K-State Looks To Bounce Back Against Texas

By: K-State Sports Information (posted by J.B. Bauersfeld)
By: K-State Sports Information (posted by J.B. Bauersfeld)
Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder (22) gets past Oklahoma forward Amath M'Baye (22) to put up a shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, in Manhattan, Kan. Kansas State won the game 69-60. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder (22) gets past Oklahoma forward Amath M'Baye (22) to put up a shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, in Manhattan, Kan. Kansas State won the game 69-60. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

K-State release:

Game 20

No. 18/21 Kansas State (15-4, 4-2 Big 12) vs. Texas (9-10, 1-5 Big 12)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 * 7:05 p.m. CT

Manhattan, Kan. * Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

Television: ESPN2 (ESPN3.com and WatchESPN app)

Bob Wischusen (play-by-play); Stephen Bardo (analyst)

http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/id/745834/texas-vs-kansas-state

National Radio: ESPN Radio

Dave Armstrong (play-by-play); Will Perdue (analyst)

Radio: K-State Sports Network

Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)

Satellite Radio: Sirius 96/XM 192 (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 440-451 (241-162 at home)

vs. Texas: K-State leads 13-10 (7-3 at home)

Last Meeting: Texas won 75-64 (2/11/2012 in Austin, Texas)

18/21 Kansas State (15-4, 4-2 Big 12)

Head coach: Bruce Weber (Wisconsin-Milwaukee ‘78)

School Record: 15-4 (1st season) * Career Record: 328-159 (15th season) * vs. Texas: 0-1

Texas (9-10, 1-5 Big 12)

Head coach: Rick Barnes (Lenoir-Rhyne ‘77)

School Record: 351-147 (15th season) * Career Record: 553-281 (26th season) * vs. K-State: 9-7

THE GAME

No. 18/21 Kansas State (15-4, 4-2 Big 12) will look to snap a two-game losing streak on Wednesday night, as the Wildcats play host to Texas (9-10, 1-5 Big 12) at Bramlage Coliseum at 7 p.m. The game will be the first of two nationally televised contests on ESPN2 this week with Bob Wischusen (play-by-play) and Stephen Bardo (analyst) on the call. K-State will look to keep pace in the Big 12 title race, as the squad is in a third-place tie with Iowa State and Oklahoma with a 4-2 record, just two games behind conference leader Kansas (18-1, 7-0 Big 12) and one game back of Baylor (14-5, 5-1 Big 12). The Wildcats, which won a season-best eight in a row prior to its two-game skid, will look to get back to their winning ways at home, in which, a 12-game home winning streak and perfect 11-0 mark at Bramlage Coliseum was ended in last week’s 59-55 setback to current No. 1 Kansas. The squad is 99-18 (.846) at home over the past seven seasons (2006-07), including a 35-14 (.714) mark in Big 12 play. Wednesday’s contest will match two of the better defensive teams in the Big 12, as K-State ranks first in the league in scoring defense (58.2 ppg.) and turnover margin (+2.3) and second in 3-point field goal percentage defense (29.3), while Texas is first in 3-point field goal percentage defense (25.1) and second in both field goal percentage defense (35.3) and rebounding (39.0). The Wildcats are 14-1 this season when scoring 65 or more points, including 10-0 at home, but just 1-3 when being held to 59 points or less.

K-STATE IN THE POLLS

K-State remained ranked in both major polls, falling to seven spots in The Associated Press Top 25 poll to No. 18 and dropping eight spots in the USA Today Coaches poll to No. 21 on Monday. It marks the sixth straight week that the Wildcats have been ranked in the AP poll, while last week’s No. 11 ranking was the highest in the AP poll since also placing 11th on Dec. 20, 2010. The program has now been ranked in the AP poll at least one week in each of the last four seasons, a feat which has not happened since doing it six consecutive seasons from 1972-78. K-State has a 244-93 (.724) all-time record as a ranked team.

