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Big 12 Title On Line as K-State/OSU Play Saturday


GO WILDCATS
Senior Rodney McGruder, along with fellow seniors Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving, will go for their 100th win on Saturday.

GO WILDCATS
Senior Rodney McGruder, along with fellow seniors Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving, will go for their 100th win on Saturday.
GO WILDCATS

March 8, 2013

Game Notes  |  Live Stats  |  Live Audio  |  ESPN3
Big 12 Network Clearances

Game 31

9/10 Kansas State (25-5, 14-3 Big 12) at 13/14 Oklahoma State (22-7, 12-5 Big 12)
Saturday, March 9, 2013 * 12:47 p.m. CT
Stillwater, Okla. * Gallagher-Iba Arena (13,611)

Television: Big 12 Network
Mitch Holthus (play-by-play); Bryndon Manzer (analyst)
Channels: KMCI (Kansas City), KSAS (Wichita), KSNT (Topeka)
Internet: www.ESPN3.com and WatchESPN

Radio: K-State Sports Network

Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 138/XM 195 (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 450-452 (155-235 on the road)
vs. Oklahoma State: K-State leads 73-47 (24-28 on the road)
Last Meeting: K-State won 73-67 (1/5/2013 in Manhattan)

9/10 Kansas State (25-5, 14-3 Big 12)
Head coach: Bruce Weber (Wisconsin-Milwaukee `78)
School Record: 25-5 (1st season)  * Career Record: 338-160 (15th season)  * vs. OSU: 2-0

13/14 Oklahoma State (22-7, 12-5 Big 12)
Head coach: Travis Ford (Kentucky `94)
School Record: 102-62 (5th season)  * Career Record: 292-208 (16th season)  * vs. K-State: 3-4

THE GAME
No. 9/10 Kansas State (25-5, 14-3 Big 12) will play for a conference championship for the first time in 36 seasons on Saturday, as the Wildcats end the regular season with a trip to Stillwater, Okla., to play No. 13/14 Oklahoma State (22-7, 12-5 Big 12) before a sold-out Gallagher-Iba Arena at 12:47 p.m.  The game will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Network with Mitch Holthus (play-by-play) and Bryndon Manzer (analyst) on the call.  After closing the home season with a 79-68 win over TCU on Tuesday, K-State enters the final day of the regular season in a tie for first place with No. 4/3 Kansas (26-4) at 14-3 in league play.  A win against the Cowboys or a Kansas loss at Baylor would secure the school at least a share of its first regular-season conference title since the 1976-77 team won the Big Eight crown with an 11-3 mark.  The Wildcats have already clinched a bye to the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, which is set for March 13-16 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., with the squad playing Thursday as either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed.  K-State has already posted its most regular season wins in school history and just its fifth 25-win season to go with a school-record trying 14 conference wins, while also assuring itself of at least equaling its Big 12 era-best second-place finish in 2009-10.  A win on Saturday would also give the trio of seniors Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder - already the winningest senior class in school history - their 100th career victory.    

TELEVISION NOTE
Saturday's contest will be the eighth and final game on the Big 12 Network.  The league television package can be seen locally on KMCI-TV in Kansas City, KSAS-TV in Wichita and KSNT-TV in Topeka.  The game can also seen in the region on KTXA-TV in Dallas, Altitude in Denver, KTVI-TV in St. Louis, WHMB in Indianapolis, COX in New Orleans, KOCB-TV in Oklahoma City, KMYT-TV in Tulsa, KUBE-TV in Houston and KCWX-TV in San Antonio. The game can also been viewed on ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN app.

K-STATE IN THE POLLS
K-State moved four spots to No. 9 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll and three spots to No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll on Monday.  It marked the 11th straight week that the Wildcats have been ranked in the AP poll and ninth consecutive week the team has been ranked in both polls.  The No. 9 ranking is the highest in the AP poll since placing No. 6 on Dec. 13, 2010, while it is the first time this season that the team has been in both polls'  Top 10.  K-State is 254-94 (.730) all-time as a ranked team.  

