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K-State, Kansas Renew Sunflower Showdown on Monday


GO WILDCATS
Sophomore Thomas Gipson has scored in double figures in three of the last four games since moving to a reserve role, including 16 against Iowa State.

GO WILDCATS
Sophomore Thomas Gipson has scored in double figures in three of the last four games since moving to a reserve role, including 16 against Iowa State.
GO WILDCATS

Feb. 10, 2013

Game Notes  |  Live Stats  |  Live Audio  |  ESPN3

Game 24

13/15 Kansas State (19-4, 8-2 Big 12) at 5/5 Kansas (19-4, 7-3 Big 12)
Monday, February 11, 2013  * 8:07 p.m. CT
Lawrence, Kan. * Allen Fieldhouse (16,300)

Television: ESPN's Big Monday presented by Bud Light
Brent Musburger (play-by-play); Fran Fraschilla (analyst); Holly Rowe (sideline reporter)
Internet: www.ESPN3.com and WatchESPN

Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 91/XM 91 (home broadcast)

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

vs. Big 12: K-State trails 444-451 (153-234 on the road)
vs. Kansas: Kansas leads 183-91 (82-35 at home)
Last Meeting: Kansas won 59-55 (1/22/2013 in Manhattan)

13/15 Kansas State (19-4, 8-2 Big 12)
Head coach: Bruce Weber (Wisconsin-Milwaukee `78)
School Record: 19-4 (1st season)  * Career Record: 332-159 (15th season)  * vs. Kansas: 0-2

5/5 Kansas (19-4, 7-3 Big 12)
Head coach: Bill Self (Oklahoma State `85)
School Record: 288-57 (10th season)  * Career Record: 495-162 (20th season)  * vs. K-State: 20-3

THE GAME
No. 13/15 Kansas State (19-4, 8-2 Big 12) renews its long-standing series with No. 5/5 Kansas (19-4, 7-3 Big 12) in the Dillons Sunflower Showdown before a nationally-televised audience on ESPN's Big Monday at 8 p.m. CT.  The game will be broadcast on ESPN with Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Fran Fraschilla (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline reporter) on the call.  After running its winning streak to four games with a 79-70 victory over Iowa State on Saturday, K-State finds itself in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 standings just over the midway point of the league season, just one game ahead of Kansas and No. 22/24 Oklahoma State (17-5, 7-3 Big 12), which sit in a tie for second place with 7-3 marks.  The Wildcats have not been in first place in the league standings this late (Feb. 1) in the year since posting a 7-1 mark on Feb. 13, 2008, just one game ahead of the then second-place Jayhawks.  It is the first time K-State has headed to Allen Fieldhouse in first place since Jan. 30, 1988 when the 3-0 Wildcats knocked off the 1-2 Jayhawks, 72-61.  Kansas State, which has a 5-1 record in road games this season and has won eight of its last nine road games, including seven of its last eight Big 12 road tilts, has lost 16 of the last 17 meetings in Lawrence, including six in a row, with the last win coming on Jan. 14, 2006.  Overall, the Wildcats have improved their play on the road in the Big 12, posting a 28-25 record over the past seven seasons (which began in 2006-07) after winning just 10 of 80 road games in the league's first 10 years (1997-2006).  Monday's game will be the 17th meeting when both teams are ranked dating back to 1950, including the sixth time in the last nine meetings.  Kansas has won 12 of those 16 previous games, including five in a row.     

K-STATE IN THE POLLS
K-State moved up in both major polls on Feb. 4, jumping five spots to No. 13 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll and six spots to No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches poll.  It marks the seventh straight week that the Wildcats have been ranked in the AP poll, while the No. 11 ranking on Jan. 21 was the highest in the AP poll since also placing 11th on Dec. 20, 2010.  The program has now been ranked in the AP poll at least one week in each of the last four seasons.  K-State is 248-93 (.727) all-time as a ranked team.  

