K-State Makes Final Road Trip to Texas A&M Tuesday
K-State Makes Final Road Trip to Texas A&M Tuesday
Feb. 27, 2012
rv/rv KANSAS STATE (19-9, 8-8 Big 12) AT TEXAS A&M (14-15, 4-12 Big 12)
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 * 6 p.m. CST * College Station, Texas * Reed Arena (12,989)
Jon Sciambi (play-by-play); Fran Fraschilla (analyst)
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 92/XM 190 (home broadcast only)
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 #45, Texas A&M #163
K-State vs. Texas A&M: 16-7 (W, 64-53, 2/4/12)
In College Station: 2-6 (L, 56-64, 1/12/10)
Frank Martin vs. Billy Kennedy: 1-0 (W, 64-53, 2/4/12)
Kansas State (19-9, 8-8 Big 12) hits the road for the final time in the Big 12 regular season on Tuesday, as the Wildcats travel to College Station, Texas to face Texas A&M (13-15, 4-12 Big 12) on Senior Night at 6 p.m. CST. The teams will face off for the last time as conference foes, as the Aggies head to the Southeastern Conference in 2012-13. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 (as well as ESPN3.com) with Jon Sciambi (play-by-play) and Fran Fraschilla (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). K-State also continues to jockey for position in the Big 12 standings, as it sits in a tie for fifth place with Texas (18-11, 8-8 Big 12), just one game ahead of seventh-place Oklahoma State (14-15, 7-9 Big 12), with just two league games remaining. Kansas, Missouri, Baylor and Iowa State have all clinched byes to the quarterfinal round of next week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, while the Wildcats, Longhorns and Cowboys will fill the remaining two spots. Kansas and K-State are the only two schools to receive a bye to the quarterfinals of the conference championship each of the past five years. The squad could not capitalize on the momentum of back-to-back Top 10 wins for the first time in school history on Saturday, as Iowa State swept the season series for the first time since 2000-01 with a 65-61 win at Bramlage Coliseum. Down 10 points at halftime, the Wildcats used to a 17-1 run to start the second half to take a 44-38 lead with 14:19 remaining. However, senior Scott Christopherson capped a remarkable day with a 3-pointer with 1:30 left to give the Cyclones the lead for good. The loss gave K-State its fourth at home in league play for the first time since 2005-06, while it snapped a 16-game winning streak at home in February against unranked teams.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Kansas State has been solid on the road in Big 12 play under head coach Frank Martin, posting a 20-20 (.500) 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 the 20 road wins that Martin has posted in his tenure. This season, the Wildcats have posted a 4-4 record on the road, including consecutive wins over No. 9/10 Baylor and No. 3/3 Missouri, the first back-to-back victories over Top 10 foes in school history. The team will look to tally its second conference road winning record in the last 24 seasons and the first since the 2009-10 squad (6-2) at Texas A&M.
Texas A&M enters Tuesday's game with a 13-15 record and 4-12 mark in Big 12 play after dropping its third in a row at Oklahoma State (60-42) on Saturday. The injury-riddled Aggies have been without starters Dash Harris and Khris Middleton for stretches of the season, but both players have been back in the line-up of late with Middleton playing in five straight games and Harris the last two. Under first-year head coach Billy Kennedy, the Aggies are averaging 60.6 points on 43.2 percent shooting, including 32.9 percent from 3-point range, to go with 34.3 rebounds, 11.9 assists, 5.6 steals and 2.3 blocks per game. Texas A&M is the Big 12's best defensive team, ranking first in scoring defense (60.4) and 3-point field point percentage defense (29.3) and third in field goal percentage defense (39.9). Three players are averaging in double figures led by Elston Turner, who averages a team-best 13.8 points per game to go with team-highs in 3-point field goals (61), steals (29) and minutes (33.4). Middleton, who has played in just 16 games due to injury, is second at 12.6 points per game. Junior Ray Turner is tops in rebounds in 5.5 per game.
Tuesday's game will be the 24th meeting between Kansas State and Texas A&M dating back to Dec. 3, 1960 with the Wildcats holding a 16-7 lead in the all-time series. K-State has won just twice (2001, 2009) in eight visits to College Station. Overall, the squad is 12-7 in the series since the start of Big 12 play. Frank Martin is 4-2 against the Aggies, including 1-1 on the road.
