K-State Heads to Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship
K-State Heads to Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship
March 7, 2011
19/23 Kansas State (22-9, 10-6 Big 12)
at Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship
Date: Thursday, March 10, 2011
Tipoff: 2:07 p.m. CT or 30 minutes after conclusion of first quarterfinal game
Location: Kansas City, Mo. | Arena: Sprint Center (18,758) | Live Stats: www.Big12Sports.com
Opponent: Will play the winner of first round game between 5-seed Colorado (19-12, 8-8 Big 12) and 12-seed Iowa State (16-15, 3-13 Big 12)
Television: Big 12 Network/ESPN Full Court (Dave Armstrong, play-by-play; Reid Gettys, analyst; Holly Rowe, sidelines; Aaron Stojkov, producer)
Channel Directory: KMCI (Kansas City), KSNT (Topeka), KSAS (Wichita) | Internet: www.ESPN3.com
Radio: K-State Sports Network (Wyatt Thompson, play-by-play; Stan Weber, analyst)
Head Coaches: Kansas State - Frank Martin (Florida International ‘93) is 94-41 (.696) in his fourth season as a head coach and at the school. Colorado - Tad Boyle (Kansas ‘85) is 75-78 (.490) in his fifth season as a head coach and 19-12 (.613) in his first season at the school. Iowa State - Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State ‘95) is 16-15 (.516) in his first season as a head coach and at his alma mater.
Big Eight/12 Championship History: 29-32 (9-14 in Big 12 era) | In Kansas City: 28-27 (8-9 in Big 12 era) | In Sprint Center: 2-2 | As a No. 4 seed: 6-7 (1-2 in Big 12 era) | vs. No. 5 seed: 5-4 (1-3 in Big 12 era) | vs. No. 12 seed: 0-0 (0-0 in Big 12 era) | vs. Colorado: 96-46 (10-3 at neutral; 2-1 at Championship | vs. Iowa State: 135-77 (7-9 at neutral; 2-1 at Championship)
Last Time at Championship: No. 2 seed K-State lost No. 1 seed Kansas, 72-64, in the championship game on March 13, 2010 at the Sprint Center.
Last Time Out: K-State posted a 67-55 win over Iowa State on Saturday, while Colorado knocked off Nebraska, 67-57, at home, also on Saturday.
Rankings: K-State is No. 19 in the AP and No. 23 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Top 25 polls. Colorado and Iowa State are not ranked.
Tickets: Sold out.
K-State travels to Kansas City for 15th Big 12 Championship
Kansas State (22-9, 10-6 Big 12) will look to continue its recent momentum this week, as the Wildcats converge on Kansas City, Mo., and the Sprint Center for the 15th annual Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The squad, which has a No. 4 seed at the championship for the second time in three years, will play the winner of Wednesday’s first-round match-up between No. 5 seed Colorado (19-12) and No. 12 seed Iowa State (16-15) on Thursday at 2 p.m. CT. The Wildcats are 6-7 all-time as the tournament’s No. 4 seed, while they are 5-4 against No. 5 seeds and 0-0 against No. 12 seeds. The team lost both regular season meetings with Colorado, dropping a 74-66 decision at home on Jan. 12 followed by a 58-56 setback on the road on Feb. 12, while they swept both meetings with Iowa State, winning 86-85 on a last-second Jacob Pullen lay-up in Ames on Feb. 5 before a 67-55 victory on Senior Day just a few days ago in Manhattan. This would be the first meeting with Colorado in a conference tournament since 2003, while it would be the first with Iowa State since 2004. The Wildcats are 2-1 all-time against both teams in Big Eight/12 Championship play, but has lost each of their last meetings (both in the first round). The Buffaloes earned a 77-76 win in a 6-11 match-up on March 13, 2003, while the Cyclones tallied a 78-64 victory in an 8-9 contest in March 11, 2004. K-State made a memorable run to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship game a year ago, earning a spot in the finals for the first time since 1993. The team knocked off No. 7 seed Oklahoma State, 83-64, in the quarterfinals and No. 3 seed Baylor, 82-75, in the semifinals before losing to top-seeded Kansas, 72-64.
