Kansas State's Shane Southwell (1) reacts after blocking a West Virginia shot in the final second of an NCAA college basketball game at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va., on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Kansas State defeated West Virginia 65-64. (AP Photo/David Smith)
16/18 Kansas State (14-2, 3-0 Big 12) vs. Oklahoma (12-3, 3-0 Big 12)
Saturday, January 19, 2013 * 3:01 p.m. CT
Manhattan, Kan. * Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)
Television: Big 12 Network (ESPN Full Court)
Dave Armstrong (play-by-play); Rich Zvosec (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 85/XM 85
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 leads 439-449 (240-161 at home)
vs. Oklahoma: Oklahoma leads 104-91 (55-35 at home)
Last Meeting: Oklahoma won 63-60 (1/28/2012)
No. 16/18 Kansas State (14-2, 3-0 Big 12) returns to the friendly confines of Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats welcome former player and head coach Lon Kruger and his Oklahoma Sooners (12-3, 3-0 Big 12) for a 3 p.m. tip on Legends Weekend. The game will be broadcast on the Big 12 Network with Dave Armstrong (play-by-play) and Rich Zvosec (analyst) on the call. Riding a season-long seven-game winning streak, the Wildcats are 3-0 in Big 12 play for just the second time since the league’s inception in 1997 and for the first time since the 2007-08 team won its first five conference contests. The overall seven-game winning streak is the longest since the team also won seven in a row from Feb. 2-27, 2010. Overall, K-State has posted 14 winning streaks of at least five games (including a 10-game streak from Nov. 21, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010) in the last six seasons. The Wildcats are 10-0 at home this season, including a 9-0 mark at Bramlage Coliseum, and have won 11 straight at home dating back to last season. The 10-game winning streak ties for seventh-longest in the arena’s 25-year history, including the longest since K-State rattled off 14 consecutive wins (ties for the longest) from Jan. 15, 2011 to Jan. 7, 2012. One of the greatest players in school history, Kruger was a two-time Big Eight Player of the Year before guiding the Wildcats to an 81-46 record and four NCAA Tournament appearances as head coach from 1986-90. This will mark the 10th time (and second this season) K-State has faced a former coach (Tex Winter, Kruger and Bob Huggins) with the Wildcats winning just two of those previous nine meetings (a 95-80 win over a Kruger-coached UNLV squad on Dec. 12, 2009 and a 65-64 win over Huggins’ West Virginia squad on Jan. 12). Kruger is 4-1 against his alma mater in stops at Illinois (1999), UNLV (2009, 2010) and Oklahoma (2012).
Saturday’s contest will be the third of eight games on the Big 12 Network. The league television package can be seen locally on KMCI-TV in Kansas City, KSAS-TV in Wichita and KSNT-TV in Topeka. The game can also seen in the Big 12 region on KTXA-TV in Dallas, KTVI-TV in St. Louis, KOCB-TV in Oklahoma City, KMYT-TV in Tulsa, WOI-TV in Des Moines, KXVO-TV in Omaha, KUBE-TV in Houston and KCWX-TV in San Antonio. All games on the Big 12 Network can be found on ESPN Full Court as well as ESPN3.com.
K-STATE IN THE POLLS
K-State is ranked in both major polls, jumping two spots in The Associated Press Top 25 poll to No. 16 and moving five spots in the USA Today Coaches poll to No. 18. It marks the fourth straight week that the Wildcats have been ranked in the AP poll, while the No. 16 ranking is the highest in the AP poll since placing 11th on Dec. 20, 2010. The program has now been ranked at least one week in each of the last four years, which had not happened since doing it six straight years from 1972-78.
Oklahoma (12-3, 3-0 Big 12) has won five games in a row, including three straight in Big 12 play, since losing its first and only home game of the year against Southland leader Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 18. The Sooners are averaging 69.3 points on 42.4 percent shooting, including 32.5 percent from 3-point range, while holding foes to 61.6 points on 40 percent shooting, including 29.2 percent from beyond the arc. A balanced team with seven players averaging five or more points, the Sooners are led by senior Romero Osby, who leads the squad in scoring (13.7 ppg.), field goal percentage (52.3) and rebounding (6.3 rpg.). Fellow senior Steven Pledger also averages in double figures at 11.5 points per game, while junior Amath M’Baye (9.8 ppg.) and freshman Buddy Hield (9.3 ppg.) nearly average in twin figures. One of just five head coaches to take four different schools to the NCAA Tournament, Kruger recently joined the 500-win club and enters the game with a 506-323 record in 27 seasons.