LAST TIME OUT: IOWA STATE 65, KANSAS STATE 61
Despite all-around career day for junior Jordan Henriquez, Kansas State could not capitalize on its recent momentum by dropping a 65-61 decision to Iowa State on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum. The loss allowed the Cyclones to clinch a bye to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship and secure the season sweep for the first time since the 2000-01 season. The setback allowed snapped the Wildcats' 16-game home winning streak against unranked teams in February and handed head coach Frank Martin his first loss against an unranked foe at home in the month. Led by senior Scott Christopherson's career day, Iowa State connected on opponent season-highs for 3-point field goals (11) and 3-point field goal attempts (28), while the 11 treys were the most by an opponent since Xavier had 12 in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The Cyclones led by as many as 14 in the first half, thanks to a 22-8 run over an eight-minute span capped by a Christopherson 3-pointer. He scored 11 of the team's 22 in that span. Down 37-27 at the break, the Wildcats used a 17-1 run over the first five minutes of the second half to gain a 44-38 lead. However, the Cyclones responded with a 19-6 run of their own to take back the lead at 57-50 with 6:35 to play. K-State was able to tie the game at 61-all after a free throw by Angel Rodriguez with 1:42 to play before Christopherson knocked down a 3-pointer just 12 seconds later to give ISU the lead for good at 64-61. The squad did not have a field goal the last 2:27 of the game and made just 3 of its last 7 free throws. Henriquez posted career-highs in seven categories, including points (19), rebounds (12), field goals (7), field goals attempted (12), free throws (5), blocks (7) and minutes (34), while earning his first career double-double. His seven blocks are the second-most in a game in school history, including the most in a conference game, surpassing former teammate Curtis Kelly's six blocks against Texas A&M on Jan. 22, 2011 and his six against Kansas on Feb. 13. Fellow junior Rodney McGruder tallied his fifth career double-double, including the third this season, with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Rodriguez posted double figures for the 10th time this year, including the sixth time in Big 12 play, with 11 points. He also had a season-high eight assists (to just one turnover), while tying his season-high with four steals in 36 minutes.
Despite posting back-to-back wins over Top 10 opponents, Kansas State has missed a number of opportunities by not closing out games this season. The Wildcats have held a second-half lead in seven of its nine losses, including six of eight setbacks in Big 12 play. Five times the team has lost when leading by 6+ 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. On Saturday, the Wildcats used a 17-1 run to lead Iowa State by six with 14:19 left before falling 65-61.
STREAKING IN FEBRUARY
Kansas State has had success in the month of February in recent years with the Wildcats posting a 27-11 (.711) under head coach Frank Martin, including a 16-4 (.800) mark at Bramlage Coliseum. The squad saw its streak of 16 consecutive wins at home in the month against unranked teams come to an end on Saturday in the 65-61 loss to Iowa State, while it had an 11-game winning streak at home in February end in a loss to No. 4/5 Kansas. However, K-State has posted back-to-back victories over Top 10 foes for the first time in school history, which includes a 57-56 win over No. 9/10 Baylor on Feb. 18 and 78-68 win over No. 3/3 Missouri on Feb. 21. Three of the four 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). Prior to the lSU loss, Martin was 12-0 at home in the month against unranked foes. Despite the recent losses to Kansas and Iowa State, K-State's record in February in the last four years has been stellar, where the team is 24-6 (.800) overall, including 13-3 (.813) 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 28 games and the only ones averaging 30+ minutes. Senior Jamar Samuels is third in starts with 25 and freshman Thomas Gipson is next with 21 (third-most among Big 12 freshmen), junior Martavious Irving has 14 starts, freshman Angel Rodriguez 12, junior Jordan Henriquez 10 and sophomore Shane Southwell two. Five of the lineups have been used four 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. 13 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 12 games (since Texas game on Jan. 18), while Henriquez has earned four consecutive starts for the first time in his career.
SPARK FROM NEW STARTERS
Since jumping into the starter's role, freshman Angel Rodriguez is averaging 9.3 points, team-leading 4.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 24 minutes per game. In this 12-game stretch, he ranks first on the team in assists (50) and steals (21) and is second in scoring and field goals (40) 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 12 games, he has led the team in assists 10 times and steals seven times. He has posted double figures six times in this span, including matching his Big 12-high of 15 points vs. Texas on Feb. 11 with 15 at Baylor. He also scored in double figures vs. Oklahoma State (14) on Jan. 21, Texas A&M (13) on Feb. 4, Oklahoma (10) on Jan. 28 and Iowa State (11) on Saturday.