Thursday’s contest will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Network with Dave Armstrong (play-by-play) and Reid Gettys (analyst) on the call. Locally, the game will be available on KMCI-TV in Kansas City, KSAS-TV in Wichita and KSNT-TV in the Topeka and Manhattan areas. It will also be available nationally on ESPN Full Court as well as on the internet at ESPN3.com. Fans can listen to the “Voice of the Wildcats” Wyatt Thompson and analyst Stan Weber throughout the 33-station K-State Sports Network as well as free of charge online at www.k-statesports.com.
K-State enters the Big 12 Championship as perhaps the league’s hottest team with a conference-best six-game winning streak, which includes victories over three ranked teams - No. 1/1 Kansas (84-68), No. 20/21 Missouri (80-70) and No. 7/8 Texas (75-70). In earning a bye for the fifth consecutive season to the championship (only Kansas can make the same claim), the Wildcats made a remarkable recovery from a slow start. Since opening Big 12 play with a 1-4 record, the team has posted wins in nine of their last 11 games, including eight of nine, with six victories in a row at Bramlage Coliseum. A change in offensive philosophy to the “pinch-post” offense, which has helped the team win 10 of their last 14 games, along with a stellar defensive effort (allowing just 63.7 points on 38.8 percent shooting in the last six games) has enabled K-State to post 20 wins for the fifth consecutive season. It is the longest stretch of 20-win seasons in school history. The squad has also now won 10 or more conference games four times in the last five seasons, while finishing third or higher in the league standings three times in that span. The 94 wins under head coach Frank Martin are the most-ever by a Wildcat mentor in his first four seasons and the most-ever in a four-year span by the school. His 40 conference wins in the last four years are the most by the school since Jack Hartman had 43 from 1973-77. The squad is expected to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season and the third time in four seasons under Martin. The team has not made consecutive trips to the “Big Dance” since the going four straight seasons from 1986-90.
The Wildcats returned to both major Top 25 polls on Monday, ranking No. 19 in The Associated Press Top 25 and No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 polls. It marked the first time since the Jan. 17 that the team was in the AP poll and the first time since Jan. 24 in the Coaches poll. The squad started the season at a school-record No. 3 in both polls in the preseason and was ranked for 11 consecutive weeks. It is the highest AP ranking since being No. 17 on Jan. 3, while it was the highest in the Coaches poll since being No. 20 on Jan. 10.
The squad capped the regular season with a 67-55 win over Iowa State on Senior Day before its school-record 15th sold-out crowd at Bramlage Coliseum this season. The team was able enact a little revenge on the Cyclones, which spoiled Senior Day activities just a season ago in an 85-82 overtime win at home. It marked the 10th win in the last 11 meetings in the series, including the 17th in 23 games at Bramlage Coliseum. With the victory, the squad tied the Bramlage Coliseum record with its 16th home win (tying the 2008-09 team), while they posted the highest winning percentage (.941; 16-1) in Bramlage Coliseum history and the highest since going undefeated (12-0) in Ahearn Field House in 1972-73. The team has now won 10 or more home games each of the last 10 seasons, including 62 of 72 under head coach Frank Martin. The team connected on 46.8 percent from the field, including 41.2 percent from 3-point range, while holding a Cyclone team that just days before scored 95 points in a home win over Colorado to just their fourth sub-60 point game this season on 37.4 percent shooting, including 17.4 percent from 3-point range. Seniors Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly led the way in their final home games with 17 and 13 points, respectively, while reserves Will Spradling and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts made key contributions from the bench. Spradling tallied 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in 29 minutes, while Henriquez-Roberts added five points, seven rebounds, five blocks and three steals in 27 minutes.
