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No. 25 K-State Opens Big 12 Play with No. 22 OSU


GO WILDCATS
Senior Jordan Henriquez looks to continue his strong play of late, which included a 9-point, 6-rebound and 5-block effort against No. 8/9 Florida.

GO WILDCATS
Senior Jordan Henriquez looks to continue his strong play of late, which included a 9-point, 6-rebound and 5-block effort against No. 8/9 Florida.
GO WILDCATS

Jan. 4, 2013

Game Notes  |  Live Stats  |  Live Audio

GAME 14
25/rv Kansas State (11-2, 0-0 Big 12) vs. 22/21 Oklahoma State (10-2, 0-0 Big 12)
Saturday, January 5, 2013 * 12:47 p.m. CT
Manhattan, Kan. * Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

The Last Meeting
Oklahoma State58
Kansas State77
March 3, 2012
Bramlage Coliseum
Samuels Powers Wildcats to Win Over Cowboys, 77-58
Jamar Samuels had a memorable senior day, recording his 13th career double-double and leading Kansas State to a 77-58 victory over Oklahoma State.

Television: Big 12 Network (ESPN Full Court)
Mark Neely (play-by-play); Chris Piper (analyst)
Channels: KMCI (Kansas City), KSAS (Wichita), KTMJ (Topeka)
Internet: www.ESPN3.com

Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 106/XM 190

Live Stats: http://www.kstatesports.com/multimedia/ksu-gt-live-stats.html
Live Audio: http://www.k-statesports.com/allaccess (free)
Twitter Updates: twitter.com/kstate_gameday

Conference Openers: K-State trails 49-50 (33-18 at home)
vs. Oklahoma State: K-State leads 72-47 (35-15 at home)
Last Meeting: K-State won 77-58 (3/3/2012 at home)

25/rv Kansas State (11-2, 0-0 Big 12)
Head coach: Bruce Weber (Wisconsin-Milwaukee `78)
School Record: 11-2 (1st season)  * Career Record: 324-157 (15th season)  * vs. OSU: 1-0 

22/21 Oklahoma State (10-2, 0-0 Big 12)
Head coach: Travis Ford (Kentucky `94)
School Record: 90-57 (5th season)  * Career Record: 280-203 (16th season)  * vs. K-State: 3-3

THE GAME
No. 25 Kansas State (11-2) opens its daunting 18-game Big 12 Conference slate on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats welcome No. 22/21 Oklahoma State (10-2) to Bramlage Coliseum for a 12:47 p.m. CT tip.  The game will be broadcast on the Big 12 Network with Mark Neely (play-by-play) and Chris Piper (analyst) on the call.  Although the teams have played 119 times, this will be just the third time that the schools will meet when both are ranked in the Top 25 and the first time since the third-ranked Wildcats collected a 69-57 win over the 19th-ranked Cowboys in the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship game at Allen Field House on March 15, 1958 to earn a trip to the Final Four.  It will mark the second straight season that a ranked K-State squad has opened conference play against a ranked Big 12 squad (No. 14 Kansas in 2012).  The Wildcats are 49-50 (.495) all-time in conference openers dating back to the start of Missouri Valley Conference play in 1913-14, including 33-18 (.647) when debuting at home.  The squad has lost four consecutive Big 12 openers with the last win coming at Oklahoma (84-82) on Jan. 12, 2008.  The last home win in a Big 12 opener came against Texas Tech (68-44) on Jan. 11, 2002.  K-State and OSU will meet in a conference opener for the 11th time, including the second time in three seasons, with the Wildcats holding a narrow 6-4 edge in those meetings.     

TELEVISION NOTE
Saturday's contest will be the first of eight games on the Big 12 Network.  The league television package can be seen locally on KMCI-TV in Kansas City, KSAS-TV in Wichita and KTMJ-TV in Topeka.  The game can also seen in the Big 12 region on KTXA-TV in Dallas, KTVI-TV in St. Louis, KOCB-TV in Oklahoma City, KYMT-TV in Tulsa, WOI-TV in Des Moines, KXVO-TV in Omaha, KUBE-TV in Houston and KCWX-TV in San Antonio.  All games on the Big 12 Network can be found on ESPN Full Court as well as ESPN3.com.

