K-State Plays Southern Miss in NCAA Tournament

Junior Rodney McGruder paces the Wildcats in eight categories, including scoring, double-digit scoring games and minutes.

March 13, 2012

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KANSAS STATE (21-10, 10-8 Big 12) vs. SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (25-8, 11-5 C-USA)
NCAA Tournament East Regional Second Round
Thursday, March 15, 2012 * 11:40 a.m. CDT * CONSOL Energy Center (19,069)

Television: TruTV
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play); Len Elmore/Reggie Miller (analysts); Marty Snider (sideline); Steve Scheer (producer)
National Radio: Westwood One
Scott Graham (play-by-play); Kevin Grevey (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 92/XM 191
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Live Stats:  www.k-statesports.com/multimedia
Live Audio: www.k-statesports.com/allaccess (free)
Twitter Updates: twitter.com/kstate_gameday
K-State at NCAA Championship: 32-29 (5-3 in 2nd round)
K-State vs. Southern Miss: 3-3 (W, 74-55, 12/11/2008)

Kansas State (21-10, 10-8 Big 12) earned its school-record sixth consecutive postseason appearance, including its third straight to the NCAA Tournament, as the No. 8 seed Wildcats will play No. 9 seed Southern Mississippi (25-8, 11-5 C-USA) in the second round of East Regional at the CONSOL Energy Center (19,069) in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Thursday, March 15.  The game will tip at 11:40 a.m. CDT and will be broadcast nationally on TruTV (as well as NCAA.com) with Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Len Elmore (analyst), Reggie Miller (analyst) and Marty Snider (sidelines) on the call.  The Wildcats enter the contest with wins in four of their last six games, which includes back-to-back victories over Top 10 foes Baylor and Missouri for the first time in school history.  The team recorded its school-record sixth consecutive 20-win season (and for the 25th time in school history) in 2011-12, including the fifth in a row under head coach Frank Martin.  K-State also claimed 10 conference wins and sole possession of fifth place in the final Big 12 standings, which marked the fifth time in the last six seasons that the squad has posted at least 10 conference wins (joining Kansas as the only ones to do so in each of the last three years).  The Wildcats joined Kansas as the only Big 12 schools to receive a bye to the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship each of the last six 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.  K-State has now advanced to the NCAA Tournament four times in the last five seasons, which is the best five-year stretch in school history and the best going to four straight tournaments from 1987-90.  The NCAA Tournament trip is the fourth under Martin, including third in a row -- a feat that has only been done twice before at K-State (1980-82; 1987-90).   
K-State is 32-29 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, including a 5-3 mark in second-round games.  In the school's previous 25 NCAA Tournament appearances, the Wildcats have advanced to the Sweet 16 a total of 16 times.  The program has also reached the Elite Eight 11 times, made four Final Four appearances (1948, 1951, 1958, 1964) and played in one National Championship game (1951).  The school will be making its fourth appearance in the East Regional with its previous trips coming in 1975, 1989 and 1996 and is 2-2 all-time in the region.  The Wildcats will be making its second appearance as a No. 8 seed and the first since making a run to the Elite Eight in 1981.  The school knocked off ninth-seed San Francisco, 64-60, and top-seeded Oregon State, 50-48, in the West Regional first and second rounds in Los Angeles, Calif., then defeated fourth-seed Illinois, 57-52, in the semifinals in Salt Lake City before falling to second-seed North Carolina, 82-68, in the finals.  Overall, the school is 3-1 as a No. 8 seed.  This will mark the first time that K-State has played in an NCAA Tournament game in Pittsburgh and just the second time in the state of Pennsylvania.  The Wildcats played Penn in the first round of the 1975 NCAA Tournament at the famed Palestra in Philadelphia.  Last season, the squad went 1-1 in the NCAA Southeast Regional at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz., knocking off No. 12 seed Utah State, 73-68, in the second round before losing to No. 4 seed Wisconsin, 70-65, in the third round.

K-State has advanced 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 has at least 20 wins for the sixth year in a row, boasts a NCAA RPI of 48 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 has 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 all, the squad played 14 games (6-8) against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament this season, which includes five teams from the Big 12 (No. 2 seed Kansas in Midwest, No. 2 seed Missouri in West), No. 3 seed Baylor in South, No. 8 seed Iowa State in South and No. 11 seed Texas in East) and Alabama (No. 9 seed in Midwest), West Virginia  (No. 10 seed in Midwest) and Long Beach State (No. 12 seed in West).  

