 

For their recent efforts, the Wildcats now rank among the Top 2 in seven Big 12 defensive categories in conference-only games, including second in scoring defense (64.0), field goal percentage defense (42.2), rebounding (35.4), rebounding margin (+4.5), rebounding defense (31.0), turnover margin (+1.3) and blocked shots (4.2).

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 3,007 points off of 2,706 turnovers in 165 games - an average of 18.2 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, 471-405.  The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 16.5 turnovers, including a season-high 25 by Texas Tech on Jan. 25, while foes are averaging 16.3 turnovers in Big 12 play.  For season, K-State is averaging 17.4 points off these mistakes, including 17.1 points in league play.  The Wildcats have scored 18+ points off of turnovers in nine Big 12 games, including six games of 20+ points (21 vs. Missouri, 26 vs. Baylor, 20 vs. Oklahoma, 21 vs. Texas, 27 and 21 vs. Texas Tech).  The 27 points scored against the Red Raiders were the most scored off of turnovers since posting 28 against Savannah State on Jan. 3, 2011 and the most in a Big 12 game since totaling 29 vs. Nebraska on Feb. 17, 2010.

K-State’s ability to score points off of turnovers was a big factor in the win over No. 9/10 Baylor on Feb. 18, scoring 18 points off 18 miscues in the 57-56 win.  It was a reversal from the first meeting on Jan. 10 when the Bears scored 30 points off of 20 Wildcat turnovers in a 75-73 win.  K-State did have 15 turnovers, but Baylor scored just 13 points off those mistakes. 

Kansas State has taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 31.3 points in the paint and 15.7 points off of second-chance opportunities.  The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-best 38.2 rebounds per game, including 14.7 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponents 21 times, including 18 times in the last 21 games. The team has collected 40 or more rebounds in 10 games, including a season-best 50 against George Washington, North Florida and Oklahoma State.  The Wildcats ranks 28th 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 29th nationally (and second in the Big 12) in rebounding margin (+5.6).

The 2009-10 Big 12 Coach of the Year, Frank Martin needs one win to become the first Wildcat head coach to post a 20-win season in each of his first five seasons (he was the first to do it four straight years).  With a trip to the either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT this season, he would also become the first coach in K-State history to guide teams to the postseason in his first five seasons.  After Tuesday’s victory over No. 3 Missouri, he has 20 wins over Top 25 teams, including eight over the Top 10.  Both totals are the second-most in school history, trailing all-time wins leader Jack Hartman’s 22 over the Top 25 and Fred “Tex” Winter’s 10 over the Top 10.  He has also been impressive on the road in Big 12 play, posting a 20-20 mark since the 2007-08 season.  Prior to Martin’s arrival (which includes a 4-4 road mark as Bob Huggins’ top assistant in 2006-07), the Wildcats won just 10 road games (out of 70) in their first 10 years of Big 12 play, including winless marks in 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2003.  You would have to count up the last six years of the Big Eight (1990-96) and the first 10 in the Big 12 to surpass these 20 road wins.

Earlier this season, 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 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. 

K-State has taken advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line this season with nearly 25 percent of their points (443) coming from the line.  The Wildcats are tied for 14th nationally in free throw attempts per game (24.9), trailing among others national leader New Mexico State (30.3), while they are 42nd in the country in free throws made per game (16.4).  K-State is second in the Big 12 with less than one attempt per game less than Texas (25.0), while it is tied for second with Oklahoma State in makes per game. Opponents are averaging 22.7 personal fouls per game, while they have 47 fewer free throws attempted and nine fewer makes.  The Wildcats have attempted at least 22 free throws in 20 games, including 20 or more attempts in eight Big 12 games.  The team combined for 79 attempts in consecutive games against Texas and Oklahoma State on Jan. 18 and 21, including a season-best 40 against the Cowboys.  The squad matched that total with 40 attempts against Texas Tech on Feb. 7.  In addition, K-State has also converted on at least 20 free throws in seven games, including a season-best 30 vs. Texas Tech, also on Feb. 7.  Of note, since totaling 40 attempts against the Red Raiders, the Wildcats have combined for just 54 free throw attempts in the last four games, including season-lows for both makes (2) and attempts(6) at Baylor on Feb. 18. 

K-State is 82-11 (.882) under Frank Martin, including 15-1 this season, when the squad attempts more free throws, while they are just 32-38 (.457) under Martin, including 4-7 this season, when they equal or are surpassed by their opponent in attempts.

Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production it’s getting from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 21.4 points this season, including 18.0 points in Big 12 play.  Five times during league play the squad has gotten 20 or more points from its bench, including 33 vs. Oklahoma on Jan. 14 and 38 and 32 in its two meetings with Texas Tech.  Reserves (33) scored nearly half of the team’s points against the Sooners with Jeremy Jones and Nino Williams each scoring 12.  With the starters struggling in the first meeting with the Red Raiders, the bench again came through with a big effort, scoring 38 points on 60 percent shooting.  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.  On Feb. 7, the Wildcats registered 32 points from its reserves against the Red Raiders, including a career-high 13 points from Shane Southwell and 19 combined points from Irving (8), Diaz (7) and Jordan Henriquez (4).  The bench also gave the squad a huge boost against No. 3/3 Missouri on Tuesday, posting 24 points on 68.8 percent shooting.  Rookie Thomas Gipson tied his high for Big 12 play with 13 points against the Tigers on 6-of-7 shooting. 

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), Henriquez (1), Jamar Samuels (1) and Jones (1).  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 in that four-game span.  Overall, the 48-point bench effort vs. SIU was the most of the Frank Martin era.

Kansas State has posted at least 30 points in the paint in 19 of 27 games, including a combined 90 in overtime games with West Virginia (44) and North Florida (46), and have outscored their foes, 846-654, 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 seven other contests, with a season-best 27 against North Florida and 25 each vs. George Washington and Oklahoma (on Jan. 14).  In league play, the Wildcats have posted a 200-142 edge in second-chance points, including a 25-5 advantage vs. Oklahoma (on Jan. 14) and an 18-4 edge vs. Oklahoma State (Jan. 21).  These numbers were particularly important in win over North Florida, as the team posted season-bests with a 46-34 edge in points in the paint and a 27-8 advantage in second-chance points.
Before posting back-to-back wins over Top 10 opponents, Kansas State had struggled to close out games this season.  The Wildcats have held a second-half lead in six of its eight losses, including five of seven setbacks in Big 12 play.  Four times the team has lost when leading by 7+ points in the second half, including back-to-back road games at Iowa State and Texas.  The squad surrendered a 53-39 lead with 14:27 left in Ames on Jan. 31, as the Cyclones won on a jumper with 1.8 seconds left, while the Longhorns rallied from a 42-27 deficit with 19:31 left in the second half to snap a three-game losing skid to K-State at home on Feb. 11.  The Wildcats also led West Virginia by as many as seven points after halftime before falling in double-overtime on Dec. 8, while they lost by two to Baylor after holding as much as a nine-point advantage in the second half on Jan. 10.  The squad also led Oklahoma by as many as six points at home, including three in the second half, before losing 63-60 on Jan. 28.

Senior Jamar Samuels has been a key component to the Wildcats’ season, leading the team in double-doubles (6), rebounding (6.5 rpg.) free throws (84) and free throws attempted (123), while ranking third in scoring (10.0 ppg.) and minutes (25.9).  Despite missing the exhibition game and the first two games due to violations of team rules, he has collected double-figure scoring games in 15 contests (including a stretch of seven consecutive such games from Dec. 11 to Jan. 4) and to go with a team-high six double-doubles, including back-to-back double-doubles against George Washington and Virginia Tech for the first time in his career.  For his efforts, he earned Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honors on Dec. 5 for the first time in his career. 

Samuels stepped up during the Wildcats’ recent three-game stretch against Top 10 foes, averaging 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in 33.7 minutes per game.  He had two double-doubles in this stretch (vs. No. 4/5 Kansas and No. 3/3 Missouri) and has connected on 7-of-10 from 3-point range.  He was stellar in the narrow loss to Kansas on Feb. 13 with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-15 field goals, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, to go with a game-high 12 rebounds.  It was his first 20-point game of the season and seventh of his career.  He was solid all-around vs. 9/10 Baylor with nine points, five rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals in 35 minutes.  He followed with his third double-double of Big 12 play at Missouri with 11 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.  Interestingly enough, the KU game marked the first time that K-State has lost when Samuels registers a double-double (10-1) and the first when he earns a 20-point game (6-1) in his career.  His six double-doubles are the most he has recorded in a single season.  Earlier this season, he helped K-State to its first tournament title since 2006 at the Diamond Head Classic, earning all-tournament honors after averaging 11.7 points and a team-best 8.3 rebounds in 28.7 minutes per game. 