THE OPPONENT

Texas (9-10, 1-5 Big 12) snapped a five-game losing streak on Saturday, as the Longhorns knocked off Texas Tech, 73-57, at home. The squad, which is without All-American candidate Myck Kabongo until Feb. 13, is one of the youngest in the country with three true freshmen and two sophomore in the starting line-up. Texas, which is 0-4 on the road this season, has played one of the nation’s toughest schedules with games against Georgetown, Michigan State, North Carolina and UCLA. Six of its 10 losses this season (including four of its five in Big 12 play) have come by 10 points or less, including overtime setbacks to Baylor and West Virginia. The Longhorns are averaging 64.4 points on 40.9 percent shooting, including 30 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to 61.9 points on 35.3 percent shooting, including 25.1 percent from beyond the arc. A balanced squad with five players averaging seven or more points and seven averaging at least three rebounds, Texas is led by the one-two scoring punch of sophomores Sheldon McClelland (14.8 ppg.) and Julien Lewis (11.8 ppg.). Freshman Javan Felix has a Big 12-best 5.9 assists per game average to go with 8.4 points per outing, while sophomore Jonathan Holmes is tops in rebounds at 7.1 per game to go with 7.7 points per contest. Head coach Rick Barnes has won over 553 games in his 26-year head coach career, which includes a 351-147 mark in 15 seasons at Texas. He is 9-7 all-time against K-State, including a 3-4 mark at Bramlage Coliseum.

LAST MEETING: TEXAS 75, KANSAS STATE 64 [FEB. 11, 2012]

J’Covan Brown led four Longhorns in double figures with a game-high 23 points, as Texas split the season series with Kansas State, 75-64, in the team’s last meeting on Feb. 11, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. The Wildcats won an earlier meeting at Bramlage Coliseum by a score of 84-80 on Jan. 18, 2012 when Rodney McGruder posted a career-high 33 points on 11-of-17 field goals, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. In four career games against the Longhorns, McGruder is averaging 19.3 points on 56.3 percent shooting (27-of-48), including 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from 3-point range.

SERIES

This will be the 24th meeting between K-State and Texas with the Wildcats holding a 13-10 advantage in a series that dates back to 1971. K-State won the first five games in the series with Texas posting a 10-8 edge since the start of Big 12 play. The Wildcats have won four of the last six meetings, including two straight in Manhattan. K-State is 7-3 at home in the series, including 5-3 in Bramlage Coliseum. Head coach Bruce Weber is 0-1 in his career against Texas, a 90-84 overtime loss on Nov. 18, 2010.

QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE

--Kansas State’s 15-4 start ranks as the eighth-best start in school history and the best since the 2009-10 team produced a 16-3 start after 19 games. The 1957-58 and 1958-59 teams all posted the best start after 19 games (18-1), while the 1918-19, 1950-51 and 1961-62 squads were just one game back at 17-2 and the 1947-48 and 2009-10 teams were 16-3. The 4-2 start to Big 12 play ties for the second-best since the league’s inception in 1997 and the best since the 2009-10 team also went 4-2. The Wildcats saw its season-best eight-game winning streak end at No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22, which was the longest winning streak since the team won 10 in a row from Nov. 21, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010. Three of the team’s four losses are to Top 10 teams in No. 1/2 Michigan, No. 2/1 Kansas and No. 7/7 Gonzaga (all current rankings). 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 15-4 record is the second-best start by a first-year K-State head coach in the program’s 109-year history with only Zora Clevenger (15-2, 1916-17) posting a better mark. 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 eight-game winning streak was the second-longest by a first-year head coach in school history and the longest since Clevenger’s 1916-17 squad ended the year with 13 consecutive wins from Jan. 25 to March 6, 1917. 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 Monday, the school’s 38 wins tie for 16th nationally and its .731 winning percentage (38-14) places 19th. K-State is one of 16 BCS schools (along with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) with 35+ combined wins among its three major sports. The football team produced its second regular-season 11-win season and advanced to a BCS game (Fiesta Bowl) for the first time in eight years, while the women’s basketball team (12-8) has won two of its last three, including a 76-70 overtime win over No. 12/11 Oklahoma State. If you take into account the success of the volleyball team, which won 20 matches and advanced to NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats are 59-23 (.720) since August 24.