THE OPPONENT
No. 13/14 Oklahoma State (22-7, 12-5 Big 12) saw its three-game winning streak end in an 87-76 loss at Iowa State on Wednesday.  Despite the loss, the squad has won 10 of its last 12 games since starting league play with a 2-3 record.  The Cowboys are averaging 72.7 points on 44.1 percent shooting, including 31.7 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to 62.1 points on 39 percent shooting, including 32.4 percent from beyond the arc.  Senior Markel Brown paces four players in double figures with a team-high 15.6 points per game average, while National Freshman of the Year candidate Marcus Smart is second at 14.9 points per game to go with team-highs in both 4.3 assists and 3.0 steals per game.  Le'Bryan Nash (13.9 ppg.) and Phil Forte (10.6 ppg.) also average in double figures, while sophomore Michael Cobbins is tops in rebounding (6.3 rpg.) and blocks (1.5 bpg.).  Head coach Travis Ford has a 292-208 record in his 16th season as a coach, including a 102-62 mark in his fifth season at OSU.

LAST MEETING: 25/RV KANSAS STATE 73, 22/21 OKLAHOMA STATE 67 [JAN. 5, 2013]
Rodney McGruder scored 26 of his game-high 28 points in the second half, as No. 25 K-State posted a 73-67 win over No. 22/21 Oklahoma State in the teams' last meeting on Jan. 5 at Bramlage Coliseum.  The 26 second-half points by McGruder were the most by a Wildcat in a half since Denis Clemente went for 32 points in the second half of a win at Texas on Jan. 31, 2009.  Nino Williams also scored in double figures with 17 points off the bench.  The Wildcats connected on 45 percent from the field and posted assists on 19 of 27 field goals.  The squad held 39-29 edge on the glass and scored 18 points off of second-chance points.

SERIES
This will be the 121st meeting between K-State and Oklahoma State with the Wildcats holding a 73-47 lead in a series that dates back to 1927.  The Cowboys lead the series, 28-24, in games played in Stillwater, while they are 13-6 since the start of the Big 12, including 8-1 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.  The Wildcats have won three straight in the series, including a 66-58 win in their last visit on Jan. 21, 2012.  The current three-game winning streak is the longest since posting five straight wins from 1986-88.  

QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE
--Kansas State's 25 wins tie three other teams for the second-most in a single-season in school history with only the 2009-10 squad (29) posting more wins.  The 25 wins are the most-ever in a regular season at K-State, while the 25-5 start is the best after 30 games (surpassing the 2009-10 team which went 24-6).  It is the 26th 20-win season in school history, including a school-record seventh consecutive 20-win season.  The 14 wins in Big 12 play tie the 1958-59 team for the most in school history, while the team is guaranteed to finish in at least second place (which would tie for the best in Big 12 era).  The Wildcats now have 10+ wins in conference play six times in the last seven seasons.  Four of the five losses have been to teams (Gonzaga, Kansas and Michigan) ranked No. 1 in either the AP or the Coaches' poll at some point this year. The team 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 25-5 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 mark.  Weber's 25 wins are the most by a first-year head coach, while he is just the fourth to win 20 games in his first year, joining Bob Huggins (23, 2006-07), Frank Martin (21, 2007-08) and Lon Kruger (20, 1986-87).  His eight-game winning streak (Dec. 18, 2012-Jan. 19, 2013) was the second-longest by a first-year head coach and the longest since Clevenger's 1916-17 squad ended the year with 13 straight wins.  His 14 Big 12 wins are also the most by first-year head coach.