K-STATE UPDATE
K-State remained in The Associated Press Top 25 for the second straight week at No. 25 with 149 points.  In addition, the squad also received the second-highest point total (22) among those teams receiving votes outside the USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll.    The team earned its first ranking on Dec. 24 and the first since coming in at No. 22 on Jan. 23, 2012.  The program has now been ranked at least one week in each of the last four seasons.  Despite playing without starting guard Angel Rodriguez and key reserve Martavious Irving for the second straight game, the Wildcats wrapped up non-conference play with a 70-50 win over South Dakota on New Year's Eve.  The team connected on 50 percent from the field and had assists on 19 of 27 made field goals.

THE OPPONENT
No. 22/21 Oklahoma State (10-2) saw its five-game winning streak come to an end on New Year's Even with a 69-68 loss to No. 13/13 Gonzaga at home.  This will be Cowboys' second true road game of the season after a 81-71 loss at Virginia Tech on Dec. 1.  OSU is averaging 71.8 points on 44.5 percent shooting, including 32.5 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to 56.6 points on 36.8 percent shooting.  Sophomore Le'Bryan Nash (14.4 ppg.) paces a balanced attack with four players in double figures, while junior Markel Brown averages 14.2 points per game.  Freshman sensation Marcus Smart averages 13.4 points to go with team-best in both assists (5.2 apg.) and steals (2.6 spg.), while fellow rookie Phil Forte adds 11.3 points per game with a team-high 32 3-pointers.  Senior Philip Jurick leads the team with a 6.9 rebounds per game average.  Head coach Travis Ford has a 280-203 record in his 16th season overall, including a 90-57 mark at OSU.  He is 3-3 vs. K-State, including 1-1 in Manhattan. 

LAST MEETING: KANSAS STATE 77, OKLAHOMA STATE 58 [MARCH 3, 2012]
Led by Rodney McGruder's 24 points, K-State completed a season sweep of Oklahoma State for the first time since 1988 with a 77-58 victory over the Cowboys on March 3, 2012.  The Wildcats connected on 51.7 percent from the field with Jamar Samuels posting a double-double (17 points and 12 rebounds) and Jordan Henriquez adding 16 points from the bench.  McGruder has averaged 13.8 points in five meetings with OSU in his career on 58.7 pecent shooting, including 52.6 percent from 3-point range.

SERIES
This will be the 120th meeting between K-State and Oklahoma State on the hardwood, including the 51st in Manhattan.  The Wildcats lead the series, 72-47, including 35-15 at home.  The Cowboys own a 13-5 edge in the series since the start of the Big 12 in 1997 and are one of just two schools (Kansas) to own a winning record in Bramlage Coliseum (9-7) against the Wildcats.

QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE
--Kansas State's 11-2 start ties for the third-best to start a season in the last 10 seasons behind the 11-1 starts by the 2009-10 and 2011-12 squads.  The Wildcats' two losses are to Top 15 teams in current No. 2/2 Michigan and No. 10/10 Gonzaga.  The team have faced three Top 15 teams (No. 4 Michigan, No. 14 Gonzaga and No. 8 Florida) in non-conference play for the first time in school history (since the 1949-50 season when rankings became available).  The Wildcats have won double-digit non-conference games for the seventh straight season, including its first regular-season Top 10 non-conference win (No. 8 Florida) since 1981.  

--Bruce Weber's 11-2 record ties Zora Clevenger (1916-17) for the best start by a first-year K-State head coach in the program's 109-year history.  The best campaign by a first-year head coach in school history is still held by Clevenger, who led the Wildcats to a 15-2 (.882) mark in his inaugural season in 1916-17. Clevenger made most of his impact on the gridiron, where he was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and was the founder of the East-West Shrine football game.    