LAST MEETING: OKLAHOMA 63, 22/24 KANSAS STATE 60 [JAN. 28, 2012]
Steven Pledger scored a game-high 30 points, as Oklahoma swept the season series from No. 22/24 K-State with a 63-60 win at Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 28, 2012 in the teams’ last meeting. The Sooners scored 22 points off of 20 Wildcat turnovers. Rodney McGruder led two K-State players in double figures with 19 points, while Angel Rodriguez added 10 points.
This will be the 196th meeting between K-State and Oklahoma with the Sooners holding a 104-91 edge in a series that dates back to 1920. The Sooners are one of just two Big 12 teams to hold a series advantage over the Wildcats. K-State is 55-35 all-time in the series in Manhattan, however, Oklahoma has won five of the last seven meetings and is 8-9 all-time at Bramlage Coliseum.
QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE
--Kansas State’s 14-2 start ties for the best to start a season in the last 25 seasons with the 2009-10 team, which also produced a 14-2 start. The 3-0 start to Big 12 play is just the second since the league’s inception in 1997 and the first since the 2007-08 team won its first five conference contests. The win over No. 22/21 Oklahoma State on Jan. 5 snapped a four-game losing streak in Big 12 openers and was the first since an 84-82 win at Oklahoma on Jan. 12, 2008. It was also the first win in a home Big 12 opener since a 68-44 victory over Texas Tech on Jan. 11, 2002. The Wildcats’ two losses are to Top 10 teams in current No. 5/5 Michigan and No. 8/8 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 in school history. 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 14-2 record ties Zora Clevenger (1916-17) for the best start by a first-year K-State head coach in the program’s 109-year history. The best campaign by a first-year head coach in school history is still held by Clevenger, who led the Wildcats to a 15-2 (.882) mark in his inaugural season in 1916-17. The current seven-game winning streak ties for the second-longest by a first-year head coach with Tom Asbury (1994-95) and Bob Huggins (2006-07), while Clevenger owns the longest winning streak with 13 straight wins (Jan. 25-March 6, 1917) to end the 1916-17 campaign. Clevenger made most of his impact on the gridiron, where he was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and was the founder of the East-West Shrine game.
--K-State is having a stellar 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 Wednesday, the school’s 35 wins tie for 16th nationally and its .761 winning percentage (35-11) places 13th. K-State is one of 16 BCS schools (along with Big 12 brethren Oklahoma) with 35+ combined wins among its three major sports. The football team produced just its second regular-season 11-win season and advanced to a BCS game (Fiesta Bowl) for the first time in eight years. The men’s basketball team is off to its best start (14-2) in the past 25 seasons, while the women’s basketball team has won 10 of its first 17 games. If you take into account the success of the volleyball team, which won 20 matches and advanced to NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats are 56-20 (.737) since August 24.
--The Wildcats are in the midst of their longest winning streak of the season and first seven-game winning streak since since also winning seven in a row from Feb. 2-27, 2010. The team has posted 14 winning streaks of at least five games in the last seven seasons. The squad has not won eight straight games since winning 10 in a row from Nov. 21, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010.
--K-State received its first national ranking of the season on Dec. 24, appearing at No. 25 in The Associated Press Top 25 with 152 points, and jumped two spots to No. 16 (with 670 points) in the latest poll on Jan. 14. The No. 16 ranking is the highest since checking in at No. 11 on Dec. 20, 2010. In addition, the squad moved to No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches poll after debuting at No. 23 on Jan. 7. K-State has now been ranked in the AP poll at least one week in each of the last four seasons, a feat which has not happened since doing it six consecutive seasons from 1972-78. The Wildcats have a 243-91 (.728) all-time record as a ranked team since first being ranked in 1949-50, including a 6-3 (.667) mark as the No. 16 team in The Associated Press poll.
--K-State ranks in the Top 50 in nine categories nationally, including fifth in offensive rebounds (15.5), ninth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (27.4), 17th in rebounding margin (+8.1), 20th in scoring defense (57.1), 27th in rebounding (39.8), 29th in assists (16.0), 35th in scoring margin (+12.2), 36th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.27) and 49th in field goal percentage defense (39.2). The Wildcats rank in the Top 5 in 16 of 21 Big 12 categories, including first in assist-to-turnover ratio, offensive rebounds, rebounding margin and rebounding defense and second in scoring defense and 3-point field goal percentage defense.
