13/13 Kansas State (21-5, 10-3 Big 12) at Texas (12-14, 4-9 Big 12)
Saturday, February 23, 2013 * 7:01 p.m. CT
Austin, Texas * Frank Erwin Center (16,540)
Television: Longhorn Network
Paul Sunderland (play-by-play); Bruce Bowen (analyst);
Kaylee Hartung (sideline reporter)
National Radio: ESPN Radio (Sirius 84)
Marc Kestecher (play-by-play); Will Perdue (analyst)
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 113/XM 193 (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. Texas: K-State leads 14-10 (5-6 on the road)
Last Meeting: K-State won 83-57 (1/30/2013 in Manhattan)
13/13 Kansas State (21-5, 10-3 Big 12)
Head coach: Bruce Weber (Wisconsin-Milwaukee `78)
School Record: 21-5 (1st season) * Career Record: 334-160 (15th season) * vs. Texas: 1-1
Texas (12-14, 4-9 Big 12)
Head coach: Rick Barnes (Lenoir-Rhyne `77)
School Record: 354-151 (15th season) * Career Record: 556-285 (26th season) * vs. K-State: 9-8
No. 13/13 Kansas State (21-5, 10-3 Big 12) returns to the road on Saturday, as the Wildcats travel to Austin, Texas, to face the Texas Longhorns (12-14, 4-9 Big 12) at the Frank Erwin Center at 7 p.m. The squad will play three of their last five regular season games on the road, including trips to Baylor (March 2) and Oklahoma State (March 9). Saturday's game will broadcast nationally on the Longhorn Network with Paul Sunderland (play-by-play), Bruce Bowen (analyst) and Kaylee Hartung (sideline reporter) on the call. K-State and Texas have been two of the winningest teams in the Big 12 over the past seven seasons (since 2006-07) with the Longhorns (163) posting just two more wins than the Wildcats (161) over that span, as they rank second and third, respectively, to Kansas (219). After Monday's 71-61 win over West Virginia, K-State kept pace in the Big 12 standings, as the Wildcats remain in a tie for first place with No. 9/9 Kansas with 10-3 league records. No. 14/14 Oklahoma State is just one game back in third place with a 9-4 record, while Iowa State and Oklahoma are two games back in fourth place with 8-5 marks, as the Big 12's Top 6 teams are separated by just three games with five games to go in the regular season. The Wildcats have posted a solid 5-2 record on the road this season, which includes Big 12 road wins at West Virginia (65-64), TCU (67-54), Oklahoma (52-50) and Texas Tech (68-59) to go with losses at Iowa State (73-67) and Kansas (83-62). The squad has drastically improved their play on the road in the Big 12, posting a 28-26 record over the past seven seasons after winning just 10 of 80 road games in the league's first 10 years.
Saturday's contest will be televised on the Longhorn Network and available only through providers distributing the network. It is available in state of Kansas on Cox Communications (Ch. 272) and AT&T U-Verse (Ch. 609). It also can be found on Verizon FiOS TV, Grande Communications, Consolidated Communications, En-Touch Systems, E-Tex Communications, Bay City Cablevision, Mid-Coast Cablevision and Texas Mid-Gulf Cablevision. More information about the network can be found at espn.go.com/longhornnetwork/faq#2a. The game will not be available on ESPN3/ WatchESPN platforms or K-StateHD.TV.
K-STATE IN THE POLLS
K-State dropped in both major polls on Monday, 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 marks 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 250-94 (.727) all-time as a ranked team.
Texas (12-14, 4-9 Big 12) enters Saturday's contest with wins in two of its last three games since the return of sophomore guard Myck Kabongo, who returned on a Feb. 13 after a 23-game NCAA suspension. The Longhorns are averaging 63.9 points on 40.9 percent shooting, including 27.9 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to 63.5 points on 36.8 percent shooting, including an NCAA-best 26.8 percent from beyond the arc. One of the Big 12's youngest starting lineups with three freshmen and two sophomores, the squad is led by sophomore Sheldon McClellan (13.6 ppg.) who is one of six players averaging better than seven points per game. Kabongo is averaging 12.7 points since his return, while sophomore Julien Lewis adds 10.5 points with a team-high 35 3-pointers. Sophomore Jonathan Holmes is tops in rebounding at 6.7 per contest. Veteran coach Rick Barnes has won over 500 games in his career and is 354-151 in his 15th season at Texas. He is 9-8 vs. K-State, including 5-3 at home.
