K-State Plays No. 12/11 Baylor at Big 12 Championship
K-State Plays No. 12/11 Baylor at Big 12 Championship
March 5, 2012
rv/rv KANSAS STATE (21-9, 10-8 Big 12) vs. 11/12 BAYLOR (25-6, 12-6 Big 12)
Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship Quarterfinals
Thursday, March 8, 2012 * 11:30 a.m. CST * Sprint Center (18,972)
Brent Musburger (play-by-play); Bob Knight (analyst);
Holly Rowe (sideline); Aaron Stojkov (producer)
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 93/XM 191 (home team broadcast)
Live Stats: www.k-statesports.com/multimedia
Live Audio: www.k-statesports.com/allaccess (free)
Twitter Updates: twitter.com/kstate_gameday
K-State at Big 8/12 Championship: 29-33 (9-15 at Big 12)
K-State vs. Baylor: 14-11 (W, 57-56, 2/18/12)
At Big 12 Championship: 2-0 (W, 82-75, 3/12/10)
Kansas State (21-9, 10-8 Big 12) opens play in the 16th annual Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Thursday, as the fifth-seeded Wildcats play fourth-seeded and No. 12/11 Baylor (25-6, 12-6 Big 12) in the first game of the quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. CST. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 (as well as ESPN3.com) with Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Bob Knight (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline reporter) on the call. The Wildcats enters Thursday's contest with wins in four of their last five games, including back-to-back over Top 10 foes Baylor and Missouri for the first time in school history. The team clinched a 20-win season for the 25th time in school history with a 76-70 win at Texas A&M on Feb. 28, while they claimed 10 conference wins and sole possession of fifth place in the final Big 12 standings with a 77-58 victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday. It marks the sixth consecutive 20-win season for K-State, including the fifth in a row under head coach Frank Martin, while it marks the fifth time in the last six seasons that the squad has posted at least 10 conference wins (joining Kansas as the only schools to do so in each of the last three seasons). Prior to the 2006-07 season, the school had not recorded more than three straight 20-win seasons (done twice), while its last 10-win season in conference play came in 1987-88. The Wildcats received a bye to the quarterfinals for the sixth consecutive season, joining Kansas as the only Big 12 schools to accomplish this feat.
PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
K-State is 29-33 all-time in the Big Eight/12 Championship dating back to its inception in 1977, including 9-15 in the 15-year history of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The Wildcats have won two championships (1977, 1980), while they have advanced to the finals on four other occasions (1978, 1981, 1993 and 2010). This will mark the third time that K-State has been the No. 5 seed at the championship (1985, 1993) with a 2-2 mark in those previous two appearances. The last time the squad was a 5-seed they advanced all the way to the 1993 Finals, losing to Missouri, 68-56, at Kemper Arena. The Wildcats are 2-2 all-time vs. No. 4 seeds at the championship (1977, 1981, 1985, 1993) with the last appearance coming in 1993. K-State is 2-0 vs. Baylor at the Big 12 Championship, winning in overtime, 74-73, on March 7, 2002 and 82-75 on March 12, 2010, with both games being played in Kansas City. Overall, the team is 28-28 all-time when the championship is held in Kansas City, including 2-3 in the Sprint Center (2008, 2010-11). Overall, K-State is 7-5 in the Sprint Center, including a 71-58 win over No. 23/21 Alabama on Dec. 17, 2011.
No. 12/11 Baylor enters Thursday's game with a 25-6 overall record and 12-6 mark in Big 12 play after dropping its regular-season finale at Iowa State on Saturday. Under ninth-year coach Scott Drew, the Bears are averaging 74.5 points on 47.2 percent shooting, including 38.5 percent from 3-point range, to go with 36.5 rebounds, 15.0 assists, 7.8 steals and4.9 blocks per game. Four players are averaging in double figures led by All-Big 12 second team selection Pierre Jackson, who paces the squad in scoring (13.5 ppg.), assists (5.6 apg.) and steals (1.7 spg.). All-Big 12 third team pick Perry Jones III is second in scoring at 13.1 points per game, while he is tops in rebounding (7.5 ppg.) and minutes played (30.7 mpg.). Senior Quincy Acy, a second team selection, is averaging 12.1 points on a team-best 58.3 percent shooting with 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, while the Big 12's co-Freshman of the Year Quincy Miller adds 11.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per outing. Transfer Brady Heslip is another potent threat from long range with a team-best 74 3-pointers (on a squad that has tallied 212 treys) to boast a 9.3 points per game average.
