Kansas State's Rodney McGruder drives against Texas Tech's Jamal Williams during an NCAA college basketball game in Lubbock, Texas, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal,Zach Long)
13/13 Kansas State (23-5, 12-3 Big 12) at Baylor (17-11, 8-7 Big 12)
Saturday, March 2, 2013 * 6:02 p.m. CT
Waco, Texas * Ferrell Center (10,284)
Mark Neely (play-by-play); Bob Knight (analyst)
Internet: www.ESPN3.com and WatchESPN
Available on Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon and Brighthouse
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 85/XM 85 (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 448-452 (154-235 on the road)
vs. Baylor: K-State leads 15-12 (4-5 on the road)
Last Meeting: K-State won 81-61 (2/16/2013 in Manhattan)
13/13 Kansas State (23-5, 12-3 Big 12)
Head coach: Bruce Weber (Wisconsin-Milwaukee ‘78)
School Record: 23-5 (1st season) * Career Record: 336-160 (15th season) * vs. Baylor: 1-0
Baylor (17-11, 8-7 Big 12)
Head coach: Scott Drew (Butler ‘93)
School Record: 174-135 (10th season) * Career Record: 194-146 (11th season) * vs. K-State: 5-8
No. 13/13 Kansas State (23-5, 12-3 Big 12) begins the month of March on the road, as the Wildcats travel to Waco, Texas to face Baylor (17-11, 8-7 Big 12) at the Ferrell Center on Saturday at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 with Mark Neely (play-by-play) and Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight (analyst) on the call. The squad finishes the regular season with two of their last three games on the road, including a tilt at Oklahoma State on March 9. After its 75-55 win over Texas Tech on Monday, K-State remains in a tie for first place with No. 6/5 Kansas (24-4) with a 12-3 league record, just one game ahead of No. 15/18 OSU (21-6), which sits in third place with an 11-4 mark. All three teams have clinched a bye to the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship (March 13-16, Kansas City, Mo.). The win over the Red Raiders not only kept the Wildcats in the Big 12 title race, it gave Bruce Weber a tie for the most wins by a first-year head coach in school history (Bob Huggins, 2006-07) and helped the school post 12 league victories for the first time in the Big 12 era and the first time since the 1972-73 season. The victory, which gave the team a 7-1 mark in February (tied with OSU for best in the Big 12), also made the three-man senior class of Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder the winningest in school history with its 97th victory.
K-State owns an 8-0 record against Texas-based schools (Baylor, Lamar, TCU, Texas, Texas Southern, Texas Tech) in 2012-13 with at least two more tries in the regular season, including Saturday’s game at Baylor and Tuesday’s home finale vs. TCU. The Wildcats have won these eight games by an average of 16.6 points, including sweeps of Texas and Texas Tech. In its six Big 12 games,
K-State has won games by 13, 26, 9, 20, 12 and 20 points over Texas schools, including an 81-61 win over Baylor on Feb. 16.
K-STATE IN THE POLLS
K-State remained at No. 13 in both The Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll on Monday. It marked the 10th straight week that the Wildcats have been ranked in the AP poll and eighth consecutive week the team has been ranked in both polls. 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 252-94 (.728) all-time as a ranked team.
Baylor (17-11, 8-7 Big 12) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 65-62 win at West Virginia on Wednesday night to sweep the season series from the Mountaineers. The Bears are averaging 74.9 points on 45.3 percent shooting, including 34.3 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to 65.6 points on 40.7 percent shooting, including 30.6 percent from beyond the arc. The squad ranks among the leaders in several statistical categories, including second in scoring offense, 3-point field goals made (7.0) and 3-point field goal percentage defense and third in field goal percentage, rebounding (38.2) and assists (15.3). Big 12 Player of the Year candidate Pierre Jackson paces three players in double figures with a league-best 19.1 points per game with a team-best 66 3-pointers, while dishing out a league-high 6.4 assists per game. Freshman of the Year candidate Isaiah Austin (13.7 ppg. and 8.8 rpg.) and junior Cory Jefferson (11.8 ppg. and 8.3 rpg.) average near double-doubles. Head coach Scott Drew has a 194-146 record in his 11th season as a head coach, including a 174-135 mark in 10 seasons at Baylor.