LAST MEETING: 18/21 KANSAS STATE 83, TEXAS 57 [JAN. 30, 2013]
A season-high 17 points from Thomas Gipson and a career-best 12 from Omari Lawrence helped No. 18/21 K-State post an 83-57 win over Texas in the teams' last meeting on Jan. 30 at Bramlage Coliseum. Gipson and Lawrence were part of a 45-point outburst by the K-State bench, which was the largest of the season and the most since the opener with North Dakota. The Wildcats also took advantage of 18 Longhorn turnovers, scoring a near season-high 33 points off turnovers.
This will be 25th meeting between K-State and Texas with the Wildcats holding a 14-10 lead in a series that dates back to 1971. The Longhorns hold a slight 10-9 edge since the start of the Big 12, including a 6-3 mark at home. However, K-State has won five of the last seven meetings, including victories in three (2007, 2009, 2011) of its last four visits to the Erwin Center.
QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE
--Kansas State's 21-5 start is the seventh-best start in school history after 26 games and the best since the 2009-10 team went 22-4. The 1958-59 team posted the best start after 26 games (25-1), while the 1950-51 squad was just two games back at 23-3 and the 1947-48 and 1957-58 teams went 22-4. It is the 26th 20-win season in school history, including a school-record seventh consecutive 20-win season. The 10-3 start to Big 12 play ties two others for the best since the league's inception in 1997 and the best since the 2009-10 team also went 10-3. It marks the sixth time in the last seven seasons that the Wildcats have reached 10+ wins in conference play. K-State saw its season-best eight-game winning streak end vs. 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. 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). K-State faced three Top 15 teams (No. 4 Michigan, No. 14 Gonzaga and No. 8 Florida) 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 21-5 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 Thursday, the school's 45 wins tie for 17th nationally and its .692 winning percentage (45-20) places 20th. K-State is one of 20 schools (along with Big 12 brethren Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) with 40+ 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 66-29 (.695) 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 50 of the ESPN RPI, including Kansas (4), Oklahoma (18), Oklahoma State (31) and Iowa State (44). 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 30-7 (.811) 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 95-35 (.731) record during their playing careers, which ranks third on the all-time wins list by a class. They are two wins away from posting the most wins by a senior class in school history (96 by Victor Ojeleye and Jamar Samuels, 2008-12). 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.
--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 5-2 in road games this season, winning at George Washington (65-62), West Virginia (65-64), TCU (67-54), Oklahoma (52-50) and Texas Tech (68-59) to go with losses at Iowa State (73-67) and Kansas (83-62). The loss at Hilton Coliseum 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 28-26 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 250-94 (.727) record as a ranked team since first being ranked in 1949-50.
--K-State ranks in the Top 50 nationally in six categories, including 16th in assist-to-turnover ratio, 22nd in assists, 31st in scoring defense, 34th in turnover margin, 42nd in turnovers per game and 46th in scoring margin. The Wildcats place in the Top 5 in 14 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 and 3-point field goals.
--Monday's 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.
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 (10.7 ppg.) are the only Wildcats averaging in double figures, while three others - Will Spradling (8.7 ppg.), Shane Southwell (8.1 ppg.) and Thomas Gipson (7.6 ppg.) - are averaging better than seven points per contest. The team has seen 10 players collect 76 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (20) leading the way, while the squad has seven players with 50 or more field goals made with McGruder's 145 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 and West Virginia as the only league schools with seven different players with 50 or more made field goals. In all, the Wildcats have had six players lead or share the lead in scoring led by McGruder (12). Gipson (5.3 rpg.) and McGruder (5.3 rpg.) pace the squad in rebounding, while Jordan Henriquez (4.6 rpg.) also averages better than four rebounds per game. The team has seen eight players either lead or share the lead in rebounding with McGruder pacing the squad in seven games.