Junior Jordan Henriquez has also provided a spark in four consecutive starts for the first time this season, averaging 9.0 points on 53.8 percent shooting with 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 blocks in 26.3 minutes. He had a career day against Iowa State on Saturday with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocked shots in 34 minutes. On the other hand, rookie Thomas Gipson has played better after coming off the bench the last four games after eight straight starts, averaging 6.0 points on 58.8 percent shooting with 3.8 rebounds in 14.0 minutes. He tallied a Big 12-high 13 points against No. 3/3 Missouri on 6-of-7 field goals.
K-State has proved to be a balanced team across the board with seven players averaging five or more points, including just one 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 60 or more assists by Angel Rodriguez (84), Will Spradling (74) and Shane Southwell (60) and six players have double-figure steals (including five with 20+) led by Rodriguez's 33. This balance has been even more evident in the last 11 games with a different player pacing the team in scoring eight times and a different rebounding leader on five occasions.
Overall, the Wildcats have seen 11 players collect 88 double-digit scoring games with McGruder posting a team-leading 23 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 15-6 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.
ON THE DEFENSIVE
Kansas State has been a solid defensive team this season, allowing opponents 63 points on 39.6 percent shooting, including 31.2 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 38.1 rebounds, 16.3 turnovers forced, 6.1 steals and 4.8 blocks per game. The Wildcats have held 17 foes to 65 points or less, including 12 below 60 points and three under 50 points. The team is 14-3 this season when holding an opponent 65 points or less, 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 64.1 points on 42.1 percent shooting, including 34.1 percent from 3-point range, to go with 31.3 rebounds, 6.1 steals and 3.6 blocks per game. The Wildcats have held 10 opponents to 65 points or less in league play.
K-State ranks among the Top 50 nationally in three defensive categories, including 28th in field goal percentage defense, 30th in rebounding margin and 38th 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 - 8th, Rodney McGruder - 14th, Thomas Gipson - 19th) and the only one with three players (Samuels - 3rd, McGruder - 10th, Gipson - 14th) in the league's Top 15 in offensive rebounds.
BETTER DEFENSE IN BIG 12 PLAY
After allowing a Big 12-worst 72.6 points through the first five league games, K-State has stepped up its efforts in the last 11 games, allowing a combined average of 60.2 points on 39.8 percent shooting, including 33.9 percent from 3-point range, while holding an +4.5 rebounding margin. The Wildcats have also forced more than 15.8 turnovers in those 11 games and scored an average of 15.6 points off those miscues. The team has held nine of the last 11 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 Feb. 21 -- both season-lows at home.
For their recent efforts, the Wildcats now rank among the Top 3 in seven Big 12 defensive categories in conference-only games, including second in field goal percentage defense (42.1), rebounding (35.4), rebounding margin (+4.1), turnover margin (+1.3) and blocked shots (4.4) and third in scoring defense (64.1) and rebounding defense (31.0).
POINTS OFF TURNOVERS
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent's mistakes. Since he became head coach in 2007, the Wildcats have scored 3,021 points off of 2,716 turnovers in 166 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, 485-417. The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 16.3 turnovers, including a season-high 25 by Texas Tech on Jan. 25, while foes are averaging 15.9 turnovers in Big 12 play. For season, K-State is averaging 17.3 points off these mistakes, including 16.9 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 31.4 points in the paint and 15.3 points off of second-chance opportunities. The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-best 38.1 rebounds per game, including 14.5 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponents 21 times, including 18 times in the last 22 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 31st nationally in rebounds per game, including first in the Big 12, while they rank 11th in the nation in offensive rebounds and tops in the league. The team is also 30th nationally (and second in the Big 12) in rebounding margin (+5.4).
MARTIN ERA PROVING TO BE STELLAR
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 the victory over No. 3 Missouri on Feb. 21, 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 (453) coming from the line. The Wildcats are tied for 13th nationally in free throw attempts per game (24.6), trailing among others national leader New Mexico State (30.8), while they are 44th in the country in free throws made per game (16.2). K-State is second in the Big 12 with less than one attempt per game less than Texas (25.1), while it is tied for second with Oklahoma State in makes per game. Opponents are averaging 22.6 personal fouls per game, while they have 51 fewer free throws attempted and 11 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 72 free throw attempts in the last five games (14.4 per game), including season-lows for both makes (2) and attempts (6) at Baylor on Feb. 18. K-State is 82-12 (.872) under Frank Martin, including 15-2 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 21.0 points this season, including 15.6 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 in the win over No. 3/3 Missouri on Feb. 21, 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.