--Eleven of the 19 games have been at home (including a home game vs. No. 8/9 Florida in Kansas City’s Sprint Center), where the Wildcats saw its 12-game overall winning streak (including 11-game streak at Bramlage Coliseum) end in a 59-55 loss to No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22. The 11-game winning streak tied three other teams for the fourth-longest (Feb. 23, 2005 to Jan. 11, 2006; Dec. 9, 2007 to Feb. 25, 2008; March 4, 2008 to Jan. 10, 2009) 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.

--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 held its best ranking at No. 11 (with 927 points) on Jan. 21. The No. 11 ranking was the highest since also checking in at No. 11 on Dec. 20, 2010. The Wildcats dropped to No. 18 in the AP poll and No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches poll on Jan. 28, which marked the fourth straight week the team has been ranked in both polls. K-State has now been ranked in the AP poll at least one week in each of the last four seasons. The Wildcats have a 244-93 (.726) all-time record as a ranked team since first being ranked in 1949-50, including an 18-9 (.667) mark as the No. 18 team in The Associated Press poll.

--K-State ranks in the Top 50 in seven categories nationally, including 20th in scoring defense (58.2), 21st in assists (15.9), 26th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (29.3), 27th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.31), 35th in offensive rebounds (14.2), 42nd in rebounding margin (+5.4) and 48th in scoring margin (10.2). Will Spradling (19th, 2.86) and Angel Rodriguez (38th, 2.44) rank among the Top 40 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.0). The Wildcats rank in the Top 5 in 18 of 21 Big 12 categories, including first in scoring defense, turnover margin, assist-to-turnover ratio and rebounding defense and second in assists, offensive rebounds and 3-point field goal percentage defense. In Big 12-only games, the squad ranks first in field goal percentage (45.6), assists (15.8), turnover margin (+2.2) and assist-to-turnover (1.5) and second in 3-point field goal percentage (37.5).

--K-State is 3-1 in true road games this season, winning contests at George Washington (65-62) on Dec. 8, West Virginia (65-64) on Jan. 12 and TCU (67-54) on Jan. 16 before the 73-67 loss at Iowa State on Jan. 26. The loss 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 26-25 record over the past seven seasons (which began in 2006-07) after winning just 10 of 80 road games in the league’s first 10 years (1997-2006).

--The Wildcats have been one of the best first-half defensive teams, holding its 19 opponents to just 25.1 points on 38.1 percent shooting, including 28 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 33.2 points in the second half on 42.5 percent shooting, including 30.5 percent from beyond the arc.

--The Jan. 19 meeting with Oklahoma marked the 10th time K-State has faced a former head coach (Tex Winter, Lon Kruger and Bob Huggins) with the Wildcats winning for just the third time (including the second time this season) in those occurrences.

Prior to wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma, 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 now 3-4 against Kruger in his stops at Texas-Pan American (1986), Illinois (1999), UNLV (2009, 2010) and Oklahoma (2012, 2013) 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 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.

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

BALANCED ATTACK

K-State has proven to be a balanced team across the board with six players averaging five or more points, including just one in double figures, and 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 (9.4 ppg.), Will Spradling (8.5 ppg.), Shane Southwell (8.3 ppg.) and Thomas Gipson (6.8 ppg.) - are averaging better than six points per contest. The team has seen nine players collect 51 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (15) leading the way, while the squad has seven players with 35 or more field goals made with McGruder’s 114 makes tops in the Big 12. Only Baylor and West Virginia (10) has more players with double-digit scoring efforts in the Big 12 (TCU also has nine different players with 10+ points), while K-State, Iowa State and West Virginia are the only league schools with seven players with 35 or more made field goals. In all, the Wildcats have had six players lead or share the lead in scoring led by McGruder (nine). Gipson (5.5 rpg.) paces the squad in rebounding despite leading in a game just four times, while McGruder (5.2 rpg.), Jordan Henriquez (4.6 rpg.) and Nino Williams (4.3 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 and McGruder leading four times and Henriquez, Southwell and Williams doing it three times each.