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 122 assists (75 in Big 12 play) with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists. Rodriguez also has a team-high 35 steals (25 in Big 12 play), while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals. Four players -- McGruder (31.9 mpg.), Spradling (30.0), Rodriguez (26.3) and Southwell (23.7) -- 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 26.
The switch to a four-guard lineup has proved to be a pivotal decision by Bruce Weber, as the Wildcats are averaging 68.2 points on 45.2 percent shooting, including 37.8 percent from 3-point range, since making the change 17 games ago. The squad has posted a 14-3 mark in those 17 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 (45.2 from 40.8), four percent higher from 3-point range (37.8 from 33.3) and posting more 3-pointers (7.0 from 6.0), while dishing out more assists (16.2 from 15.6) and producing fewer turnovers (11.4 from 12.8) in the last 17 games. The Wildcats have connected on better than 45 percent from the field in 10 of those games, including 50 percent or better on six occasions, while shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range in eight games. Rodney McGruder is averaging four more points per game (16.3 from 11.9) on nearly 10 percent higher field goal percentage (47.2 from 37.8) in the last 17 games, while Shane Southwell has improved his average from 6.3 points in first nine to 8.7 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 3-point field goal percentage (39.3) and assists (16.0) and second in field goal percentage (45.2) and 3-point field goals made (7.8) 13 games into the conference season. The squad has connected on 43 percent or better from the field in 10 league games, including better than 50 percent against West Virginia (twice) and Iowa State (twice). The team has shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range in seven league games with 9+ 3-point makes in five contests, including 11 vs. Baylor on Feb. 16. Rodney McGruder ranks fifth in Big 12 games in scoring (15.8 ppg.), seventh in 3-point field goals made (2.0), eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (40.6) and ninth in field goal percentage (47.4), while Angel Rodriguez is second in league-only contests in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6) and steals (1.9), third in assists (5.8) and free throw percentage (83.0) and 18th in scoring (11.2 ppg.). Shane Southwell is third in 3-point field goal percentage (44.8), seventh in 3-point field goals made (2.0) and eighth in steals (1.3) in Big 12 games.
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 (1.3) and second in turnover margin (+2.7). Thus far, the squad has produced a Big 12-low 11.9 turnovers per game, while forcing its foes into an average of 14.5 turnovers (fourth-most in the Big 12). The team has 14 or fewer miscues in 19 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 304 assists to 136 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 second in the Big 12 and 33rd nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, while Spradling's team-best ratio (2.6) is outside the minimums to rank. Spradling, who has 68 assists to 26 turnovers, led the squad with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio a season ago, while Rodriguez has made a notable improvement (122 assists to 53 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 (1.9 from 1.5) with 53 assists to 28 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 2.1 ratio (61 assists to 29 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 21.6 points, including a 561-423 edge over foes. The team has collected at least 20 points from its bench in 14 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 this season 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 10 games with Gipson posting team-highs vs. Delaware (6), Texas (7) and Iowa State (7). Since moving back to the bench seven games ago, Gipson is averaging 9.7 points on 54.9 percent shooting with 4.7 rebounds in 19.6 minutes per game. In that same period, Martavious Irving has also provided a lift from the bench, averaging 5.9 points on 45.5 percent, including 56.3 percent from 3-point range, in 17.9 minutes per game. Over 40 percent (378) of the team's rebounding total and nearly 35 percent (561) of the scoring total has come from the bench this season.