THE OPPONENT
No. 5/5 Kansas (19-4, 7-3 Big 12) enters Monday's game on a rare three-game losing streak after a 72-66 setback at Oklahoma on Saturday.  The Jayhawks' last three-game skid came nearly eight years ago on Feb. 14-21, 2005.  However, the eight-time reigning Big 12 champions are still one of the best all-around teams in the country, pacing the league in scoring margin (+10.4), field goal percentage (46.9), field goal percentage defense (36.0), rebounding margin (+5.8) and blocked shots (7.0).  The Jayhawks are averaging 73 points on 46.9 percentage shooting with three players in double figures, while holding opponents to just 60.5 points on 36 percent shooting.  Freshman of the Year candidate Ben McLemore leads the way with a 16.3 points per game average on 50.4 percent shooting, while seniors Jeff Withey (13.0 ppg.) and Travis Releford (11.9 ppg.) both average in twin figures.  Withey paces the team in rebounding (8.2 rpg.) and blocked shots (4.0 bpg.), while senior Elijah Johnson dishes out a team-best 4.7 assists per game.  Head coach Bill Self is closing in on 500 career victories in his 20th season as a head coach and is 288-57 (.835) in his 10th season at Kansas.  He is 20-3 all-time against K-State, including an 8-1 record at home.   

LAST MEETING: 3/2 KANSAS 59, 11/13 KANSAS STATE 55 [JAN. 22, 2013]
No. 3/2 Kansas extended its winning streak to 16 games, while halting No. 11/13 Kansas State's season-best eight-game winning streak with a 59-55 win in the teams' last meeting on Jan. 22.  The Wildcats were able to hold the Jayhawks to just 59 points on 45.7 percent shooting, but managed just 55 of their own on 35.1 percent shooting.  Shane Southwell led the three players in double figures with a career-best 19 points, while Rodney McGruder (13) and Angel Rodriguez (12) also posted double figures. 

SERIES
This will be the 275th meeting between K-State and Kansas with the Jayhawks holding a 183-91 lead in a series that dates back to 1907.  The 274 meetings are most against one opponent, while the Jayhawks are one of just two Big 12 teams to hold a series advantage over the Wildcats.  Kansas is 82-35 all-time at home in the series, including wins in 15 of the last 16 meetings since the inception of the Big 12.  The Wildcats have just three wins (2006, 2008 and 2011) in the last 40 meetings in Big 12 play, including a 59-55 win in Lawrence on Jan. 14, 2006.  Prior to that win, the last victory in Allen Fieldhouse came on Jan. 17, 1994, a 68-64 win on ESPN's Big Monday.  Head coach Bruce Weber is 0-2 against Kansas, while he is 1-3 against teams coached by Bill Self.

QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE
--Kansas State's 19-4 start ties the 2009-10 team for the sixth-best start in school history and the best in the last 50 seasons after 23 games.  The 1958-59 team posted the best start after 23 games (22-1), while the 1961-62 squad was just one game back at 21-2 and the 1947-48, 1950-51 and 1957-58 teams were 20-3.  The 8-2 start to Big 12 play ties two others for the best since the league's inception in 1997 and the best since the 2007-08 team also went 8-2.  The eight league wins already surpass any single conference season from 1997-2006.  The last Wildcat team with a better start to league play was the 1973-74 team, which went 9-1 to begin Big Eight play.  K-State saw its season-best eight-game winning streak end against No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22, which was the longest winning streak since the team won 10 in a row from Nov. 21, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010.  Three of the four losses are to current Top 10 teams in No. 3/3 Michigan, No. 5/5 Kansas and No. 6/6 Gonzaga.  The team faced three Top 15 teams (No. 4 Michigan, No. 14 Gonzaga and No. 8 Florida) in non-conference play for the first time.  K-State posted 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 19-4 record is the second-best start by a first-year K-State head coach in its 109-year history with only Zora Clevenger (15-2, 1916-17) posting a better mark.  The best campaign by a first-year coach is still held by Clevenger, who led the Wildcats to a 15-2 mark in 1916-17.  The eight-game winning streak (Dec. 18, 2012-Jan. 19, 2013) was the second-longest by a first-year coach and the longest since Clevenger's 1916-17 squad ended the year with 13 straight wins.  Only three first-year Wildcat coaches have won 20 games, including Bob Huggins (23, 2006-07), Frank Martin (21, 2007-08) and Lon Kruger (20, 1986-87).