K-State, which has posted the same starting line-up for the last 14 games, is led by unanimous first team All-Big 12 selection Jacob Pullen. The first player in school history to earn first team All-Big 12 honors in consecutive seasons, has been one of the most clutch players in the country of late, scoring 20 or more points in five of the last six games (25.5 ppg. in that span) on better than 46 percent shooting from the field. He has 12 20-point games in the last 17 contests, which includes his historic 38-point effort against Kansas on Feb. 14 (the most points by individual in a win against a No. 1 team since 1968). He has now scored in double figures 102 times in his career, eclipsing the school record he shared with Rolando Blackman (100, 1977-81), while he has 40 career 20-point games. In addition to his all-conference honors, he was named a third team All-American by Yahoo! Sports and a fourth team pick by FOXSports.com as well as to the coaches’ All-Defensive Team for the second consecutive season. He is second in the Big 12 in scoring with 19.6 points per game, while he is first in league-only games at 21.4 points per game. Pullen became the second Wildcat and just the sixth player in the Big 12 era to eclipse 2,000 career points with his quick 7-0 run to start the Missouri game on Feb. 26. He ranks 12th nationally in career scoring with 2,054 points in a school-record 132 games played. He has paced the squad in scoring 23 times in 27 games played, including 13 of the last 16 contests. He ranks in the Top 10 in 17 career categories at K-State, including school records for double-digit scoring games, 3-point field goals, steals and games played. His backcourt mate, sophomore Rodney McGruder, was also named to the coaches’ all-conference squad as a member of the third team. The only player to start all 31 games, he led in rebounding (6.2 rpg.) and was second in scoring (11.4 ppg.), double-figure scoring (21) and minutes (30.5 mpg.).
Big Eight/12 Conference Championship History
Kansas State is 29-32 all-time at the Big Eight/12 Championship, including 9-14 in the Big 12 era. The Wildcats have earned a No. 4 seed at this year’s Championships, which marks the third time in the last five seasons the team has earned at the seed. It is the first No. 4 seed for the team since losing to No. 5 seed Texas, 61-58, at the 2009 Big 12 Tournament held at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Okla. This is the eighth time that the squad has been a No. 4 seed at the tournament, following 1978, 1979, 1987, 1990, 1996, 2007 and 2009. The team is 6-7 as a No. 4 seed, including 1-2 at the Big 12 Championship. The Wildcats’ best showing as a No. 4 seed came in 1978 when they advanced to the finals, losing to No. 7 seed Missouri, 71-68. K-State and Kansas are the only two schools to earn a top-4 seed and a bye to the quarterfinals in the past five seasons. The Wildcats are 4-5 at the Championship in that span with two of those four wins coming a season ago when the squad advanced to the Big 12 Championship game for the first time in school history and the first time overall since 1993. The Wildcats are 28-27 in Big Eight/12 Championship games held in Kansas City dating back to 1977, including 2-2 in the Sprint Center. The team is familiar with the Sprint Center, having played 10 games since it opened in 2007, including three this season. They split with Gonzaga (81-64) and No. 1/1 Duke (68-82) at the CBE Classic on Nov. 22-23 before dropping a 63-59 decision to UNLV on Dec. 21.
Despite their affiliation since the Big Eight days, the Wildcats have a limited track record against both Colorado and Iowa State at the conference tournament. The squad has faced both teams just three times each, holding a 2-1 edge in those meetings The team has never faced either squad in the quarterfinals of the tournament with five of the six meetings coming in the first round. K-State defeated Colorado, 64-61, in the 1981 Big Eight second round and 75-61 in the 1998 Big 12 first round before losing 77-76 in the 2003 Big 12 first round. The Wildcats beat the Cyclones, 97-62 and 75-61 in the 1977 and 1980 Big Eight first round games before losing 78-64 in a 2004 Big 12 first round match-up. Overall, the squad owns the edge in the all-time series against both schools, leading Colorado, 96-46, and Iowa State, 135-77.
The Book on Colorado
Colorado is averaging 79.3 points on 46.8 percent shooting, including 37.4 percent from 3-point range, with 35.8 rebounds, 13.4 assists, 6.9 steals and 3.0 blocks per game. A dangerous threat to score at nearly every position, the Buffaloes have four players averaging in double figures led by unanimous All-Big 12 first team selection Alec Burks (19.5 ppg.) and third team selection Cory Higgins (15.7 ppg.).
The Book on Iowa State
Iowa State is averaging 74.8 points on 43.9 percent shooting, including 37 percent from 3-point range, with 36.6 rebounds, 15.1 assists, 6.7 steals and 3.7 blocks per game. Another highly explosive team at nearly every position, the Cyclones have five players averaging in double figures led by All-Big 12 second team selection Diante Garrett (17.2 ppg.) and honorable mention selection Scott Christopherson (13.9 ppg.).
