K-State Hosts Oklahoma State on Senior Day Saturday

Senior Jamar Samuels has double-doubles in three of the last five games.

March 2, 2012

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GAME 30
rv/rv KANSAS STATE (20-9, 9-8 Big 12) vs. OKLAHOMA STATE (14-16, 7-10 Big 12)
Saturday, March 3, 2012 * 12:30 p.m. CST * Manhattan, Kan. * Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

GAME INFORMATION
Television: Big 12 Network (ESPN Full Court)
Dave Armstrong (play-by-play); Jon Sundvold (analyst)
Channels: KSHB (Kansas City), KSAS (Wichita), KSNT (Topeka)
Internet: www.ESPN3.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 93/XM 193
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, Oklahoma State #111
K-State vs. Oklahoma State: 71-47 (W, 66-58, 1/21/12)
In Manhattan: 34-15 (L, 69-73, 1/23/10)

THE GAME
Kansas State (20-9, 9-8 Big 12) concludes the regular season on Saturday, as the Wildcats host Oklahoma State (14-16, 7-10 Big 12) on Senior Day at 12:30 p.m. CST.  In addition to Senior Day activities, it will also be “K-State Proud” Day at Bramlage Coliseum with fans being encouraged to wear white to support the efforts of the organization to raise money for student scholarships.  The game will be broadcast on the Big 12 Network (as well as ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com) with Dave Armstrong (play-by-play) and Jon Sundvold (analyst) on the call.  The Wildcats were able to secure a 20-win season and a bye to the quarterfinals of next week’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with a 76-70 win at Texas A&M on Tuesday.  The squad has now posted 20 wins for the 25th time in school history, including the sixth consecutive season and the fifth in a row under head coach Frank Martin.  Prior to the 2006-07 season, the school had not recorded more than three straight 20-win seasons (done twice).  Despite clinching a bye for the sixth consecutive season at the Big 12 Championship (one of just two schools to do so), K-State’s seed (No. 5 or 6) is still up for grabs, as it sits in a tie for fifth place with Texas (19-11, 9-8 Big 12) heading into the final regular-season contest.  A win over Oklahoma State and a loss by Texas clinches the No. 5 seed for the Wildcats and a spot in the first quarterfinal game vs. the No. 4 seed (either Baylor or Iowa State) at 11:30 a.m. CST on Thursday, while a loss and a Texas win makes the squad the No. 6 seed and a match-up with the No. 3 seed (either Baylor or Iowa State) at 8:30 p.m. CST.  If both teams finish at 9-9, K-State holds the tie-breaker and will be the No. 5 seed, while if both finish at 10-8, Texas gains the edge and will be the No. 5 seed.  More than just seeding, the Wildcats will look to finish their home schedule on a positive note and snap a two-game skid.   The team, which already has four home losses in conference play for the first time since 2005-06, will look to clinch a winning home record in league play for the fifth straight season and tally 10 overall conference wins for the fifth time in the last six seasons.       

SENIOR DAY
Seniors Victor Ojeleye and Jamar Samuels as well as senior student managers Kyle Essley and Brian Krueger will be honored prior to Saturday’s game with a pregame ceremony.  A win would enable Ojeleye and Samuels to tie three others (Luis Colon, Chris Merriewether and Jacob Pullen) for the most wins (95) in school history.  The pair have helped the Wildcats to a 94-40 (.701) record in their four-year careers, including a 39-26 (.600) mark in Big 12 play.  They are also hoping to become the third straight senior class to lead K-State to the postseason in four consecutive seasons.   
 
THE OPPONENT
Oklahoma State enters Saturday’s game with a 14-16 record and 7-10 mark in Big 12 play after losing, 70-58, at home to No. 3/4 Kansas on Monday.  The Cowboys have already sewn up the No. 7 seed at the Big 12 Championship and will play No. 10 seed Texas Tech (8-21, 1-16 Big 12) on Wednesday night.  Under fourth-year head coach Travis Ford, the youthful Cowboys start just one senior - Keiton Page - and average 66.8 points on 41.9 percent shooting, including 32.7 percent from 3-point range, to go with a 32.7 rebounds, 11 assists, 6.3 steals and 4.5 blocks per game.  One of the potent 3-point shooters in Big 12 history, Page paces three players in double figures at 16.6 points per game to go with a team-high 89 3-pointers in 35.2 minutes per game.  Freshman phenom Le’Bryan Nash and junior Markel Brown also average in double figures at 13.3 and 10.5 points, respectively.

