'Cats, Longhorns to Tangle on Big Monday

Sophomore Jordan Henriquez-Roberts had six points and a team-high nine rebounds vs. Missouri.

Feb. 27, 2011

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Kansas State (20-9, 8-6 Big 12)
vs. 5/5 Texas (24-5, 12-2 Big 12)

Date: Monday, February 28, 2011  |  Tipoff: 8 p.m. CT
Location: Austin, Texas |  Arena: Frank Erwin Center (16,755)  |  Live Stats: www.k-statesports.com  |  Internet: ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com
Television: ESPN (Brent Musburger, play-by-play; Bob Knight, analyst; Holly Rowe, sideline reporter; Aaron Stojkov, producer)
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst)  |  Satellite Radio: Sirius 122/XM 143 (home team only)  
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International ‘93) is 92-41 (.692) in his fourth season as a head coach and at the school.  Texas - Rick Barnes (Lenoir-Rhyne ‘77) is 520-254 (.672) in his 24th season as a head coach and 318-120 (.726) in 13th season at the school.
Series: K-State leads 11-9 (4-5 on the road)  |  Martin vs. Texas: 2-2 (1-0 on the road)  |   Martin vs. Barnes: 2-2 (1-0 on the road) 
Last Time Out:  K-State posted an 80-70 win over No. 20/21 Missouri at home, while Texas dropped a 91-89 decision at Colorado, both on Saturday.
Rankings: Texas is ranked No. 5 in both The Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Top 25 polls.  K-State is not ranked.    
Tickets: Sold out.

‘Cats begin final week of regular season at Texas on Monday 
Kansas State (20-9, 8-6 Big 12) begins the final week of the regular season with its fourth and final tilt on ESPN’s Big Monday, as the Wildcats travel to league-leading and No. 5/5 Texas (24-5, 12-2 Big 12) for 8 p.m. CT clash at the Frank Erwin Center.  The squad is 2-1 on Big Monday this season, knocking off Baylor, 69-61, on Jan. 24 and No. 1/1 Kansas, 84-68, on Feb. 14 after a 75-59 setback at No. 15/12 Missouri on Jan. 17.  It’s an all-important week for K-State, as the team continues to build their resume for a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament with the final two regular season Big 12 contests, beginning with the Longhorns and concluding on Saturday against Iowa State (14-13, 2-12 Big 12).  Monday’s game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN with Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Bob Knight (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sidelines) 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.  

The Big 12 standings remain jumbled with Texas and Kansas tied atop with 12-2 records, while Texas A&M sits in third place at 9-5. K-State and Missouri are knotted up in fourth place with 8-6 league marks, while surging Baylor and Colorado are just a game behind in fifth place with 7-7 records.  The squads are battling for one of four first-round byes at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship set for March 9-12 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.  The Longhorns and Jayhawks have already secured the top two byes with the Aggies needing just one win this week against either No. 2/2 Kansas or Texas Tech to claim the third spot since they own the tiebreaker against both K-State and Missouri.  The fourth and final spot will either go to one of the remaining four squads with possible multiple tiebreakers.  The Tigers play at Nebraska Tuesday night before hosting Kansas on Saturday, the Buffaloes play at Iowa State on Wednesday before hosting Nebraska on Saturday, while the Bears play at Oklahoma State on Tuesday before hosting Texas before an ESPN Gameday audience on Saturday night at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

K-State will meet a motivated Texas squad on Monday, which lost a 22-point first half lead to Colorado in an eventual 91-89 setback at the Coors Events Center on Saturday.  The Buffaloes shot 58.1 percent in the second half to rally from a 15-point halftime deficit, while the Longhorns could muster just 29.4 percent shooting after the halftime break.  The school, which will honor five seniors - Gary Johnson, Dogus Balbay, Jai Lucas, Matt Hill and Clint Chapman - in their final home game, is a perfect 7-0 in Big 12 home games with an average margin of victory of 17.1 points.  Overall, Texas has lost just one home contest - an 82-81 in overtime to Connecticut on Jan. 8. 