The Wildcats have also been diverse in other categories, including seven players with double-digit assists and double-digit steals. Rodriguez has dished out a team-best 83 assists (36 in Big 12 play) with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists. Rodriguez also has a team-high 23 steals (13 in Big 12), while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals. Four players -- McGruder (32.3 mpg.), Spradling (30.8), Rodriguez (24.1) and Southwell (22.1) -- 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 19.

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 20th in scoring defense (58.2), 26th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (29.3) and 42nd in rebounding margin (+5.4). In all, the Wildcats rank either first or second in five Big 12 defensive categories, including first in scoring defense, turnover margin and rebounding defense, second in 3-point field goal percentage defense and third in rebounding margin.

The 1,106 points surrendered through the first 19 games are the fewest in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the fewest since the 1982-83 squad allowed just 1,055 points (55.5 ppg.) through the first 19 games. The team has held 14 of its 19 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.

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, 305-211 (an average of 16.1 points per game), through the first 19 games in points off of turnovers. The squad has posted 10 or more points off of miscues in 16 of 19 games, including 20 or more points on four occasions, with a season-best 34 vs. Lamar on Nov. 12. The team scored 20 or more points in back-to-back games in wins against TCU and Oklahoma (out-scoring them 46-12). They are 12-1 when scoring more points off of turnovers. The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 262-156 (an average of 17.5 points per game), in points off of turnovers in their 15 victories, while are being outscored 55-43 (an average of 10.8 points per game) in points off of turnovers in their four losses.

K-State is forcing its opponents into 14.5 turnovers per game (third-most in the Big 12), including a season-high 26 by Lamar, while turning the ball over an average of 12.2 times per game (lowest in the Big 12). The 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 27th and first in the Big 12 with Will Spradling and Angel Rodriguez boasting the league’s top-2 assist-to-turnover ratios with Spradling ranking 19th and Rodriguez 38th 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, including 577 (17.5 average per game) in 2011-12.

REBOUNDING ISSUES

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 (-2.3), eighth in defensive rebounds (21.7), ninth in rebounds (30.3) and 10th in offensive rebounds (8.7). Since switching to a four-guard line-up 10 games ago, the squad is averaging 33.5 rebounds, including 10.5 offensive rebounds, with opponents posting 30.9 rebounds, including 10.0 offensive rebounds. In the team’s first nine games, they averaged 42.6 rebounds, including 18.2 offensive rebounds, with its foes posting 34.1 rebounds, including 11.3 offensive rebounds. K-State out-scored its opponents, 153-99 (+54), in second chance points in its first nine games, but has since been out-scored 116-101 (-15) in second chance points in the last 10 games. However, since the change to the four-guard line-up, the team is shooting 45.4 percent from the field, including 35.5 percent from 3-point range, in the last 10 games compared to 40.8 percent, including 33.3 percent from beyond the arc, in the first nine contests.

K-State still boasts solid overall rebounding numbers, where it ranks second in offensive rebounds (14.2), third in rebounding margin (+5.4) and sixth in rebounds (37.8) in 19 games. Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their foes by a 718-616 margin, including 269-202 on the offensive end. The squad is 14-0 this season when out-rebounding its opponent, but just 1-4 when it is out-rebounded. K-State has at least 10 offensive rebounds in 16 games with a season-high 29 against North Florida on Nov. 18. Sophomore Thomas Gipson (5.8 rpg.) ranks 17th in the Big 12 in rebounding, while he is fourth (2.7) in offensive rebounds. The team has collected 40+ rebounds in seven games, including a season-best 55 vs. UAH on Nov. 13.