--K-State received its first national ranking of the season on Dec. 24, appearing at No. 25 in The Associated Press Top 25 with 152 points, and remained in that spot in the latest poll on Dec. 31.  It was the first ranking for the Wildcats since coming in at No. 22 in the AP poll on Jan. 23, 2012.  In addition, the squad received the second-highest point total (35) among those teams (trailing VCU) receiving votes outside the USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll.  The program has now been ranked at least one week in each of the last four seasons, a feat which has not happened since doing it six consecutive seasons from 1972-78.

--Eight of the 13 games have been at home (including a home game vs. No. 8/9 Florida in Kansas City's Sprint Center), where the Wildcats have won 10 straight dating back to last season (including nine in a row at Bramlage Coliseum).  The school extended its non-conference home winning streak to 48 after a win over South Dakota.  K-State has won 29 consecutive non-conference home games in December and boast a 40-1 mark in the month at Bramlage Coliseum the past 10 seasons with the last loss coming to Rutgers on Dec. 28, 2004.  The team is a combined 96-21 (.821) in November/December home games since 2003-04. 

--Despite its offensive struggles vs. Kansas City, K-State has been solid overall on offense at home, averaging 73.8 points on 44.7 percent shooting, including 33.8 percent from 3-point range, in nine games.  In its two neutral and road games this season, the team is averging nearly 14 points less (60.0 ppg.) on 36.2 percent shooting, including 30.3 percent from 3-point range.  The
defensive effort has also been better at home with opponents averaging 51.7 points compared to 66.0 points away from home.
    
--The Wildcats have been one of the best first-half defensive teams, holding its 13 opponents to just 23.2 points on 34.5 percent shooting, including 22.7 percent from 3-point range.  It has held four opponents to 20 points or less in the first half.  In contrast, the squad is allowing 32.8 points in the second half on 41.9 percent shooting, including 29.7 percent from beyond the arc.  

--Heading into Saturday's game, K-State ranks in the Top 50 in nine categories nationally, including second in offensive rebounds (16.7), 11th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.9), 19th in scoring defense (56.6), 21st in rebounding (41.2), 23rd in rebounding margin (+8.4), 38th in scoring margin (+12.9), 40th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.25), 47th in assists (15.8) and 50th in turnover margin (2.9).  The Wildcats rank in the Top 5 in 16 of 21 Big 12 categories, including first in offensive rebounds, second in scoring defense, rebounding, 3-point field goal percentage defense and rebounding margin.

ELITE COMPANY
K-State is having a stellar start to the 2012-13 athletics season, as the Wildcats have one of the best winning percentages among Bowl Championship Series (BCS) schools when combining football and men's and women's basketball records.  As of Thursday's results, the school's .795 winning percentage (31-8) ranks ninth nationally to Notre Dame (.946, 35-2), Louisville (.878, 36-5), Ohio State (.868, 33-5), South Carolina (.842, 32-6), Michigan (.825, 33-7), Syracuse (.825, 33-7), Stanford (.821, 32-7) and Florida (.816, 31-7), while it is one of 17 BCS schools with 30+ combined wins among its three major sports (which includes Oklahoma).  OSU is one win away from totaling 30 amongst its football and men's and women's basketball teams (.784, 29-8).  

The K-State football team produced just its second 11-win regular season in school history, while it advanced to a BCS game (Fiesta Bowl) for the first time in eight years.  The men's basketball team is off to its third-best start (11-2) in the past 10 seasons, while the women's basketball team has won nine of its first 13 games.  If you take into account the success of the women's volleyball team, which won 20 matches and advanced to NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats are 52-17 (.754) since August 24.