The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 11-9, which dates back to a 87-60 win in Manhattan on Dec. 8, 1971.  The Longhorns have won nine of the 15 meetings since the inception of the Big 12, including five of seven contests at the Erwin Center.  However, the squad has received memorable performances in winning in their last two visits to Austin, earning a 73-72 victory on Feb. 3, 2007 and 85-81 in overtime on Jan. 31, 2009.  Current Washington Wizard Cartier Martin scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half, including the team’s last five points, in the win in 2007, while Denis Clemente tied Michael Beasley for the Big 12’s single-game scoring mark with 44 points in an exciting overtime victory in 2009.  Clemente went 13-of-25 from the field, including a perfect 6-of-6 from beyond the arc, to go with a 12-of-12 effort from the free throw line. The Wildcats have won three of the last four regular season meetings, including a 71-62 victory over the top-ranked Longhorns in the last match-up on Jan. 18, 2010 at Bramlage Coliseum, which also came before a Big Monday audience.  Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly combined for 37 points and 20 rebounds to propel the squad to victory, while Jacob Pullen and Rodney McGruder added 12 and 11 points, respectively. 
 
K-State continued its stellar play in the month of February, posting an impressive 80-70 win over No. 20/21 Missouri on Saturday morning at home.  The squad has now won 14 of their last 15 games in February, which included a 10-game winning streak between the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.  The team is 22-8 (.724) under head coach Frank Martin in the month, including a 14-2 mark at Bramlage Coliseum.  The Wildcats will enter the 2011-12 season with a nine-game winning streak at home in February.  The victory was also 14th over a Top 25 foe under Martin, including the fourth this season.  The Wildcats have now seven in a row at home over the Tigers dating back to 2005, which is the longest streak since the squad captured 10 in a row from 1966-75.  The teams have now split the last eight meetings in the series.     

K-State has continued to build on its impressive 83-68 win over top-ranked Kansas on Feb. 14 with victories over Oklahoma (77-62) at home on Feb. 19, Nebraska (61-57) on the road on Feb 23 and Missouri at home.  Since opening Big 12 play with a 1-4 record, the Wildcats have posted wins in seven of their last nine games, including six of seven, with six consecutive victories at Bramlage Coliseum.  The win over the Tigers came in an interesting fashion, as the Wildcats got major contributions from its bench when its senior Jacob Pullen was saddled with foul issues.  With the score tied at 60-all and Pullen on the bench, underclassmen helped the team post a 9-0 run to put the game out of reach, as rookie Will Spradling started the run with a 3-pointer followed by a Rodney McGruder jumper and four consecutive free throws from Nick Russell.  In all, the reserves combined for 29 points against the Tigers, marking the 19th time that the group has posted 20 or more points in a game.  The team shot 51.9 percent from the field, including 53.8 percent from 3-point range, while they held a decisive 39-24 advantage on the glass.  The Wildcats are now 15-0 when scoring 70 or more points (5-9 in other games), while they moved to 7-0 (23-0 under Martin) when shooting 50 percent or better from the field and 11-0 (44-2 under Martin) when connecting on 40 percent or better from 3-point range. 

