No. 13/13 Kansas State (22-5, 11-3 Big 12) returns home to Bramlage Coliseum on Monday night, as the Wildcats play host to Texas Tech (9-16, 2-12 Big 12) at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU with Mitch Holthus (play-by-play) and Stephen Bardo on the call. Monday’s contest will be the second-to-last at Bramlage Coliseum this season, where the squad has won 15 of their last 16 games, including six of seven in Big 12 play. After Saturday’s 81-69 win at Texas, K-State kept pace in the Big 12 standings, as the Wildcats remain in a tie for first place with No. 9/9 Kansas (23-4) with an 11-3 league record. No. 14/14 Oklahoma State (20-6) is just one game back in third place with a 10-4 record, while Iowa State (18-8) and Oklahoma (18-8) are two games back in fourth place with 9-5 marks, as the Big 12’s Top 5 teams are separated by just two games with four remaining in the regular season. A win against the Red Raiders would be not only be significant for the Wildcats’ Big 12 title hopes, but give Bruce Weber a tie for the most wins by a first-year head coach in school history (Bob Huggins, 2006-07) and help the school post 12 league victories for the first time in the Big 12 era and the first time since the 1972-73 season.
Monday will cap off K-State Proud festivities, as fans are encouraged to donate to the student-led fundraising campaign to benefit K-State students. Every person who donates to the cause will receive a specially-designed gray K-State Proud T-shirt to wear to the game. In the first six years, students have established a culture of philanthropy by raising more than $550,000 for their peers who are struggling financially. For more information on the K-State Proud campaign, please check out www.k-stateproud.org.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY COACH WINTER
Legendary K-State head coach Fred “Tex” Winter will celebrate his 91st birthday on Monday. The Naismith and College Basketball Hall of Fame inductee was the Wildcats’ head coach from 1953-68, guiding the school to 261 wins, two Final Four appearances (1958, 1964), six NCAA Tournament and eight Big Seven/Eight titles (1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1968).
K-STATE IN THE POLLS
K-State dropped in both major polls on Feb. 18, falling three spots to No. 13 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll and two spots to No. 13 in the USA Today Coaches poll. It marked the ninth straight week that the Wildcats have been ranked in the AP poll, while the No. 10 ranking on Feb. 11 was the highest in the AP poll since 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 251-94 (.728) all-time as a ranked team.
Texas Tech (9-16, 2-12 Big 12) enters Monday’s game with eight consecutive losses, including an 86-66 loss to Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday. The Red Raiders are averaging 66.2 points on 41.8 percent shooting, including 28.3 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to 72.3 points on 46.2 percent shooting, including 38.1 percent from beyond the arc. The team is led by Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jaye Crockett, who leads the way in both scoring (12.3 ppg.) and rebounding (7.2 rpg.). Freshman Josh Gray (10.0 ppg.) also averages in double figures to go with team-highs in both assists (3.3 apg.) and steals (2.1 spg.). Sophomore Jordan Tolbert, who had 19 points in the first meeting with K-State, averages 9.0 points on a team-high 52.1 percent shooting to go with 5.6 rebounds per outing. The Red Raiders are led by interim head coach Chris Walker.
LAST MEETING: 13/13 KANSAS STATE 68, TEXAS TECH 59 [FEB. 5, 2013]
Rodney McGruder led four Wildcats in double figures with 18 points, as No. 13/15 K-State ran its winning streak to six games over Texas Tech with a 68-59 victory in the teams’ most recent meeting on Feb. 5. The Wildcats built as much as a 13-point lead but the pesky Red Raiders never let them pull away. McGruder also had a team-high nine rebounds and was joined in double figures by Angel Rodriguez (13), Thomas Gipson (12) and Martavious Irving (10). Jordan Tolbert led all scorers with 19.
This will be 30th meeting between K-State and Texas Tech with the Wildcats holding a 19-10 lead (includes two forfeits) in a series that dates back to 1955, which includes an 11-2 mark at home. The Wildcats hold a 12-9 edge since the start of the Big 12, including a 7-2 mark at home. K-State has won six straight in the series (the longest win streak by either team) dating back to 2009.
QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE
--Kansas State’s 22-5 start ties four other teams for the fifth-best start in school history after 27 games and the best since the 2009-10 team went 23-4. The 1958-59 team posted the best start after 27 games (25-2), while the 1950-51 squad was just one game back at 24-3, the 1972-73 team was two games back at 23-4 and the 1947-48, 1957-58, 1960-61 and 1963-64 squads all went 22-5. It is the 26th 20-win season in school history, including a school-record seventh consecutive 20-win season. The 11-3 start to Big 12 play ties the 2009-10 team for the best since the league’s inception and marks just the second time the school has produced 11 league wins in the Big 12 era. The Wildcats now have 10+ wins in conference play six times in the last seven seasons. Four of the five losses are to current Top 10 teams in No. 3/3 Gonzaga, No. 7/7 Michigan and No. 9/9 Kansas (twice), while the squad faced three Top 15 teams in non-conference play for the first time. The team won double-digit non-conference games for the seventh straight season, including its first regular-season Top 10 non-conference win (No. 8 Florida) since 1981.
--Bruce Weber’s 22-5 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 46 wins tie for 17th nationally and its .687 winning percentage (46-21) places 20th. K-State is one of 20 schools (along with Big 12 brethren Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) with 45+ 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 67-30 (.691) since August 24. K-State is one of three schools (Florida and Louisville) to finish in the Top 15 in football (12th) and currently rank in Top 15 in men’s basketball.
--K-State has built a solid resume, as the Wildcats boast a No. 19 RPI in the latest ESPN rankings. The squad is one of five Big 12 schools in the Top 55 of the ESPN RPI, including Kansas (5), Oklahoma (21), Oklahoma State (29) and Iowa State (51). K-State is one of 17 teams with five wins over Top 50 RPI teams, which includes eight of the nation’s Top 10 teams.
--The Wildcats have been one of the best in February the last five seasons, posting a 31-7 (.816) mark in the month since the 2008-09 season, including a 16-3 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 96-35 (.733) record during their playing careers, which ties the 2011-12 senior class (Victor Ojeleye and Jamar Samuels) for the most wins by a class. They are the fourth straight senior class to tally 90 or more wins in their career, while they are attempting to become just the second in school history (1989-90) to advance to the NCAA Tournament in four straight seasons. The three seniors will all finish in Top 10 of the career games played list (the first time three players from same class), as McGruder (127) is tied for third, Irving (122) is seventh and Henriquez (119) is tied for 10th.
--Sixteen of the 26 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 16 of their last 17 home games, including 15 of 16 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 6-2 in road games this season, winning at George Washington (65-62), West Virginia (65-64), TCU (67-54), Oklahoma (52-50), Texas Tech (68-59) and Texas (81-69) to go with losses at Iowa State (73-67) and Kansas (83-62). The loss at ISU 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 29-26 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 Feb. 11. The No. 10 ranking was the highest since checking in at No. 6 on Dec. 13, 2010. The Wildcats dropped to No. 13 in the AP poll and No. 13 in the USA Today Coaches poll on Feb. 18, which marked the seventh straight week the team has been ranked in both polls. The Wildcats have a 251-94 (.728) record as a ranked team since first being ranked in 1949-50.
--K-State ranks in the Top 50 nationally in five categories, including 19th in assist-to-turnover ratio, 21st in assists, 32nd in scoring defense, 43rd in turnover margin and 46th in scoring margin. The Wildcats place in the Top 5 in 15 of 21 Big 12 categories, including tops in scoring defense, assist-to-turnover ratio and offensive rebounds and second in 3-point field goal percentage, assists and turnover margin. In Big 12-only games, the squad ranks first in 3-point field goal percentage, assists, turnover margin and assist-to-turnover ratio and second in scoring defense, field goal percentage and 3-point field goals.
--The Feb. 18 meeting with West Virginia marked the 12th time K-State has faced a former head coach (Tex Winter, Lon Kruger and Bob Huggins) with the Wildcats winning five (including four this season) of those occurrences. Prior to 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 2-1 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. McGruder (first team) and Spradling (second team) were selected to the Academic All-Big 12 Teams.
UP NEXT: AT BAYLOR (16-11, 7-7 Big 12)
K-State begins the month of March on the road, as the Wildcats play at Baylor (16-11, 7-7 Big 12) at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.