LAST MEETING: 10/11 KANSAS STATE 81, BAYLOR 61 [FEB. 16, 2013]
Four Wildcats scored in double figures, as No. 10/11 K-State eclipsed the 20-win barrier for the seventh consecutive season with an 81-61 win over Baylor in the teams’ last meeting on Feb. 16 at Bramlage Coliseum. Angel Rodriguez tallied his first career double-double with career-bests in both points (22) and assists (10), while Jordan Henriquez tallied his first double-double of the year with 10 points and game-high 10 rebounds and Shane Southwell tied his career-high with 19 points on 6 3-pointers.
This will be 28th meeting between K-State and Baylor with the Wildcats holding a 15-12 lead in a series that dates back to the 1948 NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats won five of the first six meetings, but the Bears hold a slight 11-10 edge in the series since the start of Big 12 play with the teams splitting the last 18 meetings since 2000. Baylor is 5-4 at home, but K-State has won back-to-back games (2010 and 2012) at the Ferrell Center for the first time. Each of the last seven games in Waco have been decided by a combined 17 points, including three Bear wins by three points or less and three Wildcat victory by two points or less.
QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE
--Kansas State’s 23 wins tie five other teams for the sixth-most in a single-season in school history, only five other teams have 24 or more wins. The 23-5 start ties the 1972-73 squad for the third-best start in school history after 28 games and the best since the 2009-10 team went 24-4 (which ties 1950-51 for best start). It is the 26th 20-win season in school history, including a school-record seventh consecutive 20-win season. The 12 wins in Big 12 play are the most since the league’s inception and just the seventh time in school history (1958-59, 1960-61, 1961-62, 1963-64, 1971-72 and 1972-73) that a team has posted at least 12 league wins and the first time in 40 years. 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. 2/2 Gonzaga, No. 4/4 Michigan and No. 6/5 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 23-5 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 mark. Weber’s 23 wins tie Bob Huggins (2006-07) for the most by a first-year coach, while he is just the fourth to win 20 games in his first year, joining Huggins, Frank Martin (21, 2007-08) and Lon Kruger (20, 1986-87). His eight-game winning streak (Dec. 18, 2012-Jan. 19, 2013) was the second-longest by a first-year head coach and the longest since Clevenger’s 1916-17 squad ended the year with 13 straight wins. His 12 Big 12 wins are also the most by first-year head coach.
--K-State is enjoying an outstanding 2012-13 athletics season, as the Wildcats have one of the best records (47-22, .681) among BCS schools when combining its football and men’s and women’s basketball teams. The school, which won the Big 12 title in football in 2012 for just the second time, is one of 20 (along with the Big 12’s Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) with 45+ combined wins among its three major sports. Only twice in Big 12 history (Oklahoma, 2004-05 and Texas, 2005-06) has a school won the conference title in both football and men’s basketball in the same academic year, while 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. 21 RPI in the latest ESPN rankings. The squad is one of six Big 12 schools in the Top 60 of the ESPN RPI, including Kansas (4), Oklahoma State (28), Oklahoma (29), Iowa State (53) and Baylor (58). 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.
--K-State concluded February with a 7-1 mark, tying Oklahoma State for the best record in the Big 12, and continued its trend of playing well in the month in the last five years, where the Wildcats are 32-7 (.821) since 2008-09, including 17-3 at home.