Kansas State ran into a hot Baylor squad in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, as the No. 12/11 Bears shot an opponent high 56.9 percent from the field, including 62.5 percent in the second half, in winning the rubber match between the two schools by a score of 82-74 on March 8.  The squad split their two regular season meetings with Baylor winning 75-73 in Manhattan on Jan. 10 and the Wildcats winning 57-53 in Waco on Feb. 18.  Sophomore Perry Jones III erupted for a career-high 31 points on 11-of-14 field goals to go with a team-high 11 rebounds in 31 minutes, while four other players scored in double figures.  The team were knotted at 27-all with 6:43 left in the first half before sophomore Brady Heslip ignited an 8-0 run over a three-minute span, which helped Baylor take a 45-36 lead into the break.  The Wildcats cut the deficit to 53-48 with under 15 minutes to play before a 14-5 spurt gave the Bears a double-digit lead, which they maintained for most of the second half.  The loss overshadowed a tremendous day by junior Jordan Henriquez, who notched his second career double-double with career-highs in both points (22) and rebounds (14).  It was Henriquez's first 20-point game, which he posted on 9-of-13 field goals to go with four blocks in a career-best 36 minutes of action.  Fellow junior Rodney McGruder scored in double figures for the ninth consecutive game with 14 points, while freshman Angel Rodriguez and senior Jamar Samuels added 12 and 10 points, respectively.  K-State was solid offensively, connecting on 49.1 percent from the field and 78.9 percent from the free throw line.  However, the defense allowed an season-high 82 points (in regulation) on 56.9 percent shooting, while grabbing a season-low 26 rebounds (tying a season-low under head coach Frank Martin), including a season-low 14 defensive rebounds.

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.

No. 9 seed Southern Miss has a 25-8 overall record on the season, which includes a second-place finish in Conference USA with an 11-5 mark.  The team is led by eighth-year head coach and Conference USA Gene Bartow Coach of the Year Larry Eustachy, who earlier this year won his 400th game in 21 seasons as a head coach.  He previously served stints as head coach at Idaho (1990-93), Utah State (1993-98) and Big 12 rival Iowa State (1998-2003).  The Golden Eagles are a balanced scoring squad with six players averaging better than nine points per game, including leading scorer and Conference USA Newcomer of the Year Neil Watson (12.2 ppg., 4.5 apg.).  The sophomore is a native of Kansas City, Kan., is a friend and AAU teammate of K-State's Will Spradling.  The team is averging 71.6 points on 41.6 percent shooting, including 35.8 percent from 3-point range, to go with 36.7 rebounds, 11.1 assists, 6.0 steals and 3.0 blocks this season, while it is holding opponents to 64.9 points on 44.2 percent shooting, including 35.2 percent from 3-point range.  In additon to Watson, junior guard LaShay Page (11.5 ppg.) and senior guard  Darnell Dodson (11.1 ppg.) also average in double figures, while senior forward Jonathan Mills is tops in rebounds at 5.3 per game.  Dodson is a former AAU teammate of Kansas State's Rodney McGruder and Jamar Samuels.

Thursday's game will be the seventh meeting between K-State and Southern Miss dating back to Dec. 17, 1987 with the series tied at 3-all.  After losing a home-and-home series in 1987 and 1988, the Wildcats have won three of the last four meetings (two in a row), including a 74-55 win in K-State Holiday Classic in the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 11, 2008.  This will be just the second neutral site meeting (BMA Holiday Classic at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 28, 1991) and the first-ever in the NCAA Tournament.  K-State is 25-19 all-time vs. Conference USA, including 4-2 in the NCAA Tournament.  These match-ups include games against the current membership of Houston in 1956 (W, 89-70), 1961 (W, 75-64) and 1970 (W, 107-98), Texas-El Paso in 1964 (W, 64-60), Memphis in 1973 (L, 72-92) and Tulane in 1993 (L, 53-55).

The winner of the second-round game between K-State and Southern Miss will face the winner of the second game on Thursday between No. 2/2 Syracuse (31-2, 17-1 BIG EAST) and UNC Asheville (24-9, 16-2 Big South) on Saturday, March 17.  The Big East champion Orange rattled off 20 straight wins to start the season (before a loss at Notre Dame on Jan. 21) and won 30 of their 31 regular-season games.  They lost in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Tournament with a 71-68 setback to Cincinnati.  The balanced squad has seven players averaging six or more points, including double-digit scorers Kris Joseph (13.8 ppg.) and Dion Waiters (12.6 ppg.), while they have held opponents to just 60.4 points on 38.5 percent shooting, including just 30.6 percent from 3-point range.  Syracuse is led by longtime head coach Jim Boeheim, who ranks third all-time in coaching wins in NCAA Division I history, including the record for most at one school (887).  The Big South champion Bulldogs earned posted a school-record 24 wins and received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Big South Tournament title for the second straight season with an 80-64 win over VMI on March 3.  The squad is averging 81.2 points on 48.4 percent shooting and has five players averaging in double figures led by Matt Dickey.  UNC Asheville is coached by 19-year head coach Eddie Biedenbach.      