--K-State is having a terrific start to the 2012-13 athletics season, as the Wildcats have one of the best records among BCS schools when combining football and men's and women's basketball.  As of Sunday, the school's 42 wins tie for 17th nationally and its .712 winning percentage (42-17) places 20th.  K-State is one of 20 schools (along with Big 12 brethren Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) with 40+ combined wins among its three major sports.  If you take into account the success of the volleyball team, which won 20 matches and advanced to NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats are 63-26 (.708) since August 24.  

--K-State has built a solid resume, as the Wildcats boast a No. 22 RPI in the latest ESPN rankings.  The squad is one of five Big 12 schools in the Top 50 of the ESPN RPI, including Kansas (9), Oklahoma (18), Oklahoma State (26) and Iowa State (37).  K-State is one of just four teams with four wins over Top 35 RPI teams, along with Kansas, Indiana and Miami (Fla.).

--The Wildcats have been one of the best in February the last five seasons, posting a 28-6 (.824) mark in the month since the 2008-09 season, including a 14-3 mark at home.  Two of the six February losses have come to Kansas (2009, 2012).

--The three-man senior class of Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder could be one of the best-ever in school history.  The trio currently boast a 93-34 (.732) record during their playing careers, which ranks sixth on the all-time wins list by a class.  They are four wins away from posting the most wins by a senior class in school history (96 by Victor Ojeleye and Jamar Samuels, 2008-12).  They are the fourth straight senior class to tally 90 or more wins in their career.

--Thirteen of the 22 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 14 of their last 15 home games, including 13 of 14 at Bramlage Coliseum.  The team's 12-game overall home winning streak and 11-game streak at Bramlage ended in a 59-55 loss to No. 3/2 Kansas.  The 11-game streak tied three other teams for the fourth-longest in the arena's 25-year history, including the longest since winning 14 in a row in 2011-12.

--K-State is 5-1 in road games this season, winning at George Washington (65-62), West Virginia (65-64), TCU (67-54), Oklahoma (52-50) and Texas Tech (68-59) to go with a 73-67 loss at Iowa State on Jan. 26.  The loss at Hilton Coliseum snapped the Wildcats' six-game winning streak in road games, including five-game streak in Big 12 play, which dated back to last season and was the longest since 2010.  The Wildcats have improved their play on the road in the Big 12, posting a 28-25 record over the past seven seasons (which began in 2006-07) after winning just 10 of 80 road games in the league's first 10 years (1997-2006).

--K-State received its first national ranking of the season on Dec. 24, appearing at No. 25 in the AP Top 25, and held its best ranking at No. 11 on Jan. 21.  The No. 11 ranking was the highest since also checking in at No. 11 on Dec. 20, 2010.  The Wildcats improved to No. 13 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches poll on Feb. 4, which marked the fifth straight week the team has been ranked in both polls.  The Wildcats have a 248-93 (.727) record as a ranked team since first being ranked in 1949-50.

--K-State ranks in the Top 50 in six categories nationally, including 15th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.7), 16th in scoring defense (57.8), 21st in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.34), 30th in assists (15.7), 39th in scoring margin (10.5) and 41st in turnovers per game (11.7).  Angel Rodriguez (2.46) ranks 33rd nationally and tops in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio.  The Wildcats place in the Top 5 in 15 of 21 Big 12 categories, including first in scoring defense, turnover margin, assist-to-turnover ratio, offensive rebounds and rebounding defense and second in assists and 3-point field goal percentage.  In Big 12-only games, the squad ranks first in assists, 3-point field goal percentage, turnover margin and assist-to-turnover. 
    
--The Feb. 2 meeting with Oklahoma marked the 11th time K-State has faced a former head coach (Tex Winter, Lon Kruger and Bob Huggins) with the Wildcats winning four (including three this season) of those occurrences.  Prior to the win over West Virginia and the two over Oklahoma, the last victory over a former head coach came in a 95-80 win over a Kruger-coached UNLV squad on Dec. 12, 2009.  The team will play at least one more such game (West Virginia at home on Feb. 18) this season.  K-State lost twice to Winter (Washington in 1971 and Long Beach State in 1978), while the Wildcats are now 4-4 against Kruger in his stops and 1-1 against Huggins at West Virginia (2011, 2013).  Interestingly enough, the Wildcats are 6-0 against head coaches prior to them coming to K-State.  The school went 1-0 against Winter at Marquette (1953), 3-0 against Jack Hartman at Southern Illinois (1964, 1968 and 1969), 1-0 against Kruger at Texas-Pan American (1986) and 1-0 against Huggins at Akron (1988).  