--The three-man senior class of Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder became the winningest class in school history on Monday vs. Texas Tech, earning its 97th victory. The trio currently boasts a 97-35 (.735) record during their careers, which is one more than the 2011-12 class (Victor Ojeleye and Jamar Samuels) for the most wins by a class. They are the fourth straight 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, as McGruder (128) is third, Irving (123) is sixth and Henriquez (119) is tied for 10th.
--17 of K-State’s 28 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 17 of their last 18 home games, including 16 of 17 at Bramlage Coliseum. The Texas Tech win gave the school 300 victories in the arena’s 25-year history, while a win against TCU in the home finale would tie the 2008-09 and 2010-11 teams for the most home wins (16) and the 2010-11 squad for the highest home winning percentage (16-1, .941) in school history. The team’s 12-game home winning streak and 11-game streak at Bramlage ended in a loss to No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22.
--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 remained at No. 13 in the AP and USA Today Coaches Top 25 polls on Monday, which marked the eighth straight week the team has been ranked in both polls. The Wildcats have a 252-94 (.728) record as a ranked team since first being ranked in 1949-50.
--K-State ranks in the Top 50 in seven categories, including 13th in assists, 18th in assist-to-turnover ratio, 30th in scoring defense, 32nd in offensive rebounds, 37th in scoring margin, 43rd in 3-point field goal percentage defense and 48th in turnover margin. The team places first in the Big 12 in scoring defense, assist-to-turnover ratio and rebounding defense and second in 3-point field goal percentage, assists, turnover margin and offensive rebounds. In Big 12-only games, they rank first in scoring defense, field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage, rebounding defense, assists, turnover margin and assist-to-turnover ratio.
--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 2013, the last victory over a former coach came in a 95-80 win over Kruger’s UNLV squad on Dec. 12, 2009. K-State lost twice to Winter (Washington in 1971 and LBSU in 1978), while the Wildcats are now 4-4 vs. Kruger and 2-1 vs. Huggins (2011, 2013). Interestingly enough, the Wildcats are 6-0 vs. coaches prior to them coming to K-State, going 1-0 vs. Winter at Marquette (1953), 3-0 vs. Jack Hartman at Southern Illinois (1964, 1968 and 1969), 1-0 vs. Kruger at Texas-Pan American (1986) and 1-0 vs. 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.
K-State has proven to be a balanced team across the board with eight players averaging four or more points, including just two in double figures, and five averaging three or more rebounds per game. Senior Rodney McGruder (14.8 ppg., 6th in Big 12) and sophomore Angel Rodriguez (11.1 ppg., 19th in Big 12) are the only Wildcats averaging in double figures, while three others - Will Spradling (8.6 ppg.), Shane Southwell (8.2 ppg.) and Thomas Gipson (8.1 ppg.) - are averaging better than eight points per contest. The team has seen 10 players collect 84 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (22) leading the way, while the squad has seven players with 50 or more field goals made with McGruder’s 155 the second-most of any player in the Big 12. The 10 players with double-digit scoring efforts ties Baylor the most in the Big 12, while K-State joins Iowa State as the only league schools with seven players with 50+ made field goals and five players with 20+ 3-pointers. In all, the Wildcats have had six players lead or share the lead in scoring led by McGruder (13). McGruder also leads in rebounding at 5.4 per game, while Gipson(5.3 rpg.) and Jordan Henriquez (4.7 rpg.) also average better than four rebounds per game. The team has seen eight players either lead or share the lead in rebounding with McGruder and Gipson leading the way in seven games apiece.
The Wildcats have also been diverse in other categories, including seven players with 10+ assists and eight with 10+ steals.
Rodriguez has dished out a team-best 135 assists (88 in Big 12 play) with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists. Rodriguez also has a team-high 40 steals (30 in Big 12 play), while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals. Four players -- McGruder (32.2 mpg.), Spradling (29.7), Rodriguez (26.5) and Southwell (24.2) -- are averaging more than 20 minutes, while five others are averaging 10+ minutes. Seven players have at least one start with McGruder and Spradling starting all 28.