K-State has faced Syracuse twice in school history, including a 95-87 overtime loss in the 1975 East Regional Final in Providence, R.I.  The Wildcats did knock off the Orange in the other meeting -- an 88-68 win at home on Dec. 13, 1968.  The Wildcats have met UNC Asheville just once in school history, posting an 80-54 win at home on Nov. 26, 1996. 

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 NCAA Tournament, he becomes the first head 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.  The victory over Oklahoma State on March 3 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 Jack 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.
K-State is one of just 11 schools in the country, including four in the Big 12 (which ties the Big Ten for the most by one league), to have its football team in a bowl game (Cotton Bowl) and to advance its men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball teams (Sweet 16) to the NCAA Tournament in 2011-12.  It marks the second straight season that the football team has gone to a bowl game and the men's and women's basketball teams have advanced to the "Big Dance".  The school joins Baylor, California, Florida, Iowa State, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Texas.  The women's basketball team is also an eight-seed in the NCAA Tournament and will face nine-seed Princeton in the Kingston, R.I., Regional on Saturday. 

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 (96), Will Spradling (89) and Shane Southwell (64) and six players have double-figure steals (including five with 20+) led by Rodriguez's 41.  This balance has been even more evident in the last 14 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 98 double-digit scoring games with McGruder posting a team-leading 26 such games, while Samuels and Spradling are not far behind with 18 and 15 double-figure games, respectively.  The team is much better team when 3+ players register double-digit points with a 17-7 record, including a 7-4 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.
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 31 games and the only ones averaging 30+ minutes.  Senior Jamar Samuels is third in starts with 28, freshman Thomas Gipson is next with 21 (third-most among Big 12 freshmen), freshman Angel Rodriguez has 15 starts, junior Martavious Irving has 14, junior Jordan Henriquez has 12 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 15 games (since Texas game on Jan. 18), while Henriquez has earned starts in six of the last seven games. 
Since jumping into the starter's role, freshman Angel Rodriguez is averaging 9.5 points, team-leading 4.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 24.2 minutes per game.  In this 15-game stretch, he ranks first on the team in assists (62) and steals (29) and is third in scoring and field goals (46) 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 15 games, he has led the team in assists 11 times and steals 10 times.  He has posted double figures eight 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 has also scored in double figures vs. Oklahoma State (14), Texas A&M (13 twice), Oklahoma (10), Iowa State (11) and Baylor (12). 

Junior Jordan Henriquez has also provided a spark in starts in six of the last seven games, averaging 11.1 points on a team-best 61.5 percent shooting with 7.7 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in 27.4 minutes.  After a career-day against Iowa State on Feb. 25 which included his first career double-double (19 points and 12 rebounds) to go with seven blocks (the most-ever by a Wildcat in a conference game), he was even better against No. 12/11 Baylor in the Big 12 Championship.  He posted his first career 20-point game (22 points on 9-of-13 field goals) to go with a career-best 14 rebounds in 36 minutes.  Although he didnt start vs. Oklahoma State on March 3, 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 28 blocked shots in the last seven games, including the game-winner vs. No. 9/10 Baylor on Feb. 18. 

Despite a poor showing at the Big 12 Championship, K-State has been a solid defensive team this season, allowing opponents 63.7 points (lowest by an opponent in the shot clock era and lowest since 1983-84) on 40.8 percent shooting, including 31.8 percent from 3-point range, to go with a Big 12-best 37.3 rebounds, 6.2 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 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 1981-82.      
K-State ranks among the Top 40 nationally in three defensive categories, including 34th in blocked shots, 37th in rebounding margin and 41st in rebounding.  The team places in the Big 12's Top 3 in seven defensive categories, including first in rebounding (37.3) and offensive rebounds (14.2), second in field goal percentage defense (40.8) and turnover margin (+1.7), third in scoring defense (63.7), rebounding margin (+4.9) 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 (Oklahoma State) to have three players rank in the Big 12's Top 20 in rebounding (Jamar Samuels - 8th, Rodney McGruder - 15th, Jordan Henriquez - 16th) and the only one with three players (Samuels - 2nd, McGruder - 10th, Henriquez - 15th) in the league's Top 15 in offensive rebounds.