BENCH PRODUCTION

Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production it’s getting from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 21.4 points, including a 406-291 edge over foes. The team has collected at least 20 points from its bench in 10 games, including a season-high 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 (298) of the team’s rebounding total and nearly 35 percent (416) of the scoring total has come from the bench.

CLOSE GAMES

Although they have dropped the last two games by a combined 10 points, the Wildcats have been successful in close games this season, posting an 8-2 record in games decided by 10 points or less and a 5-2 mark in games decided by six points or less, including three of its four Big 12 wins. 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. Sophomore Angel Rodriguez (11-of-14), senior Rodney McGruder (10-of-13), junior Shane Southwell (8-of-10) 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 one second left.

HEATING UP FROM THE FIELD

K-State is starting to find more of an offensive rhythm in Big 12 play, where the Wildcats rank first in field goal percentage (45.6) and second in both 3-point field goal percentage (37.5) and 3-point field goals made (8.0) after six Big 12 games. The squad has connected on 44 percent or better from the field in five of its six league games, including better than 50 percent against West Virginia and Iowa State, while the 149 field goal makes are the league’s Top 4. The team has shot better than 35 percent from 3-point range in four leagues with nine or more 3-point makes in three contests. Rodney McGruder ranks first in Big 12 games in scoring (18.7 ppg.) and 3-point field goals made (3.2), while he is third in field goal percentage (50.6) and fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (44.2). Angel Rodriguez is tops in league-only games in both assists (6.0) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.6). Shane Southwell is 12th in Big 12-only games in scoring (11.8 ppg.) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (48.0).

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 turnover margin (+2.3). Thus far, the Wildcats have produced 12.2 turnovers per game (ties for lowest average in Big 12), while forcing its foes into an average of 14.5 turnovers (third-most in the Big 12). The team has 14 or fewer miscues in 13 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 224 assists to 94 turnovers (2.38 ratio). The current ratio for the quartet is a solid improvement after posting a 1.4 ratio (302 assists to 211 turnovers) as a group in 2011-12. Spradling (2.9) and Rodriguez (2.4) rank first and second, respectively, in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio, while Spradling places 19th and Rodriguez 38th nationally. Spradling, who has 60 assists to just 21 turnovers, led the team with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio a season ago, while Rodriguez has made a notable improvement (83 assists to 34 turnovers) in the area after posting a 1.2 ratio (101 assists to 85 turnovers) as a freshman. Irving has also nearly doubled his ratio (2.5 from 1.5) with 43 assists to 17 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 1.7 ratio (38 assists to 22 turnovers) after posting a 1.6 ratio last year.

McGRUDER AMONG ELITE COMPANY

Senior Rodney McGruder (1,319 points & 565 rebounds) became just the 11th player in K-State history to crack the 1,300-point plateau against Kansas on Jan. 22, while also passing Ed Nealy (1,304 points) into the school’s all-time Top 10 scoring list. He is now one of just six players in school history with at least 1,300 points and 500 rebounds in a career, joining Rolando Blackman (1,844 points & 607 rebounds), Bob Boozer (1,685 points & 824 rebounds), Cartier Martin (1,546 points & 546 rebounds), Ed Nealy (1,304 points & 1,069 rebounds). He ranks in the Top 10 of 10 other career categories, including consecutive starts (86, 3rd), 3-point field goals (167, 5th), 3-point field goal percentage (38.9%, 6th), 3-point field goals attempted (429, 6th), minutes (3,150, 6th), games (119, 8th), starts (86, 8th), consecutive games (95, 8th), field goals (478, 9th) and double-digit scoring games (72, 9th). He ranks first in scoring in Big 12-only games (18.7 ppg.) and is third in overall scoring (15.3 ppg.), while he leads the team in scoring, field goals and double-digit scoring games. He ranks in the Top 20 in five Big 12 categories, including scoring (3rd), field goal percentage (4th), minutes (7th), 3-point field goals (9th) and 3-point field goal percentage (10th).