The switch to a four-guard lineup has proved to be a pivotal decision by Bruce Weber, as the Wildcats are averaging 69.2 points on 45.7 percent shooting, including 37.5 percent from 3-point range, since making the change 19 games ago. The squad has posted a 16-3 mark in those 19 games, including victories over No. 8/9 Florida, No. 22/21 Oklahoma State, Oklahoma (twice), Iowa State and Baylor. Although the team scored nearly 71 points in their first nine games (before the switch), they are shooting nearly five percent higher from the field (45.7 from 40.8), four percent higher from 3-point range (37.5 from 33.3) and posting more 3-pointers (6.9 from 6.0), while dishing out more assists (16.6 from 15.6) and producing fewer turnovers (11.5 from 12.8) in the last 19 games. The Wildcats have connected on better than 45 percent from the field in 12 of those games, including 50 percent or better on seven occasions, while shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range in nine games. Rodney McGruder is averaging four more points per game (16.2 from 11.9) on nearly 10 percent higher field goal percentage (47.3 from 37.8) in the last 19 games, while Shane Southwell has improved his average from 6.3 points in first nine to 8.8 points in the same span.
HEATING UP FROM THE FIELD
K-State has found more of an offensive rhythm in Big 12 play, where the Wildcats lead the league in field goal percentage (45.8), 3-point field goal percentage (38.8) and assists (16.5) and second in 3-point field goals made (7.5). The squad has connected on 45 percent or better from the field in 10 league games, including better than 50 percent against West Virginia (twice), Iowa State (twice) and Texas Tech. The team has shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range in eight league games with 9+ 3-point makes in six contests, including 11 vs. Baylor on Feb. 16. Rodney McGruder ranks sixth in Big 12 games in scoring (15.7 ppg.), seventh in free throw percentage (75.9), eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (39.1), ninth in field goal percentage (47.5), and 11th in 3-point field goals made (1.8), while Angel Rodriguez is second in league-only contests in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5) and steals (2.0), third in assists (5.9) and free throw percentage (84.5) and 16th in scoring (11.9 ppg.). Shane Southwell ranks in the Top 15 in 3-point field goal percentage (44.6, 1st) and makes (1.9, 8th), while Will Spradling is 15th in 3-pointers (1.5).
PROTECTING THE BALL
K-State has been solid protecting the ball, as the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4) and second in turnover margin (+2.5). Thus far, the squad has produced a Big 12-low 11.9 turnovers per game, while forcing its foes into an average of 14.4 turnovers (tied for third-most in the Big 12). The team has 14 or fewer miscues in 21 games, including a season-low six on three occasions, while they have forced their foes into 18+ turnovers seven times, including a season-high 26 by Lamar.
MORE ON BALL PROTECTION
Seven Wildcats have posted an even or positive assist-to-turnover ratio this season, including its four primary ball-handlers (Angel Rodriguez, Martavious Irving, Shane Southwell and Will Spradling) combining for 335 assists to 151 turnovers (2.2 ratio). The current ratio for the quartet is a solid improvement after posting a 1.4 ratio (302 assists to 211 turnovers) as a group in 2011-12. Rodriguez (2.3) ranks first in the Big 12 and 47th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, while Spradling’s team-best ratio (2.6) is outside the minimums to rank. Spradling, who has 75 assists to 30 turnovers, led the squad with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio a season ago, while Rodriguez has made a notable improvement (135 assists to 59 turnovers) in the area after posting a 1.2 ratio (101 assists to 85 turnovers) as a freshman. Irving has also drastically improved his ratio (2.0 from 1.5) with 57 assists to 29 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 2.1 ratio (68 assists to 33 turnovers) after posting a 1.6 ratio last year.
Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 21.4 points, including a 599-479 edge over foes. The team has collected at least 20 points from its bench in 15 games, including a season-high 45 points vs. North Dakota on Nov. 9 and Texas on Jan. 30. Reserves have scored nearly half of the team’s points five times with Thomas Gipson posting the scoring lead vs. North Dakota (13), Delaware (12) and Texas (17), while Shane Southwell had a game-high 16 points vs. UAH and Nino Willams tallied a career-high 17 points vs. No. 22/21 Oklahoma State. The rebounding leader has come from the bench in 10 games with Gipson posting team-highs vs. Delaware (6), Texas (7) and Iowa State (7). In an eight-game stretch from Jan. 30 to Feb. 23, Gipson averaged 9.8 points on 57.9 percent shooting with 4.6 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game before starting vs. Texas Tech on Monday. In the last nine games, Martavious Irving has also provided a lift from the bench, averaging 5.1 points on 40 percent, including 52.6 percent from 3-point range, in 18.6 minutes per game. Over 40 percent (400) of the rebounding total and over 30 percent (599) of the scoring total has come from the bench this season.
K-State is averaging 18.1 personal fouls per game this season, including 19.5 per game in its 15 Big 12 games. Opponents have knocked down 339 free throws in 511 attempts, an average of 12.1 makes per game, with the Wildcats countering with 359 makes on 519 attempts for an average of 12.8 makes per game. The 15 Big 12 opponents have combined to shoot 60 more free throws than K-State (306 to 246), while scoring 203 points (13.5 FT/m) to just 181 (12.1 FT/m) for the Wildcats from the line.
ON THE DEFENSIVE
K-State has continued to be one of the best defensive teams in the nation, ranking 30th in scoring defense (59.7), 43rd in 3-point field goal percentage defense (30.7) and 48th in turnover margin (+2.5). In all, the Wildcats rank either first, second or third in five Big 12 defensive categories, including first in scoring defense and rebounding defense, second in turnover margin and third in 3-point field goal percentage defense and rebounding margin. The team is sixth in field goal percentage defense.
The 1,671 points surrendered through the first 28 games are the fewest in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the fewest since the 1982-83 squad allowed just 1,635 points (58.4 ppg.) through the first 28 games. The current 59.7 points per game scoring average is the fifth-lowest since 1953 behind the 1981-82 (58.0),1982-83 (58.4),1980-81 (59.4) and 1961-62 (59.8) squads. The team has held 20 opponents to 65 points or less, including 10 to 55 points or less, while eight have been held under 40 percent shooting from the field and nine to 25 percent or less shooting from 3-point range. The defensive effort has been even better in the first half, as the Wildcats are holding its 28 opponents to just 26.3 points on 39.3 percent shooting, including 29 percent from 3-point range. They have held six opponents to 20 points or less in the first half. The team’s defense was nearly historic in the 87-26 win over Alabama-Huntsville on Nov. 13, as the 26 points allowed were one shy of the Bramlage Coliseum record of 25 set against Savannah State on Jan. 7, 2008. The Chargers’ 16.4 field goal percentage was only surpassed by Savannah State’s 15.5 percentage.
POINTS OFF TURNOVERS
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams were their ability to score points off of opponent’s mistakes and Bruce Weber has continued that legacy. The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 467-335 (an average of 16.7 points per game), through 28 games in points off of turnovers. The squad has posted 10 or more points off of miscues in 23 of 28 games, including 20 or more points on eight occasions, with a season-best 34 vs. Lamar on Nov. 12. The team has out-scored its 15 Big 12 foes, 264-181 (average of 17.6 points per game), in points off of turnovers, including 20+ points in wins over TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech and a near season-best 33-point effort vs. Texas on Jan. 30. They are 17-1 when scoring more points off of turnovers. The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 413-261 (average of 18 points per game), in points off of turnovers in their 23 victories, while are being outscored 74-54 (an average of 10.8 points per game) in points off of turnovers in their five losses.