Head coach Frank Martin made an adjustment to his offensive scheme right after the 74-66 home loss to Colorado on Jan. 12 and it has paid off in the last 14 games, where the Wildcats have posted 10 wins, including eight in the last nine contests. Called the “pinch-post” offense, and made famous by legendary K-State and Hall of Fame coach Tex Winter with the Los Angeles Lakers, the scheme is designed to spread the floor and create spacing along with simultaneous ball and player movement. The squad has averaged 71.4 points on 44 percent shooting, including 39.1 percent shooting from 3-point range, since its installation against Texas Tech, while they have averaged 74 points on 47.9 percent shooting during the current six-game winning streak. Five players are averaging seven or more points in the new system, while eight players are shooting at a clip of 40 percent or better. Senior Jacob Pullen is averaging 21.4 points on 41.7 percent shooting, including 43 percent from beyond the arc. He has nine 20-point games in that span, including a career-best 38-point effort in the win over No. 1 Kansas on Feb. 14. The offensive change has enabled the Wildcats to eclipse the 2,000-point barrier for the fifth consecutive season, which is the longest stretch of 2,000-point seasons since the program had nine from 1985-86 to 1993-94. The team also has five straight seasons of at least 200 3-pointers.
Part of K-State’s success during its current six-game winning streak has been due to its strong defensive play, as the Wildcats held their foes to 63.7 points on 38.8 percent shooting, including 30.2 percent from 3-point range, while posting a +4.5 rebounding edge. These opponents have averaged just 10.8 assists to 13.8 turnovers with K-State posting an average of 17.5 points off these miscues. During this stretch, the team has held four of the Big 12’s Top 5 scoring offenses, into season-low efforts, including the league’s best offense - Kansas - to 68 points (nearly 16 points under their 83.9-point season average) on 44 percent shooting, including 20 percent from 3-point range, to go with 23 rebounds (16 under average), 11 assists (nine under average) and 18 turnovers (five over average). In addition, the squad has held Missouri to nearly 14 points under their average (70 to 83.3 ppg.) on 40.7 percent shooting, Texas to nearly six points under their average (70 to 75.9 ppg.) on 33.8 percent shooting and Iowa State to 20 points under their average (55 to 75.5 ppg.) on 37.1 percent shooting. If you include the last seven games, the Wildcats have held each of the Top 5 scoring offenses (which combine for a nearly 80 points per game average) to 62.9 points per game on 39.4 percent shooting, including 29.3 percent from 3-point range. Four times in the last nine games, including 11 times overall, the team has held their opponents to 60 points or less. Overall, the Wildcats have held 37 foes to 60 points or less under Frank Martin.
Overall, K-State has been solid defensively all season, holding foes to 65.3 points per game on 41.5 percent shooting, including 34.1 percent from 3-point range, while forcing them into 15.8 turnovers per game. The squad has held 20 opponents to 65 points or less and have limited 13 foes to under 40 percent shooting. The Wildcats have also been stellar on the boards, averaging 38.3 rebounds per game, including a Big 12-best 14.6 offensive rebounds, while holding their opponents to 31.1 rebounds per game for an impressive +7.2 rebounding margin (which ranks 12th nationally). The squad has paced in the league in offensive rebounds in each of Martin’s three seasons. This rebounding edge has helped them post 430 second-chance points (13.9 per game) compared to just 321 (10.4 per game) for its opponents. They have out-scored their foes in this regard in all but nine games. The team has scored 20 or more second-chance points in seven games, including a season-high 25 against both UMKC on Dec. 23 and Texas Tech on Jan. 15. This statistic has been particularly stark in Kansas State’s 22 wins, where the team has averaged 14.5 second-chance points compared to just an average of 12.1 second-chance points in the nine losses.
K-State capped its stellar play in the month of February by posting an impressive 75-70 win over No. 7/8 Texas on Monday night at the Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. It was the first win over a Top 10 opponent on the road in 17 years since knocking off No. 1 Kansas, 68-64, at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 17, 1994, while it marked the first time since 1958 that the squad posted consecutive wins over Top 25 teams. The team started its impressive two-game streak with an 80-70 victory over No. 20/21 Missouri at Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 26. Including the win over No. 1/1 Kansas on Feb. 14, the Wildcats have three wins over Top 25 teams in a five-game span for the first time in school history. The squad has now won 15 of their last 16 games in February, which included a 10-game streak between the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. The team is 23-8 (.742) under head coach Frank Martin in the month, including a 14-2 (.875) mark at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats will enter the 2011-12 season with a nine-game winning streak at home in February. The victory was also the 15th over a Top 25 opponent under Martin, including the fifth this season.