SERIES
Saturday’s game will be the 119th meeting between K-State and Oklahoma State dating back to Feb. 18, 1927 with the Wildcats holding a 71-47 lead in the series.  OSU has won 13 of the last 17 meetings since the start of Big 12 play, including wins in three of the last five games.  The Wildcats snapped an 11-game losing streak at Gallagher-Iba Arena with a 66-58 win on Jan. 21 and will look to sweep the season series for the first time since 1988.  However, the squad is just 2-5 at home against the Cowboys in the Big 12 era and is looking for their win since an 82-61 victory on Feb. 9, 2008.  Overall, K-State is 34-15 all-time at home vs. OSU, including 6-9 at Bramlage Coliseum.  Head coach Frank Martin is 3-3 (.500) against the Cowboys, including 1-1 at home.

LAST TIME OUT: KANSAS STATE 76, TEXAS A&M 70
Behind a season-high 70.6 percent shooting from 3-point range, Kansas State held off a late Texas A&M rally to sweep the season series and post just its third win in College Station in the Big 12 era with a 76-70 victory on Tuesday night.  It marked the first time that the Wildcats have swept the season series against the Aggies (just fourth time they have met twice in a season), while it marked the first win at Reed Arena since 2009.  The win also clinched just the second winning record in conference road games (5-4) in the last 24 seasons and the first time since the 2009-10 season.  The squad, which connected on 12-of-17 treys from five players, also scored the second-most points against the league’s top scoring defense (60.4 ppg.) this season, including the most in a Big 12 contest.  The 12 3-pointers were the second-most in a game this season and the most since knocking down 13 against Howard on Jan. 31.  It was also the highest 3-point percentage in a game since the Wildcats shot 75 percent against Oregon State on Dec. 22, 2002.  After trailing by as many as seven points in the first half, K-State used an 11-0 run over a four-minute period late in the half to grab a convincing 44-33 lead at the break.  Junior Rodney McGruder, who led the way with 26 points, scored a season-high 19 points in the first half on 5-of-7 field goals, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range, helping the Wildcats shoot 57.7 percent, including 88.9 percent from long range.  However, the Aggies got hot from the field in the second half (connecting on 55.6 percent) to close the gap to 66-63 at the 2:54 mark.  McGruder was able to push the lead back out with a 3-pointer moments later, while a 5-of-6 effort from freshman Angel Rodriguez from the free throw line clinched the victory.  McGruder posted his 12th career 20-point game, including the eighth this season, tied a team season-high with five 3-pointers, while senior Jamar Samuels collected his 12th career double-double (including seventh this year) with 17 points and 11 rebounds.  Samuels has a double-double in three of the last five games.  Rodriguez topped double figures for the 11th time with 13 points (to go with five assists), including the seventh time in Big 12 play.  He has paced the team in assists and steals in four consecutive games.     

THE CASE FOR K-STATE 
Kansas State looks to advance to the postseason for the sixth consecutive season (a program-first), including the fifth straight under head coach Frank Martin, in 2011-12.  The Wildcats, which boasts 20 wins for the sixth year in a row, boasts a NCAA RPI of 45 and has six victories against teams rated in the Top 100 of the RPI, including four versus squads rated in the Top 25.  K-State is one of just five schools (Duke, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri) to have at least three wins (Baylor and Missouri twice) over RPI Top 10 teams (using the NCAA RPI) and the only one to have two of those victories on the road (Baylor and Missouri).  The team also boasts a strong non-conference schedule with wins over Alabama, Long Beach State and Virginia Tech (on the road).  In fact, the Wildcats have handed the Big West champion 49ers one of their two losses since Dec. 25.  In addition, seven of the team’s nine losses have been to teams rated in the Top 100 of the latest RPI.  The team will be looking for their 26th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, including the fourth under Martin, while a trip to the NIT would be the eighth and first since 2009.  A ticket to the “Big Dance” would be the third in a row under Martin -- a feat that has only been done twice before (1980-82; 1987-90). 