Thursday's game will be the 26th meeting between K-State and Baylor dating back to March 20, 1948 with the Wildcats holding a 14-11 lead in the series. The teams split the season series with the Bears winning 75-73 in Manhattan on Jan. 10 and the Wildcats earning a 57-56 win in Waco on Feb. 18. This will mark the first time the two schools will meet three times in a season. The Bears are 10-9 in the series since the start of Big 12 play in 1997, while the Wildcats have won four of the last five meetings. Head coach Frank Martin is 4-3 vs. Baylor, including 1-0 at the Big 12 Championship, while Scott Drew is 4-7 vs. K-State.
LAST TIME OUT: KANSAS STATE 77, OKLAHOMA STATE 58
Kansas State blew open a tight game in the second half, as the Wildcats used a 24-6 run early in the half en route to a 77-58 win over injury-riddled Oklahoma State in the regular-season finale at Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday. Leading just 40-36 after a Keiton Page 3-pointer just moments into the second half, the squad scored 14 straight points (including 8 by Rodney McGruder) over a three-minute span to build an 18-point lead, which they pushed to as many as 23 with just over two minutes to play. The Wildcats were effective on both ends of the court, shooting 51.7 percent from the field, including over 50 percent in both halves (for just the second time this year), while holding the Cowboys to 58 points on 46 percent shooting with a season-low 12 personal fouls. The team tallied 21 assists (the most in Big 12 play) on 30 field goals and turned the ball over just 11 times. It marked the 14th time this season that K-State has held an opponent to 60 points or less, including the eighth time in Big 12 play. The Wildcats also forced the Cowboys into 19 turnovers and converted those miscues into 24 points, marking the seventh time in Big 12 play they have scored 20 or more points off turnovers. Three players scored in double figures led McGruder's ninth 20-point game and second straight of the week with a game-high 24. He went 10-of-14 from the field, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Senior Jamar Samuels tallied his 13th career double-double (and eighth this year) with 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while junior Jordan Henriquez added 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocks off the bench. Sophomore Will Spradling posted seven points and seven assists (with 0 turnovers), while rookie Angel Rodriguez added five points, five assists and three steals.
THE CASE FOR K-STATE
K-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 43 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 RPI. The team will be looking for their 26th bid to 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 at K-State (1980-82; 1987-90).
Despite a promising season that includes 21 wins, K-State has still missed a number of other opportunities to accomplish more by not closing out games. The Wildcats have held a second-half lead in seven of its nine losses, including six of the eight setbacks in Big 12 play. A change of outcome in just two of those games was the difference between finishing in third place and finishing fifth in the Big 12. 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 on Jan. 10 after holding as much as a nine-point advantage in the second half. 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. The Wildcats used a 17-1 run to lead Iowa State by six with 14:19 left before falling 65-61 on Feb. 25.
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 14 times) and six leading rebounders (Jamar Samuels leading 12 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 (94), Will Spradling (84) and Shane Southwell (64) and six players have double-figure steals (including five with 20+) led by Rodriguez's 38. This balance has been even more evident in the last 13 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 94 double-digit scoring games with McGruder posting a team-leading 25 such games, while Samuels and Spradling are not far behind with 17 and 15 double-figure games, respectively. The team is much better team when 3+ players register double-digit points with a 17-6 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 63.1 points (lowest by an opponent in the shot clock era and lowest since 1983-84) on 40.2 percent shooting, including 32 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 37.6 rebounds, 6.1 steals and 4.8 blocks per game. The Wildcats have held 18 foes to 65 points or less, including 14 to 60 points or less and three under 50 points. The team is 15-3 this season when holding an opponent 65 points or less, including 12-1 when they score fewer than 60. Under head coach Frank Martin, the squad has a 44-3 record when an opponent scores less than 60 points. In Big 12 play, K-State held foes to 64.1 points on 42.8 percent shooting, including 33.6 percent from 3-point range, to go with 30.9 rebounds, 7.9 steals and 3.3 blocks per game. The Wildcats held 11 opponents to 65 points or less in league play. It marks just the fourth time (1949-50, 1950-51, 1981-82) in school history that the team has held at least 14 opponents to 60 points or less, including eight in conference play, and the first time since the Jack Hartman team of 1981-82.