Digging the Long Ball
One of the more lethal components of the Wildcats’ offense under Frank Martin has been the ability to convert from long range. The team has posted 200 or more treys in each of the last four seasons under Martin, including a school-record 253 makes in 2009-10. This year’s squad has continued that trend, ranking second in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (37.8) and fourth in 3-point field goals per game (7.1), while trailing Iowa State (268), Missouri (229) and Kansas (228) in total 3-pointers (219). The current totals of 219 3-pointers and 37.8 percent shooting already rank fifth in school history, while the 579 attempts are sixth. Three of the Top 5 single-season marks were set by Martin-coached teams, including last season’s school record. The Wildcats have tallied double-digit treys in seven games, including a season-best 14 (on 51.9 percent shooting) against Iowa State on Feb. 5. The 14 makes ties four other teams for the third-most in a game in school history, while they are most since the squad also tallied 14 against UNLV on Dec. 12, 2009. Seven different players posted at least one 3-pointer against the Cyclones, including a season-high four by freshman Will Spradling.
Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been particularly solid from beyond the arc, ranking fifth in the Big 12 in 3-point percentage (41.5) and eighth in 3-point field goals per game (2.1). He has posted at least one trey in 25 of 31 games, including two or more on 20 occasions. He has been impressive in the last 18 games, where he has connected on 45.3 percent (43-of-95) from 3-point range, including a 7-of-10 effort against UMKC on Dec. 23. The seven makes tied for the fourth-most in school history, while he was the first to accomplish it since teammate Jacob Pullen did it twice last year. His exploits are all the more impressive considering he shares the backcourt with Pullen, the school’s leader in both 3-pointers (289) and attempts (804). Pullen, who is sixth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goals per game (2.3), is second on the team with 64 treys, including at least two in 18 games and a season-high five in the win over Kansas on Feb. 14. However, this statistic goes beyond the pair, as 10 others have at least one trey, including double-digit totals from Spradling (35), Martavious Irving (17) and Nick Russell (13).
Practice Makes Perfect
One of the main concerns with this K-State team has been its ability to shoot free throws, where it 295th nationally (out of 346 teams) and 11th in the Big 12 at 64.4 percent (491-of-762). However, the extra practice since the end of the fall semester has seemed to improve that percentage, as the Wildcats have connected on 72.8 percent (316-of-434) in the last 18 games, including 72.9 percent (275-of-377) in Big 12-only games. During this span, the team has hit on more than 75 percent eight times, including games against Oklahoma (90.5; 19-of-21), Nebraska (84.0; 21-of-25), Kansas (82.8; 24-of-29), Texas Tech (81.3; 13-of-16), Baylor (80.6; 25-of-31), Oklahoma State (77.4, 24-of-31) and North Florida (76.9, 20-of-26). The 90.5 percent shooting against the Sooners was the highest under Frank Martin and the highest since the team went a perfect 8-of-8 against Texas Tech on Feb. 15, 2006. Junior Jamar Samuels, who ranks sixth in school history in free throws attempted (500), hit on 73.3 percent (44-of-60) in Big 12 play after starting at 58.8 percent (37-of-63). Senior Jacob Pullen, who ranks second in school history in makes (509) and attempts (661), connected on close to 80 percent (105-of-132) in Big 12 play after hitting on 72 percent in non-conference play.
Young ‘Cats Step Up
Despite of the presence of seniors Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly, the play of K-State’s freshmen and sophomores have played a major role in the team’s success this season. This nucleus has scored 1088 of the team’s 2264 points thus far (48 percent), while posting 601 of 1186 rebounds (51 percent), 240 of 437 assists (55 percent) and 94 of 194 steals (48 percent). The group boasts six of the Top 10 scorers, while it includes three of the Top 5 rebounders and four of the Top 5 assists leaders. Forty-three of the team’s 96 double-figure scoring efforts have come from sophomores and freshmen led by Rodney McGruder, who is second with 21 double-figure scoring games. He paces in 3-point field goals (66) and rebounding (6.2 rpg.), while he is second in scoring (11.4 ppg.), field goals (124) and minutes played (30.5 mpg.). Freshman Will Spradling and sophomores Martavious Irving and Nick Russell rank fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in scoring at 6.3, 4.4 and 4.4 points per game. Spradling is second in free throw percentage (83.1), assists (2.0 apg.) and steals (0.8 spg.), while he and fellow freshman Shane Southwell are only the second and third rookie guards to earn a start under Frank Martin.