--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 the 12th non-conference Top 10 win (and first since defeating No. 3 Purdue, 73-70, in the 1988 NCAA Tournament), including the seventh in the regular season. 

--K-State had a tremendous semester in the classroom, as the team had a cumulative 2.839 GPA (the highest in 12 years) during the Fall 2012 semester.  A program-best eight players - Adrian Diaz, Rodney McGruder, Angel Rodriguez, Brian Rohleder, Ryan Schultz, Shane Southwell, Will Spradling and Nino Williams - were named to the Fall Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll on Jan. 9.  Rohleder was one of 31 student-athletes to post a perfect 4.0 GPA during the semester.

BALANCED ATTACK
K-State has proven to be a balanced team across the board with six players averaging five or more points, including just one in double figures, and seven averaging three or more rebounds per game.  Senior Rodney McGruder (15 ppg.) is the only Wildcat to average in double figures (ranks fourth in the Big 12 in scoring), while five others - Angel Rodriguez (9.9 ppg.), Will Spradling (8.3 ppg.), Shane Southwell (7.9 ppg.) and Thomas Gipson (7.8 ppg.) - are averaging better than seven points per contest.  The team has seen nine players collect 64 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (17) leading the way, while the squad has seven players with 45 or more field goals made with McGruder's 131 tied for the most in the Big 12.  Only Baylor (10) has more players with double-digit scoring efforts in the Big 12, while K-State joins Iowa State and West Virginia as the only league schools with seven different players with 45 or more made field goals.  In all, the Wildcats have had six players lead or share the lead in scoring led by McGruder (11). Gipson (5.5 rpg.) paces the squad in rebounding, while McGruder (5.3 rpg.) and Jordan Henriquez (4.2 rpg.) are also averaging better than four rebounds per game.  The team has seen eight players either lead or share the lead in rebounding with McGruder and Gipson leading the way on six occasions each.

The Wildcats have also been diverse in other categories, including seven players with 10+ assists and eight  with 10+ steals.  Rodriguez has dished out a team-best 99 assists (52 in Big 12 play) with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists.  Rodriguez also has a team-high 27 steals (17 in Big 12 play), while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals.  Four players -- McGruder (31.7 mpg.), Spradling (29.8), Rodriguez (25.3) and Southwell (23.5) -- are averaging more than 20 minutes, while seven others are averaging 10+ minutes.  Seven players have at least one start with McGruder and Spradling starting all 23. 

LINEUP CHANGE 
The switch to a four-guard lineup has proved to be a pivotal decision by Bruce Weber, as the Wildcats are averaging 67.5 points on 45.3 percent shooting, including 36.9 percent from 3-point range, since making the change 14 games ago.  The squad has posted a 12-2 mark in those 14 games, including victories over No. 8/9 Florida, No. 22/21 Oklahoma State, Oklahoma (twice) and Iowa State.  Although the team scored nearly 71 points in their first nine games (before the switch), they are shooting nearly five percent higher from the field (45.3 from 40.8), three percent higher from 3-point range (36.9 from 33.3) and posting more 3-pointers (6.7 from 6.0), while dishing out more assists (15.8 from 15.6) and producing fewer turnovers (11.1 from 12.8) in the last 14 games.    The Wildcats have connected on better than 45 percent from the field in eight of those games, including 50 percent or better on five occasions, while shooting 40 percent or better from 3-point range in six games.  Rodney McGruder is averaging five more points per game (16.9 from 11.9) on nearly 10 percent higher field goal percentage (48.4 from 37.8) in the last 14 games, while Shane Southwell has improved his average from 6.3 points in first nine to 8.6 points in the last 14 games.

