No. 18/21 Kansas State (16-4, 5-2 Big 12) begins a two-game road trip on Saturday, as the Wildcats travel to Norman, Okla. to face former player and head coach Lon Kruger and his Oklahoma Sooners (14-5, 5-2 Big 12) for the second time in five games at the Lloyd Noble Center at 5 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 with Jon Sciambi (play-by-play) and Fran Fraschilla (analyst) on the call. Both K-State and Oklahoma will look to keep pace in the Big 12 title race, as the teams sit in a three-way tie for second place (along with Baylor) with 5-2 records, just two games behind conference leader Kansas (18-1, 7-0 Big 12) and one game ahead of Oklahoma State (14-5, 4-3 Big 12) and Iowa State (14-6, 4-3 Big 12). The Wildcats, which won the first meeting, 69-60, in Manhattan just 15 days ago on Jan. 19, will be looking to sweep the season series for the first time since 1993 and for the first time since the start of the new 18-game league schedule. However, the Sooners have won eight of the last 11 meetings in Norman, including an 82-73 victory last season. Despite seeing its six-game road winning streak end at Iowa State on Jan. 26, K-State has tallied a 3-1 mark in true road games this year, including wins at West Virginia and TCU. Overall, the squad has improved its 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). One of the greatest players in school history, Kruger was a two-time Big Eight Player of the Year (1973, 1974) before guiding the Wildcats to an 81-46 record and four NCAA Tournament appearances as head coach from 1986-90. This will mark the 11th time (and third this season) K-State has faced a former head coach (Tex Winter, Kruger and Bob Huggins) with the Wildcats winning just three of those previous 10 meetings (wins over Kruger at UNLV in 2009 and Oklahoma in 2013 and a 65-64 win over Huggins’ West Virginia squad on Jan. 12). Kruger is 4-3 against his alma mater in stops at UTPA (1986), Illinois (1999), UNLV (2009, 2010) and Oklahoma (2012, 2013).
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 245-93 (.725) all-time record as a ranked team.
Oklahoma (14-5, 5-2 Big 12) is coming off a big road win at Baylor on Wednesday, in which, the Sooners connected on better than 50 percent from the field in both halves. The squad got 20 points each from senior Steven Pledger and junior Amath M’Baye. Oklahoma is a solid 7-1 at home this season with its lone loss coming to Southland leader Stephen F. Austin, 56-55, on Dec. 18. The Sooners are averaging 68.5 points on 43.1 percent shooting, including 32.1 percent from 3-point range, while holding foes to 63.1 points on 40.4 percent shooting, including 30.2 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 (14.2 ppg.) and rebounding (6.5 rpg.) on 51.4 percent shooting from the field. Pledger (11.4 ppg.) and M’Baye (10.8 ppg.) also average in double figures, while freshman Buddy Hield (9.4 ppg.) nearly averages 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 508-325 record in 27 seasons.
LAST MEETING: 16/18 KANSAS STATE 69, OKLAHOMA 60 [JAN. 19, 2013]
Rodney McGruder scored a game-high 20 points, as No. 16/18 Kansas State ran its winning streak to eight games with a 69-60 win over Oklahoma in front of a sellout crowd at Bramlage Coliseum in the teams’ last meeting on Jan. 19. The Sooners were able to cut a double-digit lead to six points with 3:19 to play before Wildcats closed the game from the free throw line. Will Spradling (15), Shane Southwell (12) and Angel Rodriguez (12) all joined McGruder in double figures, while Rodriguez had nine assists.
This will be the 197th meeting between K-State and Oklahoma with the Sooners holding a 104-92 lead in a series that dates back to 1920. The Sooners are one of just two Big 12 teams to hold a series edge over the Wildcats. Oklahoma is 60-25 in games played in Norman with eight wins in the last 11 meetings. However, K-State has won two of the last three meetings (2008 and 2010).
QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE
--Kansas State’s 16-4 start ranks as the seventh-best start in school history and the best since the 2009-10 team produced a 17-3 start after 20 games. The 1957-58 and 1958-59 teams all posted the best start after 20 games (19-1), while the 1961-62 squad was just one game back at 18-2 and the 1947-48, 1950-51 and 2009-10 teams were 17-3. The 5-2 start to Big 12 play ties for the second-best since the league’s inception in 1997 and the best since the 2007-08 team went 6-1. The team saw their 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 16-4 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 coach in school history and the longest since Clevenger’s 1916-17 squad ended the year with 13 straight 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 Thursday, the school’s 39 wins tie for 16th nationally and its .736 winning percentage (39-14) places 17th. 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 60-23 (.723) since August 24.
--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).
--Twelve of the 20 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 13 of their last 14 home games, including 12 of 13 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 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 245-93 (.725) all-time record as a ranked team since first being ranked in 1949-50, including a 19-9 (.679) 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 (45.9), assists (16.6), turnover margin (+3.6) and assist-to-turnover (1.7) and second in 3-point field goal percentage (37.8).
--The Wildcats have been one of the best first-half defensive teams, holding its 20 opponents to just 24.8 points on 37.6 percent shooting, including 27.6 percent from 3-point range. It has held five opponents to 20 points or less in the first half. In contrast, the squad is allowing 33.4 points in the second half on 43.1 percent shooting, including 30.4 percent from beyond the arc.
--Saturday’s meeting with Oklahoma will mark the 11th time K-State has faced a former head coach (Tex Winter, Lon Kruger and Bob Huggins) with the Wildcats winning just three (including two this season) of those occurrences. Prior to wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma, the last win over a former head coach came in a 95-80 win over a Kruger-coached UNLV squad on Dec. 12, 2009. The team will play at least one more such game (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 3-4 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 UTPA (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.
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 (14.9 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 (8.4 ppg.), Shane Southwell (8.3 ppg.) and Thomas Gipson (7.3 ppg.) - are averaging better than seven points per contest. The team has seen nine players collect 54 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (15) leading the way, while the squad has seven players with 40 or more field goals made with McGruder’s 116 makes tops in the Big 12. Only Baylor (10) has more players with double-digit scoring efforts in the Big 12, while K-State and Iowa State are the only league schools with seven players with 40 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 (5.6 rpg.) paces the squad in rebounding, while McGruder (5.0 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 leading five times, McGruder four 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 91 assists (44 in Big 12 play) with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists. Rodriguez also has a team-high 24 steals (14 in Big 12), while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals. Four players -- McGruder (31.4 mpg.), Spradling (30.3), Rodriguez (24.6) and Southwell (22.6) -- 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 20.
The switch to a four-guard lineup has proved to be a pivotal decision by Bruce Weber, as the Wildcats are averaging 67.8 points on 45.7 percent shooting, including 35.8 percent from 3-point range, since making the change 11 games ago. The squad has posted a 9-2 mark in those 11 games, including victories over No. 8/9 Florida, No. 22/21 Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas. 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 (45.7 from 40.8), two percent higher from 3-point range (35.8 from 33.3) and posting more 3-pointers (6.5 from 6.0), while dishing out more assists (16.7 from 15.6) and producing fewer turnovers (11.2 from 12.8) in the last 11 games. The Wildcats have connected on better than 45 percent from the field in seven of 11 games, including 50 percent or better on four occasions, while shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range in four games. Rodney McGruder is averaging almost six more points per game (17.3 from 11.9) on nearly 10 percent higher field goal percentage (48.7 from 37.8) in the last 11 games,
while Shane Southwell has improved his scoring average from 6.3 points in first nine to 9.5 points in the last 11 games.
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 (45.9) and second in both 3-point field goal percentage (37.8) and 3-point field goals made (7.7) after seven Big 12 games. The squad has connected on 44 percent or better from the field in six of its seven league games, including better than 50 percent against West Virginia and Iowa State, while the 179 field goals are second to Oklahoma’s 180. The team has shot better than 35 percent from 3-point range in five leagues with nine or more 3-point makes in three contests. Rodney McGruder ranks first in Big 12 games in 3-point field goals made (2.7), third in scoring (17.0 ppg.), fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (42.2) and eighth in field goal percentage (50.0), while Shane Southwell is second in 3-point field goal percentage (48.3), sixth in 3-point field goals made (2.0) and 18th in scoring (11.3 ppg.) in Big 12 games. Angel Rodriguez, who has 34 assists to just four turnovers in the last five games, is tops in league-only contests in both assists (6.3 apg.) and assist-to-turnover ratio (4.0).