HISTORIC WIN
The 67-61 win over No. 8/9 Florida in the Hy-Vee Wildcat Classic on Dec. 22 was the first regular-season, non-conference Top 10 victory since knocking off No. 8 Minnesota at home, 62-52, on Dec. 21, 1981.  Overall, it was just the 12th non-conference Top 10 win in school history (and the first since defeating No. 3 Purdue, 73-70, and then assistant coach Bruce Weber on March 25, 1988 in the NCAA Tournament), including the seventh in the regular season.  Aside from Minnesota in 1981 and Florida in 2012, the Wildcats have also beaten No. 4 Long Island (85-65) on Jan. 31, 1951, No. 7 Notre Dame (80-64) on Dec. 19, 1952, No. 4 N.C. State (69-67) on Dec. 19, 1958, No. 5 North Carolina (77-69) on Dec. 16, 1960 and No. 9 St. John's (63-50) on Dec. 16, 1961.

BALANCED ATTACK
K-State has proven to be a balanced team across the board with six players averaging five or more points, including just two in double figures, and seven averaging three or more rebounds per game.  Senior Rodney McGruder (13.7 ppg.) and sophomore Angel Rodriguez (10.1 ppg.) are the only Wildcats to average in double figures, while two other players - Will Spradling (9.5 ppg.) and Thomas Gipson (7.8 ppg.) are averaging better than seven points per contest.  The team has seen nine players collect 36 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (nine) leading the way.  In all, the Wildcats have had six players lead or share the lead in scoring.  Gipson (6.7 rpg.) paces the squad in rebounding despite leading in a game just three times, while Nino Williams (5.6 rpg.), McGruder (5.5 rpg.) and Jordan Henriquez (4.3 rpg.) - average better than four rebounds per game.  The team has had nine players either lead or share the lead in rebounding.

The Wildcats have also been diverse in other categories, including six players with double-digit assists and five with double-digit steals.  Rodriguez has dished out a team-best 47 assists with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists.  McGruder paces all players with 16 steals, while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals.  Five players -- Spradling (30.5 mpg.), McGruder (30.1), Rodriguez (22.9), Shane Southwell (20.5) and Gipson (20.2) -- are each averaging more than 20 minutes.

ON THE DEFENSIVE 
K-State has continued to be one of the best defensive teams not only in the Big 12, but nationally, where the squad entered the week ranking 11th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.4), 19th in scoring defense (56.1), 21st in rebounding (41.2) and 23rd in rebounding margin (+8.9).  In all, the Wildcats rank either first or second in six Big 12 defensive categories, including second in scoring defense, rebounding, rebounding margin, 3-point field goal percentage defense and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.2).  The squad is fourth in field goal percentage defense (38.4).

The 729 points surrendered through the first 13 games are the fewest in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the fewest since the 1982-83 squad allowed just 683 points (52.5 ppg.) through the first 13 games.  The team has held 10 of its 13 opponents to 65 points or less, including seven to 55 points or less, while six have been held to under 40 percent shooting and four to under 20 percent shooting from 3-point range.  The defensive effort was nearly historic in the 87-26 win over Alabama-Huntsville on Nov. 13, as the 26 points allowed were one shy of the Bramlage Coliseum record of 25 set against Savannah State on Jan. 7, 2008.  The Chargers' 16.4 field goal percentage (9-of-55) was only surpassed by Savannah State's 15.5 percentage.

REBOUNDING PROWESS
K-State continues to be one of the best rebounding squads in the country, as the Wildcats tie for 21st nationally in rebounding (41.2), including second in offensive rebounds (16.7), and 23rd in rebounding margin (+8.9).  The team ranks second in the Big 12 in rebounding and rebounding margin, while they are the clear leader in offensive rebounds (16.7 to Iowa State's 15.2).  Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their foes by a 536-420 margin, including 217-141 on the offensive end.  K-State is one of just two Big 12 schools (along with OSU) to have three players rank in the Big 12's Top 20 in rebounding, which includes Thomas Gipson (6.7 rpg., 12th), Nino Williams (5.6 rpg., 18th) and Rodney McGruder (5.5 rpg., 19th).  K-State is the only Big 12 school with four players in the league's Top 15 in offensive boards, which includes Gipson (3.5, 1st), Williams (2.6, 8th), McGruder (2.2, 14th) and D.J. Johnson (2.2, 14th).  The team has collected 40+ rebounds in seven games, including a season-best 55 vs. Alabama-Huntsville on Nov. 13, while they have tallied 20+ offensive boards three times.  The Wildcats grabbed 42 defensive rebounds vs. UAH, which ties for the second-most and are the most since also posting 42 vs. Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 16, 1998.   