Senior Jamar Samuels earned his 1,000th 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 1,210 points ranks 12th in school history, just 94 points from the all-time Top 10.  He also ranks in the Top 5 in school history in both career free throws (378) and free throws attempted (624).  Both totals rank third, 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 Missouri, he surpassed Steve Henson for the second-most games played with his 128th and now trailing only Jacob Pullen (135) for most played in a career.  He also ranks in the Top 10 in three additional categories, including rebounds (680; 6th), steals (104, 7th) and blocks (90, 8th).  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.  He is the first with at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds since Cartier Martin (2003-07).

Junior Rodney McGruder saw an 11-game double-figure scoring streak end against Texas A&M on Feb. 4, but he has responded with the start of another streak, collecting double digits in five consecutive, including his seventh 20-point contest with a game-high 24 vs. No. 3/3 Missouri.  In this five-game stretch, he is averaging 14.4 points on 43.9 percent shooting, including 53.3 percent from long range, while connecting on 87.5 percent from the free throw line.  During the recent three-game stretch of Top 10 foes, he averaged a team-best 17 points on 45 percent shooting, including 50 percent from 3-point range, while hitting 10-of-12 free throws.  The leader with 22 double-figure scoring games, he has 10+points in 17 of the last 19 games, including 16 of the last 17.  He ranks seventh in the Big 12 in scoring (14.9 ppg.), including sixth in league-only games (16.7 ppg.). 

During his 11-game stretch from Dec. 25 - Jan. 31, 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 in Hawai’i at Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 25 where he earned MVP honors after torching Long Beach State for 28 points in the championship game on 10-of-11 shooting 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.  His 33-point effort vs. Texas on Jan. 18 marked the third time in seven games he surpassed his career-high in scoring, as he connected on 11-of-17 field goals.  Along with his 30 vs. Baylor on Jan. 10, he is the first Wildcat to score 30+ points twice in a three-game span since Michael Beasley in 2007-08. 

Junior Rodney McGruder is one of nine players in the Big 12’s Top 20 in both overall scoring (14.9 ppg., 7th) and rebounding (5.3 rpg., 15th) this season, joining Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Missouri’s Marcus Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe, Iowa State’s Royce White, Baylor’s trio of Perry Jones III,  Quincy Miller and Quincy Acy and Oklahoma’s Romero Osby.  He also ranks among the Top 15 in five other Big 12 categories, including eighth in field goal percentage (44.9), ninth in minutes played (32.0 mpg.), 10th in offensive rebounds (2.3 rpg.), 11th in free throw percentage (78.9) and 12th in steals (1.2).  Through 15 Big 12 games, he is in the Top 15 in six league-only categories, including sixth in scoring (16.7 ppg.), seventh in field goal percentage (44.5) and free throw percentage (86.2), 10th in offensive rebounds (2.3), 12th in steals (1.1), 13th in rebounding (5.3) and 14th in 3-pointers made (1.5).  Overall, he paces the team in six categories, including scoring, double-figure scoring games (22), field goals (146), steals (32) and minutes.  He joins Will Spradling as the only players to start all 27 games and average 30+ 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.

Kansas State has taken advantage of its size in the paint to post 39 more blocked shots (128-89) than its opponents this season, averaging 4.7 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have posted at least five blocks in 14 games, including a season-best 11 blocked shots against North Florida on Dec. 11.  Most of these blocks have come by way of 7-footer Jordan Henriquez, who ranks second in the Big 12 with 2.2 per game.  Henriquez has tallied 56 blocked shots on the year, which represents more than 40 percent of the team’s total.  After posting a career-best six blocks against No. 4/5 Kansas, he became the school’s all-time blocks leader (125) with four against No. 3/3 Missouri.  He has 13 blocks in the last three games, including a swat of the game-winning shot in the win over No. 9/10 Baylor.  His 56 blocks are the third-most in a single season, trailing leader Curtis Kelly (74, 2009-10) and No. 2 Gerald Eaker (59, 1995-96).  His six blocks against the Jayhawks tied for the second-most in a game, including tying Kelly’s mark (6 vs. Texas A&M, 1/22/2011) for most in a Big 12 game.  He has at least two blocks in 16 games.

Despite his relative youth, sophomore Will Spradling has been a steady influence for K-State this season.  One of only two players to start all 27 games, he ranks second in most categories, including scoring (10.1 ppg.), double-figure scoring games (15), field goals (79), free throws (73) and assists (72), while he is the team leader in 3-point field goals (42).  After averaging 7.6 points on just 27.1 percent shooting in a nine-game stretch from Jan. 4-31, he was able to connect on a career-best 19 points  on 5-of-8 shooting against Texas A&M on Feb. 4, including a career-best 4-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with a 5-of-5 effort from the free throw line.  His previous career-high of 17 points came first vs. Baylor last season and again earlier this year vs. Long Beach State on Dec. 25.  Although he totaled just 23 points during the recent three-game stretch against Top 10 teams, he was a solid ball handler with 10 assists and four turnovers, including eight assists to one turnover in back-to-back games against No. 4/5 Kansas and No. 9/10 Baylor.  Seven of his 15 double-digit scoring games have come in Big 12 play.    

