No. 10/11 Kansas State (20-5, 9-3 Big 12) concludes its brief two-game homestand on Monday night, as the Wildcats welcome back former head coach Bob Huggins and his West Virginia Mountaineers (13-12, 6-6 Big 12) to Bramlage Coliseum. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN’s Big Monday with Brent Musburger (play-by-play) and Fran Fraschilla (analyst) on the call. This will be not only the first visit by Huggins since leaving K-State after the 2006-07 season to return to his alma mater, but the first visit by the Mountaineers to Manhattan, in this, their first season in the Big 12. This will mark the 12th time K-State has faced a former head coach (Tex Winter, Lon Kruger and Huggins) with the Wildcats winning four of those occurrences. The squad has three such wins this season, knocking off West Virginia, 65-64, on Jan. 12 to go with a season sweep of Kruger and his Oklahoma Sooners (the first since 1993). After Saturday’s 81-61 win over Baylor on Saturday, K-State kept pace in the Big 12 standings, as it remains in a three-way tie for first place with No. 14/13 Kansas and No. 17/16 Oklahoma State with 9-3 league records. Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma are all two games back with 7-5 records and West Virginia is three back with a 6-6 mark, as the Big 12’s Top 7 teams are separated by just three games with six games to go. The Wildcats look to continue their stellar play at Bramlage Coliseum, where they have won 14 of their last 15 games and boast a 13-1 record this season. The team saw its 11-game home winning streak end in a 59-55 loss to No. 3/2 Kansas, but have since posted wins over Texas, Iowa State and Baylor.
HUGGINS RETURNS TO K-STATE
Although Bob Huggins was K-State’s head coach for just one season, his impact was nothing short of monumental. He helped the Wildcats post their first 20-win season (23-12) since the 1998-99 season and the first in the regular season since 1987-88 en route to snapping an eight-year postseason drought with invitation to the NIT. The team’s current streak of seven consecutive 20-win season was started by Huggins in 2006-07. His 23 wins are still the most by a first-year coach in school history, while his squad was the first to post 10 Big 12 wins since the league’s inception in 1997. In addition to attracting the nation’s top recruiting class, he helped sell out Bramlage Coliseum for first time in its history, as season tickets went from 6,500 in 2005-06 to 13,000 in 2006-07. The Huggins’ hiring was dubbed the 2006 sports story of the year in the state of Kansas by The Associated Press.
K-STATE IN THE POLLS
K-State moved up in both major polls on Feb. 11, jumping three spots to No. 10 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll and four spots to No. 11 in the USA Today Coaches poll. It marks the eighth straight week that the Wildcats have been ranked in the AP poll, while the No. 10 ranking is the highest in the AP poll since also placing No. 6 on Dec. 13, 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 249-94 (.726) all-time as a ranked team.
West Virginia (13-12, 6-6 Big 12) enters Monday’s game as one of the Big 12’s hottest teams with four wins in its last five outings after starting league play with a 2-6 record. The Mountaineers are averaging 66.3 points on 40.9 percent shooting, including 31.6 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to 65.6 points on 43.3 percent shooting, including 35.4 percent from beyond the arc. Freshman Eron Harris (9.2 ppg.) leads a diverse offense with seven players averaging six or more points per game, while junior Aaric Murray adds 9.1 points to his team-best averages in rebounding (6.4 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.5 bpg.). Sophomore Juwan Staten paces in both assists (3.1 apg.) and steals (1.2 spg.) to go along with his 8.7 points per game average.
LAST MEETING: 18/23 KANSAS STATE 65, WEST VIRGINIA 64 [JAN. 12, 2013]
Shane Southwell made two free throws with 21 seconds left, then blocked Gary Browne’s lay-up attempt with a second left to preserve No. 18/23 Kansas State’s 65-64 win over West Virginia in the teams’ last meeting on Jan. 12 in Morgantown, W.Va. After Southwell’s free throws, the Mountaineers had two chances to retake the lead, but a great defensive effort by the Wildcats thwarted the comeback. Southwell and Rodney McGruder both scored a game-high 17 points for K-State.