Pullen, who became the second Wildcat and just the sixth player in the Big 12 era to eclipse 2,000 career points with his quick 7-0 run to start the game, shook off foul problems to post his 11th 20-point effort in the last 15 contests with his game-high 24 points.  He went 6-of-10 from the field, including a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the arc, while he was a stellar 8-of-9 from the free throw line.  He has scored 116 points (29 ppg.) in the last four games, which includes his historic 38-point effort against the Jayhawks.  He is second in the Big 12 in scoring with 19.7 points per game, while he is first in league-only games at 21.8 points per game.  He has now scored in double figures 100 times in his career, tying the school record owned by Rolando Blackman (100, 1977-81), while it was his 39 career 20-point games trailing just Bob Boozer (45, 1956-59) and Mike Evans (40, 1974-78).  He has led the team in scoring 22 times in 26 games played this season, including 12 of the last 14 contests.  The team also got major contributions from senior Curtis Kelly, who had a Big 12 season-high 15 points on 7-of-9 field goals, to go with six rebounds and two blocks, while Rodney McGruder added 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.  Will Spradling led the bench production with nine points, while sophomores Martavious Irving and Nick Russell each chipped in seven points. Fellow sophomore Jordan Henriquez-Roberts had a near double-double with six points and a team-high nine rebounds to go with two assists and two blocked shots.

The Book on Texas
Texas enters Monday’s game with a 24-5 overall record, including a 12-2 mark in Big 12 play, after losing 91-89 to Colorado on Saturday afternoon in Boulder.  It was just the Longhorns’ second loss in the last 14 outings, including their second consecutive on the road.  The team held as much as a 22-point lead in the first half before the Buffaloes used stellar 58.1 percent shooting in the second half to overcome a 15-point halftime lead.  The squad shot 55.9 percent to build their first-half advantage only to see it fall to 29.4 percent in the second half.  Five players scored in double figures for the Longhorns, including a pair of 21-point performances from sophomores Jordan Hamilton and J’Covan Brown, while senior Gary Johnson and freshman Tristan Thompson added 17 and 16 points, repectively.  Freshman Cory Joseph posted 12 points and team-high five assists.  Texas returned 10 lettermen, including just one starters, from a team that posted a 24-10 overall record, including a 9-7 mark in Big 12 play, and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10. 

The Longhorns are averaging 75.9 points on 46.1 percent shooting from the field, including 38.8 percent from 3-point range, with 40.8 rebounds, 13.7 assists, 6.1 steals and 5.0 blocks per game.  The squad is yielding 60.7 points per game on 37.3 percent shooting, while forcing their foes into 13.3 turnovers per game.  They rank first in the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense, 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.6), rebounding and defensive rebounds (27.5).  Texas is a balanced scoring team with four players averaging in double figures led by Hamilton’s 18.8 points per game.  He paces the team in field goals (192), 3-point field goals (79) and rebounding (7.5).  Thompson is second at 12.8 points on 52.8 percent shooting to go with 7.5 rebounds per outing, while Johnson averages 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.  Joseph averages a team-high 2.9 assists and 1.0 steals to go with 10.8 points per game. 

Texas is led by the Dean of Big 12 coaches Rick Barnes, who has guided the school to a 318-120 (.726) record since taking over in 1998-99.  He has led the Longhorns to 12 consecutive 20-win seasons and 12 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including the 2003 Final Four.  He is 520-254 (.672) in his 24th season as a head coach, which includes stints at George Mason (1987-88), Providence (1988-94) and Clemson (1994-98).  
 
Series vs. Texas
This will be the 21st meeting between K-State and Texas on the hardwood with the Wildcats holding an 11-9 edge in a series that dates to 1971. The Longhorns have won nine of the 15 meetings since the inception of the Big 12, including five of seven contests at the Erwin Center.  However, the squad has received memorable performances in winning in their last two visits to Austin, earning a 73-72 victory on Feb. 3, 2007 and 85-81 in overtime on Jan. 31, 2009.  Current Washington Wizard Cartier Martin scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half, including the team’s last five points, in the win in 2007, while Denis Clemente tied Michael Beasley for the Big 12’s single-game scoring mark with 44 points in an exciting overtime victory in 2009.  The Wildcats have won three of the last four regular season meetings, including a 71-62 victory over the top-ranked Longhorns in the last match-up on Jan. 18, 2010.  Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly combined for 37 points and 20 rebounds to propel the squad to victory, while Jacob Pullen and Rodney McGruder added 12 and 11 points, respectively. 