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 (1.4) and turnover margin (+2.8). Thus far, the Wildcats have produced a Big 12-low 11.9 turnovers per game, while forcing its foes into an average of 14.7 turnovers (third-most in the Big 12). The team has 14 or fewer miscues in 14 games, including a season-low six against Texas, while they have forced their foes into 18 or more turnovers five 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 241 assists to 98 turnovers (2.5 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 (2.7) and Rodriguez (2.6) 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 62 assists to just 23 turnovers, led the team with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio a season ago, while Rodriguez has made a notable improvement (91 assists to 35 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 (2.6 from 1.5) with 46 assists to 18 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 1.9 ratio (42 assists to 22 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 22.6 points, including a 451-308 edge over foes. The team has collected at least 20 points from its bench in 11 games, including a season-high 45 points vs. North Dakota on Nov. 9 and Texas on Wednesday. Reserves have scored nearly half of the team’s points five times 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 nine games with Gipson posting team-highs vs. Delaware (6) and Texas (7), Jordan Henriquez collecting team-bests vs. West Virginia (7) and TCU (10), D.J. Johnson grabbing team-highs vs. North Dakota (9) and Lamar (8), Southwell recording a career-high nine rebounds vs. UAH, Adrian Diaz collecting a career-best 10 vs. North Florida, Williams snagging seven rebounds vs. No. 8/9 Florida. Over 40 percent (319) of the team’s rebounding total and nearly 35 percent (461) of the scoring total has come from the bench this season.
K-State is averaging 17.8 personal fouls per game this season, including 20.1 per game in its seven Big 12 games. Opponents have knocked down 234 free throws in 361 attempts, an average of 11.7 makes per game, with the Wildcats countering with 245 makes on 373 attempts for an average of 12.3 makes per game. The seven Big 12 opponents have combined to shoot 56 more free throws than K-State (156 to 100), while scoring 98 points to just 67 for the Wildcats from the line.
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 1,163 points surrendered through the first 20 games are the fewest in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the fewest since the 1982-83 squad allowed just 1,119 points (56.0 ppg.) through the first 20 games. The team has held 15 of its 20 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, 338-219 (an average of 16.9 points per game), through the first 20 games in points off of turnovers. The squad has posted 10 or more points off of miscues in 17 of 20 games, including 20 or more points on five occasions, with a season-best 34 vs. Lamar on Nov. 12. The team has out-scored its seven Big 12 foes, 135-65 (an average of 19.3 points per game), in points off of turnovers, including 20 or more points in back-to-back wins over TCU and Oklahoma and a near season-best 33-point effort against Texas. They are 13-1 when scoring more points off of turnovers. The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 295-164 (an average of 18.4 points per game), in points off of turnovers in their 16 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 14.7 turnovers per game (third-most in the Big 12), including a season-high 26 by Lamar, while turning the ball a Big 12-low 11.9 times per game. The 1.4 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 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 (-1.4), eighth in defensive rebounds (21.4), ninth in rebounds (30.9) and offensive rebounds (9.4). Since switching to a four-guard line-up 11 games ago, the squad is averaging 33.5 rebounds, including 10.8 offensive rebounds, with opponents posting 30.8 rebounds, including 9.9 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. The Wildcats out-scored their opponents, 153-99 (+54), in second chance points in its first nine games, but has since been out-scored 120-113 (-7) in second chance points in the last 11 games.
K-State still boasts solid overall rebounding numbers, where it ranks second in offensive rebounds (14.2), third in rebounding margin (+5.3) and fifth in rebounds (37.6) in 20 games. Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their foes by a 752-646 margin, including 283-211 on the offensive end. The squad is 15-0 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 17 games with a season-high 29 against North Florida on Nov. 18. Sophomore Thomas Gipson (5.6 rpg.) ranks 17th in the Big 12 in rebounding, while he is fifth (2.7) in offensive rebounds. The team has collected 40+ rebounds in seven games, including a season-best 55 vs. UAH on Nov. 13.