--Nine of the 16 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 11 straight dating back to last season (including 10 in a row at Bramlage Coliseum). The school extended its non-conference home winning streak to 48 after a win over South Dakota on Dec. 31.
--K-State is 3-0 in true road games this season after winning contests at George Washington (65-62) on Dec. 8 and West Virginia (65-64) on Jan. 12 and TCU (67-54) on Jan. 16. The squad has won six consecutive road games, including five in a row in Big 12 play, dating back to last season, which is the longest since K-State rattled off six straight road wins (all in Big 12 play) from Jan. 16 to Feb. 23, 2010. The Wildcats have improved their play on the road in the Big 12, posting a 26-24 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).
--The Wildcats have been one of the best first-half defensive teams, holding its 16 opponents to just 24.5 points on 36.6 percent shooting, including 26.8 percent from 3-point range. It has held four opponents to 20 points or less in the first half. In contrast, the squad is allowing 32.6 points in the second half on 41.5 percent shooting, including 28 percent from beyond the arc.
--Saturday’s meeting with Oklahoma will mark the 10th time K-State has faced a former head coach (Tex Winter, Lon Kruger and Bob Huggins) with the Wildcats winning just twice in those occurrences. Prior to the 65-64 win over Huggins’ West Virginia team on Jan. 12, the last win over a former coach came in a 95-80 win over a Kruger-coached UNLV squad on Dec. 12, 2009. The team will play at least two more such games (at Oklahoma on Feb. 2 and 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 1-4 against Kruger in his stops at Illinois (1999), UNLV (2009, 2010) and Oklahoma (2012) and 1-1 against Huggins at West Virginia (2011). Interestingly enough, the Wildcats are 5-0 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) 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 just the 12th non-conference Top 10 win in school history (and the first since defeating No. 3 Purdue, 73-70, and then assistant coach Bruce Weber on March 25, 1988 in the NCAA Tournament), including the seventh in the regular season. Aside from Minnesota in 1981 and Florida in 2012, the Wildcats have also beaten No. 4 Long Island (85-65) on Jan. 31, 1951, No. 7 Notre Dame (80-64) on Dec. 19, 1952, No. 4 N.C. State (69-67) on Dec. 19, 1958, No. 5 North Carolina (77-69) on Dec. 16, 1960 and No. 9 St. John’s (63-50) on Dec. 16, 1961.
--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 seven players averaging five or more points, including just one in double figures, and six averaging three or more rebounds per game. Senior Rodney McGruder (15.3 ppg.) is the only Wildcat to average in double figures (ranks third in the Big 12 in scoring), while five others - Angel Rodriguez (9.0 ppg.), Will Spradling (8.3 ppg.), Thomas Gipson (7.3 ppg.), Shane Southwell (7.1 ppg.) and Nino Williams (6.5 ppg.) - are averaging better than six points per contest. The team has seen nine players collect 40 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (12) leading the way, while the squad has seven players with 30 or more field goals made with McGruder’s 98 makes tops in the Big 12. Only West Virginia (10) has more players with double-digit scoring efforts in the Big 12 (TCU also has nine players with 10+ points), while only Iowa State (eight) has more players with 30 or more field goals (West Virginia also has seven players wth 30+ field goals made). In all, the Wildcats have had six players lead or share the lead in scoring led by McGruder (eight). Gipson (6.0 rpg.) paces the squad in rebounding despite leading in a game just four times, while McGruder (5.5 rpg.), Nino Williams (4.9 rpg.) and Jordan Henriquez (4.9 rpg.) are averaging better than four rebounds per game. The team has had eight players either lead or share the lead in rebounding with Gipson leading four times and McGruder and Williams doing it three times each.
The Wildcats have also been diverse in other categories, including seven players with double-digit assists and six with double-digit steals. Rodriguez has dished out a team-best 60 assists with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists. McGruder has a team-best 19 steals, while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals. Four players -- McGruder (30.9 mpg.), Spradling (30.5), Rodriguez (23.1) and Southwell (20.9) -- are each averaging more than 20 minutes, while seven others are averaging double-digit minutes. Seven players have at least one start with only McGruder and Spradling starting all 16.