The Wildcats have taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 29.8 points in the paint and 15.2 points off of second-chance opportunities.  The team has at least 30 points in the paint in seven games, including a season-high 46 vs. Texas Southern on Dec. 18, while it has tallied at least 15 second-chance points seven times with a season-best 23 vs. USC Upstate.

K-State has finished among the Top 5 in the Big 12 in rebounding in each of the last five seasons, including first in 2007-08 and 2008-09, while the squad has led the league in offensive boards for five consecutive years, including a school-record 559 in 2009-10.  The Wildcats have tallied 700 or more defensive rebounds in each of the last six seasons, including 756 in 2011-12.

POINTS OFF TURNOVERS 
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams were their ability to score points off of opponent's mistakes and Bruce Weber has continued that legacy in his first season.  The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 203-154 (an average of 15.6 points per game), through the first 13 games in points off of turnovers.  K-State is forcing its opponents into 15.3 turnovers per game (third-most in the Big 12), including a season-high 26 by Lamar, while turning the ball over an average of 12.9 times per game (fourth-lowest in the Big 12).  The 1.2 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 40th nationally and third in the Big 12.  In Martin's five seasons, the Wildcats 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 that five-year period came off of offense generated from turnovers.  The school has scored 500 or more points off of opponent turnovers in six straight seasons, including 577 (17.5 average per game) in 2011-12.

BENCH PRODUCTION
Adding to the K-State's balanced attack is the production it's getting from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 23.7 points, including a 308-197 edge over opponents.  The team has collected at least 20 points from its bench in eight games, including 45 points vs. North Dakota on Nov. 9.  Reserves have scored nearly half of the team's points four times with Thomas Gipson tying for the scoring lead from the bench against North Dakota and Delaware (before earning his first start vs. USC Upstate) and Shane Southwell leading the way with a career-best 16 points off the bench vs. Alabama-Huntsville on Nov. 13.  The rebounding leader has come from the bench in six games with D.J. Johnson posting the team-high vs. North Dakota (9) and Lamar (8), Southwell recording a career-high nine boards vs. UAH, Adrian Diaz grabbing a career-best 10 vs. North Florida, Gipson tying Will Spradling for the rebounding lead (6) vs. Delaware and Nino Williams snagging seven boards vs. No. 8/9 Florida.  Nearly 50 percent (232) of the rebounding total has come from its bench, while nearly 40 percent (320) of the scoring total has come from reserves.

PROTECTING THE BALL
K-State has been solid protecting the ball this season, as the squad ranks third in the Big 12  in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3) and fifth in turnover margin (+2.4).  Entering Saturday's game, the Wildcats ranks in the Top 50 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (40th).  Through the first 13 games, the Wildcats have produced 12.9 turnovers per game (fourth-lowest average in Big 12), while forcing its foes into an average of 15.3 turnovers (third-most in the Big 12).  The team has 14 or fewer turnovers in eight of 13 games, including just six against No. 4/4 Michigan on Nov. 23, while they have forced their opponents into 19 or more turnovers four times, including a season-high 26 by Lamar on Nov. 12.  K-State has also capitalizing on its foes' mistakes, averaging 15.6 points off of turnovers, while allowing opponents to score just 11.9 points per game off of its miscues.