Offensive Adjustment
Head coach Frank Martin made an adjustment to his offensive scheme right after the 74-66 home loss to Colorado on Jan. 12 and it has paid off in the last 12 games, where the Wildcats have post eight wins, including six in the last seven contests.  Often-called the “pinch-post” offense, and made famous by legendary K-State and Hall of Fame coach Tex Winter with the Los Angeles Lakers, the scheme is designed to spread the floor and create spacing along with simultaneous ball and player movement.  The squad has averaged 71.4 points on 43.3 percent shooting, including 39.2 percent shooting from 3-point range, since its installation against Texas Tech on Jan. 15, while they have averaged 73.3 points on 44.9 percent shooting in the last seven games.  Five players are averaging seven or more points in the new system, while nine players are shooting at a clip of 40 percent or better from the field.  Senior Jacob Pullen is averaging 21.9 points on 42 percent shooting, including 43.6 percent from beyond the arc.  He has eight 20-point games in that span, including a career-best 38-point effort in the win over top-ranked Kansas on Feb. 14.  The offensive change has enabled the Wildcats to eclipse the 2,000-point barrier for the fifth consecutive season, which is the longest stretch of 2,000-point seasons since the program had nine from 1985-86 to 1993-94.  The team also has five seasons in a row of at least 200 3-pointers.   

Getting Defensive
Part of K-State’s success in February has been due to its impressive defensive play, as the Wildcats have held their seven opponents to 64.7 points on 44 percent shooting, including 34.7 percent from 3-point range, while holding a +5.0 rebounding edge.  These foes have averaged just 10.0 assists to 15.6 turnovers with the squad posting an average of 17.9 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 team took advantage of these miscues by scoring at least 20 points off turnovers for the seventh time this season.  The effort came just days after holding Colorado’s high-powered offense to a season-low 58 points (nearly 20 points under their season average) in a narrow loss.  The squad held the Buffaloes to 44.2 percent shooting, including 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).  K-State held Missouri to nearly 14 points under their scoring average on just 40.7 percent shooting.  Three times in the last seven 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 foes to 60 points or less under Frank Martin, including 10 this season. 

Overall, K-State has been solid defensively all season, holding foes to 65.5 points per game on 42.1 percent shooting, including 35.3 percent from 3-point range, while forcing them into 16.2 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 15.0 offensive rebounds, while holding their opponents to 30.9 rebounds per game for an impressive +7.4 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 408 second-chance points (14.1 per game) compared to just 293 (10.1 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 20 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 (37.8) and fourth in 3-point field goals per game (7.1), while trailing Iowa State (255), Kansas (218) and Missouri (216) in total 3-pointers (207).  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 (41.2) and 10th in 3-point field goals per game (2.1).  He has posted at least one trey in 23 of 29 games, including two or more on 19 occasions.  He has been impressive in the last 16 games, where he has connected on 45.2 percent (38-of-84) from 3-point range, including a 7-of-10 effort against UMKC on Dec. 23.  The seven makes tied for the fourth-most in school history, while he was the first to accomplish it since teammate Jacob Pullen did it twice last year.  His exploits are all the more impressive considering he shares the backcourt with Pullen, the school’s leader in both 3-pointers (286) and attempts (796).  Pullen, who is sixth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goals per game (2.35), is tied with McGruder for the team lead (61), including at least two in 17 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 (32), Martavious Irving (17) and Nick Russell (13). 