POINTS IN THE PAINT/SECOND CHANCE
Kansas State has posted at least 30 points in the paint in 20 of 28 games, including a combined 90 in overtime games with West Virginia (44) and North Florida (46), and have outscored their foes, 880-672, 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 206-156 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.
GOOD ANGEL, BAD ANGEL
Freshman Angel Rodriguez has become a key element of the Wildcats' attack in the last 12 games, ranking first on the team in assists (50) and steals (21), second in scoring and field goals (40) 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 15-3 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 12 games in which he has started and it has become a significant one, as the Wildcats are 7-2 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 six games -- Texas (2.0), Iowa State (5.0), Texas A&M (1.3), Baylor (1.5), Missouri (3.0) and Iowa State (8.0) -- and an even ratio twice -- Oklahoma State and Texas Tech (twice). In seven wins, he has a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio (27 assists to 18 turnovers), while he has a 1.2 assist-to-turnover ratio (23 assists to 19 turnovers) in the team's five losses in that span. He has a 1.27 assist-to-turnover ratio this season, including a 1.28 ratio in Big 12 action.
SAMUELS MAKING THE MOST OF SENIOR SEASON
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 (86) and free throws attempted (128), while ranking third in scoring (9.8 ppg.) and minutes (26.0). 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 connected on 7-of-10 from 3-point range. He was stellar in the narrow loss to the Jayhawks 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 against the Tigers with 11 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Interestingly enough, the Kansas game marked the first time that K-State has lost when Samuels has registered a double-double (10-1) and the first when he earned a 20-point game (6-1) in his career. 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.
AMONG THE BEST ALL-TIME
Senior Jamar Samuels earned his 1,000 career point in the double-overtime loss to West Virginia on Dec. 8, becoming the 23rd player in school history and the third (Jacob Pullen & Denis Clemente) under head coach Frank Martin to eclipse the milestone. His current total of 1,214 points ranks 12th in school history, just 90 points from the all-time Top 10. He also ranks in the Top 5 in school history in both career free throws (380) and free throws attempted (629). 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 trails only Jacob Pullen (135) for most played in a career (129). He also ranks in the Top 10 in four additional categories, including minutes played (3,016; 6th), rebounds (685; 6th), steals (105, 7th) and blocks (90, 8th). He is one of just six players in school history to eclipse 3,000 minutes played in a career. 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). He is also the first player at K-State to tally at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 100 assists, 100 steals and 50 blocks in a career.
ONE STREAK ENDS AS ANOTHER BEGINS
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 six straight, including his third double-double of the season, with 13 points and 11 rebounds vs. Iowa State. In this six-game stretch, he is averaging 14.2 points on 42.9 percent shooting, including 47.4 percent from long range, while connecting on 84.2 percent from the free throw line. During the recent three-game stretch vs. 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 23 double-figure scoring games, he has 10+points in 18 of the last 20 games, including 17 of the last 18. He ranks seventh in the Big 12 in scoring (14.8 ppg.), including sixth in league-only games (16.5 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.
McGRUDER AMONG THE BEST IN BIG 12
Junior Rodney McGruder is one of five players in the Big 12's Top 15 in both overall scoring (14.8 ppg., 7th) and rebounding (5.5 rpg., 14th) this season, joining Kansas' Thomas Robinson, Missouri's Ricardo Ratliffe, Iowa State's Royce White and Baylor's Perry Jones III. He also ranks among the Top 15 in four other Big 12 categories, including eighth in field goal percentage (44.7), ninth in minutes (32.4), 10th in offensive rebounds (2.3) and 11th in free throw percentage (78.5). Through 16 Big 12 games, he is in the Top 15 in six league-only categories, including sixth in scoring (16.5 ppg.), seventh in field goal percentage (44.1) and free throw percentage (85.2), ninth in offensive rebounds (2.4), 12th in rebounding (5.7) and 14th in 3-pointers made (1.5) and steals (1.1). Overall, he paces the team in six categories, including scoring, double-figure scoring games (23), field goals (151) and minutes. He joins Will Spradling as the only players to start all 28 games and average 30+ minutes.