HEATING UP FROM THE FIELD
K-State is starting to find more of an offensive rhythm in Big 12 play, where the Wildcats rank first in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (38.6) and second in field goal percentage (45.3) and 3-point field goals made (7.6) 10 games into the conference season.  The squad has connected on 43 percent or better from the field in eight of its 10 league games, including better than 50 percent against West Virginia and Iowa State (twice), while the 249 field goals made are the third-most in the Big 12.  The team has shot better than 35 percent from 3-point range in seven league games with nine or more 3-point makes in four contests.  Rodney McGruder ranks second in Big 12 games in 3-point field goals (2.4) and 3-point field goal percentage (45.3), fourth in scoring (16.6 ppg.) and sixth in field goal percentage (49.2), while Shane Southwell is eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (39.5) and 11th in 3-point field goals made (1.7) in Big 12 games.  Angel Rodriguez, who has 42 assists to just 11 turnovers in the last eight games, is tops in league-only contests in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.9) and third in assists (5.2 apg).

PROTECTING THE BALL
K-State has been solid protecting the ball, as the squad ranks first in the Big 12 in both assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3) and turnover margin (+2.7).  Thus far, the Wildcats have produced a Big 12-low 11.8 turnovers per game, while forcing its foes into an average of 14.4 turnovers (fourth-most in the Big 12).  The team has 14 or fewer miscues in 17 games, including a season-low six against Texas, while they have forced their foes into 18 or more turnovers six times, including a season-high 26 by Lamar. 

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 264 assists to 116 turnovers (2.3 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.  Rodriguez (2.4) ranks first in the Big 12 and 33rd nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, while Spradling's team-best ratio (2.7) is outside the minimums to rank.  Spradling, who has 62 assists to 23 turnovers, led the team with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio a season ago, while Rodriguez has made a notable improvement (99 assists to 42 turnovers) in the area after posting a 1.2 ratio (101 assists to 85 turnovers) as a freshman.  Irving has also drastically improved his ratio (2.0 from 1.5) with 49 assists to 24 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 2.0 ratio (54 assists to 27 turnovers) after posting a 1.6 ratio last year.

BENCH PRODUCTION
Adding to the K-State's balanced attack is the production from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 22.5 points, including a 517-374 edge over foes.  The team has collected at least 20 points from its bench in 13 games, including a season-high 45 points vs. North Dakota on Nov. 9 and Texas on Jan. 30.  Reserves have scored nearly half of the team's points five times this season with Thomas Gipson posting the scoring lead against North Dakota (13), Delaware (12) and Texas (17), while Shane Southwell had a game-high 16 points vs. Alabama-Huntsville and Nino Willams tallied a career-high 17 points against No. 22/21 Oklahoma State.  The rebounding leader has come from the bench in 10 games with Gipson posting team-highs vs. Delaware (6), Texas (7) and Iowa State (7).  Since moving back to the bench four games ago, Gipson is averaging 12.8 points on 61.8 percent shooting with 5.8 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game.  In that same period, Martavious Irving has also provided a lift from the bench, averaging 9.0 points on 48.1 percent, including 61.5 percent from 3-point range, in 20.3 minutes per game. Over 40 percent (358) of the team's rebounding total and nearly 35 percent (527) of the scoring total has come from the bench this season.

FOUL PROBLEMS
K-State is averaging 17.5 personal fouls per game this season, including 18.9 per game in its 10 Big 12 games.  Opponents have knocked down 261 free throws in 398 attempts, an average of 11.3 makes per game, with the Wildcats countering with 282 makes on 423 attempts for an average of 12.3 makes per game.  The 10 Big 12 opponents have combined to shoot 43 more free throws than K-State (193 to 150), while scoring 125 points (12.5 FT/m) to just 104 (10.4 FT/m) for the Wildcats from the line.

ON THE DEFENSIVE 
K-State has continued to be one of the best defensive teams in the nation, ranking 16th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (29.9), 18th in scoring defense (58.3) and 42nd in turnover margin (+2.7).  In all, the Wildcats rank either first or second in five Big 12 defensive categories, including first in scoring defense (58.3 ppg.), turnover margin (+2.7) and rebounding defense, third in 3-point field goal percentage defense and rebounding margin (+5.2) and fifth in field goal percentage defense (40.9). 

