K-State News Release:
18/23 Kansas State (12-2, 1-0 Big 12) at West Virginia (8-6, 1-1 Big 12)
Saturday, January 12, 2013 * 12:47 p.m. CT
Morgantown, W.Va. * WVU Coliseum (14,000)
Television: Big 12 Network (ESPN Full Court)
Mark Neely (play-by-play); Stephen Howard (analyst)
Channels: KSHB (Kansas City), KSAS (Wichita), KSNT (Topeka)
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 137/XM 193
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 leads 437-449 (150-233 on the road)
vs. West Virginia: Tied at 1-1 (1-0 on the road)
Last Meeting: West Virginia won 85-80 [2 OTs] (12/8/11)
18/23 Kansas State (12-2, 1-0 Big 12)
Head coach: Bruce Weber (Wisconsin-Milwaukee ‘78)
School Record: 12-2 (1st season) * Career Record: 325-157 (15th season) * vs. WVU: 0-0
West Virginia (8-6, 1-1 Big 12)
Head coach: Bob Huggins (West Virginia ‘77)
School Record: 128-62 (6th season) * Career Record: 718-273 (31st season) * vs. K-State: 1-1
No. 18/23 Kansas State (12-2, 1-0 Big 12) will make its first trip to West Virginia in over 60 years on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats face former head coach Bob Huggins and his Mountaineers (8-6, 1-1 Big 12) at the WVU Coliseum for a 12:47 p.m. CT tip. The game will be broadcast on the Big 12 Network with Mark Neely (play-by-play) and Stephen Howard (analyst) on the call. Riding its second five-game winning streak of the season (won its first five games from Nov. 9-21), the Wildcats will be playing just its second true road game after earning a 65-62 win at George Washington on Dec. 8. Overall, the squad has won four consecutive road games, including three in a row in Big 12 play, dating back to last season. The Wildcats have improved their play on the road in the Big 12, posting a 25-24 record over the past six seasons (which began with Huggins in 2006-07) after winning just 10 of 80 road games in the league’s first 10 years (1997-2006). Huggins helped guide K-State to its first 20-season and first postseason appearance in eight seasons in 2006-07, as his Wildcats posted a 23-12 record and advanced to the second round of the NIT. The 23 wins were the most-ever by a first-year head coach in school history and the most since the 1987-88 season. K-State has since collected a school-record six consecutive 20-win seasons. This will mark the ninth time K-State has faced a former head coach (Tex Winter, Lon Kruger and Huggins) with the Wildcats winning just one of those previous eight meetings (a 95-80 win over a Kruger-coached UNLV squad on Dec. 12, 2009). Last season, Huggins’ Mountaineers outlasted the Wildcats, 85-80, in double-overtime on Dec. 8, 2011 in the Wichita Wildcat Classic at INTRUST Bank Arena.
Saturday’s contest will be the second of eight games on the Big 12 Network. The league television package can be seen locally on KSHB-TV in Kansas City, KSAS-TV in Wichita and KSNT-TV in Topeka. The game can also seen in the Big 12 region on KTXA-TV in Dallas, KTVI-TV in St. Louis, KOCB-TV in Oklahoma City, KYMT-TV in Tulsa, WOI-TV in Des Moines, KXVO-TV in Omaha, KUBE-TV in Houston and KCWX-TV in San Antonio. All games on the Big 12 Network can be found on ESPN Full Court as well as ESPN3.com.
K-State is ranked in both major polls, jumping seven spots in The Associated Press Top 25 poll to No. 18 and earning its first ranking this season in the USA Today Coaches poll at No. 23. It marks the third straight week that the Wildcats have been ranked in the AP poll, while the No. 18 ranking is the highest in the AP poll since also placing 18th on Jan. 9, 2012. The program has now been ranked at least one week in each of the last four years, which had not happened since doing it six straight years from 1972-78.
West Virginia (8-6, 1-1 Big 12) has won four of its last five games, including a 57-53 win in overtime at Texas on Wednesday. The Mountaineers rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to earn its first-ever Big 12 win. The squad is averaging 68.3 points on 39 percent shooting, including 27.6 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to 66 points on 42.4 percent shooting. Junior Aaric Murray paces the team in scoring (10.6 ppg.), rebounding (7.7 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.6 bpg.), while sophomore Juwan Staten averages 10.5 points per game to go with team-highs in assists (2.9 apg.), steals (1.4 spg.) and minutes (30.9 mpg.). The Mountaineers are a balanced team with seven players averaging at least five points and three rebounds. One of only four active Division I coaches with 700 wins, coach Bob Huggins has a 718-273 (.725) record in his 31st season overall, including a 128-62 (.674) mark at his alma mater. He is 1-1 against K-State with loss while at Akron (1988) to go with last year’s win.
Last Meeting: West Virginia 85, Kansas State 80 (2 OTs) [Dec. 8, 2011]
Kevin Jones led four players in double figures with 30 points, as West Virginia won a thrilling 85-80 double-overtime win over K-State at the Wichita Wildcat Classic at INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita on Dec. 8, 2011. The two teams battled through nine lead changes and 17 ties before the Mountaineers scored the game’s final five points. Rodney McGruder led three Wildcats in double figures with 20 points, while Will Spradling and Thomas Gipson added 16 and 15 points, respectively.