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES 
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 February 25, the Wildcats used a 17-1 run to lead Iowa State by six with 14:19 left before falling 65-61.
 
STARTING LINE-UP
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 29 games and the only ones averaging 30+ minutes.  Senior Jamar Samuels is third in starts with 26 and freshman Thomas Gipson is next with 21 (third-most among Big 12 freshmen), junior Martavious Irving has 14 starts, freshman Angel Rodriguez 13, junior Jordan Henriquez 11 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 13 games (since Texas game on Jan. 18), while Henriquez has earned five 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 9.6 points, team-leading 4.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 24.1 minutes per game.  In this 13-game stretch, he ranks first on the team in assists (55) and steals (23) and is second in scoring and field goals (43) 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 back-to-back 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 13 games, he has led the team in assists 11 times and steals eight times.  He has posted double figures seven times in this span, including matching his Big 12-high of 15 points vs. Texas on Feb. 11 with 15 at Baylor on Feb. 18.  He also scored in double figures vs. Oklahoma State (14), Texas A&M (13 twice), Oklahoma (10) and Iowa State (11). 

Junior Jordan Henriquez has also provided a spark in five consecutive starts for the first time this season, averaging 8.0 points on 51.6 percent shooting with 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 blocks in 26.2 minutes.  He had a career day against Iowa State on Feb. 25 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 five games after eight straight starts, averaging 4.8 points on 55.6 percent shooting with 3.2 rebounds in 13.2 minutes.  He tallied a Big 12-high 13 points against No. 3/3 Missouri on 6-of-7 field goals.

BALANCED ATTACK
K-State has proved to be a balanced team across the board with seven players averaging five or more points, including two 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 13 times) and six leading rebounders (Jamar Samuels leading 11 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 (89), Will Spradling (77) and Shane Southwell (62) and six players have double-figure steals (including five with 20+) led by Rodriguez’s 35.  This balance has been even more evident in the last 12 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 91 double-digit scoring games with McGruder posting a team-leading 24 such games, while Samuels and Spradling are not far behind with 16 and 15 double-figure games, respectively.  The team is much better team when 3+ players register double-digit points with a 16-6 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 
K-State has been a solid defensive team this season, allowing opponents 63.3 points (lowest by an opponent in the shot clock era and lowest since 1983-84) on 40 percent shooting, including 31.5 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 37.7 rebounds, 6.0 steals and 4.9 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 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 64.4 points on 42.7 percent shooting, including 34.5 percent from 3-point range, to go with 31.1 rebounds, 5.9 steals and 4.5 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 32nd in field goal percentage defense, 33rd in rebounding margin and 34th in blocked shots.  The team places in the Big 12’s Top 4 in seven defensive categories, including first in rebounding and offensive rebounds, second in field goal percentage defense, third in rebounding margin, blocked shots and 3-point percentage defense and fourth in scoring defense.  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 (Baylor) to have two players rank in the Big 12’s Top 15 in rebounding (Jamar Samuels - 8th and Rodney McGruder - 14th) and the only one with three players (Samuels - 2nd, McGruder - 11th, 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 12 games, allowing a combined average of 61.0 points on 40.8 percent shooting, including 34.4 percent from 3-point range, while holding an +4.1 rebounding margin.  The Wildcats have also forced more than 15.7 turnovers in those 12 games and scored an average of 15.5 points off those miscues.  The team has held nine of the last 12 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 scoring defense (64.4), field goal percentage defense (42.7), rebounding defense (31.1), blocked shots (4.5) and turnover margin (+1.2) and third in rebounding (34.9) and rebounding margin (+3.8) .