ON THE DEFENSIVE
K-State has continued to be one of the best defensive teams not only in the Big 12, but nationally, where the squad entered the week ranking ninth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (27.4), 17th in rebounding margin (+8.1), 20th in scoring defense (57.1) and 27th in rebounding (39.8) and 49th in field goal percentage defense (39.2). In all, the Wildcats rank either first or second in four Big 12 defensive categories, including first in rebounding margin and rebounding defense, second in scoring defense and 3-point field goal percentage defense. The team is third in rebounding and fourth in field goal percentage defense.
The 914 points surrendered through the first 16 games are the fewest in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the fewest since the 1982-83 squad allowed just 845 points (52.8 ppg.) through the first 16 games. The team has held 12 of its 16 opponents to 65 points or less, including eight to 55 points or less, while seven have been held to under 40 percent shooting and four to under 20 percent shooting from 3-point range. The defensive effort was nearly historic in the 87-26 win over Alabama-Huntsville on Nov. 13, as the 26 points allowed were one shy of the Bramlage Coliseum record of 25 set against Savannah State on Jan. 7, 2008. The Chargers’ 16.4 field goal percentage (9-of-55) was only surpassed by Savannah State’s 15.5 percentage.
K-State continues to be one of the best rebounding squads in the country, as the Wildcats tie for 27th nationally in rebounding (39.8), including third in offensive rebounds (15.5), and 17th in rebounding margin (+8.1). The team ranks first in the Big 12 in rebounding margin and third in rebounding, while they are the leader in offensive rebounds (15.5 to Iowa State’s 14.9).
Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their foes by a 637-507 margin, including 248-167 on the offensive end. The squad is 14-0 this season when out-rebounding its opponent. K-State has at least 10 offensive rebounds in 15 of 16 games, including 20 or more on three occasions, with a season-high 29 against North Florida on Nov. 18. Two players - Thomas Gipson (6.0 rpg., 13th) and Rodney McGruder (5.5 rpg., 17th) - rank in the Big 12’s Top 20 in rebounding. K-State joins Baylor with three players in the league’s Top 15 in offensive boards, which includes Gipson (3.0, 2nd), Nino Williams (2.3, 12th) and McGruder (2.3, 15th). The team has collected 40+ rebounds in seven games, including a season-best 55 vs. UAH on Nov. 13. The Wildcats grabbed 42 defensive rebounds vs. UAH, which ties for the second-most in school history and are the most since 1998.
The Wildcats have taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 30.2 points in the paint and 14.8 points off of second-chance opportunities. The team has at least 30 points in the paint in nine games, including a season-high 46 vs. Texas Southern on Dec. 18, while it has tallied at least 14 second-chance points nine times with a season-best 23 vs. USC Upstate.
POINTS OFF TURNOVERS
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams were their ability to score points off of opponent’s mistakes and Bruce Weber has continued that legacy in his first season. The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 254-182 (an average of 15.9 points per game), through the first 16 games in points off of turnovers. The squad has posted 10 or more points off of miscues in 13 of 16 games, including a season-best 34 vs. Lamar on Nov. 12. They are 11-0 this season when scoring more points off of turnovers.
K-State is forcing its opponents into 14.8 turnovers per game (third-most in the Big 12), including a season-high 26 by Lamar, while turning the ball over an average of 12.6 times per game (fourth-lowest in the Big 12). The 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 36th nationally and first in the Big 12 with junior Will Spradling boasting the league’s best assist-to-turnover ratio. In Martin’s five seasons, the Wildcats scored 3,081 points off of 2,763 turnovers in 169 games (an average of 18.2 points per game). Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in that period came off of offense generated from miscues. The school has scored 500 or more points off of opponent turnovers in six straight seasons, including 577 (17.5 average per game) in 2011-12.
Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production it’s getting from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 23.6 points, including a 378-253 edge over opponents. The team has collected at least 20 points from its bench in 10 games, including 45 points vs. North Dakota on Nov. 9. Reserves have scored nearly half of the team’s points four times with Thomas Gipson tying for the scoring lead against North Dakota and Delaware and Shane Southwell leading the way with a career-best 16 points vs. Alabama-Huntsville. Nino Williams posted a career-high 17 points off the bench in the win over No. 22/21 Oklahoma State. The rebounding leader has come from the bench in eight games with D.J. Johnson posting a team-high vs. North Dakota (9) and Lamar (8), Southwell recording a career-high nine boards vs. UAH, Adrian Diaz grabbing a career-best 10 vs. North Florida, Gipson tying Will Spradling for the rebounding lead (6) vs. Delaware, Williams snagging seven boards vs. No. 8/9 Florida and Jordan Henriquez posting the team-high against West Virginia and TCU. Over 40 percent (273) of the team’s rebounding total and nearly 35 percent (388) of the scoring total has come from the bench.
