K-State Returns Home To Host Missouri on Saturday

Senior Jacob Pullen has scored 20 or more points in 10 of the last 14 games.

Feb. 25, 2011

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Kansas State (19-9, 7-6 Big 12)
vs. 20/21 Missouri (22-6, 8-5 Big 12)

Date: Saturday, February 26, 2011  |  Tipoff: 11 a.m. CT
Location: Manhattan, Kan. |  Arena: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)  |  Live Stats: www.k-statesports.com  |  Internet: ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com
Television: ESPN (Jon Sciambi, play-by-play; LaPhonso Ellis, analyst; Scott Gustafson, producer)
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 91-41 (.689) in his fourth season as a head coach and at the school.  Missouri - Mike Anderson (Tulsa ‘82) is 199-93 (.618) in his ninth season as a head coach and 110-52 (.679) in fifth season at the school.
Series: Tied 116-116 (61-43 at home)  |  Martin vs. Missouri: 3-4 (3-0 at home)  |   Martin vs. Anderson: 3-4 (3-0 at home) 
Last Time Out:  K-State earned a 61-57 win at Nebraska on Wednesday, while Missouri tallied a 77-59 win over Baylor at home, also on Wednesday.
Rankings: Missouri is ranked No. 20 in The Associated Press and No. 21 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Top 25 polls.  K-State is not ranked.    
Tickets: Sold out.

‘Cats returns home to face Missouri on Saturday morning 
Kansas State (19-9, 7-6 Big 12) begins a stretch of consecutive games against ranked foes for a rare Saturday morning game, as the Wildcats play host to a red-hot Missouri (22-6, 8-5 Big 12) squad at Bramlage Coliseum beginning at 11 a.m. CT.  K-State will make a quick turnaround with a Monday evening contest at No. 5/5 Texas before a national audience on ESPN at 8 p.m. CT.  Both teams enter Saturday’s contest on multiple-game winning streaks, including victories in five of their last six games, with the Wildcats’ the winners of three consecutive and the Tigers on a four-game streak.  The squads are also battling for one of the league’s four first-round byes at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with Missouri sitting a game ahead of K-State for the fourth and final spot with just three conference games remaining.  Texas and Kansas (26-2, 11-2 Big 12) have already claimed two of the byes with Texas A&M (22-5, 9-4 Big 12) closing in on the third one.  Saturday’s game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN with Jon Sciambi (play-by-play) and LaPhonso Ellis (analyst) on the call.  It will also be available on ESPN Full Court and 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.

Saturday’s contest continues a difficult stretch for Kansas State to wrap up the regular season, as the squad follows Saturday’s big tilt with a road game against league-leading No. 5/5 Texas (24-4, 11-1 Big 12) on Monday night at the Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.  The squad concludes the regular season with a home game against Iowa State (14-14, 1-12 Big 12) on Saturday, March 5.  The squad has won 13 of their last 14 games in February, which included a 10-game winning streak between the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.  The team is 21-8 (.724) under head coach Frank Martin in the month, including a 13-2 mark at Bramlage Coliseum.  The Wildcats have won eight in a row at home in February.    

The game will mark the 233th meeting between K-State and Missouri, including the 105th in Manhattan, in a rivarly that dates back to 1907.  The series spans five different league affiliations - Missouri Valley, Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12 Conferences.  It is the second-most played series in school history, trailing the 272 meetings with archrival Kansas.  The schools disagree on the all-time series results with the Wildcats claiming a 116-all tie, while the Tigers say they lead the series, 117-115.  There is a dispute on the outcome of the Feb. 12, 1913 game in Manhattan with K-State claiming a 26-25 victory and Missouri saying its won 25-24.  The Wildcats are 61-43 against the Tigers at home, including a 14-8 mark at Bramlage Coliseum.  The team has won six in a row at home in the series dating back to 2005, while Missouri won the three previous meetings at Manhattan from 2002-04.  The six-game winning streak is the longest in the series since K-State won 10 in a row from 1966-75.  The squads have split the last six meetings with each team holding serve on their home court.  The Tigers won the first meeting on Jan. 17 with a 75-59 victory at Mizzou Arena.  The squad converted 24 Wildcat turnovers into 28 points, the most against a Frank Martin team.  Missouri shot 45.5 percent from the field, including 42.1 percent from 3-point range, while K-State connected on 42.6 percent, including just 18.8 percent from 3-point range.  Senior Jacob Pullen led both teams with 16 points, while sophomore Jordan Henriquez-Roberts added 14 points.