K-State is forcing its opponents into 14.4 turnovers per game (tied for 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 18th and first in the Big 12 with Angel Rodriguez boasting the league’s best assist-to-turnover ratio and ranking 47th nationally. In Martin’s five seasons, the Wildcats averaged 18.2 points per game off of turnovers. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored from 2007-12 came off of
offense generated from miscues. The school has scored 500 or more points off of opponent turnovers in six straight seasons.
Although they have dropped games to No. 3/2 Kansas and Iowa State by a combined 10 points, the Wildcats have been successful in close games this season, posting a 12-2 record in games decided by 10 points or less and a 6-2 mark in games decided by six points or less, including six Big 12 wins. Angel Rodriguez, who knocked down the game-winning free throws in the last five seconds in the win at Oklahoma on Feb. 2 and was 6-of-6 in the last 2:24 in the win over Iowa State on Feb. 9, paces the team in free throws (31), attempted (34) and percentage (91.2) in the last five minutes of games. Will Spradling, who is also impressive from the line in clutch situations (21-of-26 in the last five minutes this season and 79-of-96 for his career), went a combined 10-of-10 from the line in the last 35 seconds in wins over Delaware, George Washington and Texas Southern. Rodney McGruder (14-of-17) and Shane Southwell (8-of-10) have all been solid from the line in the last five minutes of games. In the 65-64 win over West Virginia on Jan. 12, Southwell knocked down two free throws in the last 21 seconds and also blocked the game-winning shot with one second left. With the score tied at 50-all at Oklahoma, Rodriguez knocked down a pair of game-winning free throws with 5.6 seconds left. The team went a combined 9-of-9 from the line in the last five minutes vs. Iowa State on Feb. 9.
REBOUNDING BECOMING A BIGGER PRIORITY
Rebounding had been a source of strength earlier in the season, but has now become more of a concern since the start of Big 12 play, where K-State ranks sixth in rebounding margin (+0.7), seventh in offensive boards (10.8) and eighth in rebounding (31.5) and defensive boards (20.7). Since switching to a four-guard line-up 19 games ago, the team is averaging 32.9 rebounds, including 11.3 offensive rebounds, with opponents posting 30.2 rebounds, including 10.2 offensive rebounds. In the first nine games, they averaged 42.6 rebounds, including 18.2 offensive rebounds, while its foes posted 34.1 rebounds, including 11.3 offensive rebounds. The Wildcats out-scored opponents, 153-99 (+54), in second chance points in its first nine games, while they own a 204-198 (+6) edge in second chance points in the last 19 games, including a 19-4 advantage vs. Texas Tech. In its three league losses, K-State has been out-rebounded by 32 (111-79) and allowed 32 more (46-14) second-chance points. In contrast, in its 12 league wins, the squad has posted a +43 rebounding edge (393-350) and posted 37 more (146-109) second-chance points.
K-State still boasts solid overall rebounding numbers, where it ranks second in offensive rebounds (13.5), third in rebounding margin (+4.5) and seventh in rebounds (36.0). Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their opponents by a 1008-881 margin, including 379-295 on the offensive end. The team is 19-0 this year when out-rebounding its opponent, but just 4-5 when it is out-rebounded. K-State has at least 10 offensive rebounds in 23 games with a season-high 29 against North Florida on Nov. 18.
McGRUDER AMONG ELITE COMPANY
Senior Rodney McGruder (1,443 points & 616 rebounds) recently became just the second player in K-State history to rank in the Top 10 in both career scoring (eighth) and rebounding (10th), joining two-time consensus All-American Bob Boozer, whose 824 rebounds rank fourth all-time and his 1,685 points rank fifth. He is just the eighth player to top 1,400 points in a career and one of just three players in school history with at least 1,400 points and 600 rebounds in a career, joining Rolando Blackman (1,844 points & 607 rebounds) and Bob Boozer (1,685 points & 824 rebounds). He became the first Wildcat player in school history to collect 1,400 points, 600 rebounds, 150 assists and 100 steals in a career against West Virginia on Feb. 18.