K-State is averaging 17.9 personal fouls per game this season, including 19.4 per game in its 13 Big 12 games. Opponents have knocked down 314 free throws in 466 attempts, an average of 12.1 makes per game, with the Wildcats countering with 325 makes on 478 attempts for an average of 12.5 makes per game. The 13 Big 12 opponents have combined to shoot 56 more free throws than K-State (261 to 205), while scoring 178 points (13.7 FT/m) to just 147 (11.3 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 31st in scoring defense (59.5), 34th in turnover margin (+2.7) and 54th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (30.8). 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 rebounding margin. The team is fifth in 3-point field goal percentage defense and sixth in field goal percentage defense.
The 1,547 points surrendered through the first 26 games are the fewest in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the fewest since the 1982-83 squad allowed just 1,488 points (57.2 ppg.) through the first 26 games. The current 59.5 points per game scoring average is the third-lowest since 1951 behind only the 1981-82 (56.5 ppg.) and 1982-83 (57.2 ppg.) squads. The team has held 19 of its 26 opponents to 65 points or less, including nine to 55 points or less, while eight have been held under 40 percent shooting from the field and eight 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 26 opponents to just 26 points on 38.7 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, 432-305 (an average of 16.6 points per game), through the first 26 games in points off of turnovers. The squad has posted 10 or more points off of miscues in 21 of 26 games, including 20 or more points on seven occasions, with a season-best 34 vs. Lamar on Nov. 12. The team has out-scored its 13 Big 12 foes, 229-151 (an average of 17.6 points per game), in points off of turnovers, including 20 or more points in wins over TCU, Oklahoma and Baylor and a near season-best 33-point effort against Texas. They are 16-1 when scoring more points off of turnovers. The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 378-231 (an average of 18.0 points per game), in points off of turnovers in their 21 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 14.5 turnovers per game (fourth-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 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 23rd and first in the Big 12 with Angel Rodriguez boasting the league's second-best assist-to-turnover ratio and ranking 42nd 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 (26), attempted (29) and percentage (89.7) 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 (12-of-15) 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.
REBOUNDING BECOMING A BIGGER PRIORITY
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 (-1.0), eighth in defensive rebounds (20.1), ninth in rebounds (30.8) and 10th in offensive rebounds (10.5). Since switching to a four-guard line-up 17 games ago, the squad is averaging 32.4 rebounds, including 11.1 offensive rebounds, with opponents posting 30.8 rebounds, including 10.3 offensive rebounds. In the team's 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 their opponents, 153-99 (+54), in second chance points in its first nine games, but has since held been outscored 184-178 (-6) in second chance points in the last 17 games. 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 10 league wins, the squad posted a +19 rebounding edge (318-299) and posted 25 more (120-95) second-chance points.
K-State still boasts solid overall rebounding numbers, where it ranks first in offensive rebounds (13.6), third in rebounding margin (+4.0) and seventh in rebounds (35.9). Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their foes by a 933-830 margin, including 353-277 on the offensive end. The team is 17-0 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 21 games with a season-high 29 against North Florida on Nov. 18.
McGRUDER AMONG ELITE COMPANY
Senior Rodney McGruder (1,413 points & 603 rebounds) became just the 11th player in K-State history to crack the 1,300-point plateau against Kansas on Jan. 22, while also cracking school's all-time Top 10 scoring list. He sits in eighth place on the all-time scoring list after passing Chuckie Williams (1,364; 1972-76) with 22 points against Iowa State on Feb. 9. He is now one of four players in school history with at least 1,400 points and 500 rebounds in a career, joining Rolando Blackman (1,844 points & 607 rebounds), Bob Boozer (1,685 points & 824 rebounds) and Cartier Martin (1,546 points & 546 rebounds). He became the first Wildcat player with 1,400 points, 600 rebounds and 100 steals in a career against West Virginia on Monday.