K-State has continued to build on its impressive 83-68 win over top-ranked Kansas on Feb. 14 with consecutive wins over Oklahoma (77-62) at home on Feb. 19 and on the road over Nebraska (61-57) on Wednesday.  Since opening Big 12 play with a 1-4 record, the Wildcats have posted wins in six of their last eight games, including five of six, with five consecutive victories at Bramlage Coliseum.  The team posted one of their most difficult road victories in some time on Wednesday, handing the Huskers just their second home loss of the season (with the other coming to No. 2/2 Kansas)  The squad saw a six-point second-half deficit evaporate to just one on three occasions, lastly to 54-53 with 1:31 remaining, but converted 7-of-10 opportunities from the free throw line, including a 4-of-4 effort from leading scorer Jacob Pullen.  The Wildcats were stellar defensively in the win, holding the Huskers to just 57 points on 34.7 percent shooting, including 38.5 percent from beyond the arc.  It marked the 19th time that the team has held an opponent to under 65 points this season (including the 10th time under 60 points), while it was the 11th time that a foe failed to shoot above 40 percent from the field.  The team forced Nebraska into 17 turnovers, while posting just 10 on the night, posting a 24-1 advantage in points off of turnovers.  It marked the eighth time that Kansas State has scored 20 or more points off of an opponent’s mistakes, including the fourth time in the last six contests.  The team is averaging 18.5 points off turnovers in the last six games.       
       
The Wildcats were once again led by Pullen, who posted his 10th 20-point game in the last 14 games with his game-high 27 points.  He went 7-of-17 from the field, including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, while he was a stellar 10-of-11 from the free throw line.  He scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half, including a near perfect 10-of-11 effort from the charity stripe.  He has scored 92 points (30.7 ppg.) in the last three games, which includes his historic 38-point effort against the Jayhawks.  He is second in the Big 12 in scoring with 19.5 points per game, while he is first in league-only games at 21.6 points per game.  He has now scored in double figures 99 times in his career, just one short of the school record owned by Rolando Blackman (100, 1977-81), while it was his 38 career 20-point games trailing just Bob Boozer (45, 1956-59) and Mike Evans (40, 1974-78).  He has led the team in scoring 21 times in 25 games played this season, including 11 of the last 13 contests. With his five-steal effort against Oklahoma on Feb. 19, he became the first player in school history to post at least 1,800 career points, 400 assists, 300 rebounds and 200 steals in a career.  He already owns school records for games played (129), 3-pointers (282) and steals (205). 

For his performance last week, Pullen was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week, as he averaged 32.5 points on 48.6 percent shooting (17-of-35), including 66.7 percent (8-of-12) from 3-point range, to go wtih 4.0 assists, 3.5 steals and 2.5 rebounds in 37 minutes per game.  He also connected on 85.2 percent (23-of-27) from the free throw line.  He was also named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week for the third time in his career and for the second time in three weeks.  He cemented his place in school history with a career-best night against Kansas, as the 38 points were the most scored in a win over a top-ranked team since Elvin Hayes had 39 against UCLA in the Astrodome in 1968.  It was the 12th-most points ever scored by any player against any Jayhawk team and tied for the second-most by a Wildcat player.  Mike Wroblewski scored 46 in 1962, while Dick Knostman had 38 in 1952. 

Pullen currently ranks 12th among NCAA Division I active players and second among Big 12 players (LaceDarius Dunn) in career scoring with 1,993 points.  He needs seven points to become the sixth player in Big 12 history to eclipse 2,000 career points and the second Wildcat (Mike Evans).  He is now within 124 points of the school’s all-time scoring leader Mike Evans, who scored 2,115 points from 1974-78. 