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).

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 3,081 points off of 2,763 turnovers in 169 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, 545-457.  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 16.2 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 17.6 points off these mistakes, including 17.2 points in league play.  The Wildcats scored 20 or more points of off turnovers in 13 games, including seven times in Big 12 play (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. 

Kansas State has taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 31.3 points in the paint and 14.8 points off of second-chance opportunities.  The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-best 37.3 rebounds per game, including 14.2 on the offensive end, and have out-rebounded their opponents 22 times, including 19 times in the last 25 games.  K-State has tallied 400 or more
offensive rebounds in each of the last six seasons, including 441 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 rank 41st nationally in rebounds per game, including first in the Big 12, while they rank 15th in the nation in offensive rebounds and tops in the league.  The team is also 37th nationally (and third in the Big 12) in rebounding margin (+4.9).

Adding to the K-State's balanced attack is the production it's getting from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 20.4 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. 

K-State has taken advantage of its opportunities from the free throw line this season with nearly 25 percent of their points (497) coming from the line.  The Wildcats are tied for 17th nationally in free throw attempts per game (24.1), trailing among others national leader New Mexico State (29.9), while they are 46th in the country in free throws made per game (16.0).  K-State is second in the Big 12 with less than one attempt per game less than Texas (24.4), while it is second to the Longhorns (17.8) by two in makes per game. Opponents are averaging 22.2 personal fouls per game, while they have 61 fewer free throws attempted and 28 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 vs. the Cowboys.  The squad matched that total with 40 attempts vs. 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.  The team is 84-13 (.875) under Frank Martin, including 17-3 this season, when the squad attempts more free throws, while they are just 32-38 (.457) under Martin, including 4-7 this year, when they equal or are surpassed by their opponent in attempts.

Kansas State has posted at least 30 points in the paint in 22 of 31 games, including a combined 90 in overtime games with West Virginia (44) and North Florida (46), and have outscored their foes, 970-776, 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 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.

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 March 4.  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.

Senior Jamar Samuels has been a key component to the Wildcats' success, leading the team in double-doubles (8), rebounding (6.6 rpg.) free throws (95) and free throws attempted (138), while ranking second in scoring (10.3 ppg.) and minutes played (26.5).  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 in wins over Texas A&M and Oklahoma State on Feb. 28 and March 3 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 seven games (averaging 12.6 points and 8.0 rebounds) and has connected on 10-of-20 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 his final game at Bramlage Coliseum on March 3, 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. 

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 1,258 points ranks 11th in school history, just 46 points from the all-time Top 10.  He also ranks in the Top 5 in school history in both free throws (389) and free throws attempted (639), while he is the Top 10 in three other career categories, including rebounds (708; 5th), steals (109, 7th) and blocks (92, 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).   The win over Oklahoma State 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 5 in both games played (132, 2nd) and minutes (3,109; 5th).  He now trails only Jacob Pullen (135) for the most played in a career, while 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. 

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 nine straight, including his ninth 20-point game of the season (13th in career) with a game-high 24 vs. Oklahoma State on March 3.  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 nine-game stretch, he is averaging 16.6 points on 46.8 percent shooting, including 54.5 percent from 3-point range, while connecting on 87.9 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 26 double-figure scoring games, he has 10+points in 21 of the last 23 games, including 20 of the last 21. 

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. 

Junior Rodney McGruder is one of five players in the Big 12's Top 15 in both overall scoring (15.4 ppg., 7th) and rebounding (5.3 rpg., 15th) 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 10 in four other Big 12 categories, including ninth in 3-point field goal percentage (39.0), free throw percentage (80.4) and minutes (32.7) and 10th in field goal percentage (45.6) and offensive rebounds (2.3).  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 (26), field goals (172), 3-point field goals (48) and minutes.  He is closing in on 1,000 career points with 984 (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 in the Top 10 in school history in career 3-pointers (135; 8th) and 3-point attempts (335, 7th).

Kansas State has taken advantage of its size in the paint to post 52 more blocked shots (149-97) than its opponents this season, averaging 4.8 blocks per game.  The Wildcats have posted at least five blocks in 17 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 71 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 (141) 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 vs. Texas A&M on Jan. 22, 2011.  He has 28 blocks in the last seven games, including a swat of the game-winning shot in the win over No. 9/10 Baylor.  His 71 blocks are the second-most in a single season, trailing only former teammate Curtis Kelly (74, 2009-10).