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 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 Big 12 wins. Junior Will Spradling, who went 10-of-10 in the last 35 seconds in wins over Delaware, George Washington and Texas Southern, 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.
McGRUDER AMONG ELITE COMPANY
Senior Rodney McGruder (1,326 points & 566 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 sits 10th all-time in scoring at K-State, just one point shy of Mitch Richmond (1,327; 1986-88) for ninth and 38 points away from Chuckie Williams (1,364; 1972-76) for eighth place. 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).
McGruder ranks in the Top 10 of 12 other career categories, including consecutive starts (87, 3rd), 3-point field goals (167, 5th), 3-point field goal percentage (38.9%, 6th), 3-point field goals attempted (431, 6th), minutes (3,165, 6th), games (120, 8th), starts (87, 8th), consecutive games (96, 8th), field goals (480, 9th), double-digit scoring games (72, 9th), field goal attempts (1,058, 10th) and steals (92, 10th). He ranks in the Top 15 in six Big 12 categories, including scoring (3rd), minutes (9th), 3-point field goals (11th), 3-point field goal percentage (11th), field goal percentage (14th) and offensive rebounds (15th). He ranks third in scoring in Big 12-only games (17 ppg.), while he leads the team in scoring, field goals and double-digit scoring games.
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 49.1 percent shooting, including 47.1 percent from 3-point range, with 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 22.6 minutes per game with 11 starts in 18 games played. That production has been even more of factor during the team’s last 11 games (of which the team is 9-2), as he is averaging 9.5 points on 46.4 percent shooting, including 44.7 percent from 3-point range, with 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 27 minutes per game in 11 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 No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22, he posted 11 points against Iowa State 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
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 (91) and steals (24) and second in scoring (9.4 ppg.) and double-figure scoring games (10). 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 (2.6, 2nd), assists (5.1, 4th) and steals (1.3, 8th) and paces the league in conference-only assists (6.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (4.0). He has scored in double figures 10 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 on Jan. 19 with 12 points and a career-high nine assists before posting 12 points and a game-high eight assists against Kansas on Jan. 22. In Big 12 play, he has 44 assists to just 11 turnovers, including a remarkable 34 assists to just four turnovers in the last five games. 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 36-of-42 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 (2.7). He also places ninth in the Big 12 in assists (3.1 apg.). He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (31), second in assists (62) and third in scoring (8.4 ppg.), steals (20) and double-digit scoring games (9), while he tallied 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 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 19 of 20 games with the third-most starts (11), averaging 5.6 points on 45.5 percent shooting (46-of-101) with 4.2 rebounds in 15.5 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 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 broke out of a slump against Texas on Wednesday, as he responded with a game-high 17 points on 7-of-10 field goals and a team-high seven rebounds in 21 minutes. Gipson, who had started 13 consecutive games prior to coming off the bench against the Longhorns, posted his individual high in a Big 12 game, while registering double-digits for the seventh time this season, including the first time since the Kansas City game on Dec. 29. He came into the Texas game, averaging 4.7 points on 45.5 percent shooting (10-of-22) and 2.8 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game in Big 12 play. For the season, he is averaging 7.3 points on 48.1 percent shooting with a team-high 5.6 rebounds in 19 minutes per game. He had arguably his best all-around game of the season against 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 5.6 per game, he ranks 17th in the Big 12 in overall rebounds, while his fifth in offensive rebounds at 2.7 per game.
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. 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, including 31.4 percent from the 3-point range, while averaging 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 in rebounding (6.0 rpg.), 3-point field goal percentage (40.0) and free throw percentage (83.3), while Diaz was tops in field goal percentage (58.3) and blocks (2.5 bpg.).
UP NEXT: AT TEXAS TECH (9-9, 2-5 BIG 12)
K-State wraps up a two-game road swing with a game at Texas Tech on Tuesday at 7 p.m. on the Big 12 Network.