This group was even more impressive during Pullen’s three-game suspension (UNLV, UMKC and North Florida games), as the Wildcats averaged nearly 80 points per game (79.7 ppg.), including the only 100-point game, while connecting on 46 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range.
One of the definite advantage of this year’s Kansas State squad is its depth and versatility. The Wildcats have played at least nine players in each of its 31 games, including a high of 14 against No. 18/22 Gonzaga (11/22), Texas Southern (11/26), Emporia State (11/29) and Alcorn State (12/6). The team has used this depth to its advantage, averaging 22.9 points per game off the bench, while out-scoring its foes by a margin of 709-500. The squad has scored 20 or more points from the bench in 20 of 31 games, including three contests with 40 or more points of bench production. The Wildcats received a season-best 46 points from their bench vs. Duke on Nov. 23, while they posted 44 against Iowa State on Feb. 5 and 41 against Texas Southern on Nov. 26. The 46 points versus the Blue Devils was the most from the bench since scoring 59 against Chicago State on Jan. 5, 2009, while the 44 against the Cyclones was the most in a Big 12 game under Frank Martin. The team has seen a Big 12-high 12 players record 96 double-digit scoring efforts, including 24 coming off the bench from seven separate players.
Points Off Turnovers
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent’s mistakes. Since he became coach, the Wildcats have scored 2,507 points off of 2,229 turnovers in 135 games, an average of 18.6 points per game. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past four years have come off of offense generated from turnovers, including the current season, in which, the team has outscored its foes, 531-467. The squad has scored 20 or more points off of turnovers in nine games, including four times in the last nine games where they are averaging 16.6 points off of miscues. The team has pressured their foes into 15 or more turnovers in 19 games, including a season-high 26 vs. James Madison on Nov. 12, while just six opponents have posted a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. Before the North Florida game on New Year’s Eve, the Wildcats were one of just four schools to force each of their foes into more turnovers than assists in every game.
Pullen Becoming An All-Time Great
Senior Jacob Pullen continues to re-write the school and Big 12 record books in his finale season. With his game-high 24-point effort against No. 20/21 Missouri on Feb. 26, he became just the second Wildcat and the sixth player in the Big 12 era to eclipse the 2,000-point plateau. He ranks 12th among NCAA Division I active players in career scoring (including second in the Big 12 to Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn) with 2,054 points in a school-record 132 games, which is less than 65 points behind the school’s all-time leader Mike Evans (2,115 points, 1974-78). He joined Evans in the exclusive 2,000-point club at K-State, while he is among a class that includes Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn (2,274, 2007-present), Texas Tech’s Andre Emmett (2,256, 2001-04), Jarrius Jackson (2,221, 2003-07), Kansas’ Nick Collison (2,097, 1999-2003) and Colorado’s Richard Roby (2,001, 2004-08) as the only players to accomplish the feat in the Big 12 era. Pullen ranks among the Top 10 in six career categories in Big 12 history, including second in free throws made (509), fifth in scoring, 3-point field goals attempted (804) and free throws attempted (661), seventh in 3-point field goals (289) and field goals attempted (1,546).
Pullen also places among the Top 5 in 17 career categories at K-State, including the school records for games played (132), double-digit scoring games (102), 3-point field goals, 3-point field goals attempted and steals (207). With his five steals against Oklahoma on Feb. 23, he became the first Wildcat with at least 1,800 points, 400 assists, 300 rebounds and 200 steals, while in the process, snapping his tie with Steve Henson (127, 1987-90) for the most games played. He is nearing several other milestones, as he ranks second in 20-point games (40), field goals attempted, free throws made and attempted and minutes (3,871), while he is third in field goals (628) and fourth in starts (113). Only Bob Boozer (45, 1956-59) has more career 20-point games in school history, while he is one of just seven players in school history to post at least 500 points in consecutive seasons.