Although K-State ranks 35th nationally in scoring margin (+12.2), the Wildcats have experience with close games this season, posting a 7-0 record in games decided by 10 points or less and a 5-0 mark in games decided by six points or less, including two of its three Big 12 wins. The Wildcats have knocked down 68.4 percent (54-of-79) from the free throw line in the last five minutes of games, including 71.7 percent (38-of-53) in the last five minutes of these seven close games. Junior Will Spradling, who went 10-of-10 in the last 35 seconds in wins over Delaware (66-63), George Washington (65-62) and Texas Southern (78-69), paces the team in both free throws (19) and free throw attempts (24) in the last five minutes of games. Junior Omari Lawrence (6-of-6), sophomore Angel Rodriguez (9-of-10), senior Rodney McGruder (6-of-8) and junior Shane Southwell (6-of-8) have all been solid 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 just one second left.
K-State is averaging 17.6 personal fouls per game this season, including nearly 22.3 per game in its three Big 12 games. Opponents have knocked down 187 free throws in 280 attempts, an average of 11.7 makes per game, with the Wildcats countering with 203 makes on 314 attempts for an average of 12.7 makes per game. The three Big 12 opponents have combined to shoot 34 more free throws than K-State (75 to 41), while scoring 51 points to just 25 for the Wildcats from the line. Oklahoma State knocked down 24-of-29 free throws, including 16-of-17 in the second half, while TCU went 15-of-24 from the charity stripe.
PROTECTING THE BALL
K-State has been solid protecting the ball this season, as the squad ranks first in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3) and third in turnover margin (+2.2). Thus far, the Wildcats have produced 12.6 turnovers per game (fourth-lowest average in Big 12), while forcing its foes into an average of 14.8 turnovers (third-most in the Big 12). The team has 14 or fewer miscues in 11 games,while they have forced their foes into 19 or more turnovers four times, including a season-high 26 by Lamar on Nov. 12.
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 184 assists to 82 turnovers (2.24 ratio). The current ratio for the quartet is a solid improvement after posting a 1.4 ratio (302 assists to 211 turnovers) as a group in 2011-12. Spradling ranks first in the Big 12 and 17th nationally with a 2.9 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Rodriguez places fourth in the league with a 1.9 ratio. Spradling, who has 53 assists to just 18 turnovers, led the team with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio a season ago, while Rodriguez has made a notable improvement (60 assists to 31 turnovers) in the area after posting a 1.2 ratio (101 assists to 85 turnovers) as a freshman. Irving has also doubled his ratio (2.8 from 1.5) with 37 assists to 13 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 1.7 ratio (34 assists to 20 turnovers) after posting a 1.6 ratio last season.
McGRUDER AMONG ELITE COMPANY
Senior Rodney McGruder (1,273 points and 554 rebounds) joined elite company against USC Upstate on Dec. 2, as he became the eighth Wildcat in school history with at least 1,100 points and 500 rebounds in a career. He narrowed that company with his 1,200 career point against South Dakota on Dec. 31, making him one of just six with 1,200 points and 500 rebounds, along with Rolando Blackman (1,844 points and 607 rebounds), Bob Boozer (1,685 points and 824 rebounds), Cartier Martin (1,546 points and 546 rebounds), Ed Nealy (1,304 points and 1,069 rebounds) and Jamar Samuels (1,259 points and 716 rebounds).