McGruder ranks in the Top 10 of 13 career categories, including consecutive starts (95, 3rd), games (128, 3rd), 3-point field goals attempted (455, 4th), minutes played (3,439, 4th), 3-point field goals (175, 5th), double-digit scoring games (79, 5th), 3-point field goal percentage (38.5%, 6th), starts (95, 6th), consecutive games (104, 7th), field goals (519, 7th), steals (106, 8th) and field goal attempts (1,145, 8th). He ranks in the Top 20 in six Big 12 categories, including field goals (2nd), scoring (6th), minutes (8th), steals (12th), field goal percentage (15th) and rebounding (20th). He ranks sixth in scoring and minutes in Big 12-only games, while he is seventh in free throw percentage, eighth in 3-point field goal percentage and ninth in field goal percentage.
McGRUDER NAMED TOP 30 CANDIDATE FOR NAISMITH AWARD
Senior Rodney McGruder was named one of 30 candidates for the 2013 Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year Award on Feb. 26 presented by AT&T and the Atlanta Tipoff Club. McGruder becomes third Wildcat to be selected as a Top 30 candidate for the Naismith Award, joining Michael Beasley (2008) and Jacob Pullen (2010). The candidates were selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances to this point in the 2012-13 season. In late March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will narrow down the list to four finalists. The Naismith Player of the Year will be awarded on April 7 in Atlanta. McGruder leads the Wildcats in six categories, including scoring (14.8 ppg.), double-digit scoring games (21), 20-point games (eight), field goals (155), rebounding (5.4 rpg.) and minutes (32.2 mpg.). Four times he has been named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week, winning the honor on Dec. 10 and 24, 2012 and Jan. 7 and 21. 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 his five overall weekly awards (won first one as a junior) are the most-ever by a K-State player in the Big 12 era.
SOUTHWELL’S JUMP IN PRODUCTION
Junior Shane Southwell has made quite the jump in his productivity in year three, as he is averaging 8.2 points on 44.8 percent shooting, including a 44.8 percent from 3-point range, with 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 24.2 minutes per game with 19 starts in 26 games played. That production has been even more of factor during the team’s last 19 games (of which the team is 16-3), as he is averaging 8.8 points on 42.4 percent shooting, including 43.2 percent from 3-point range, with 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.0 steals in 27.3 minutes per game in 19 starts. He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (32) and second in field goals (61) and assists (55) during this stretch, while he is third in scoring and steals. Southwell had a huge game in the win against West Virginia on Jan. 12, as he knocked down two free throws in the last 21 seconds to give the Wildcats the lead then blocked the game-winning shot with just one second left. He first set his career-high for points (19) against No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22 then matched it against Baylor on Feb. 16 on a career-best six 3-pointers. He has now posted double-digit points 12 times in his career (10 K-State wins), including eight times this season. He entered the 2012-13 campaign averaging just 2.5 points on 36.1 percent shooting with 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 14.8 minutes per game with 62 games played and 19 starts.
RODRIGUEZ’S IMPROVED PLAY
Sophomore Angel Rodriguez has made steady improvement from his freshman to his sophomore season, as he ranks first or second on the team in six categories, including first in assists (135) and steals (40) and second in scoring (11.1 ppg.) and double-figure scoring games (17). He has helped the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio and second in assists and turnover margin, while he places in the league’s Top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3, 1st), assists (5.2, 3rd) and steals (1.5, 4th) and ranks second in conference-only assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5) and steals (2.0) and third in assists (5.9) and free throw percentage (84.5). He has scored in double figures 17 times, including 20-point games vs. Iowa State (20) and Baylor (22), to go with game-highs vs. Lamar (19), George Washington (17) and Gonzaga (14). He tallied his first career double-double in Feb. 16 win over Baylor with career-bests in points (22) and assists (10). In Big 12 play, he is averaging 11.9 points, 5.8 assists and 2.0 steals in 29.1 minutes per game. He earned Phillips 66 Big 12 co-Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career on Feb. 18 after averaging 19.5 points, 8.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals in helping K-State split games with Kansas and Baylor.