The Book on Missouri
Missouri enters Saturday’s game with a 22-6 overall record after earning its fifth win in its last six games, including its fourth in a row, with a 77-59 victory over Baylor at home on Wednesday night.  The Tigers are now 17-0 at home this season, including 7-0 in Big 12 games.  The squad scored 22 points off 21 Bear turnovers, including 14 by steal, while they shot 46.8 percent from the field, including 51.6 percent in the second half.  Four Tigers scored in double figures led by junior Laurence Bowers’ 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with nine rebounds and a team-high six steals.  Junior Kim English posted 16 points on 6-of-9 field goals, while junior Ricardo Ratliffe had a double-double with 11 points and a team-high 13 rebounds and two blocks.  Junior Marcus Denmon added 13 points.  Missouri returned eight lettermen, including two starters, from a team that posted a 23-11 overall record, including a 10-6 mark in Big 12 play, and trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10. 

The Tigers are averaging 83.3 points on 47.3 percent shooting from the field, including 37.4 percent from 3-point range, with 36.7 rebounds, 17.0 assists, 9.7 steals and 5.3 blocks per game.  The squad also ranks first in the league in steals (9.8), turnover margin (5.67) and assist-to-turnover radio (1.39), while they are second in assists (18.1).  The team is yielding 70.3 points per game on 42.7 percent shooting, but they are forcing their opponents into a league-best 18.2 turnovers per contest.  Missouri is a balanced scoring team with five players averaging in double figures led by Denmon’s 16.5 points per game..  He is connecting on 50.6 percent from the field, including 44.4 percent from 3-point range.  Ratliffe and Bowers average 11.4 points per game at over 50 percent shooting from the field.

Missouri is led by fifth-year coach Mike Anderson, who has guided the school to a 110-52 (.679) record since taking over in 2006-07.  He has led the Tigers to three consecutive 20-win seasons, including 31 wins, a Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship and a trip to the Elite Eight in 2008-09.  He came to the school after a four-year stint at UAB, where he led the Blazers to four 20-win seasons and three NCAA Tournament appearances.  
 
Series vs. Missouri
The game will mark the 233th meeting between K-State and Missouri, including the 105th in Manhattan, in a rivalry that dates back to 1907.  The series spans five different league affiliations - Missouri Valley, Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12 Conferences.  It is the second-most played series in school history, trailing the 272 meetings with archrival Kansas.  The schools disagree on the all-time series results with the Wildcats claiming a 116-all tie, while the Tigers say they lead the series, 117-115.  There is a dispute on the outcome of the Feb. 12, 1913 game in Manhattan with K-State claiming a 26-25 victory and Missouri saying its won 25-24.  The Wildcats are 61-43 against the Tigers at home, including a 14-8 mark at Bramlage Coliseum.  The team has won six in a row at home in the series dating back to 2005, while Missouri won the three previous meetings at Manhattan from 2002-04.  The six-game winning streak is the longest in the series since K-State won 10 in a row from 1966-75.  The squads have split the last six meetings with each team holding serve on their home court.  The Tigers won the first meeting on Jan. 17 with a 75-59 victory at Mizzou Arena.  The squad converted 24 Wildcat turnovers into 28 points, the most against a Frank Martin team.  Senior Jacob Pullen led both teams with 16 points, while sophomore Jordan Henriquez-Roberts added 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting from field.

Getting Defensive
Part of K-State’s success in February has been due to its impressive defensive play, as the Wildcats have held their five opponents to 63.8 points on 44.7 percent shooting, including 32.9 percent from 3-point range, while holding a +3.3 rebounding edge.  These foes have averaged just 9.5 assists to 16.3 turnovers with the squad posting an average of 18.5 points off these miscues.  On Feb. 14, the team held the Big 12’s best offense - Kansas - to 68 points (nearly 16 points under their 83.9-point season average) on 44 percent shooting, including 20 percent from 3-point range, to go with 23 rebounds (16 under average), 11 assists (nine under average) and 18 turnovers (five over average).  The Wildcats took advantage of these miscues by scoring at least 20 points off turnovers for the seventh time this season.  This effort came just two days after holding Colorado’s high-powered offense to a season-low 58 points (nearly 20 points under their 80.8-point season average) in a two-points loss.  The squad held the Buffaloes to 44.2 percent shooting, including just 28.6 percent in the first half, while holding one of the Big 12’s best assist-to-turnover teams to just six assists to 16 turnovers (which were converted into 17 points).  Three times in the last six games the Wildcats have held their opponents to 60 points or less, including twice in wins against Nebraska on Feb. 2 (53) and Feb. 23 (57).  Overall, the team has held 36 opponents to 60 points or less under head coach Frank Martin, including 10 this season. 