This will be fourth meeting between K-State and West Virginia with the Wildcats holding a 2-1 lead in a series that dates back to 1949. Both K-State wins have come in Morgantown, a 49-44 victory on Dec. 12, 1949 and a 65-64 victory earlier this year. The Mountaineers won the only other meeting in the state of Kansas, an 85-80 double-overtime win in Wichita on Dec. 8, 2011.
QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE
--Kansas State’s 20-5 start is the seventh-best start in school history after 25 games and the best since the 2009-10 team went 21-4. The 1958-59 team posted the best start after 25 games (24-1), while the 1950-51, 1957-58 and 1961-62 squads were just one game back at 22-3 and the 1947-48 team went 21-4. It is the 26th 20-win season in school history, including a school-record seventh consecutive 20-win season. The 9-3 start to Big 12 play ties two others for the best since the league’s inception in 1997 and the best since the 2009-10 team also went 9-3. The nine league wins already surpass any single conference season from 1997-2006. The last team with a better start to league play was the 1973-74 squad, which went 11-1 to begin Big Eight play. K-State saw its season-best eight-game winning streak end vs. 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. Four of the five losses are to current Top 15 teams in No. 3/3 Michigan, No. 14/13 Kansas (twice) 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 20-5 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 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. He is just the fourth first-year Wildcat coach to have won 20 games, joining 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 44 wins tie for 17th nationally and its .698 winning percentage (44-19) 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 65-28 (.699) since August 24.
--K-State has built a solid resume, as the Wildcats boast a No. 19 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 (23) and Iowa State (47). 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 29-7 (.806) mark in the month since the 2008-09 season, including a 15-3 mark at home. Three of the seven February losses have come to Kansas (2009, 2012, 2013).
--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 94-35 (.729) record during their playing careers, which ranks sixth on the all-time wins list by a class. They are three 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.
--Fifteen of the 25 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 15 of their last 16 home games, including 14 of 15 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 5-2 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 losses at Iowa State (73-67) and Kansas (83-62). 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 28-26 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 best ranking at No. 10 on Monday. The No. 10 ranking is the highest since checking in at No. 6 on Dec. 13, 2010. The Wildcats improved to No. 10 in the AP poll and No. 11 in the USA Today Coaches poll on Feb. 11, which marked the sixth straight week the team has been ranked in both polls. The Wildcats have a 249-94 (.726) record as a ranked team since first being ranked in 1949-50.
--K-State ranks in the Top 50 nationally in five categories, including 23rd in assist-to-turnover ratio, 26th in assists, 32nd in scoring defense, 44th in 3-point field goal percentage defense and 49th in turnover margin. Angel Rodriguez (2.4) ranks 42nd nationally and tops in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio. The Wildcats place in the Top 5 in 14 of 21 Big 12 categories, including tops in scoring defense, assist-to-turnover ratio, turnover margin and offensive rebounds and second in 3-point field goal percentage and assists. In Big 12-only games, the squad ranks first in field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage, assists, turnover margin and assist-to-turnover ratio, second in 3-point field goals and third in scoring defense and steals.
--Monday’s meeting with West Virginia will mark the 12th 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 this season, the last victory over a former head coach came in a 95-80 win over a Kruger-coached UNLV squad on Dec. 12, 2009. 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.
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 (15.0 ppg., 5th in Big 12) and sophomore Angel Rodriguez (10.7 ppg., 20th in Big 12) are the only Wildcats averaging in double figures, while three others - Will Spradling (8.3 ppg.), Shane Southwell (8.3 ppg.) and Thomas Gipson (7.4 ppg.) - are averaging better than seven points per contest. The team has seen 10 players collect 71 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (19) leading the way, while the squad has seven players with 45 or more field goals made with McGruder’s 142 the most of any player in the Big 12. The 10 players with double-digit scoring efforts ties Baylor the most 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 (12). Gipson (5.3 rpg.) paces the squad in rebounding, while McGruder (5.3 rpg.) and Jordan Henriquez (4.5 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 pacing the squad in seven games.