Sophomore Will Spradling has continued to demonstrate his toughness on the court, registering a team-best 23 charges taken.  He has posted at least one charge taken in 15 games, including a career-best three each on three occasions.  He has taken more than half as many charges (23) as the rest of the team (40).  For his career, he has taken 44 charges in 61 games, which is one more than Jamar Samuels (43).  He saw his streak of 11 consecutive games with at least one charge taken ended vs. Howard.

Three K-State freshmen - Thomas Gipson, Angel Rodriguez and Adrian Diaz - have slowly but steadily become key elements of the Wildcats’ attack this season.  The trio have combined to post 492 points (over 25 percent of team’s total) on 45.4 percent shooting (177-of-390) to go with 257 rebounds (25 percent), 109 assists (28.5 percent) and 35 steals (21.3 percent) in over 1,200 minutes played.  Gipson ranks third in the Big 12 (behind Texas’ Myck Kabongo and Baylor’s Quincy Miller) in number of starts (21) by a true freshman and is one of just three Wildcats (along with Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling) to play in all 27 games.  Rodriguez, who has played in 26 games, has started each of the last 11 games, averaging 9.2 points, team-best 3.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 22.9 minutes per game.  Diaz has become a key reserve in 21 games played, averaging 3.5 points on a team-best 57.4 percent shooting with 2.6 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game.     

Although it has taken some time to adjust to the college level, rookie Angel Rodriguez is starting to make an impact on the floor, earning 11 straight starts in Big 12 play.  During this stretch, he is averaging 9.2 points, a team-best 3.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 22.9 minutes per game.  He is first in assists (42) and steals (17) in this span, while he is second in scoring and field goals (36) and third in 3-point field goals (9).  He is also one of just four players to average 20 or more minutes per game in these 11 games.  After being limited to four points in his first career start vs. Texas on Jan. 18, he has scored in double figures five times in the last 10 games, including a Big 12-high of 15 points against both Texas (Feb. 11) and Baylor (Feb. 18).  Against the Bears, he posted his best all-around game in this 10-game period, adding a team-best six assists, four steals and three rebounds to his 15-point effort in a career-high 39 minutes.  He also added 14 points in the win at Oklahoma State on Jan. 21 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 against the Cowboys, helping the Wildcats earn their first win at Gallagher-Iba Arena since 1993. 

Freshman Thomas Gipson has made an impact in just his first season as a Wildcat.  A 6-foot-7, 275-pound forward, he ranks third on the team in rebounding (5.2 rpg.) to go with 8.1 points per game in playing in all 27 games. He has scored in double figures in eight 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.  In Big 12 play, he is averaging 6.3 points on a team-best 58.7 percent shooting and 3.7 rebounds per game.  In the last three games (all as a reserve), he is averaging 8.0 points on 62.5 percent shooting with 4.7 rebounds in 17 minutes per game.

Senior Victor Ojeleye was among 11 players named to the 2012 Academic All-Big 12 Men’s Basketball First Team on Feb. 16.  He became just the seventh player in school history to earn first team academic all-conference honors three times in a career and the first since Josh Reid (1997-2000).  He joins Lon Kruger (1972-74), Tim Jankovich (1980-82), Ed Nealy (1980-82), Eddie Elder (1983-85), Mark Dobbins (1987-89) and Reid as the only three-time recipients.  One of two seniors, he has seen action in 24 games, averaging 1.2 points on 43.3 percent shooting with 1.6 rebounds in 7.0 minutes per game.  He has a season-best eight points at Texas Tech, while he grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds at Iowa State.  A double major in accounting and finance, he has been a leader on and off the court during his playing career.  He was recently 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.  He also 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 has been named to the Fall and Spring Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Rolls each of the past three years.
UP NEXT: AT TEXAS A&M (13-14, 4-11 BIG 12)
K-State hits the road for the final time in Big 12 play on Tuesday, as the Wildcats travel to College Station, Texas to play Texas A&M (13-14, 4-11 Big 12) at 6 p.m. CST on ESPN2.  The Wildcats won the first meeting, 64-53, at home on Feb. 4.