Overall, K-State has been solid defensively all season, holding foes to 65.3 points per game on 42.1 percent shooting, including 35 percent from 3-point range, while forcing them into 16.4 turnovers per game.  The squad has held 19 opponents to 65 points or less and have limited 11 foes to under 40 percent shooting.  The Wildcats have also been stellar on the boards, averaging 38.3 rebounds per game, including a Big 12-best 15.1 offensive rebounds, while holding their opponents to 31.1 rebounds per game for an impressive +7.2 rebounding margin (which ranks 10th nationally).  The squad has paced in the league in offensive rebounds in each of Martin’s three seasons.  This rebounding edge has helped them post 394 second-chance points (14.1 per game) compared to just 286 (10.2 per game) for its opponents.  They have out-scored their foes in this regard in all but seven games.  The team has scored 20 or more second-chance points in seven games, including a season-high 25 against both UMKC on Dec. 23 and Texas Tech on Jan. 15.  This statistic has been particularly stark in Kansas State’s 19 wins, where the team has averaged 14.9 second-chance points compared to just an average of 12.1 second-chance points in the nine 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 four seasons under Martin, including a school-record 253 makes in 2009-10.  This year’s squad has continued that trend, ranking third in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (37.4) and fourth in 3-point field goals per game (7.1), while trailing Iowa State (245), Kansas (212) and Missouri (208) in total 3-pointers (200).  The Wildcats have tallied double-digit treys in seven games, including a season-best 14 (on 51.9 percent shooting) against Iowa State on Feb. 5.  The 14 makes ties four other teams for the third-most in a game in school history, while they are most since the squad also tallied 14 against UNLV on Dec. 12, 2009.  Seven different players posted 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 Big 12 in 3-point percentage (41.5) and 10th in 3-point field goals per game (2.17).  He has posted at least one trey in 23 of 28 games, including two or more on 19 occasions.  He has been impressive in the last 15 games, where he has connected on 45.8 percent (38-of-83) from 3-point range, including a 7-of-10 effort against UMKC on Dec. 23.  The seven makes tied 10 others for the fourth-most 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 (282) and attempts (792).  Pullen, who is fourth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goals per game (2.28), ranks second with 57 treys, including at least two in 16 games and a season-high five vs. Kansas on Feb. 14.  However, this statistic goes beyond the pair, as 10 others have at least one trey, including double-digit totals from Spradling (30), 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 316th nationally (out of 346 teams) and last in the Big 12 at 63.6 percent (442-of-695).  However, the extra practice since the end of the semester has seemed to improve that percentage, as the Wildcats have connected on 73 percent (267-of-367) in the last 15 games, including 73 percent (226-of-310) in Big 12-only games.  During this span, the team has hit on more than 75 percent seven times, including games against Oklahoma (90.5; 19-of-21), Nebraska (84.0; 21-of-25), Kansas (82.8; 24-of-29), 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).  The 90.5 percent shooting against the Sooners was the highest under Frank Martin and the highest since the team went a perfect 8-of-8 against Texas Tech on Feb. 15, 2006.  Junior Jamar Samuels, who ranks sixth in school history in free throws attempted (494), has hit on 75.9 percent (41-of-54) in Big 12 play, which ranks just outside the Big 12’s Top 15, after starting at 58.8 percent (37-of-63).  Senior Jacob Pullen, who ranks second in school history in both makes (487) and attempts (635), had a career night from the line against Kansas on Feb. 14.  His 15 makes tie for the seventh-most in a game (and fourth-most in a league game), while his 19 attempts rank fourth all-time in a contest. 