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 115 assists (68 in Big 12 play) with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists. Rodriguez also has a team-high 33 steals (23 in Big 12 play), while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals. Four players -- McGruder (31.8 mpg.), Spradling (29.8), Rodriguez (26.1) and Southwell (24.3) -- 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 25.
The switch to a four-guard lineup has proved to be a pivotal decision by Bruce Weber, as the Wildcats are averaging 68 points on 45 percent shooting, including 37.8 percent from 3-point range, since making the change 16 games ago. The squad has posted a 13-3 mark in those 16 games, including victories over No. 8/9 Florida, No. 22/21 Oklahoma State, Oklahoma (twice), Iowa State and Baylor. 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 from 40.8), four percent higher from 3-point range (37.8 from 33.3) and posting more 3-pointers (7.1 from 6.0), while dishing out more assists (16.1 from 15.6) and producing fewer turnovers (11.0 from 12.8) in the last 16 games. The Wildcats have connected on better than 45 percent from the field in nine of those games, including 50 percent or better on five occasions, while shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range in eight games. Rodney McGruder is averaging five more points per game (16.7 from 11.9) on nearly 10 percent higher field goal percentage (48.1 from 37.8) in the last 16 games, while Shane Southwell has improved his average from 6.3 points in first nine to 9.3 points in the last 16 games.
HEATING UP FROM THE FIELD
K-State is starting to find more of an offensive rhythm in Big 12 play, where the Wildcats lead the league in field goal percentage (44.9), 3-point field goal percentage (39.4) and assists (15.8) and are second in 3-point field goals made (7.9) 12 games into the conference season. The squad has connected on 43 percent or better from the field in nine league games, including better than 50 percent against West Virginia and Iowa State (twice). The team has shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range in seven league games with nine or more 3-point makes in five contests, including 11 vs. Baylor. Rodney McGruder ranks fifth in Big 12 games in scoring (16.7 ppg.), sixth in field goal percentage (48.6), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (42.4) and eighth in 3-point field goals made (2.1), while Angel Rodriguez is first in league-only contests in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.0), second in steals (1.9), third in assists (5.7) and free throw percentage (81.8) and 15th in scoring (11.3 ppg.). Shane Southwell is fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (43.9) and eighth in 3-point field goals made (2.1) in Big 12 games.
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 (1.4) and turnover margin (+3.0). Thus far, the Wildcats have produced a Big 12-low 11.6 turnovers per game, while forcing its foes into an average of 14.6 turnovers (third-most in the Big 12). The team has 14 or fewer miscues in 19 games, including a season-low six against Texas and Baylor, while they have forced their foes into 18 or more turnovers seven 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 291 assists to 126 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 42nd nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, while Spradling’s team-best ratio (2.7) is outside the minimums to rank. Spradling, who has 66 assists to 24 turnovers, led the team with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio a season ago, while Rodriguez has made a notable improvement (115 assists to 47 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 (1.9 from 1.5) with 51 assists to 27 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 2.1 ratio (59 assists to 28 turnovers) after posting a 1.6 ratio last year.
Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 21.4 points, including a 535-391 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 six games ago, Gipson is averaging 9.5 points on 54.5 percent shooting with 4.8 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game. In that same period, Martavious Irving has also provided a lift from the bench, averaging 6.8 points on 48.4 percent, including 60 percent from 3-point range, in 18.7 minutes per game. Over 40 percent (369) of the team’s rebounding total and nearly 35 percent (535) of the scoring total has come from the bench this season.