The 1,342 points surrendered through the first 23 games are the fewest in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the fewest since the 1982-83 squad allowed just 1,300 points (56.5 ppg.) through the first 23 games.  The current 58.3 points per game scoring average is the third-lowest since 1951 behind only the 1982-83 (56.5 ppg.) and 1981-82 (57.1 ppg.) squads.  The team has held 17 of its 22 opponents to 65 points or less, including nine to 55 points or less, while eight have been held under 40 percent shooting from the field and eight to 25 percent or less shooting from 3-point range.  The defensive effort has been even better in the first half, as the Wildcats are holding its 23 opponents to just 25.2 points on 37.7 percent shooting, including 28 percent from 3-point range.  It has held five opponents to 20 points or less in the first half.  The team's defense 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 was only surpassed by Savannah State's 15.5 percentage.

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.  The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 380-260 (an average of 16.5 points per game), through the first 23 games in points off of turnovers.  The squad has posted 10 or more points off of miscues in 18 of 23 games, including 20 or more points on six occasions, with a season-best 34 vs. Lamar on Nov. 12.  The team has out-scored its 10 Big 12 foes, 177-106 (an average of 17.7 points per game), in points off of turnovers, including 20 or more points in back-to-back wins over TCU and Oklahoma and a near season-best 33-point effort against Texas.  They are 14-1 when scoring more points off of turnovers.  The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 337-205 (an average of 17.7 points per game), in points off of turnovers in their 19 victories, while are being outscored 55-43 (an average of 10.8 points per game) in points off of turnovers in their four losses.  

K-State is forcing its opponents into 14.4 turnovers per game (fourth-most in the Big 12), including a season-high 26 by Lamar, while turning the ball a Big 12-low 11.8 times per game.  The 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 20th and first in the Big 12 with Angel Rodriguez boasting the league's best assist-to-turnover ratio and ranking 33rd nationally.  In Martin's five seasons, the Wildcats averaged 18.2 points per game off of turnovers.  Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in that period came off of offense generated from miscues.  The school has scored 500 or more points off of opponent turnovers in six straight seasons.

CLOSE GAMES
Although they have dropped games to No. 3/2 Kansas and Iowa State by a combined 10 points, the Wildcats have been successful in close games this season, posting an 11-2 record in games decided by 10 points or less and a 6-2 mark in games decided by six points or less, including five Big 12 wins.  Angel Rodriguez, who knocked down the game-winning free throws in the last five seconds in the win at Oklahoma and was 6-of-6 in the last 2:24 in the win over Iowa State, paces the team in free throws (21), free throws attempted (24) and free throw percentage (87.5) in the last five minutes of games.  Will Spradling, who is also solid from the line in clutch situations (19-of-24 in the last five minutes this season and 77-of-94 for his career), went 10-of-10 from the line in the last 35 seconds in wins over Delaware, George Washington and Texas Southern.   Rodney McGruder (12-of-15) and  Shane Southwell (8-of-10) have all been solid from the line in the last five minutes of games.  In the 65-64 win over West Virginia on Jan. 12, Southwell knocked down two free throws in the last 21 seconds and also blocked the game-winning shot with one second left.  With the score tied at 50-all against Oklahoma on Feb. 2, Rodriguez knocked down a pair of game-winning free throws with just 5.6 seconds left.  The team went 9-of-9 from the line in the last five minutes vs. Iowa State.   

REBOUNDING BECOMING A BIGGER PRIORITY
Rebounding had been a source of strength earlier in the season, but has now become a source of concern since the start of Big 12 play, where the Wildcats rank fifth in rebounding margin (+0.3), seventh in defensive rebounds (21.2) and ninth in rebounds (31.4) and offensive rebounds (10.2).  Since switching to a four-guard line-up 14 games ago, the squad is averaging 33.4 rebounds, including 11.1 offensive rebounds, with opponents posting 30.3 rebounds, including 10.0 offensive rebounds.  In the team's first nine games, they averaged 42.6 rebounds, including 18.2 offensive rebounds, with its foes posting 34.1 rebounds, including 11.3 offensive rebounds. The Wildcats out-scored their opponents, 153-99 (+54), in second chance points in its first nine games, but has since held just a 157-151 (+6) edge in second chance points in the last 14 games.  However, since being out-rebounded by 14 (70-56) and allowing 15 more (27-12) second-chance points in back-to-back losses to Kansas and Iowa State, K-State has out-rebounded its last four opponents by 17 (132-115) and registered 21 more (56-35) second-chance points. 