--K-State is enjoying an outstanding 2012-13 athletics season, as the Wildcats have one of the best records (50-23, .685) among BCS schools when combining its football and men's and women's basketball teams.  The school, which won the Big 12 title in football in 2012 for just the second time, is one of 20 teams (along with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) with 50+ combined wins among its three major sports.  Only twice in Big 12 history (Oklahoma, 2004-05 and Texas, 2005-06) has a school won the conference title in both football and men's basketball in the same academic year, while K-State is one of three schools (Florida and Louisville) to finish in the Top 15 in football (12th) and currently rank in Top 15 in men's basketball.  

--K-State has built a solid resume, as the Wildcats boast a No. 21 RPI in the latest ESPN rankings.  The team is one of six Big 12 schools in the Top 70 of the RPI, including Kansas (5), Oklahoma (25), Oklahoma State (30), Iowa State (51) and Baylor (67). 

--The three-man senior class of Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder became the winningest class in school history on Feb. 25 vs. Texas Tech, earning its 97th victory.  The trio currently boasts a 99-35 (.739) overall record during their careers, which is three more than the 2011-12 class (Victor Ojeleye and Jamar Samuels) for the most wins by a class. They are the fourth straight class to tally 90 or more wins in their career, while they are attempting to become just the second in school history (1989-90) to advance to the NCAA Tournament in four straight seasons.  The three seniors will all finish in Top 10 of the career games played list, as McGruder (130) is third, Irving (125) is fifth and Henriquez (121) is tied for eighth. 

--18 of K-State's 30 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 18 of their last 19 home games, including 17 of 18 at Bramlage Coliseum.  The Texas Tech win on Feb. 25 gave the school 300 victories in the arena's 25-year history, while the win vs. TCU tied the 2008-09 and 2010-11 teams for the most wins (16) at Bramlage Coliseum and the 2010-11 squad for the highest home winning percentage (16-1, .941).      

--K-State is 7-2 in road games this season, winning at George Washington, West Virginia, TCU, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and Baylor to go with losses at Iowa State and Kansas.  The seven road wins this season tie the 2009-10 team for the most in the Big 12 era and the most since the 1987-88 squad won eight, while the six in league play also tie the 2009-10 team for the most in the Big 12 play.  The Wildcats have improved their play on the road in the Big 12, posting a 30-26 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 earned its highest ranking at No. 9 on Monday.  The No. 9 ranking is the highest since checking in at No. 6 on Dec. 13, 2010.  The Wildcats are also a  season-best No. 10 in the latest USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll, which marked the ninth straight week the team has been ranked in both polls.  The Wildcats have a 254-94 (.730) record as a ranked team since first being ranked in 1949-50.

--K-State has a combined 9-1 record in the months of February and March this season, which is the best record in the Big 12.  Since the 2008-09 season, the Wildcats are a combined 45-18 (.714) in the two months, including 32-7 (.821) in February. 

--K-State ranks in the Top 50 in six categories, including 12th in assists, 17th in assist-to-turnover ratio, 28th in offensive rebounds, 32nd in scoring defense, 37th in scoring margin and 48th in turnover margin.  The team places first in the Big 12 in scoring defense, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio and rebounding defense, second in 3-point field goal percentage, turnover margin and offensive rebounds and third in 3-point field goals.  In Big 12-only games, the Wildcats rank first in field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage, rebounding defense, assists, turnover margin and assist-to-turnover ratio and second in scoring defense.
    
--K-State owns a 10-0 record against Texas-based schools (Baylor, Lamar, TCU, Texas, Texas Southern, Texas Tech) in 2012-13.  The Wildcats have won these 10 games by an average of 14.6 points per game, including season sweeps of Baylor, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech.  In its eight Big 12 wins over Texas schools, K-State won games by an average of 11.5 points per game.
    