K-State is averaging 17.5 personal fouls per game this season, including 18.7 per game in its 12 Big 12 games. Opponents have knocked down 291 free throws in 436 attempts, an average of 11.6 makes per game, with the Wildcats countering with 306 makes on 455 attempts for an average of 12.2 makes per game. The 12 Big 12 opponents have combined to shoot 49 more free throws than K-State (231 to 182), while scoring 155 points (12.9 FT/m) to just 128 (10.7 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 32nd in scoring defense (59.4), 44th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (30.8) and 49th in turnover margin (+2.5). In all, the Wildcats rank either first, second or third in five Big 12 defensive categories, including first in scoring defense, turnover margin and rebounding defense and third in rebounding margin. The team is also fourth in 3-point field goal percentage defense and sixth in field goal percentage defense.
The 1,486 points surrendered through the first 25 games are the fewest in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the fewest since the 1982-83 squad allowed just 1,439 points (57.6 ppg.) through the first 25 games. The current 59.4 points per game scoring average is the third-lowest since 1951 behind only the 1981-82 (56.8 ppg.) and 1982-83 (57.6 ppg.) squads. The team has held 18 of its 25 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 25 opponents to just 26.2 points on 39 percent shooting, including 29.8 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, 413-285 (an average of 16.5 points per game), through the first 25 games in points off of turnovers. The squad has posted 10 or more points off of miscues in 20 of 25 games, including 20 or more points on seven occasions, with a season-best 34 vs. Lamar on Nov. 12. The team has out-scored its 12 Big 12 foes, 210-131 (an average of 17.5 points per game), in points off of turnovers, including 20 or more points in wins over TCU, Oklahoma and Baylor and a near season-best 33-point effort against Texas. They are 15-1 when scoring more points off of turnovers. The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 359-211 (an average of 18.0 points per game), in points off of turnovers in their 20 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 14.6 turnovers per game (third-most in the Big 12), including a season-high 26 by Lamar, while turning the ball a Big 12-low 11.6 times per game. The 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 23rd and first in the Big 12 with Angel Rodriguez boasting the league’s best assist-to-turnover ratio and ranking 42nd 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.
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 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 (26), free throws attempted (29) and free throw percentage (89.7) in the last five minutes of games. Will Spradling, who is also solid from the line in clutch situations (21-of-26 in the last five minutes this season and 79-of-96 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, Rodriguez knocked down a pair of game-winning free throws with just 5.6 seconds left. The team went a combined 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 seventh in rebounding margin (-1.0), eighth in defensive rebounds (20.5), ninth in rebounds (30.8) and 10th in offensive rebounds (10.3). Since switching to a four-guard line-up 16 games ago, the squad is averaging 32.7 rebounds, including 11.1 offensive rebounds, with opponents posting 30.9 rebounds, including 10.1 offensive rebounds. In the team’s 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 their opponents, 153-99 (+54), in second chance points in its first nine games, but has since held been outscored 175-174 (-1) in second chance points in the last 16 games. 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 nine league wins, the squad posted a +20 rebounding edge (291-271) and posted 30 more (116-86) second-chance points.
K-State still boasts solid overall rebounding numbers, where it ranks first in offensive rebounds (13.6), third in rebounding margin (+4.2) and seventh in rebounds (36.2). Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their foes by a 906-802 margin, including 341-264 on the offensive end. The team is 17-0 this year when out-rebounding its opponent, but just 3-5 when it is out-rebounded. K-State has at least 10 offensive rebounds in 20 games with a season-high 29 against North Florida on Nov. 18.
McGRUDER AMONG ELITE COMPANY
Senior Rodney McGruder (1,403 points & 598 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 in eighth place on the all-time scoring list after passing Chuckie Williams (1,364; 1972-76) with 22 points against Iowa State on Feb. 9. He is now one of four players in school history with at least 1,400 points and 500 rebounds in a career, joining Rolando Blackman (1,844 points & 607 rebounds), Bob Boozer (1,685 points & 824 rebounds) and Cartier Martin (1,546 points & 546 rebounds). He is just two rebounds from becoming the first Wildcat player with 1,400 points, 600 rebounds and 100 steals in a career.