K-State ranks among the Top 40 nationally in three defensive categories, including 32nd in rebounding margin, 34th in blocked shots and 35th in field goal percentage defense. The team places in the Big 12's Top 3 in six defensive categories, including first in rebounding (37.6) and offensive rebounds (14.3), second in field goal percentage defense (40.2) and rebounding margin (+5.2), third in scoring defense (63.1) and blocked shots (4.7). During Frank Martin's coaching tenure, the Wildcats have finished no lower than fourth in rebounding (twice leading 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 one of only two schools (OSU) to have three players rank in the Big 12's Top 20 in rebounding (Jamar Samuels - 7th, Rodney McGruder - 14th, Jordan Henriquez - 19th) and the only one with three players (Samuels - 2nd, McGruder - 11th, Thomas Gipson - 14th) in the league's Top 15 in offensive rebounds.
BETTER DEFENSE TO FINISH BIG 12 PLAY
After allowing a Big 12-worst 72.6 points through the first five league games, K-State stepped up its efforts in the last 13 games, allowing a combined average of 60.8 points on 41.2 percent shooting, including 35.5 percent from 3-point range, while holding an +4.4 rebounding margin. The Wildcats also forced more than 15.9 turnovers in this span and scored an average of 16.1 points off these miscues. The team has held 10 of the last 13 opponents to less than 70 points (including seven 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 efforts in these final 13 games, the Wildcats finished Big 12 play in the Top 3 in seven defensive categories, including second in scoring defense (64.1), field goal percentage defense (42.8), rebounding defense (30.9), blocked shots (4.4) and turnover margin (+1.6) and third in rebounding (34.9) and rebounding margin (+4.0).
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 3,059 points off of 2,749 turnovers in 168 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, 523-439. It marks the sixth straight season that the Wildcats have scored 500 or more points off opponent turnovers. 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 opponents averaged 16.0 turnovers in Big 12 play. For season, K-State is averaging 17.4 points off these mistakes, including 17.2 points in league play. The Wildcats have scored 18+ points off of turnovers in 10 Big 12 games, including seven games of 20+ points (21 vs. Missouri, 26 vs. Baylor, 20 vs. Oklahoma, 21 vs. Texas, 27 and 21 vs. Texas Tech, 24 vs. Oklahoma State). The 27 points scored vs. Texas Tech 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 last 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 31.1 points in the paint and 14.9 points off of second-chance opportunities. The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-best 37.6 rebounds per game, including 14.3 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponents 22 times, including 19 times in the last 24 games. K-State has tallied 400 or more offensive rebounds in each of the last six seasons, including 429 this season, which ranks eighth in school history. Five of the Top 10 offensive rebounding totals have come under Frank Martin, including each of the Top 4. 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).
K-State has taken advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line this season with nearly 25 percent of their points (482) coming from the line. The Wildcats are tied for 19th nationally in free throw attempts per game (24.2), trailing among others national leader New Mexico State (30.3), while they are 44th in the country in free throws made per game (16.1). K-State is second in the Big 12 with less than one attempt per game less than Texas (24.8), while it is second to the Longhorns (18.2) by two in makes per game. Opponents are averaging 22.4 personal fouls per game, while they have 58 fewer free throws attempted and 24 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 110 free throw attempts in the last seven games (15.7 per game), including season-lows for both makes (2) and attempts (6) at Baylor on Feb. 18.
K-State is 84-12 (.875) under Frank Martin, including 17-2 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 20.6 points this season, including 17.3 points in Big 12 play. Six times during league play the squad collected 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.
POINTS IN THE PAINT/SECOND CHANCE
Kansas State has posted at least 30 points in the paint in 21 of 30 games, including a combined 90 in overtime games with West Virginia (44) and North Florida (46), and have outscored their foes, 932-732, 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 224-170 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.
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 the win over Texas A&M on Feb. 28. 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 116 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. Saturday's victory over Oklahoma State gave Martin his 50th conference win, helping him become 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.