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 63.8 percent (459-of-719).  However, the extra practice since the end of the semester has seemed to improve that percentage, as the Wildcats have connected on 73 percent (284-of-391) in the last 16 games, including 73 percent (243-of-334) 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 (496), has hit on 73.2 percent (41-of-56) 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 (495) and attempts (644), 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 1023 of the team’s 2122 points thus far (48 percent), while posting 560 of 1111 rebounds (50 percent), 225 of 411 assists (55 percent) and 83 of 180 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.  Forty-one of the team’s 90 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 20.  He paces the team in 3-point field goals (61) and rebounding (6.2 rpg.), while he is second in scoring (11.2 ppg.), field goals (113) and minutes played (30.1 mpg.).  Freshman Will Spradling and sophomores Martavious Irving and Nick Russell rank fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in scoring at 6.2, 4.7 and 4.6 points per game.  Spradling is first in free throw percentage (84.9) 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 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 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 29 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 23.3 points per game off the bench, while out-scoring its foes by a margin of 677-473.  The squad has scored 20 or more points from the bench in 19 of 29 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 90 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 2,483 points off of 2,207 turnovers in 133 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, 507-439.  The squad has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in nine games, including four times in the last seven games where they are averaging 17.9 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 five 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 game-high 24-point effort against No. 20/21 Missouri on Feb. 26, he became just the second Wildcat and the sixth player in the Big 12 era to eclipse the 2,000-point plateau.  He ranks 12th among NCAA Division I active players in career scoring (including second in the Big 12 to Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn) with 2,017 points in a school-record 130 games, which is less than 100 points behind the school’s all-time leader Mike Evans (2,115 points, 1974-78).  He joins Evans in the exclusive 2,000-point club at K-State, while he joins Texas Tech’s Andre Emmett (2,256, 2001-04), Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn (2,245, 2007-present), Jarrius Jackson (2,221, 2003-07), Kansas’ Nick Collison (2,097, 1999-2003) and Colorado’s Richard Roby (2,001, 2004-08) as the only players to do it in the Big 12 era. 

Pullen ranks among six career categories in Big 12 history, including second in free throws (495), fifth in scoring and 3-point field goals attempted (796), sixth in free throws attempted (644), seventh in 3-point field goals (286) and eighth in field goals attempted (1,520).  He also places among the Top 5 in 17 career categories at K-State, including the school records for games played (130), double-digit scoring games (100), 3-point field goals, 3-point field goals attempted and steals (205).  With his five steals 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 nearing several other milestones, as he ranks second in field goals attempted, free throws and attempted and minutes (3,801), while he is third in 20-point games (39), fourth in starts (111) and fifth in field goals (618).  Only Bob Boozer (45, 1956-59) and Mike Evans (40, 1974-78) have more career 20-point games.      

McGruder Takes Off
Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been one of the team’s most consistent all-around players this season, averaging 11.2 points on 45 percent shooting, including 41.2 percent from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.7 steals in 30.1 minutes per game.  The only player to start all 29 games, McGruder is tied with Jacob Pullen for the team lead in 3-point field goals (61), while he is second in scoring, double-digit scoring games (20), field goals (113) 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 for the fourth-most in a single-game in school history, while he was the first to do it since 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 29 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 21 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 16 consecutive starts, which has included all 14 Big 12 games.  The reigning Big 12 Sixth Man Award winner, he is averaging 9.3 points in the span on 44.9 percent shooting (48-of-107), including 33 percent (7-of-21) from beyond the arc, to go with 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 26.3 minutes per game. Pressed into the 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 on March 11, 2010 at the Big 12 Championships.  He went 11-of-15 from the field against Ospreys, including 2-of-3 effort from 3-point range, to go with five assists.  He has scored a team-high 13 points at Colorado on 4-of-7 field goals on Feb. 12 to go with a team-best seven rebounds.  He is closing in on a feat that only eight others have accomplished at K-State, as he is nearing 1,000 career points (931 currently) and 500 career rebounds (490).      

Coaching Staff Continuity
One of the main reasons that Kansas State has been able to win a school-record 92 games over the past four 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, assistant coaches 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 92 wins the past four seasons, which is the most by a staff in their first four seasons and the most-ever by the school in that span.  They are the first staff to post four 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 38 Big 12 wins in last four years, which is one less than Jack Hartman’s staff had from 1974-78 for the most in a four-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.