This will be the third meeting between K-State and West Virginia on the hardwood and the first in Morgantown since the Wildcats posted a 49-44 win over the Mountaineers on Dec. 12, 1949. Head coach Bruce Weber has never faced West Virginia.
Quickly on Kansas State
--Kansas State’s 12-2 start ties for the second-best to start a season in the last 25 seasons behind the 13-1 starts by the 2009-10 squad. The win over No. 22/21 Oklahoma State snapped a four-game losing streak in Big 12 openers and was the first since an 84-82 win at Oklahoma on Jan. 12, 2008. It was also the first win in a home Big 12 opener since a 68-44 victory over Texas Tech on Jan. 11, 2002. The Wildcats’ two losses are to Top 10 teams in current No. 2/2 Michigan and No. 8/9 Gonzaga. 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 (since the 1949-50 season when rankings became available). 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 12-2 record ties Zora Clevenger (1916-17) for the best start by a first-year K-State head coach in the program’s 109-year history. 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. 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 football game.
--K-State is having a stellar start to the 2012-13 athletics season, as the Wildcats have one of the best winning percentages among Bowl Championship Series (BCS) schools when combining football and men’s and women’s basketball records. As of Thursday’s results, the school’s 33 wins tie for 11th nationally and its .786 winning percentage (33-9) places 12th. K-State is one of 25 BCS schools (along with Big 12 schools Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) with 30+combined wins among its three major sports. The football team produced just its second 11-win regular season in school history, while it advanced to a BCS game (Fiesta Bowl) for the first time in eight years. The men’s basketball team is off to its second-best start (12-2) in the past 25 seasons, while the women’s basketball team has won 10 of its first 15 games. If you take into account the success of the women’s volleyball team, which won 20 matches and advanced to NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats are 54-18 (.750) since August 24.
--The Wildcats are in the midst of their second five-game winning streak of the season after winning their first five games from Nov. 9-21. The team has posted 14 winning streaks of at least five games (including 10-game streak from Nov. 21, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010) in the last six seasons. The squad has not won six consecutive games since winning six games from Dec. 11-31, 2011.
--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 jumped seven spots to No. 18 (with 472 points) in the latest poll on Jan. 7. The No. 18 ranking is the highest since also checking in at No. 18 on Jan. 9, 2011. In addition, the squad earned its first ranking in the USA Today Coaches poll on Jan. 7 at No. 23. All three Division I schools in the state of Kansas are ranked (No. 8 Kansas, No. 18 K-State and No. 23 Wichita State) in the AP poll for the first time since the 1964-65 preseason poll. K-State 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. The Wildcats have a 241-91 (.726) all-time record as a ranked team, including a 17-9 (.654) mark as the No. 18 team.
--K-State ranks in the Top 50 in nine categories nationally, including second in offensive rebounds (16.4), eighth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.5), 15th in rebounding margin (+9.0), 17th in scoring defense (56.9), 20th in rebounding (41.1), 34th in assists (16.2), 39th in scoring margin (+12.9), 41st in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.26) and 46th in field goal percentage defense (38.5). The Wildcats rank in the Top 5 in 16 of 21 Big 12 categories, including first in offensive rebounds and second in scoring defense, 3-point field goal percentage defense, rebounding, rebounding margin and assist-to-turnover ratio.
--Nine of the 14 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 11 straight dating back to last season (including 10 in a row at Bramlage Coliseum). The school extended its non-conference home winning streak to 48 after a win over South Dakota on Dec. 31. K-State has won 29 straight non-conference home games in December and boast a 40-1 mark in the month at Bramlage Coliseum the past 10 seasons with the last loss coming to Rutgers on Dec. 28, 2004. The team is a combined 96-21 (.821) in November/December home games since 2003-04.
--K-State has a distinct advantage on offense and defense at home, averaging 73.7 points on 44.7 percent shooting, including 33.7 percent from 3-point range, while allowing just 53.2 points on 35.4 percent shooting, including 25 percent from beyond the arc, in 10 games. In its four neutral and road games this season, the team is averging nearly 14 points less (60.0 ppg.) on 36.2 percent shooting, including 30.3 percent from 3-point range, while allowing 66 points on 46.3 percent shooting.
--The Wildcats have been one of the best first-half defensive teams, holding its 14 opponents to just 23.9 points on 35.1 percent shooting, including 23.3 percent from 3-point range. It has held four opponents to 20 points or less in the first half. In contrast, the squad is allowing 33.0 points in the second half on 41.8 percent shooting, including 29.3 percent from beyond the arc.
--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.