--The Feb. 18 meeting with West Virginia marked the 12th time K-State has faced a former head coach (Tex Winter, Lon Kruger and Bob Huggins) with the Wildcats winning five (including four this season) of those occurrences.  Prior to 2013, the last victory over a former coach came in a 95-80 win over Kruger's UNLV squad on Dec. 12, 2009.  K-State lost twice to Winter (Washington in 1971 and LBSU in 1978), while the Wildcats are now 4-4 vs. Kruger and 2-1 vs. Huggins (2011, 2013).  Interestingly enough, the Wildcats are 6-0 vs. coaches prior to them coming to K-State, going 1-0 vs. Winter at Marquette (1953), 3-0 vs. Jack Hartman at Southern Illinois (1964, 1968 and 1969), 1-0 vs. Kruger at Texas-Pan American (1986) and 1-0 vs. 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.  McGruder (first team) and Spradling (second team) were selected to the Academic All-Big 12 Teams.

BALANCED ATTACK
K-State has proven to be a balanced team across the board with eight players averaging four or more points, including just two in double figures, and five averaging three or more rebounds per game.  Senior Rodney McGruder (14.8 ppg., 6th in Big 12) and sophomore Angel Rodriguez (11.5 ppg., 19th in Big 12) are the only Wildcats averaging in double figures, while three others - Shane Southwell (8.4 ppg.), Will Spradling (8.3 ppg.) and Thomas Gipson (8.1 ppg.) - are averaging better than eight points per contest.  The team has seen 10 players collect 92 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (24) leading the way, while the squad has eight players with 45+ field goals made with McGruder's 168 the second-most of any player in the Big 12.  K-State is the only Big 12 school to have eight players with 45+ made field goals and five players with 20+ 3-pointers, while Baylor is the only other league school with 10 players with double-digit scoring efforts.  The squad is 22-1 this season when scoring 65 or more points in a game, including 15-0 when scoring more than 70.  In all, the Wildcats have had six players lead or share the lead in scoring led by McGruder (14). McGruder and Gipson tie for rebounding lead at 5.2 per game, while Jordan Henriquez (4.8 rpg.) also averages better than four rebounds per game.  The team has seen eight players either lead or share the lead in rebounding with Henriquez leading the way in eight games and Gipson and McGruder in seven games apiece.

The Wildcats have also been diverse in other categories, including nine players with 10+ assists and eight with 10+ steals. 
Rodriguez has dished out a team-best 153 assists (106 in Big 12 play) with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists.  Rodriguez also has a team-high 42 steals (32 in Big 12 play), while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals.  Four players -- McGruder (32.7 mpg.), Spradling (28.9), Rodriguez (27.2) and Southwell (24.9) -- are averaging more than 20 minutes, while five others are averaging 10+ minutes.  Seven players have at least one start with McGruder starting all 30 games.

LINEUP CHANGE 
The switch to a four-guard lineup has proved to be a pivotal decision by Bruce Weber, as the Wildcats are averaging 69.4 points on 46 percent shooting, including 38 percent from 3-point range, since making the change 21 games ago.  The squad has posted an 18-3 mark in that span, including victories over No. 8/9 Florida, No. 22/21 Oklahoma State, Oklahoma (twice), Iowa State and Baylor (twice).  Although the team scored 70.8 points in their first nine games, they are shooting nearly five percent higher from the field (46.0 from 40.8), four percent higher from 3-point range (38.0 from 33.3) and posting more 3-pointers (7.1 from 6.0), while dishing out more assists (17.1 from 15.6) and producing fewer turnovers (11.1 from 12.8) in the last 21 games.  K-State has connected on better than 45 percent from the field in 13 of those games, including 50 percent or better on eight occasions, while shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range in 11 games.  Rodney McGruder is averaging four more points per game (16.1 from 11.9) on nearly 10 percent higher field goal percentage (46.7 from 37.8) in the last 21 games, while Shane Southwell has improved his average from 6.3 points in first nine to 9.1 points in the same span.