McGruder Takes Off
Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been one of the team’s most consistent all-around players this season, averaging 11.4 points on 45 percent shooting, including 41.5 percent from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 6.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 30.5 minutes per game. The only player to start all 31 games, he paces the team in 3-point field goals (66), while he is second in scoring, double-digit scoring games (21), field goals (124) and minutes. He had a career day against UMKC on Dec. 23, setting highs in five categories, including points (24), field goals (eight), field goals attempted (14), 3-point field goals (seven) and 3-point field goals attempted. His seven treys tied 10 others for the fourth-most in a single-game in school history, while he was the first to do it since Pullen also had seven against BYU in the NCAA Tournament. Despite the presence of the school’s all-time leader in Pullen, he has been the team’s best long range threat with at least two makes from 3-point range in 19 games, including eight times in Big 12 play. He posted his third 20-point game, including his second in four games, with a team-high 22 points in the win over No. 7/8 Texas on Feb. 28, while he had a Big 12-high five treys against Oklahoma on Feb. 23 with 20 points. He has also been the best rebounder, leading the team on 14 occasions with at least five boards in 23 contests, including a career-high 15 against Texas Tech on Jan. 15. His 15 rebounds against the Red Raiders were the most since Michael Beasley grabbed 17 against Missouri on Feb. 16, 2008.
Kelly Closing Strong
Although hampered by a six-game suspension right in the middle of the season, senior Curtis Kelly seems to closing his final campaign on a strong note. The team’s third-leading scorer (10.0 ppg.) and rebounder (5.1 rpg.), he has posted several strong performances of late, averaging 14.3 points on 65.5 percent shooting in the last three games with 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in 28.0 minutes per game. He came up big in helping the Wildcats to back-to-back wins over ranked teams last week for the first time since 1958, including the first over a Top 10 team on the road since 1994. He tallied 15 points on 7-of-9 field goals against No. 20/21 Missouri on Feb. 26 to go with six rebounds and two blocks, while he added 15 points against No. 7/8 Texas on 6-of-10 shooting with a team-best eight rebounds, five blocks and a steal. He was again strong against Iowa State on Senior Day on Saturday, collecting 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting with a team-high eight rebounds in 24 minutes. Kelly has scored in double figures in 12 games (seven in 14 Big 12 contests) this season, including a season-best 19 points against No. 1/1 Duke on Nov. 23.
Sophomore Jordan Henriquez-Roberts has made the most of the offensive switch in early January, becoming a force at both ends of the floor off of the bench for the Wildcats. Since the switch was made against Texas Tech on Jan. 15, he is averaging 4.4 points on 50 percent shooting with 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 16.6 minutes per game in the last 14 games compared to 3.2 points on 44.4 percent shooting with 3.9 boards in 11.4 minutes per game in the previous 17 games. Henriquez-Roberts has been particularly impressive during the current six-game winning streak, averaging 5.3 points on 60 percent shooting with a team-best 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 21.5 minutes per game. He had an all-around impressive day against Iowa State on March 5, posting five points, seven rebounds, five blocks and three steals in 27 minutes of play. He has at least two blocks in each of the last four games, where he is averaging 3.0 per game to go with 5.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per outing.
Coaching Staff Continuity
One of the main reasons that Kansas State has been able to win a school-record 94 games over the past four seasons has been its ability to not only keep head coach Frank Martin, who earned a new multi-year contract through the 2014-15 season during the off-season, but his entire staff, which includes associate head coach Dalonte Hill, assistant coaches Matt Figger and Brad Underwood, director of operations Andy Assaley and strength coach Scott Greenawalt. K-State is one of just two Big 12 schools (other being Missouri) to have kept their entire staff together for the last four seasons. This has enabled the Wildcats to post 94 wins the past four seasons, which is the most by a staff in their first four seasons and the most-ever by the school in that span. They are the first staff to post four consecutive 20-win seasons since 1979-82 and just the second group to guide K-State to the postseason in each of their first four seasons. The staff has also captured 40 Big 12 wins in last four years, which is one less than Jack Hartman’s staff had from 1974-78 for the most in a four-year period. They have also helped make K-State one of just two in the Big 12 to finish in the top-4 in the league standings and receive a bye at the Big 12 Championship each of the past four years.