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. He has now scored in double figures in 10 consecutive games with an average of 18.3 points per game. McGruder opened the week with a 21-point effort in a road win at TCU then followed with his fifth 20-point outing of the season in a win over Oklahoma. It was his 17th and 18th 20-point games of his career with the Wildcats posting an impressive 16-2 mark in those contests.

SOUTHWELL’S JUMP IN PRODUCTION

Junior Shane Southwell has made quite the jump in his productivity in year three, as he is averaging 8.3 points on 50 percent shooting, including 46.8 percent from 3-point range, with 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 22.1 minutes per game with 10 starts in 17 games played. That production has been even more of factor during the team’s last 10 games (of which the team is 8-2), as he is averaging 9.7 points on 47.4 percent shooting, including 44.1 percent from 3-point range, with 4.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 26.7 minutes per game in 10 starts. Southwell had a huge game in the win against West Virginia on Jan. 12, as he knocked down two free throws in the last 21 seconds to give the Wildcats the lead then blocked the game-winning shot with just one second remaining. After a career-high 19 points against Kansas, he posted 11 points against Iowa State on Saturday to

give him double-digit points for the 10th time in his career (8 K-State wins), including the sixth time this season. He entered the 2012-13 campaign averaging just 2.5 points on 36.1 percent shooting, including 25 percent from 3-point range, with 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 14.8 minutes per game with 62 games played and 19 starts during his two-year career.

RODRIGUEZ’S IMPROVED PLAY

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 (83) and steals (23) and second in scoring (9.4 ppg.) and double-figure scoring games (9). 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 15 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4, 2nd), assists (4.9, 4th) and steals (1.4, 7th) and paces the league in conference-only assists (6.0) and assist-to-turnover (3.6). He has scored in double figures nine times, including a career-best 19 points vs. Lamar to go with game-highs at George Washington (17) and Gonzaga (14). He nearly had his first career double-double against Oklahoma with 12 points and a career-high nine assists before posting 12 points and a game-high eight assists against Kansas. He was named to the NIT Season Tip-Off All-Tournament Team after averaging 11 points and 5.5 assists 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 83.0 (161-of-194), 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 19th nationally and first in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.9). He also places ninth in the Big 12 in assists (3.2 apg.). He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (30), second in assists (60) and double-digit scoring games (9) and third in scoring (8.5 ppg.) and steals (19), which includes a season-high 17 points in the win over No. 8/9 Florida on Dec. 22. He rebounded from his scoreless game against Kansas on Jan. 22 to post a team-high 15 points at Iowa State, which included a career-tying four 3-pointers.

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 18 of 19 games with the third-most starts (11), averaging 5.7 points on 44.9 percent shooting (44-of-98) with 4.3 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per game. He is fourth in rebounding (4.4 rpg.) and sixth in field goals (42), while he is one of seven players to average more than four points per game. He had career week in wins against South Dakota and No. 22/21 Oklahoma State, in which, he averaged 16.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting with 6.0 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game. He tallied a career-best 16 points vs. South Dakota on 7-of-10 field goals before eclipsing that mark with 17 points off the bench against OSU on 7-of-11 field goals. If you include the Kansas City game, he averaged 13.7 points on 51.5 percent shooting with 8.3 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per game in a three-game period from Dec. 29 to Jan. 5.

GIPSON A FACTOR DOWN LOW

Sophomore Thomas Gipson is starting to emerge as the Wildcats’ go-to player in the post, averaging 6.2 points on 50 percent shooting (29-of-58) with 5.2 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game in his last 13 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 5.5 per game, he ranks 17th in the Big 12 in overall rebounds, while his fourth in offensive rebounds at 2.7 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 (4.8 rpg.).

UP NEXT: AT OKLAHOMA (13-5, 4-2 BIG 12)

K-State starts a two-game road swing on Saturday, as the Wildcats travel to Norman, Okla., to play Oklahoma at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.

—www.kstatesports.com—


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