Junior Jordan Henriquez has emerged has a threat down low for K-State, averaging 11.1 points on 61.5 percent shooting with 7.7 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in 27.4 minutes per game in the last seven outings.  After posting a career day vs. Iowa State on Feb. 25 with career-bests in seven categories, including his first career double-double (19 points and 12 rebounds), he had an even better day against No. 12/11 Baylor on March 8.  He posted his second double-double with a career-best 22 points on 9-of-13 field goals to go with a career-high 14 rebounds and four blocks in 36 minutes.  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 on March 3.    
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 31 games, he ranks among the Top 3 in several categories, including second in 3-point field goals (45) and assists (89) and third in scoring (9.5 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 (180 of 294), while registering double figures on four occasions.  He also been the team's charge leader, taking a team-best 25 this season, while collecting 46 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 533 points (over 25 percent of team's total) on 44.6 percent shooting (187-of-419) to go with 270 rebounds (23 percent), 130 assists (29 percent) and 47 steals (25 percent) in 1,400 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 three Wildcats (along with Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling) to play in all 31 games.  Rodriguez, who has played in 30 games, paces the team in both assists (96) and steals (41), 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.     

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 15 consecutive starts, including the last 14 in Big 12 play.  During this stretch, he is averaging 9.5 points, a team-best 4.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 24.2 minutes per game.  He is first in assists (62) and steals (29) in this span, while he is third in scoring and field goals (46).  He is also one of just four players to average 20 or more minutes per game in these 15 games.  After being limited to four points in his first career start vs. Texas on Jan. 18, he has scored in double figures eight times in the last 14 games, including a Big 12-high of 15 points vs. 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 against 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.

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 4-6 when it is negative.  Factor in this statistic in the last 15 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 0-4 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 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio (37 assists to 26 turnovers), while he has a 1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio (25 assists to 23 turnovers) in the six losses in that span.

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.
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 28 games, averaging 1.1 points on 43.8 percent shooting with 1.4 rebounds in 7.0 minutes per game.  He had 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.
The 75-59 win over No. 7/6 Missouri on Jan. 7 was significant in a number of ways, including serving as the program's milestone 1,500th victory.  K-State currently stands at 1,509-1,066 (.586) in 108 seasons, which ranks 41st all-time in NCAA Division I history.  The school becomes the sixth Big 12 program to eclipse the milestone, following Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri, while it is the fifth team to top 1,500 wins this season, joining  St. Joseph's, Ohio State, Michigan State and Washington State.  Overall, it was the 89th win over a Top 25 team in school history, including the 35th over the Top 10.  The Wildcats have now posted 23 Top 25 wins at Bramlage Coliseum, including 11 wins over the Top 10.  Three times in the last four seasons the squad has posted at least one home win over a Top 10 opponent (No. 1 Texas in 2010, No. 1 Kansas in 2011 and No. 7 Missouri in 2012).  Frank Martin earned his 18th Top 25 win (18-20) in five seasons, including his sixth Top 10 win (6-11).

K-State capped its non-conference schedule on New Year's Eve with a 82-46 win over Howard.  The Wildcats have posted a 58-12 (.829) record in non-conference play under head coach Frank Martin, including five consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins.  The 58 wins are the most over a five-year span in non-conference play in school history.  Overall, the squad has collected 10 or more wins in non-conference play in six straight seasons dating back to 2006-07.  The squad played just 12 non-conference games in 2011-12 due to the expanded 18-game Big 12 Conference slate.   

K-State earned its first regular-season tournament title since 2006, as the Wildcats captured the 2011 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic with wins over Southern Illinois (83-58), UTEP (78-70) and Long Beach State (77-60).  It was the first tournament title since winning the 2006 Las Vegas Holiday Classic and the first under head coach Frank Martin.  The squad averaged nearly 80 points (79.3 ppg.) during the tournament on 49.7 percent shooting, including 51.3 percent from 3-point range, while holding its foes to just 62.7 points on 36.6 percent shooting.  Junior Rodney McGruder was named the tournament most valuable player after averaging 15.0 points on 64 percent shooting, including a career-best 28 points in the final against Long Beach State.  Senior Jamar Samuels was also named to the all-tournament team after averaging 11.7 points and a team-best 8.3 rebounds per game.  Four players averaged in double figures, while eight averaged more than five points.  It also marked the first time since the 1964 Big Eight Holiday Tournament in Kansas City that the Wildcats won three tournament games.