K-State still boasts solid overall rebounding numbers, where it ranks first in offensive rebounds (13.9), third in rebounding margin (+5.2) and seventh in rebounds (37.0) in 23 games.  Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their foes by a 850-731 margin, including 319-242 on the offensive end.  The squad is 16-0 this season when out-rebounding its opponent, but just 3-4 when it is out-rebounded.  K-State has at least 10 offensive rebounds in 19 games with a season-high 29 against North Florida on Nov. 18.  Sophomore Thomas Gipson (5.5 rpg.) ranks 19th in the Big 12 in rebounding, while he is sixth (2.6) in offensive rebounds. 

McGRUDER AMONG ELITE COMPANY 
Senior Rodney McGruder (1,373 points & 587 rebounds) became just the 11th player in K-State history to crack the 1,300-point plateau against Kansas on Jan. 22, while also cracking school's all-time Top 10 scoring list.  He sits eighth in scoring at K-State after passing Chuckie Williams (1,364; 1972-76) with 22 points against Iowa State.  He is now one of just six players in school history with at least 1,300 points and 500 rebounds in a career, joining Rolando Blackman (1,844 points & 607 rebounds), Bob Boozer (1,685 points & 824 rebounds), Cartier Martin (1,546 points & 546 rebounds), Ed Nealy (1,304 points & 1,069 rebounds). 

McGruder ranks in the Top 10 of 12 other career categories, including consecutive starts (90, 3rd), games (123, 5th), 3-point field goals (172, 5th), 3-point field goals attempted (439, 5th), 3-point field goal percentage (39.2%, 6th), minutes (3,265, 6th), starts (90, 7th), double-digit scoring games (74, 7th), consecutive games (99, 8th), field goals (495, 9th), steals (97, 9th) and field goal attempts (1,090, 10th).  He ranks in the Top 15 in five Big 12 categories, including field goals (1st), scoring (4th), minutes (8th), 3-point field goals (9th) and field goal percentage (13th).  He ranks fourth in scoring in Big 12-only games (16.6 ppg.), while he is second in 3-point field goals and 3-point field goal percentage and sixth in field goal percentage.
 
McGRUDER NAMED PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR FOURTH TIME 
Senior Rodney McGruder earned Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honors for the fourth time in seven weeks on Jan. 21 after helping K-State run its winning streak to eight games.  McGruder's four Big 12 Player of the Week awards break his tie with Michael Beasley (three, 2007-08) for the most by a Wildcat in a single-season, while McGruder's five overall weekly awards are the most-ever by a K-State player in the Big 12 era.  He first won the weekly honor as a junior on Dec. 26, 2011 then this season on Dec. 10 and 24, 2012 and again on Jan. 7.  McGruder posted back-to-back 20-point outings for the first time this season, as he averaged a team-best 20.5 points on 55.6 percent shooting (15-of-27), including 46.7 percent (7-of-15) from 3-point range, with 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals in 36 minutes per game in wins over TCU and Oklahoma.  McGruder opened the week with a 21-point effort in a road win over the Horned Frogs then followed with his fifth 20-point outing in a win over the Sooners.  It was his 17th and 18th 20-point games of his career with the Wildcats posting an impressive 16-2 mark in those contests.

SOUTHWELL'S JUMP IN PRODUCTION
Junior Shane Southwell has made quite the jump in his productivity in year three, as he is averaging 7.9 points on 45.3 percent shooting, including 41.5 percent from 3-point range, with 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 23.5 minutes per game with 14 starts in 21 games played.  That production has been even more of factor during the team's last 14 games (of which the team is 12-2), as he is averaging 8.6 points on 42.1 percent shooting, including 38.5 percent from 3-point range, with 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 27.5 minutes per game in 14 starts.  Southwell had a huge game in the win against West Virginia on Jan. 12, as he knocked down two free throws in the last 21 seconds to give the Wildcats the lead then blocked the game-winning shot with just one second remaining.  After a career-high 19 points against No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22, he posted 11 points against Iowa State on Jan. 26 to give him double-digit points for the 10th time in his career (8 K-State wins), including the sixth time this season.  He entered the 2012-13 campaign averaging just 2.5 points on 36.1 percent shooting, including 25 percent from 3-point range, with 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 14.8 minutes per game with 62 games played and 19 starts during his two-year career.
 