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 984 of the team’s 2042 points thus far (48 percent), while posting 537 of 1072 rebounds (50 percent), 210 of 388 assists (54 percent) and 80 of 177 steals (45 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.  Forty of the team’s 87 double-figure 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 19.  He paces the team in 3-point field goals (61) and rebounding (6.3 rpg.), while he is second in scoring (11.3 ppg.), field goals (108) and minutes (30.3 mpg.).  Freshman Will Spradling and sophomores Martavious Irving and Nick Russell rank fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in scoring at 6.1, 4.6 and 4.5 points per game.  Spradling is first in free throw percentage (85.7) and second in assists (2.0 apg.) and steals (0.8 spg.), while he and fellow freshman Shane Southwell are only the second and third rookie guards to earn a start under 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 Wildcats started three sophomores, a true freshman and a 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 28 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 23.1 points per game off the bench, while out-scoring its foes by a margin of 648-455.  The squad has scored 20 or more points from the bench in 18 of 28 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 87 double-digit scoring efforts this season, including 23 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 2,469 points off of 2,196 turnovers in 132 games, an average of 18.7 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, 493-412.  The squad has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in nine games, including four times in the last six games where they are averaging 18.5 points off of miscues.  The team has pressured their foes into 15 or more turnovers in 19 games, including a season-high 26 vs. James Madison on Nov. 12, while just four opponents have posted a positive assist-to-turnover ratio.  Before the North Florida game on New Year’s Eve, the Wildcats were one of just four schools to force each of their foes into more turnovers than assists in every game.   
 
Pullen Moving Up the Charts
Senior Jacob Pullen is nearing several career milestones in his final season.  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).  He ranks 12th among NCAA Division I active players in career scoring (including second in the Big 12 to Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn) with 1,993 points in a school-record 129 games, which is less than 125 points behind all-time leader Mike Evans (2,115 points, 1974-78).  He is seven points from becoming the sixth player in Big 12 history to eclipse the 2,000-point barrier, joining Texas Tech’s Andre Emmett (2,256, 2001-04) and Jarrius Jackson (2,221, 2003-07), Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn (2,217, 2007-present), Kansas’ Nick Collison (2,097, 1999-2003) and Colorado’s Richard Roby (2,001, 2004-08).  He could become the 12th active Division I player to accomplish the feat.    

Pullen ranks among the Top 5 in 17 career categories in K-State history, including the school records for games played (129), 3-point field goals (282), 3-point field goals attempted (792) and steals (205).  With his five-steal effort against Oklahoma on Feb. 23, he became the first Wildcat with at least 1,800 points, 400 assists, 300 rebounds and 200 steals, while in the process, snapping his tie with Steve Henson (127, 1987-90) for the most games played.  He is also nearing several other milestones, as he ranks second in double-digit scoring games (99), field goals attempted (1,510), free throws made (487) and attempted (635) and minutes played (3,777), while he is third in 20-point games (38), fourth in starts (110) and fifth in field goals made (612).  Only Rolando Blackman (100, 1977-81) has posted more double-digit scoring games in school history, while only Bob Boozer (45, 1956-59) and Mike Evans (40, 1974-78) have more career 20-point games.      

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.  In addition, Pullen was selected a preseason Top 50 candidate for both the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, while he was also 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 11.3 points on 44 percent shooting, including 41.5 percent from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 6.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.7 steals in 30.3 minutes per game.  The only player to start all 28 games, McGruder also paces the team in 3-point field goals (61), while he is second in scoring, double-digit scoring games (19), field goals (108) 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 18 of his 28 games.  He came through with a Big 12-high five treys against Oklahoma on Feb. 23 to post his third 20-point game and his first in league play.  All of 6-foot-4, he has also been the best rebounder, posting at least five boards in 20 contests, including a career-high 15 against Texas Tech on Jan. 15.  He has led the team in department on 14 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 15 consecutive starts, which has included all 13 Big 12 games.  The reigning Big 12 Sixth Man Award winner, he is averaging 9.8 points in the span on 44.8 percent shooting (47-of-105), including 33 percent (7-of-21) from beyond the arc, to go with 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 26.5 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 has scored in double figures in three of the last six games, including a team-high 13 points at Colorado on 4-of-7 field goals on Feb. 12 to go with a team-best seven rebounds in 21 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 (929 currently) and 500 career rebounds (487).      

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 years, 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.