McGRUDER NAMED PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Junior Rodney McGruder followed up his most valuable player performance at the Diamond Head Classic with his first career Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week award on Dec. 26. In helping the Wildcats win their first regular-season tournament title since 2006, he averaged 15.0 points on 64 percent shooting, including 44.4 percent from 3-point range, with 6.0 rebounds in 24.3 minutes per game. He scored in double figures in two of three games, including 28 points in the championship game against Long Beach State on Christmas Day. He went a near perfect 10-of-11 from the field against the 49ers, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Remarkably, by making 10-of-11 field goals against LBSU, he posted one of the best shooting nights in school history. Only Joe Wright (11-of-11 vs. Oklahoma State on Jan. 23, 1985) and Eddie Elder (11-of-11 vs. Colorado on Feb. 23, 1985) had a better field goal percentage when attempting more than 10 shots. McGruder is the third Wildcat to receive a weekly award from the Big 12 this season. Senior Jamar Samuels was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 5, while freshman Thomas Gipson was the league's Rookie of the Week on Dec. 12.
Kansas State has taken advantage of its size in the paint to post 45 more blocked shots (135-90) than its opponents this season, averaging 4.8 blocks per game. The Wildcats have posted at least five blocks in 15 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 2.3 per game. Henriquez has tallied 63 blocked shots on the year, which represents more than 40 percent of the team's total. After becoming the school's all-time blocks leader (132) vs. No. 3/3 Missouri, he set a career-best with seven swats vs. Iowa State. His seven blocks against the Cyclones are the second-most in a single-game in school history, while they are the most-ever in a conference games, surpassing his six against No. 4/5 Kansas on Feb. 13 and Curtis Kelly's six against Texas A&M on Jan. 22, 2011. He has 20 blocks in the last four games, including a swat of the game-winning shot in the win over No. 9/10 Baylor. His 63 blocks are the second-most in a single season, trailing only former teammate Curtis Kelly (74, 2009-10).
MORE THAN JUST BLOCKS
Junior Jordan Henriquez has emerged has a threat down low for Kansas State, averaging 9.0 points on 53.8 percent shooting (14-of-26) with 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 blocks in 26.3 minutes per game in the last four outings. A career 53.2 percent free throw shooter, he has also knocked down 8-of-11 from the line during this stretch. He posted a career day vs. Iowa State on Saturday, earning career-bests in seven categories, including points (19), rebounds (12), field goals (7), field goals attempted (12), free throws (5), blocks (7) and minutes (34). It was also his first career double-double. His improved play began with No. 4/5 Kansas on Feb. 13, where he earned four points, four rebounds and six blocks in 26 minutes. He continued with a 9-point, 7-rebound, 3-block performance vs. No. 9/10 Baylor (including the game-winning block with 2.6 seconds) to go with a 4-point, 4 rebound, 4-block effort in the win at No. 3/3 Missouri. For the season, he is averaging 6.4 points on 53.3 percent shooting and 4.9 rebounds.
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 28 games, he ranks second in most categories, including scoring (9.9 ppg.), double-figure scoring games (15), free throws (73) and assists (74), 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 vs. Long Beach State on Dec. 25.
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 503 points (over 25 percent of team's total) on 45.5 percent shooting (181-of-398) to go with 260 rebounds (25 percent), 117 assists (28.5 percent) and 39 steals (21.3 percent) in over 1,300 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 freshman and is one of just three Wildcats (along with Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling) to play in all 28 games. Rodriguez, who has played in 27 games, paces the team in both assists (84) and steals (33). 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.
RODRIGUEZ AT THE POINT
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 12 straight starts in Big 12 play. During this stretch, he is averaging 9.3 points, a team-best 4.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 24 minutes per game. He is first in assists (50) and steals (21) in this span, while he is second in scoring, field goals (40) and 3-point field goals (11). He is also one of just four players to average 20 or more minutes per game in these 12 games. After being limited to four points in his first career start vs. Texas on Jan. 18, he has scored in double figures six times in the last 11 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 11-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.
BIG GIP GETTING NOTICED
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 (5.1 rpg.) to go with 7.8 points per game in playing in all 28 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 5.9 points on a team-best 57.8 percent shooting and 3.6 rebounds per game. In the last four games (all as a reserve), he is averaging 6.0 points on 58.8 percent shooting with 3.8 rebounds in 14 minutes per game.
OJELEYE BECOMES 3-TIME ACADEMIC ALL-BIG 12 RECIPIENT
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 25 games, averaging 1.2 points on 41.9 percent shooting with 1.5 rebounds in 6.8 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: OKLAHOMA STATE (14-15, 7-9 BIG 12)
K-State will bid farewell to seniors Victor Ojeleye and Jamar Samuels on Saturday, as the Wildcats wrap up the Big 12 regular-season by hosting Oklahoma State (14-15, 7-9 Big 12) at 12:30 p.m. on the Big 12 Network.