HEATING UP FROM THE FIELD
K-State has found more of an offensive rhythm in Big 12 play, where the Wildcats lead the league in field goal percentage (46.2), 3-point field goal percentage (39.2) and assists (17.1) and second in 3-point field goals made (7.8).  The squad has connected on 45 percent or better in 11 league games, including better than 50 percent against West Virginia (twice), Iowa State (twice), Texas Tech and TCU.  The team has shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range in 10 league games with 9+ 3-point makes in seven contests, including a season-high 12 vs. TCU.  Rodney McGruder ranks sixth in Big 12 games in scoring (15.7 ppg.), ninth in field goal percentage (46.6) and free throw percentage (74.6), 11th in 3-point field goal percentage (35.4)  and 14th in 3-pointers (1.7), while Angel Rodriguez is second in league-only contests in assists (6.2) and steals (1.9), third in free throw percentage (83.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6) and 12th in 3-point field goal percentage (34.5) and 14th in scoring (12.5 ppg.) and 3-pointers (1.7).  Shane Southwell ranks in the Top 10 in 3-point field goal percentage (45.1, 3rd) and makes (1.9, 9th).

PROTECTING THE BALL
K-State has been solid protecting the ball, as the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4) and second in turnover margin (+2.6).  Thus far, the squad has produced a Big 12-low 11.8 turnovers per game, while forcing its foes into an average of 14.4 turnovers (third-most in the Big 12).  The team has 14 or fewer miscues in 23 games, including a season-low six on three occasions, while they have forced their foes into 18+ turnovers seven times, including a season-high 26 by Lamar.  The Wildcats' 1.41 assist-to-turnover is currently the best for a single season in school history, ahead of the 1.28 posted by the 2004-05 teams, while the 354 turnovers are the fewest for a single season, ahead of the 358 by the 1983-84 squad.  The 499 assists rank seventh for a single season (46 from the school-record 545 in 2006-07) and the 16.6 assists per game average places third. 

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 364 assists to 161 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 third in the Big 12 and 44th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, while Spradling's team-best ratio (2.5) is outside the minimums to rank.  Spradling, who has 75 assists to 30 turnovers, led the squad with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio a season ago, while Rodriguez has made a notable improvement (153 assists to 65 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 62 assists to 31 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 2.1 ratio (74 assists to 35 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 21 points, including a 631-495 edge over foes.  The team has collected at least 20 points from its bench in 15 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 with Thomas Gipson posting the scoring lead vs. North Dakota (13), Delaware (12) and Texas (17), while Shane Southwell had a game-high 16 points vs. UAH and Nino Willams tallied a career-high 17 points vs. 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).  In an eight-game stretch from Jan. 30 to Feb. 23, Gipson averaged 9.8 points on 57.9 percent shooting with 4.6 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game before starting vs. Texas Tech on Feb. 25.  In the last 11 games, Martavious Irving has also provided a lift from the bench, averaging 6.5 points on 42.1 percent, including 53.3 percent from 3-point range, in 21.5 minutes per game.

ON THE DEFENSIVE 
K-State has continued to be one of the nation's best defensive teams, ranking 32nd in scoring defense (60.0), 48th in turnover margin (+2.6) and 59th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (31.5).  In all, the Wildcats rank either first, second or third in five Big 12 defensive categories, including first in scoring defense and rebounding defense, second in turnover margin and third in rebounding margin.  The team is fifth in 3-point field goal percentage defense and sixth in field goal percentage defense.