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 3,035 points off of 2,730 turnovers in 167 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, 499-430.  The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 16.2 turnovers, including a season-high 25 by Texas Tech on Jan. 25, while foes are averaging 15.8 turnovers in Big 12 play.  For season, K-State is averaging 17.2 points off these mistakes, including 16.8 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. 

REBOUNDING PROWESS
Kansas State has taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 31.0 points in the paint and 15.1 points off of second-chance opportunities.  The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-best 37.7 rebounds per game, including 14.4 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponents 21 times, including 18 times in the last 23 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 39th nationally in rebounds per game, including first in the Big 12, while they rank 13th in the nation in offensive rebounds and tops in the league.  The team is also 33rd nationally (and third in the Big 12) in rebounding margin (+5.1).

MARTIN ERA PROVING TO BE STELLAR 
The 2009-10 Big 12 Coach of the Year, Frank Martin became the first K-State head coach to post a 20-win season in each of his five seasons (he was the first to do it four straight years) in Tuesday’s 76-70 win over Texas A&M.  With a trip to the either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT, he would also become the first coach in school history to guide teams to the postseason in each of his first five seasons.  His 115 wins rank fourth all-time at K-State behind Hall of Famers Jack Hartman (295), Tex Winter (261) and Jack Gardner (127) and are the most by head coach in his first five seasons.  A victory on Saturday against Oklahoma State would give Martin his 50th conference win, becoming just the fourth head coach (Winter (144), Hartman (133) and Gardner (66) to accomplish the feat and the first since Hartman in 1974-75.  He already owns 20 wins over the Top 25, including eight vs. the Top 10.  Both totals are the second-most in school history, trailing Hartman’s 22 over the Top 25 and Winter’s 10 over the Top 10.  Martin has also been impressive on the road during his tenure, collecting a 26-21 record in true road games, including a 21-20 mark in Big 12 play.  Prior to his 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 tally the last six years of the Big Eight (1990-96) and the first 10 in the Big 12 to surpass these 21 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 Famers 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 Wildcat coach to post 100 wins 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.
 
2000 POINTS AGAIN
Although Kansas State has faced its share of offensive struggles this season, the Wildcats have once again reached the 2,000-point plateau.  On the season, the team has scored 2,063 points on 43.8 percent shooting (713-of-1627), including 34.4 percent  (166-of-483) from 3-point range, to go with 66.2 percent shooting (471-of-711) from the free throw line.  It marks the sixth straight season that K-State has topped 2,000 points in a season.  It is the longest such stretch of 2,000-point seasons since the team collected nine in a row from 1985-94.  The Wildcats will need to make up some ground to extend its streak of 200 or more 3-pointers in a season (need 34) to six in a row, while it already has dished out more than 400 assists in 11 consecutive seasons.

BONUS POINTS
K-State has taken advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line this season with nearly 25 percent of their points (471) coming from the line.  The Wildcats are tied for 17th nationally in free throw attempts per game (24.5), 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 (24.9), while it is second to the Longhorns (18.2) by two in makes per game. Opponents are averaging 22.6 personal fouls per game, while they have 52 fewer free throws attempted and 17 fewer makes.  The Wildcats have attempted at least 22 free throws in 21 games, including 20 or more attempts in nine 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 94 free throw attempts in the last six games (15.7 per game), including season-lows for both makes (2) and attempts (6) at Baylor on Feb. 18. 

K-State is 83-12 (.874) under Frank Martin, including 16-2 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.

BENCH PRODUCTION
Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production it’s getting from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 20.6 points this season, including 17.1 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 29 games, including a combined 90 in overtime games with West Virginia (44) and North Florida (46), and have outscored their foes, 898-702, 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 216-164 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.