With depth a significant strength for K-State in 2011-12, head coach Frank Martin has used eight different starting line-ups this season. The Wildcats are one of only three Big 12 schools (Baylor and Texas Tech) to have nine 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 30 games and the only ones averaging 30+ minutes. Senior Jamar Samuels is third in starts with 27, freshman Thomas Gipson is next with 21 (third-most among Big 12 freshmen), junior Martavious Irving and freshman Angel Rodriguez have 14 starts each, junior Jordan Henriquez has 11 and sophomore Shane Southwell has two. Six 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 14 games (since Texas game on Jan. 18), while Henriquez has earned starts in five of the last six games.
SPARK FROM NEW STARTERS
Since jumping into the starter's role, freshman Angel Rodriguez is averaging 9.3 points, team-leading 4.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 24.2 minutes per game. In this 14-game stretch, he ranks first on the team in assists (60) and steals (26) and is third 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 a season-high 39 minutes to go with seven points, six assists and two steals in 20 minutes against the Tigers. In the last 14 games, he has led the team in assists 11 times and steals nine 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 starts in five of the last six games, averaging 9.3 points on a team-best 59.0 percent shooting with 6.7 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in 26.0 minutes. He had a career day against Iowa State on Feb. 25 with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks (the most-ever by a Wildcat in a conference game) in 34 minutes. Although he didnt start vs. Oklahoma State on Saturday (senior Victor Ojeleye started in his place for Senior Day), he came off the bench to post 16 points on 7-of-8 field goals with eight rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes. He has 24 blocked shots in the last six games (and 27 blocks in the last eight), including the game-winner in the victory over No. 9/10 Baylor on Feb. 18.
MCGRUDER, SAMUELS NAMED TO ALL-BIG 12 TEAMS
Junior Rodney McGruder was selected to the All-Big 12 second team and senior Jamar Samuels was chosen to the honorable mention squad, as the league office announced its annual postseason awards on Sunday. McGruder earned recognition to the All-Big 12 second team after being a third team selection a season ago. The team leader in eight categories, he is the seventh Wildcat in the Big 12 era to earn all-league honors at least twice in a career. It also marks the ninth consecutive season that at least one K-State player has been named to the Big 12's first, second or third team. The team leader in rebounding (6.8 rpg.) and double-doubles (eight), Samuels collects all-conference honors for the first time in his career with honorable mention accolades. Head coach Frank Martin has now seen six players earn All-Big 12 honors on 10 occasions. In addition to the all-conference honors, McGruder and fellow junior Jordan Henriquez were named to the five-member Big 12 All-Defensive Team. It marks the first time that two K-State players have been selected to the all-defensive team in the same season and the third straight season that at least one Wildcat has been named to the squad, following Pullen in both 2010 and 2011.
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 (8), rebounding (6.8 rpg.) free throws (92) and free throws attempted (135), while ranking second in scoring (10.3 ppg.) and minutes played (26.4). Despite missing the exhibition and the first two games due to violations of team rules, he has collected double-figure scoring games in 17 contests (including a stretch of seven consecutive such games from Dec. 11 to Jan. 4) and to go with a team-high eight double-doubles. Twice he has posted back-to-back double-doubles and both times it has earned him Phillips 66 Big 12 of the Week honors (Dec. 5 and March 4). He did it for the first time in wins over George Washington and Virginia Tech on Dec. 1 and 4 before doing it again last week in wins over Texas A&M and Oklahoma State to cap his Big 12 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 four double-doubles (vs. No. 4/5 Kansas, No. 3/3 Missouri, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State) in the last six games (averaging 13.0 points and 9.3 rebounds) and has connected on 9-of-19 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 also 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 and team-best 11 rebounds. In perhaps his final game at Bramlage Coliseum, he came away with a 17-point, 12-rebound performance vs. Oklahoma State. 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.
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 1,248 points ranks 12th in school history, just 56 points from the all-time Top 10. He also ranks in the Top 5 in school history in both free throws (383) and free throws attempted (636), while he is the Top 10 in three other career categories, including rebounds (708; 5th), steals (106, 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 three players in school history to tally at least 1,200 points and 700 rebounds in a career, joining of Boozer (1956-59) and Ed Nealy (1978-82). Saturday's win over OSU gave Samuels and fellow senior Victor Ojeleye 95 for their careers, tying Luis Colon (2006-10), Chris Merriewether (2006-10) and Jacob Pullen (2007-11) for most in school history.