McGruder ranks in the Top 10 of 12 other career categories, including consecutive starts (92, 3rd), games (125, 4th), 3-point field goals (173, 5th), 3-point field goals attempted (445, 5th), minutes played (3,331, 4th), 3-point field goal percentage (38.9%, 6th), double-digit scoring games (76, 6th), starts (92, 7th), consecutive games (101, 8th), field goals (506, 9th), steals (102, 9th) and field goal attempts (1,114, 9th). He ranks in the Top 15 in five Big 12 categories, including field goals (1st), scoring (5th), minutes (8th), field goal percentage (13th) and 3-point field goals (14th) . He ranks fourth in scoring in Big 12-only games (16.3 ppg.), while he is sixth in field goal percentage, seventh in 3-point field goals and eighth in 3-point 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 a 20-point outing in a win over the Sooners. He has now collected 20 20-point games in his career with the Wildcats posting an impressive 17-3 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 8.3 points on 44.6 percent shooting, including 44.3 percent from 3-point range, with 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 24.3 minutes per game with 16 starts in 23 games played. That production has been even more of factor during the team’s last 16 games (of which the team is 13-3), as he is averaging 9.3 points on 41.7 percent shooting, including 42.4 percent from 3-point range, with 4.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 28.1 minutes per game in 16 starts. He ranks second on the team in assists and field goals (53) during that stretch, while he is second in 3-pointers (28) and 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 remaining. He first set his career-high for points (19) against No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22 then matched it against Baylor on Saturday with 19 on a career-best six 3-pointers. He has now posted double-digit points 11 times in his career (9 K-State wins), including seven 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 (115) and steals (33) and second in scoring (10.7 ppg.) and double-figure scoring games (14). He has helped the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio and turnover margin and second in assists, while he places in the league’s Top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4, 1st), assists (5.0, 4th) and steals (1.4, 7th) and paces the league in conference-only assist-to-turnover ratio (3.0) and is third in assists (5.7). He has scored in double figures 14 times, including 20-point games against Iowa State (20) and Baylor (22), to go with game-highs against Lamar (19), George Washington (17) and Gonzaga (14). He tallied his first career double-double in Saturday’s win over Baylor with career-bests in both points (22) and assists (10). In Big 12 play, he is averaging 11.3 points on 35 percent shooting with 5.7 assists and 1.9 steals in 29 minutes per game. 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 42-of-48 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 83.5 (167-of-200), 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 (2.8). He also places eighth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (36.5) and 12th in 3-point field goals (1.5). He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (38), second in assists (66) and third in scoring (8.3 ppg.) and double-digit scoring games (11), while he tallied a season-high 17 points vs. Florida on Dec. 22. Since going scoreless against Kansas on Jan. 22, he has posted double-digit efforts at Iowa State (15), Oklahoma (12) and Kansas (10).
GIPSON A FACTOR DOWN LOW
Since returning to the bench six games ago, sophomore Thomas Gipson has become a big presence in the paint for K-State, as he is averaging 9.5 points on 54.5 percent shooting (24-of-44) with 4.8 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game. His scoring average and field goals in that span are third on the team behind Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez. He has scored in double figures in three of the six 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 vs. Texas, 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. He is the team leader in rebounding at 5.3 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 three of the last five 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 Feb. 9. In the last six games, he is averaging 6.8 points on 48.4 percent shooting, including a team-best 60 percent shooting from beyond the arc with nine 3-pointers, in 18.7 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 4.7 points, 2.2 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 18.4 minutes per game. He is one of five players with 20+ 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 is starting to emerge as an impact player for K-State. He has played in 24 of 25 games with 11 starts, averaging 4.5 points on 45.2 percent shooting (47-of-104) with 3.5 rebounds in 14 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 the Cowboys 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.
UP NEXT: AT TEXAS (11-14, 3-9 Big 12)
K-State hits the road on Saturday, as the Wildcats travel to Austin, Texas to face Texas (11-14, 3-9 Big 12) at 7 p.m.