RODRIGUEZ'S IMPROVED PLAY 
Sophomore Angel Rodriguez has made steady improvement from his freshman to his sophomore season, as he ranks first or second on the team in six categories, including first in assists (99) and steals (27) and second in scoring (9.9 ppg.) and double-figure scoring games (12).  He has helped the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio and turnover margin and and second in assists, while he places in the league's Top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4, 1st), assists (4.7, 4th) and steals (1.3, 9th) and paces the league in conference-only assist-to-turnover ratio (2.9) and is third in assists (5.2).  He has scored in double figures 12 times, including a career-best 20 points against Iowa State on Saturday to go with game-highs against Lamar (19), George Washington (17) and Gonzaga (14).  He nearly had his first career double-double against Oklahoma on Jan. 19 with 12 points and a career-high nine assists.  In Big 12 play, he has 52 assists to just 18 turnovers, including a remarkable 42 assists to 11 turnovers in the last eight games.  He was named to the NIT Season Tip-Off All-Tournament Team after averaging 11 points and 5.5 assists in two games in New York, as the team finished in second place to tournament champion Michigan.

SPRADLING COMING UP CLUTCH
Junior Will Spradling has been a model of consistency from the free throw line, knocking down 38-of-44 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 83.2 (163-of-196), 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 first on the team in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7).  He also places fifth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (36.5), ninth in 3-point field goals (1.5) and 12th in assists (2.7 apg.).  He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (35), second in assists (62) and third in scoring (8.3 ppg.), steals (21) and  double-digit scoring games (10), while he tallied a season-high 17 points against Florida on Dec. 22.  Since going scoreless against Kansas on Jan. 22, he has posted double-digit efforts at Iowa State (15) and at Oklahoma (12).

WILLIAMS EMERGING AS A KEY RESERVE
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 22 of 23 games with the third-most starts (11), averaging 4.9 points on 45.1 percent shooting (46-of-102) with 3.8 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game.  He had career week in wins against South Dakota and No. 22/21 Oklahoma State, in which, he averaged 16.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting with 6.0 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game.  He tallied a career-best 16 points vs. South Dakota on 7-of-10 field goals before eclipsing that mark with 17 points off the bench against OSU on 7-of-11 field goals.  If you include the Kansas City game, he averaged 13.7 points on 51.5 percent shooting with 8.3 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per game in a three-game period from Dec. 29 to Jan. 5.

GIPSON A FACTOR DOWN LOW
Since returning to the bench four games ago, sophomore Thomas Gipson has become a big presence in the paint for K-State, as he is averaging 12.8 points on 61.8 percent shooting (21-of-34) with 5.8 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game.  His 21 field goals in that span are tops on the team, while 12.8 scoring average is second only to Rodney McGruder.  He has scored in double figures in three of the four games, including a game-high 17 points against Texas on Jan. 30 to go with a team-high seven rebounds in 21 minutes.  Gipson, who had started 13 consecutive games prior to coming off the bench against the Longhorns, posted his individual high in a Big 12 game, while his 16 points against Iowa State gave him double-digits for the ninth time this season.  He came into the Texas game on Jan. 30, averaging just 4.7 points on 45.5 percent shooting and 2.8 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game in Big 12 play.  He had arguably his best all-around game against Texas Southern on Dec. 18 with 14 points, 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.  The leader in rebounds at 5.5 per game, he ranks 19th in the Big 12 in rebounds, while his sixth in offensive rebounds at 2.6 per game. 

IRVING PROVIDING A LIFT FROM THE BENCH
Senior Martavious Irving has provided a scoring lift from the bench of late, posting double figures in each of the last three games for the first time in his career.  He has scored 10 points each in the two road wins at Oklahoma and Texas Tech to go with another 10 against Iowa State on Saturday.  In the last four games, he is averaging 9.0 points on 48.1 percent shooting, including a team-best eight 3-pointers on a stellar 61.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc, in 20.3 minutes per game.  Although his numbers aren't high enough for Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year mention, he has still been one of the major factors for the team's success with 5.0 points, 2.3 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game.  He is one of five players with 20+ 3-pointers.

UP NEXT: BAYLOR (15-8, 6-4 Big 12)
K-State will play the first of back-to-back home games on Saturday, as the Wildcats play host to Baylor at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

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