MORE ON BALL PROTECTION
Seven Wildcats have posted an even or positive assist-to-turnover ratio this season, including its four primary ball-handlers (Angel Rodriguez, Martavious Irving, Shane Southwell and Will Spradling) combining for 145 assists to 68 turnovers (2.1 ratio).  The current ratio for the quartet is a solid improvement after posting a 1.4 ratio (302 assists to 211 turnovers) as a group in 2011-12.  Spradling (2.6, 2nd) and Rodriguez (2.0, 4th) both rank in the Big 12's Top 5 in assist-to-turnover ratio and are two of four players in the league with a ratio above 2.0.  Spradling, who has 44 assists to just 17 turnovers, led the team with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio a season ago, while Rodriguez has made a notable improvement (47 assists to 24 turnovers) in the area after posting a 1.2 ratio (101 assists to 85 turnovers) as a freshman.  Irving has also doubled his ratio (2.7 from 1.5) with 26 assists to 10 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 1.5 ratio (26 assists to 17 turnovers) after posting a 1.6 ratio last season. 

McGRUDER AMONG ELITE COMPANY 
Senior Rodney McGruder joined elite company against USC Upstate on Dec. 2, as he became the eighth Wildcat in school history with at least 1,100 points and 500 rebounds in a career.  He narrowed that company with his 1,200 career point against South Dakota, making him one of just six with 1,200 points and 500 rebounds, along with Rolando Blackman (1,844 points and 607 rebounds), Bob Boozer (1,685 points and 824 rebounds), Cartier Martin (1,546 points and 546 rebounds), Ed Nealy (1,304 points and 1,069 rebounds) and Jamar Samuels (1,259 points and 716 rebounds). 

McGruder currently ranks 13th in scoring with 1,207 points (needing 97 points to tie Nealy for 10th), while he places in the Top 10 in seven other career categories, including field goals (435), 3-point field goals (148), 3-point field goals attempted (386), minutes (2,928), consecutive games (89), starts (80) and consecutive starts (80).  He could become just the seventh Wildcat with 3,000 career minutes in the next two games.  One of eight players to rank in the Big 12's Top 20 in both scoring (10th) and rebounding (19th), McGruder leads the Wildcats in scoring, field goals (71), double-digit scoring games (nine) and steals (16).  He ranks in the Top 20 in four Big 12 categories.

McGRUDER NAMED PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK AGAIN 
Senior Rodney McGruder earned Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honors for the second time in three weeks on Dec. 24 after helping K-State to wins over Texas Southern and No. 8/9 Florida.  He averaged a team-best 19.5 points on 55.2 percent shooting (16-of-29) with 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in 36 minutes in the two wins.  He also connected on 7-of-10 from the free throw line, including a 5-of-6 effort in the win over the Gators.  He opened the week with a season-high 26 points in the win over Texas Southern on 12-of-17 field goals to go with three assists in 34 minutes.  It was 15th career 20-point scoring game.  He was solid all-around in the 67-61 win over No. 8/9 Florida -- the Wildcats' first regular-season, non-conference Top 10 win since 1981 -- with 13 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.  He earned the award for the third time in his career after winning it on Dec. 10 with his double-double effort in the road victory over George Washington.  He was also named the weekly award winner on Dec. 26, 2011 after his MVP performance at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

McGRUDER NAMED PRESEASON CANDIDATE FOR NAISMITH, WOODEN AWARDS
Senior Rodney McGruder has been selected as a preseason candidate for two of the most prestigious awards in college basketball, as he was named one of 50 preseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award on Nov. 8 before he was selected to the early season watch list for the Naismith Trophy on Nov. 12.  The preseason lists, which reflects the early frontrunners for two of college basketball's Premier Player of the Year awards, is based on last year's individual performance.  McGruder becomes the first Wildcat named to the preseason list for both awards since Jacob Pullen was selected in 2010.  He was one of six Big 12 players selected to the Wooden list, which includes Baylor's Pierre Jackson, Kansas' Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey and OSU's Le'Bryan Nash, while he was one of five on the Naismith list, including Jackson, Withey, Kansas' Ben McLemore and OSU's Marcus Smart.