Samuels has also demonstrated his longevity at K-State, ranking in the Top 10 in both games played (131, 2nd) and minutes played (3,080; 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 became 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 eight straight, including his ninth 20-point game of the season (13th in career) with a game-high 24 vs. Oklahoma State on Saturday. This effort came on the heels of a 26-point outing at Texas A&M on Feb. 28, in which, he scored a season-best 19 in the first half. In this eight-game stretch, he is averaging 16.9 points on 47.9 percent shooting, including 56.3 percent from 3-point range, while connecting on 89.3 percent from the free throw line. During the three-game stretch vs. Top 10 foes (No. 4/5 Kansas, No. 9/10 Baylor and No. 3/3 Missouri) from Feb. 13-21, he averaged a team-best 17 points on 45 percent shooting, including 50 percent from 3-point range, while hitting on 10-of-12 free throws. The team leader with 25 double-figure scoring games, he has 10+points in 20 of the last 22 games, including 19 of the last 20.
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. 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 (15.5 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 eighth in field goal percentage (45.9), ninth in minutes (32.5) and free throw percentage (80.4), 10th in 3-point field goal percentage (37.9) and 11th in offensive rebounds (2.3) and 14th in 3-point field goals made (1.6). He finished among the Top 15 in seven Big 12-only categories, including sixth in scoring (17.4 ppg.) and free throw percentage (87.1), seventh in field goal percentage (46.0) and minutes (34.4), ninth in offensive rebounds (2.4), 11th in 3-pointers (1.8) and 12th in rebounding (5.5). Overall, he paces the team in six categories, including scoring, double-figure scoring games (25), field goals (167), 3-point field goals (48) and minutes. He is closing in on 1,000 career points with 970 (25th all-time in scoring at K-State). 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 135 career 3-pointers.
Kansas State has taken advantage of its size in the paint to post 51 more blocked shots (144-93) than its opponents this season, averaging 4.8 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 67 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 (136) 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 24 blocks in the last six games, including a swat of the game-winning shot in the win over No. 9/10 Baylor. His 67 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 9.3 points on 59 percent shooting (23-of-39) with 6.7 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in 26 minutes per game in the last six 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 had four points, four rebounds and six blocks in 26 minutes. He continued with a 9-point, 7-rebound, 3-block effort 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 posted 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocks off the bench vs. Oklahoma State.
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 30 games, he ranks among the Top 3 in several categories, including second in 3-point field goals (45) and assists (84) and third in scoring (9.7 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 (178 of 290), 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.
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 521 points (over 25 percent of team's total) on 44.8 percent shooting (184-of-411) to go with 268 rebounds (24 percent), 128 assists (30 percent) and 44 steals (24 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 30 games. Rodriguez, who has played in 29 games, paces the team in both assists (94) and steals (38), 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 14 straight starts in Big 12 play. During this stretch, he is averaging 9.3 points, a team-best 4.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 24.2 minutes per game. He is first in assists (60) and steals (26) in this span, while he is third in scoring and field goals (43). He is also one of just four players to average 20 or more minutes per game in these 14 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 13 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 13-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 17-3 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 14 games in which he has started and it has become a significant one, as the Wildcats are 9-2 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 eight games -- Texas (2.0), Iowa State (5.0 & 8.0), Texas A&M (1.3 twice), Baylor (1.5), Missouri (3.0) and Oklahoma State (1.3) -- and an even ratio twice -- Oklahoma State and Texas Tech (twice). In nine wins, he has a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio (37 assists to 26 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 27 games, averaging 1.1 points on 43.8 percent shooting with 1.5 rebounds in 7.0 minutes per game. He has a season-best eight points at Texas Tech, while he grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds at Iowa State. A double major in accounting and finance, he has been a leader on and off the court during his playing career. He was recently elected by his peers to serve as Vice-Chair of the Big 12's Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) during the 2011-12 athletics season. He also earned the inaugural Dr. Gerald Lage Award from the Big 12 in 2010-11, which is given to student-athletes who have earned 100 or more hours of credit with a cumulative 3.8 GPA. He has been named to the Fall and Spring Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Rolls each of the past three years.
UP NEXT: SEMIFINALS
The winner of Thursday's first quarterfinal between K-State and Baylor will play the winner of the second game between top-seed Kansas (26-5, 16-2 Big 12) and whomever wins the first-round game between No. 8 Oklahoma (15-15, 5-13 Big 12) and No. 9 Texas A&M (13-17, 4-14 Big 12) at 6:30 p.m. CST on Friday on the Big 12 Network.