SPRADLING COMING UP CLUTCH
Junior Will Spradling has been a model of consistency from the free throw line, knocking down 51-of-58 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 83.8 (176-of-210), which is the second-highest in school history behind Steve Henson (90.0; 361-of-401; 1986-90). Spradling has not only been stellar on the free throw line, but he ranks first on the team in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7). He also places ninth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (37.1) and 10th in 3-point field goals (1.5). He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (43), second in assists (75) and third in scoring (8.6 ppg.) and double-digit scoring games (12), while he matched his career-high with 19 points vs. West Virginia on Feb. 18. Since going scoreless against Kansas on Jan. 22, he has posted double-digit efforts at Iowa State (15), Oklahoma (12), Kansas (10) and West Virginia (19).
GIPSON A FACTOR DOWN LOW
Sophomore Thomas Gipson has become a big presence in the paint in the last nine games, as he is averaging 10.9 points on 60.6 percent shooting with 5.0 rebounds in 20.3 minutes per game. His field goals (40) and rebounds are second and his scoring average third in that span behind only Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez. He has scored in double figures in six of the nine games, including a game-high 20 points against Texas Tech on Monday to go with a team-high eight rebounds in 28 minutes. Gipson, who had come off the bench in eight straight games before earning the start, posted his individual high in a Big 12 game vs. the Red Raiders, eclipsing his 17 points vs. Texas on Jan. 30. For the season, Gipson is tops in field goal percentage (51.8), second in rebounding (5.3 rpg.) and third in field goals (85) and double-digit scoring games (12). Before the start of the nine-game streak, he was averaging 4.7 points on 45.5 percent shooting and 2.8 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game in Big 12 play.
IRVING PROVIDING A LIFT FROM THE BENCH
Senior Martavious Irving has provided a scoring lift from the bench of late, posting double figures in three consecutive games (Feb. 2-9) for the first time in his career. He scored 10 points each in the two road wins at Oklahoma and Texas Tech to go with another 10 vs. Iowa State on Feb. 9. In the last nine games, he is averaging 5.1 points on 40 percent shooting, including a team-best 52.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc with 10 3-pointers, in 18.6 minutes per game. Although his numbers aren’t high enough for Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year mention, he has still been one of the major factors for the team’s success with averages of 4.4 points, 2.2 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 18.4 minutes per game. He is one of five players with 20+ 3-pointers.
WILLIAMS EMERGING AS A KEY RESERVE
After playing in just 15 games his first season (including a medical redshirt in 2010-11), sophomore Nino Williams has emerged as an impact player for K-State. He has played in 27 of 28 games with 11 starts, averaging 5.0 points on 47.9 percent shooting with 3.6 rebounds in 14.0 minutes per game. He had career week in wins vs. South Dakota and No. 22/21 Oklahoma State in January, in which, he averaged 16.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting with 6.0 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game. With the emergence of Shane Southwell in the four-guard offense, Williams playing time has diminished, where he is averaging 4.9 points and 3.2 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game. However, he has come through in a big way in recent wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech. He scored 13 points against the Mountaineers on 6-of-8 field goals with five rebounds in 23 minutes before scoring 11 points against the Red Raiders on 5-of-8 field goals and seven rebounds. He scored all 11 of his points vs. Texas Tech in a near four-minute span in the second half, in which, the Wildcats went from being down two points to taking a six-point lead.
UP NEXT: TCU (10-18, 1-14 Big 12)
K-State celebrates Senior Night on Tuesday, as the Wildcats play host to TCU (10-18, 1-14 Big 12) at 7 p.m. on the Big 12 Network.