The 1,800 points surrendered through 30 games are the fewest in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the fewest since the 1982-83 squad allowed just 1,635 points (58.4 ppg.) through its 28-game schedule.  The current 60.0 points per game scoring average is the fifth-lowest since 1953 behind the 1981-82 (58.0),1982-83 (58.4), 1980-81 (59.4) and 1961-62 (59.8) squads.  The Wildcats have held 21 opponents to 65 points or less, including 10 to 55 points or less, while nine have been held under 40 percent shooting from the field and nine to 25 percent or less shooting from 3-point range.  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, 505-356 (an average of 16.8 points per game), through 30 games in points off of turnovers.  The squad has posted 10 or more points off of miscues in 25 of 30 games, including 20 or more points on nine occasions, with a season-best 34 vs. Lamar on Nov. 12.  The team has out-scored its 17 Big 12 foes, 302-202 (average of 17.8 points per game), in points off of turnovers, including 20+ points in wins over TCU (twice), Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech and a near season-best 33-point effort vs. Texas on Jan. 30.  They are 19-1 when scoring more points off of turnovers.  The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 451-282 (average of 18.0 points per game), in points off of turnovers in their 25 victories, while are being outscored 74-54 (an average of 10.8 points per game) in points off of turnovers in their five losses.  

K-State is forcing its opponents into 14.4 turnovers per game (third-most in Big 12), including a season-high 26 by Lamar, while turning the ball a Big 12-low 11.8 times per game.  The 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 17th and first in the Big 12 with Angel Rodriguez boasting the league's second-best assist-to-turnover ratio.  In Martin's five seasons, the Wildcats averaged 18.2 points per game off of turnovers.  Nearly 25 percent of the points scored from 2007-12 came off of offense generated from miscues.  With 505 this season, the school has now scored 500 or more points off of opponent turnovers in seven 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 a 13-2 record in games decided by 10 points or less and a 7-2 mark in games decided by six points or less, including seven Big 12 wins. Angel Rodriguez, who knocked down the game-winning free throws in the last five seconds in the win at Oklahoma on Feb. 2 and was 6-of-6 in the last 2:24 in the win over Iowa State on Feb. 9, paces the team in free throws (31), attempted (34) and percentage (91.2) in the last five minutes of games. Will Spradling, who is also impressive from the line in clutch situations (21-of-26 in the last five minutes this season and 79-of-96 for his career), went a combined 10-of-10 from the line in the last 35 seconds in wins over Delaware, George Washington and Texas Southern. Rodney McGruder (14-of-17) 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 at Oklahoma on Feb. 2, Rodriguez knocked down a pair of game-winning free throws with 5.6 seconds left.  McGruder hit the game-winning 3-pointer with one second left in a 64-61 win at Baylor on March 2, as the team is now 5-0 in games decided by three points or less.  It was the first buzzer-beating 3-pointer since 2003.  

REBOUNDING BECOMING A BIGGER PRIORITY
Rebounding had been a source of strength earlier in the season, but has now become more of a concern since the start of Big 12 play, where K-State ranks sixth in offensive rebounds (10.8) and rebounding margin (+0.1) and eighth in rebounding (31.0) and defensive boards (20.2).  Since switching to a four-guard line-up 21 games ago, the team is averaging 32.4 rebounds, including 11.3 offensive rebounds, with opponents posting 30.4 rebounds, including 10.5 offensive rebounds.  In the first nine games, they averaged 42.6 rebounds, including 18.2 offensive rebounds, while its foes posted 34.1 rebounds, including 11.3 offensive rebounds.
The Wildcats out-scored opponents, 153-99 (+54), in second chance points in its first nine games, while they own a 227-221 (+6) edge in second chance points in the last 21 games, including a 19-4 advantage vs. Texas Tech on Feb. 25.  In its three league losses, K-State has been out-rebounded by 32 (111-79) and allowed 32 more (46-14) second-chance points.  In contrast, in its 14 league wins, the squad has posted a +35 rebounding edge (449-414) and posted 37 more (169-132) second-chance points.

K-State still boasts solid overall rebounding numbers, where it ranks second in offensive rebounds (13.4), third in rebounding margin (+3.9) and eighth in rebounding (35.4).  Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their opponents by a 1063-945 margin, including 401-322 on the offensive end.  The team is 19-0 this year when out-rebounding its opponent, but just 6-5 when it is out-rebounded.  K-State has at least 10 offensive rebounds in 24 games with a season-high 29 against North Florida on Nov. 18.   