SAMUELS MAKING THE MOST OF SENIOR SEASON
Senior Jamar Samuels has been a key component to the Wildcats’ success, leading the team in double-doubles (7), rebounding (6.5 rpg.) free throws (89) and free throws attempted (132), while ranking second in scoring (10.1 ppg.) and minutes played (26.2).  Despite missing the exhibition and the first two games due to violations of team rules, he has collected double-figure scoring games in 16 contests (including a stretch of seven consecutive such games from Dec. 11 to Jan. 4) and to go with a team-high seven 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 has continued to improve his play of late, including the three-game stretch against Top 10 foes, where he averaged 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in 33.7 minutes per game.  He has collected three double-doubles (vs. No. 4/5 Kansas, No. 3/3 Missouri and Texas A&M) in the last five games (averaging 12.2 points and 8.8 rebounds) and has connected on 9-of-15 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 tallied a double-double in the win over No. 3/3 Missouri on Feb. 21 with 11 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, while he was stellar all-around vs. Texas A&M with 17 points on 6-of-9 field goals, including 2-of-2 from long range, to go witha team-best 11 rebounds, three assists (zero turnovers) and a block in 31 minutes of action.  Interestingly enough, the Kansas game marked the first time that K-State has lost when Samuels has registered a double-double (11-1) 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 1,231 points ranks 12th in school history, just 73 points from the all-time Top 10.  He also ranks in the Top 5 in school history in both career free throws (383) and free throws attempted (633), while he is the Top 10 in three other categories, including rebounds (696; 6th), steals (105, 7th) and blocks (91, 8th).  Both free throw totals rank third all-time, 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.  Samuels 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.

Samuels has also demonstrated his longevity at K-State, ranking in the Top 10 in both games played (130, 2nd) and minutes played (3,047; 6th).  He surpassed Steve Henson for the second-most games played with his 128th against No. 3/3 Missouri on Feb. 21 and now trails only Jacob Pullen (135) for most played in a career.  He is one of just six players in school history to eclipse 3,000 minutes played in a career.  He is also one of just six Big 12 players who have played in every conference game of their career, joining Baylor’s Quincy Acy, Missouri’s Kim English and Marcus Denmon, Oklahoma State’s Keiton Page and Texas A&M’s David Loubeau.  With the advent of the new 18-game Big 12 schedule, Page and Samuels will become the first players in Big 12 history to play in 66 league games on Saturday with Acy, English, Denmon and Loubeau all following later in the day. 

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 seven straight, including his eighth 20-point game of the season (12th in career) with a game-high 26 in the second game with the Aggies.  He scored 19 of his 26 in the first half.  In this seven-game stretch, he is averaging 15.9 points on 43.9 percent shooting, including 53.8 percent from long range, while connecting on 89.3 percent from the free throw line.  During the recent three-game stretch vs. Top 10 foes (No. 4/5 Kansas, No. 9/10 Baylor and No. 3/3 Missouri), 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 24 double-figure scoring games, he has 10+points in 19 of the last 21 games, including 18 of the last 19.  He ranks seventh in the Big 12 in scoring (15.2 ppg.), including sixth in league-only games (17.1 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.  For his efforts, he became the third Wildcat (joining Jamar Samuels and Thomas Gipson) to earn a weekly award from the Big 12 and the second to be named Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 26.  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 (15.2 ppg., 7th) and rebounding (5.4 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 five other Big 12 categories, including ninth in field goal percentage (44.9) and minutes (32.5), 10th in free throw percentage (80.4), 11th in offensive rebounds (2.3) and 13th in 3-point field goal percentage (37.9).  Through 17 Big 12 games, he is in the Top 15 in seven league-only categories, including sixth in scoring (17.1 ppg.) and free throw percentage (87.1), eighth in field goal percentage (44.4) and minutes (34.4), 10th in offensive rebounds (2.4), 11th in 3-pointers made (1.7) and 13th in rebounding (5.5).  Overall, he paces the team in six categories, including scoring, double-figure scoring games (24), field goals (157), 3-point field goals (44) and minutes.  He is closing in on 1,000 career points with 946 (28th all-time in scoring at K-State) heading into Saturday’s game.  He could join Denis Clemente, Jacob Pullen and Jamar Samuels as 1,000-point scorers under Frank Martin.  He also ranks eighth in school history with 131 3-pointers.    