McGruder ranks in the Top 10 of 12 other career categories, including consecutive starts (93, 3rd), games (126, 4th), 3-point field goals attempted (450, 4th), minutes played (3,366, 4th), 3-point field goals (174, 5th), 3-point field goal percentage (38.7%, 6th), double-digit scoring games (77, 6th), starts (93, 7th), consecutive games (102, 8th), steals (102, 8th), field goals (509, 9th), and field goal attempts (1,124, 9th). He ranks in the Top 15 in five Big 12 categories, including field goals (2nd), scoring (6th), minutes (9th), field goal percentage (14th) and 3-point field goals (14th) . He ranks fifth in scoring in Big 12-only games (15.8 ppg.), while he is seventh in 3-point field goals, eighth in 3-point field goal percentage and ninth in field goal percentage.
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. McGruder opened the week with a 21-point effort in a road win over the Horned Frogs then followed with a 20-point outing in a win over the Sooners. He has now collected 20 20-point games in his career with the Wildcats posting an impressive 17-3 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 8.1 points on 44.9 percent shooting, including 45 percent from 3-point range, with 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 23.7 minutes per game with 17 starts in 24 games played. That production has been even more of factor during the team's last 17 games (of which the team is 14-3), as he is averaging 8.9 points on 42.2 percent shooting, including 43.3 percent from 3-point range, with 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals in 27.1 minutes per game in 17 starts. He ranks second on the team in field goals (54), 3-point field goals (29) and assists during that 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 remaining. 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 with 19 on a career-best six 3-pointers. He has now posted double-digit points 11 times in his career (9 K-State wins), including seven 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 (122) and steals (35) and second in scoring (10.7 ppg.) and double-figure scoring games (15). 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 (5.1, 3rd) and steals (1.5, 6th) and ranks second in conference-only assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6) and steals (1.9) and third in assists (5.8). He has scored in double figures 15 times, including 20-point games against Iowa State (20) and Baylor (22), to go with game-highs against 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 both points (22) and assists (10). In Big 12 play, he is averaging 11.2 points, 5.8 assists and 1.9 steals in 29.2 minutes per game. He earned Phillips 66 Big 12 co-Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career on Monday 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 49-of-55 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 84.1 (174-of-207), 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 eighth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (37.0) and 10th in 3-point field goals (1.5). He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (40), second in assists (68) and third in scoring (8.7 ppg.) and double-digit scoring games (12), while he matched his career-high with 19 points vs. West Virginia on Monday. 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
Since returning to the bench seven games ago, sophomore Thomas Gipson has become a big presence in the paint for K-State, as he is averaging 9.7 points on 54.9 percent shooting with 4.7 rebounds in 19.6 minutes per game. His scoring average and field goals in that span are third on the team behind Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez. He has scored in double figures in four of the seven games, including a game-high 17 points against Texas on Jan. 30 to go with a team-high seven rebounds in 21 minutes. Gipson, who had started 13 consecutive games prior to coming off the bench vs. Texas, posted his individual high in a Big 12 game, while his 16 points against Iowa State on Feb. 9 gave him double-digits for the ninth time this season. He came into the Texas game, averaging just 4.7 points on 45.5 percent shooting and 2.8 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game in Big 12 play. He had arguably his best all-around game against Texas Southern on Dec. 18 with 14 points, 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. He is the team leader in rebounding at 5.3 per game.
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 of the last six games for the first time in his career. He has scored 10 points each in the two road wins at Oklahoma and Texas Tech to go with another 10 against Iowa State on Feb. 9. In the last seven games, he is averaging 5.9 points on 45.5 percent shooting, including a team-best 56.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc with nine 3-pointers, in 17.9 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 4.5 points, 2.2 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 18.2 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 is starting to emerge as an impact player for K-State. He has played in 25 of 26 games with 11 starts, averaging 4.9 points on 47.3 percent shooting (53-of-112) with 3.6 rebounds in 14.3 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 the Cowboys on 7-of-11 field goals. After scoring a combined 17 points in 11 games from Jan. 12 to Feb. 16, he came through in a big way in the win over West Virginia on Monday, scoring 13 points on 6-of-8 field goals in 23 minutes.
UP NEXT: TEXAS TECH (9-15, 2-11 Big 12)
K-State returns home to host Texas Tech (9-15, 2-11 Big 12) in its next-to-last home game on Monday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.