McGruder ranks 11th in scoring with 1,273 points (needing 31 points to tie Nealy for 10th), while he places in the Top 10 in eight career categories, including consecutive starts (83, 3rd), 3-point field goals (159, 5th), 3-point field goal percentage (39%, 6th), 3-point field goals attempted (408, 7th), minutes (3,032, 7th), starts (83, 8th), consecutive games (92, 9th) and field goals (462, 10th). He is just outside the career Top 10 double-digit scoring games (69), steals (92) and games played (116). One of eight players to rank in the Big 12’s Top 20 in both scoring (3rd) and rebounding (16th), he leads the Wildcats in scoring, field goals (98), double-digit scoring games (12) and steals (19). He ranks in the Top 20 in five Big 12 categories, including scoring (3rd), field goal percentage (5th), 3-point field goals made (14th), offensive rebounds (15th) and rebounding (16th). He is also in the Top 20 in six categories in Big 12-only games, including first in both scoring (22.0 ppg.) and 3-point field goals made (3.7).
McGRUDER NAMED PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR THIRD TIME
Senior Rodney McGruder earned Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honors for the third time in five weeks on Jan. 7 after helping K-State to wins over South Dakota and No. 22/21 Oklahoma State. He was also named the ESPN.com National Player of the Week for his efforts. The three Big 12 Player of the Week awards tie Michael Beasley (2007-08) for the most by a Wildcat in a single-season, while McGruder’s four overall weekly awards are the most-ever by a K-State player in the Big 12 era. He won the first time as a junior on Dec. 26, 2011 then again on Dec. 10 and 24 of this year. He averaged a team-best 21.5 points on 48.6 percent shooting (17-of-35), including 50 percent (8-of-16) from 3-point range, with 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in 36.5 minutes per game last week. He opened the week with a near double-double in the win over South Dakota with 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds. He scored a game-high 28 points, including 26 in the second half, in the win over OSU on 11-of-19 field goals, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range, in 37 minutes. It was his 16th career 20-point game, including the third this season. The Wildcats are 14-2 in games where McGruder has 20 or more points. McGruder’s 26 second-half points are the most by a Wildcat since Denis Clemente had 32 in a win at Texas on Jan. 31, 2009. He went 10-of-13 from the field in the second half, including 5-of-5 from beyond the arc. He had more field goals (10) than the Cowboys (nine) in the half.
WILLIAMS EMERGING AS A IMPACT
After playing in just 15 games his first season (including a medical redshirt in 2010-11), sophomore Nino Williams is starting to emerge as an impact player for K-State. He has played in 15 of 16 games with the third-most starts (11), averaging 6.5 points on 45.2 percent shooting (42-of-93) with 4.9 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game. He is second to Rodney McGruder in field goals (42) and third to Thomas Gipson and McGruder in rebounding (4.9 rpg.), while he is one of six players to average more than seven points per game. Williams had career week in two wins against South Dakota and No. 22/21 Oklahoma State, in which, he averaged 16.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting (14-of-21) with 6.0 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game. He opened the week with 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 on Dec. 29, he is averaging 13.7 points on 51.5 percent shooting with 8.3 rebounds in three of the last five games in 25.7 minutes per game.
SOUTHWELL’s JUMP IN PRODUCTION
Junior Shane Southwell has made quite the jump in his productivity in year three, as he averages 7.1 points on 51.4 percent shooting, including 48.3 percent from 3-point range, with 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 20.9 minutes per game with seven starts in 14 games played. That production has been even more of factor during the team’s seven-game winning streak, as he is averaging 7.9 points on 47.7 percent shooting, including 43.8 percent from 3-point range, with 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 26.3 minutes per game in seven 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. His 17 points were a career-high and gave him double-digit points for the seventh time in his career, including the third 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.
RODRIGUEZ’S IMPROVED PLAY
Despite missing the last two non-conference games, sophomore Angel Rodriguez has continued his improvement from his freshman season in 2012-13, as he ranks first or second on the squad in six categories, including first in assists (60) and second in scoring (9.0 ppg.) and double-figure scoring games (7). He has helped the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio and third in both assists and turnover margin, while he places in the league’s Top 15 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9, 4th), assists (4.3, 6th) and 3-point field goals (1.4, 15th). He has scored in double figures seven times, including a career-best 19 points vs. Lamar to go with game-highs at George Washington (17) and Gonzaga (14). 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.
SPRADLING COMING UP CLUTCH
Junior Will Spradling has been a model of consistency from the free throw line, knocking down 33-of-38 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 (158-of-190), 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 17th nationally and first in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.9). He also places ninth in assists (3.3 apg.) in the Big 12. He ranks first in 3-point field goals (23), second in double-digit scoring games (7) and assists (53) and third in scoring (8.3 ppg.), which includes a season-high 17 points in the win over No. 8/9 Florida on Dec. 22. He also had a career-tying six rebounds and five assists against the Gators.