BLOCK PARTY
Kansas State has taken advantage of its size in the paint to post 49 more blocked shots (141-92) than its opponents this season, averaging 4.9 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have posted at least five blocks in 16 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 65 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 (134) 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 game, 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 22 blocks in the last five games, including a swat of the game-winning shot in the win over No. 9/10 Baylor.  His 65 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 K-State, averaging 8.0 points on 51.6 percent shooting (16-of-31) with 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 blocks in 26.2 minutes per game in the last five outings.  He posted a career day vs. Iowa State on Feb. 25, 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.  He is averaging 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game.      
 
STEADY SPRADLING
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 29 games, he ranks among the Top 3 in several categories, including tied for first in 3-point field goals (44), second in assists (77) and third in scoring (9.8 ppg.), double-figure scoring games (15) and free throws (73).  He surpassed his career-high with 19 points against Texas A&M on Feb. 4 on 5-of-8 field goals, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with a 5-of-5 effort from the free throw line.  He has been solid in the second half/overtime of games this season, scoring over 60 percent of his points (176 of 283), while registering double figures on four occasions.  He also been the team’s charge leader, taking a team-best 24 this season while collecting 45 in his career.  He had at least one charge in 11 consecutive games earlier this year.   
 
FRESHMEN IMPACT
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 516 points (over 25 percent of team’s total) on 45.2 percent shooting (184-of-407) to go with 263 rebounds (24 percent), 122 assists (29.6 percent) and 41 steals (23.6 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 29 games.  Rodriguez, who has played in 28 games, paces the team in both assists (89) and steals (35), while he ranks fourth in scoring.  He could become the first rookie to lead in both assists and steals since Steve Henson in 1986-87.  He is one of just two freshmen (along with Texas’ Myck Kabongo) to rank in the Big 12’s Top 15 in assists, steals and assist-to-turnover ratio.  Diaz has become a key reserve in 21 games played, averaging 3.5 points on 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 13 straight starts in Big 12 play.  During this stretch, he is averaging 9.6 points, a team-best 4.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 24.1 minutes per game.  He is first in assists (55) and steals (23) in this span, while he is second in scoring and field goals (43).  He is also one of just four players to average 20 or more minutes per game in these 13 games.  After being limited to four points in his first career start vs. Texas on Jan. 18, he has scored in double figures seven times in the last 12 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 performed well in the first meeting with Oklahoma State on Jan. 21, knocking down 4-of-6 free throws in the waning moments to cap a 14-point day and help the Wildcats earn their first win at Gallagher-Iba Arena since 1993.  After missing some key free throws against Iowa State on Feb. 25, he hit 5-of-6 in the last five minutes in the win at Texas A&M.

GOOD ANGEL, BAD ANGEL
Freshman Angel Rodriguez’s ability to take care of the basketball has become a huge part of the team’s success, as K-State is 16-3 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 13 games in which he has started and it has become a significant one, as the Wildcats are 8-2 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 seven games -- Texas (2.0), Iowa State (5.0), Texas A&M (1.3), Baylor (1.5), Missouri (3.0), Iowa State (8.0) and Texas A&M (1.3) -- and an even ratio twice -- Oklahoma State and Texas Tech (twice).  In eight wins, he has a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio (32 assists to 22 turnovers), while he has a 1.2 assist-to-turnover ratio (23 assists to 19 turnovers) in the five losses in that span. 

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.
 
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 (4.9 rpg.) to go with 7.6 points per game in playing in all 29 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 5.5 points on a team-best 56.9 percent shooting and 3.4 rebounds per game.  In the last five games (all as a reserve), he is averaging 4.8 points on 55.6 percent shooting with 3.2 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game. 

UP NEXT: PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
K-State earned a bye to the quarterfinal round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship and will play on Thursday as either the No. 5 seed (vs. No. 4 seed) at 11:30 a.m. CST or the No. 6 seed (vs. No. 3 seed) at 8:30 p.m. CST.  Both games will be on ESPN2.