McGRUDER NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-BIG 12 TEAM 
Senior Rodney McGruder was a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Big 12 team released by the conference office on Oct. 4.  McGruder, who was an All-Big 12 Second Team selection in 2011-12, was one of three unanimous picks by the league's head coaches, joining Kansas' Jeff Withey and Oklahoma State's Le'Bryan Nash.  The final two spots on the team went to Baylor's Pierre Jackson and Texas' Myck Kabongo.  McGruder is the first Wildcat named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team since Jacob Pullen was named to the squad along with garnering Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year honors in 2010-11.  It marks just the third time that a Wildcat (Manny Dies in 1998-99, Pullen and Curtis Kelly in 2010-11) has been selected to the preseason team. 

SPRADLING COMING UP CLUTCH
Junior Will Spradling has been a model of consistency from the free throw line, knocking down 32-of-35 opportunities, including  going 10-of-10 in the last 35 seconds in wins over Delaware, George Washington and Texas Southern.  His effort has raised his career free throw percentage to 84.0 (157-of-187), which is the second-highest in school history behind Steve Henson (90.0; 361-of-401; 1986-90).  Spradling has not only been stellar on the free throw line, but he ranks second in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6), ninth in assists (3.4), 10th in 3-point field goal percentage (35.0) and 3-point field goals made (1.6).  He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (21), second in double-digit scoring games (7) and assists (44) and third in scoring (9.5 ppg.), which including a season-high 17 points in the win over No. 8/9 Florida on Dec. 22.

RODRIGUEZ'S IMPROVED PLAY 
Despite missing the last two non-conference games, sophomore Angel Rodriguez has continued his improvement from his freshman season in 2012-13, as he ranks first or second on the squad in six categories, including first in assists (47) and second in scoring (10.1 ppg.), double-figure scoring games (7) and 3-point field goals (17).  He has helped the Wildcats rank third in the Big 12 in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, while he places in the league's Top 20 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0, 4th), assists (4.3, 6th), 3-point field goal percentage (34.7, 11th) and 3-point field goals made (1.5, 12th).  He has scored in double figures seven times, including a career-best 19 points vs. Lamar to go with game-highs at George Washington (17) on Dec. 8 and Gonzaga (14) on Dec. 15.  Rodriguez was named to the NIT Season Tip-Off All-Tournament Team after averaging 11 points and 5.5 assists in two games at Madison Square Garden in helping the Wildcats to a second-place finish.

GIPSON A FACTOR DOWN LOW
Sophomore Thomas Gipson is starting to emerge as the Wildcats' go-to player in the post, averaging 7.6 points on 52.8 percent shooting (19-of-36) with 7.3 rebounds in 22.3 minutes per game in his last seven starts.  After a poor game against No. 14/14 Gonzaga on Dec. 15, he rebounded to collect arguably his best all-around game of the season vs. Texas Southern on Dec. 18 with a season-high 14 points on 5-of-7 field goals to go with 12 rebounds and career-bests in blocks (4) and steals (3) in 26 minutes.  It marked his fourth career double-double, but the first of the season.  The 12-rebound effort tied his season-high that he also had against George Washington on Dec. 8.  The leader in rebounds at 6.7 per game, he ranks 12th in the Big 12 in overall rebounds, while his first in offensive rebounds at 3.4 per game.  He had a career-best seven offensive boards vs. Texas Southern.

WILLIAMS EMERGING AS A IMPACT
After playing in just 15 games his first season (including a medical redshirt in 2010-11), sophomore Nino Williams is starting to emerge as an impact player for K-State.  He has played in 12 of 13 games with the third-most starts (11), averaging 6.3 points on 43.8 percent shooting with 5.6 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game.  He is second to Thomas Gipson in rebounding, while he is one of six players to average more than six points per game.  He scored a career-best 16 points vs. South Dakota on 7-of-10 field goals, while he grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds in the win over Kansas City (narrowly missing his first double-double).

UP NEXT: AT WEST VIRGINIA (7-5)
K-State will make its first trip to West Virginia since 1949 when it visits the Mountaineers on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 12:30 p.m. CT.