GIPSON A FACTOR DOWN LOW
Sophomore Thomas Gipson is starting to emerge as the Wildcats’ go-to player in the post, averaging 6.9 points on 50 percent shooting (24-of-48) with 6.0 rebounds in 21.1 minutes per game in his last 10 starts. After a poor game against No. 14/14 Gonzaga on Dec. 15, he rebounded to collect arguably his best all-around game of the season vs. Texas Southern on Dec. 18 with a season-high 14 points on 5-of-7 field goals to go with 12 rebounds and career-bests in blocks (4) and steals (3) in 26 minutes. It marked his fourth career double-double, but the first of the season. The 12-rebound effort tied his season-high that he also had against George Washington on Dec. 8. The leader in rebounds at 6.0 per game, he ranks 13th in the Big 12 in overall rebounds, while his second in offensive rebounds at 3.0 per game. He had a career-best seven offensive boards vs. Texas Southern.
McGRUDER NAMED PRESEASON CANDIDATE FOR NAISMITH, WOODEN AWARDS
Senior Rodney McGruder was selected as a preseason candidate for two of the most prestigious awards in college basketball, as he was named one of 50 preseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award on Nov. 8 before he was selected to the early season watch list for the Naismith Trophy on Nov. 12. The preseason lists, which reflects the early frontrunners for two of college basketball’s Premier Player of the Year awards, is based on last year’s individual performance. McGruder becomes the first Wildcat named to the preseason list for both awards since Jacob Pullen was selected in 2010. He was one of six Big 12 players selected to the Wooden list, which includes Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, Kansas’ Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey and OSU’s Le’Bryan Nash, while he was one of five on the Naismith list, including Jackson, Withey, Kansas’ Ben McLemore and OSU’s Marcus Smart.
McGRUDER NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-BIG 12 TEAM
Senior Rodney McGruder was a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Big 12 team released by the conference office on Oct. 4. McGruder, who was an All-Big 12 Second Team selection in 2011-12, was one of three unanimous picks by the league’s head coaches, joining Kansas’ Jeff Withey and Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash. The final two spots on the team went to Baylor’s Pierre Jackson and Texas’ Myck Kabongo. McGruder is the first Wildcat named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team since Jacob Pullen was named to the squad along with garnering Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year honors in 2010-11. It marks just the third time that a Wildcat (Manny Dies in 1998-99, Pullen and Curtis Kelly in 2010-11) has been selected to the preseason team.
RECAPPING THE TRIP TO BRAZIL
K-State got a jump start on its preparations for the 2012-13 men’s basketball season with its 10-day trip to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 8-17, 2012. The NCAA allows teams to make a foreign trip once every four years, but this was the first by the program since playing four games in and around Vancouver, British Columbia in October 2004. Overall, it was the program’s fourth trip outside the country, which includes excursions to Japan in 1981 and Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden in 1993. K-State played four games during the trip, posting a 2-2 record as the squad had to adjust to international rules (four, eight-minute quarters among other differences with NCAA rules). The Wildcats averaged 70 points on 41.9 percent shooting (99-of-236), including 31.4 percent (22-of-70) from the 3-point range, while connecting on 75.9 percent (60-of-79) from the free throw line. The team averaged 37.5 rebounds, 15.8 assists, 17.5 turnovers, 4.8 blocks and 9.8 blocks per game.
Sophomore Angel Rodriguez paced all scorers in Brazil with a 10.3 points per game average on 40 percent shooting, including 35.7 percent from 3-point range, with a team-best 4.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Three others - Nino Williams, Rodney McGruder and Adrian Diaz - all averaged 9.0 points per game, while junior Will Spradling and senior Jordan Henriquez added 8.5 points and 7.3 points per game averages. Williams led the team in rebounding (6.0 rpg.), 3-point field goal percentage (40.0) and free throw percentage (83.3), while Diaz was tops in field goals (14), field goal percentage (58.3) and blocks (2.5 bpg.). Freshman D.J. Johnson was second in rebounding (5.3 rpg.), while Diaz and Henriquez were third at 4.8 rebounds per game.
Up Next: 4/4 KANSAS (15-1, 3-0 Big 12)
K-State concludes its brief two-game homestand with a visit from archrival and No. 4/4 Kansas (15-1, 3-0 Big 12) on Tuesday.