McGRUDER AMONG ELITE COMPANY 
Senior Rodney McGruder (1,474 points & 623 rebounds) recently became just the second player in K-State history to rank in the Top 10 in both career scoring (8th) and rebounding (9th  ), joining two-time consensus All-American Bob Boozer, whose 824 rebounds rank fourth all-time and his 1,685 points rank fifth.  He is just the eighth player to top 1,400 points in a career and one of just three players in school history with at least 1,400 points and 600 rebounds in a career, joining Rolando Blackman (1,844 points & 607 rebounds) and Bob Boozer (1,685 points & 824 rebounds).  He became the first Wildcat player in school history to collect 1,400 points, 600 rebounds, 150 assists and 100 steals in a career against West Virginia on Feb. 18.

McGruder ranks in the Top 10 of 14 career categories, including consecutive starts (97, 3rd), games (130, 3rd), 3-point field goals attempted (468, 4th), minutes played (3,517, 4th), 3-point field goals (177, 5th), double-digit scoring games (81, 5th), steals (110, 5th), starts (97, 6th),  field goals (532, 6th), consecutive games (106, 7th), field goal attempts (1,176, 8th) and 3-point field goal percentage (37.8%, 9th).  He ranks in the Top 20 in five Big 12 categories, including field goals (2nd), scoring (6th), minutes (7th), steals (8th) and field goal percentage (14th).  He ranks fifth in scoring in Big 12-only games, while he is second in minutes, eighth in steals, ninth in field goal percentage and free throw percentage and 11th in 3-point field goal percentage.  He has scored in double figures in 19 of the last 21 games (with seven 20-point games), including nine straight games.

McGRUDER NAMED TOP 30 CANDIDATE FOR NAISMITH AWARD 
Senior Rodney McGruder was named one of 30 candidates for the 2013 Naismith Men's College Player of the Year Award on Feb. 26 presented by AT&T and the Atlanta Tipoff Club.  McGruder becomes third Wildcat to be selected as a Top 30 candidate for the Naismith Award, joining Michael Beasley (2008) and Jacob Pullen (2010). The candidates were selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances to this point in the season.  In late March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will narrow down the list to four finalists.  McGruder leads the Wildcats in six categories, including scoring (14.8 ppg.), double-digit scoring games (24), 20-point games (eight), field goals (168), rebounding (5.2 rpg.) and minutes (32.7 mpg.).  Four times he has been named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week, winning the honor on Dec. 10 and 24, 2012 and Jan. 7 and 21. His 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 his five overall weekly awards are the most-ever by a K-State player in the Big 12 era. 
 
SOUTHWELL'S JUMP IN PRODUCTION
Junior Shane Southwell has made quite the jump in his productivity in year three, as he is averaging 8.4 points on 45.8 percent shooting, including a 45.2 percent from 3-point range, with 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 24.9 minutes per game with 21 starts in 28 games played.  That production has been even more of factor during the team's last 21 games (of which the team is 18-3), as he is averaging 9.1 points on 43.8 percent shooting, including 43.8 percent from 3-point range, with 4.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.0 steals in 28 minutes per game in 21 starts.  He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (35) and second in field goals (70) and assists (61) during this stretch, while he is third in scoring and steals. 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 left.  He first set his career-high for points (19) against No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22 then matched it against Baylor on Feb. 16 on a career-best six 3-pointers.  He has now posted double-digit points 13 times in his career (11 K-State wins), including nine times this season.  He entered the 2012-13 campaign averaging just 2.5 points on 36.1 percent shooting with 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 14.8 minutes per game with 62 games played and 19 starts.
 
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 (153) and steals (42) and second in scoring (11.5 ppg.) and double-figure scoring games (19).  He has helped the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio and second in turnover margin, while he places in the Top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4, 2nd), assists (5.5, 3rd) and steals (1.5, 5th) and ranks second in conference-only assists (6.2) and steals (1.9) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6) and free throw percentage (83.6).  He has scored in double figures 19 times, including 20-point games vs. Iowa State (20), Baylor (22) and TCU (21).  He tallied his first career double-double in the Feb. 16 win over Baylor with career-bests in points (22) and assists (10) then followed it up with another one vs. TCU on Tuesday with 21 points and a career-tying 10 assists.  In Big 12 play, he is averaging 12.5 points, 6.2 assists and 1.9 steals in 30.0 minutes per game.  He earned Phillips 66 Big 12 co-Player of the Week honors for the first time Feb. 18 after averaging 19.5 points, 8.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals in helping K-State split two games.  He currently ranks in the Top 5 for single-season assists per game (5.46, 3rd), assists (153, 4th) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.35, 5th).

SPRADLING COMING UP CLUTCH
Junior Will Spradling has been a model of consistency from the free throw line, knocking down 51-of-58 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 83.8 (176-of-210), 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 ranks second in assists (75) and 3-point field goals (43) and fourth in scoring (8.3 ppg.) and double-digit scoring games (12), while he matched his career-high with 19 points vs. West Virginia on Feb. 18.  Since going scoreless vs. Kansas on Jan. 22, he has posted double-digit efforts at Iowa State (15), Oklahoma (12), Kansas (10) and West Virginia (19).

GIPSON A FACTOR DOWN LOW
Sophomore Thomas Gipson has become a big presence in the paint in the last 11 games, as he is averaging 10.3 points on a team-best 60.3 percent shooting with 4.7 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per game.  His rebound total is second and scoring average and field goals (47) are third in that span behind only Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez.  He has scored in double figures in seven of the 11 games, including a game-high 20 points vs. Texas Tech on Feb. 25 to go with a team-high eight rebounds in 28 minutes.  Gipson, who had come off the bench in eight straight games before earning the start, posted his individual high in a Big 12 game vs. the Red Raiders, eclipsing his 17 points vs. Texas on Jan. 30.  For the season, Gipson is tops in field goal percentage (52.3) and rebounding (5.2 rpg.) and third in field goals (92) and double-digit scoring games (13).  Before the start of the 10-game streak, he was averaging 4.7 points on 45.5 percent shooting and 2.8 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game in Big 12 play.   

IRVING PROVIDING A LIFT FROM THE BENCH
Senior Martavious Irving has provided a scoring lift from the bench of late, posting double figures in three consecutive games (Feb. 2-9) to go with double-digit efforts at Baylor (11) and TCU (15).  He scored 10 points in the two road wins at Oklahoma and Texas Tech to go with 10 vs. Iowa State.  He earned his first start of the season on Senior Night vs. TCU, posting a season-high 15 points with five assists in 36 minutes.  In the last 11 games, he is averaging 6.5 points on 42.1 percent shooting, including a team-best 53.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc with 16 3-pointers, in 21.5 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 averages of 5.0 points, 2.2 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 19.6 minutes per game.  He is one of five players with 30+ 3-pointers.

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 has emerged as an impact player for K-State.  He has played in 29 of 30 games with 11 starts, averaging 4.7 points on 47.5 percent shooting with 3.4 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game.  He had career week in wins vs. South Dakota and No. 22/21 Oklahoma State in January, in which, he averaged 16.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting with 6.0 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game.  With the emergence of Shane Southwell in the four-guard offense, Williams playing time has diminished, where he is averaging 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game.  However, he has come through in a big way in recent wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech.  He scored 13 points against the Mountaineers on 6-of-8 field goals with five rebounds in 23 minutes before scoring 11 points against the Red Raiders on 5-of-8 field goals and seven rebounds.  He scored all 11 of his points vs. Texas Tech in a near four-minute span in the second half, in which, the Wildcats went from being down two points to taking a six-point lead.

UP NEXT: AT PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
K-State will open play in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Thursday, March 14 against an opponent to be determined.