We Meet Again
Saturday’s meeting with former coach Bob Huggins (2006-07) at West Virginia will mark the ninth time that K-State has faced a former head coach (Tex Winter, Lon Kruger and Huggins) in a game with the Wildcats winning just one of those eight previous meetings (a 95-80 win over a Kruger-led UNLV squad on Dec. 12, 2009 in Las Vegas). K-State lost twice to Winter (Washington in 1971 and Long Beach State in 1978), while the Wildcats are 1-4 against Kruger in his stops at Illinois (1999), UNLV (2009, 2010) and Oklahoma (2012) and 0-1 against Huggins at West Virginia (2011). Interestingly enough, the Wildcats are 5-0 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) 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. Aside from Minnesota in 1981 and Florida in 2012, the Wildcats have also beaten No. 4 Long Island (85-65) on Jan. 31, 1951, No. 7 Notre Dame (80-64) on Dec. 19, 1952, No. 4 N.C. State (69-67) on Dec. 19, 1958, No. 5 North Carolina (77-69) on Dec. 16, 1960 and No. 9 St. John’s (63-50) on Dec. 16, 1961.
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 seven averaging three or more rebounds per game. Senior Rodney McGruder (14.7 ppg.) is the only Wildcat to average in double figures, while four others - Angel Rodriguez (9.5 ppg.), Will Spradling (8.9 ppg.), Thomas Gipson (7.9 ppg.) and Nino Williams (7.1 ppg.) - are averaging better than seven points per contest. The team has seen nine players collect 38 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (10) leading the way. In all, the Wildcats have had six players lead or share the lead in scoring led by McGruder has done it six times. Gipson (6.6 rpg.) paces the squad in rebounding despite leading in a game just four times, while Nino Williams (5.5 rpg.), McGruder (5.5 rpg.) and Jordan Henriquez (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.
The Wildcats have also been diverse in other categories, including seven players with double-digit assists and five with double-digit steals. Rodriguez has dished out a team-best 55 assists with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists. McGruder has a team-best 18 steals, while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals. Five players -- Spradling (30.7 mpg.), McGruder (30.6), Rodriguez (23.1), Gipson (20.6) and Shane Southwell (20.4) -- are each averaging more than 20 minutes, while six others are averaging double-digit minutes. Seven players have at least one start with McGruder and Spradling starting all 14.
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 eighth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.5), 15th in rebounding margin (+9.0), 17th in scoring defense (56.9), 20th in rebounding (41.2) and 46th in field goal percentage defense (38.5). In all, the Wildcats rank either first or second in six Big 12 defensive categories, including second in scoring defense, rebounding, rebounding margin, 3-point field goal percentage defense and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3). The squad is fourth in field goal percentage defense (38.5).
The 796 points surrendered through the first 14 games are the fewest in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the fewest since the 1982-83 squad allowed just 731 points (52.2 ppg.) through the first 14 games. The team has held 10 of its 14 opponents to 65 points or less, including seven to 55 points or less, while six 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.
K-State continues to be one of the best rebounding squads in the country, as the Wildcats tie for 20th nationally in rebounding (41.1), including second in offensive rebounds (16.4), and 15th in rebounding margin (+9). The team ranks second in the Big 12 in rebounding and rebounding margin, while they are the clear leader in offensive rebounds (16.4 to Iowa State’s 15.3). Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their foes by a 575-449 margin, including 229-146 on the offensive end. The squad is 11-0 this season when out-rebounding its opponent. K-State is one of just two Big 12 schools (along with Iowa State) to have three players rank in the Big 12’s Top 20 in rebounding, which includes Thomas Gipson (6.6 rpg., 12th), Nino Williams (5.5 rpg., 17th) and Rodney McGruder (5.5 rpg., 18th). K-State joins Baylor with three players in the league’s Top 15 in offensive boards, which includes Gipson (3.4, 1st), Williams (2.7, 7th) and D.J. Johnson (2.2, 13th). The team has collected 40+ rebounds in seven games, including a season-best 55 vs. UAH on Nov. 13, while they have tallied 20+ offensive boards three times. The Wildcats grabbed 42 defensive rebounds vs. UAH, which ties for the second-most in school history and are the most since 1998.
The Wildcats have taken advantage of its rebounding skills this season, averaging 30.2 points in the paint and 15.4 points off of second-chance opportunities. The team has at least 30 points in the paint in eight games, including a season-high 46 vs. Texas Southern on Dec. 18, while it has tallied at least 15 second-chance points eight times with a season-best 23 vs. USC Upstate.
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 in his first season. The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 215-165 (an average of 15.4 points per game), through the first 14 games in points off of turnovers. K-State is forcing its opponents into 15.1 turnovers per game (ties for third-most in the Big 12), including a season-high 26 by Lamar, while turning the ball over an average of 12.9 times per game (fourth-lowest in the Big 12). The 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 41st nationally and second in the Big 12. In Martin’s five seasons, the Wildcats scored 3,081 points off of 2,763 turnovers in 169 games - an average of 18.2 points per game. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in that five-year period came off of offense generated from turnovers. 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.
Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production it’s getting from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 23.9 points, including a 335-208 edge over opponents. The team has collected at least 20 points from its bench in nine games, including 45 points vs. North Dakota on Nov. 9. Reserves have scored nearly half of the team’s points four times with Thomas Gipson tying for the scoring lead against North Dakota and Delaware and Shane Southwell leading the way with a career-best 16 points vs. Alabama-Huntsville. Nino Williams posted a career-high 17 points off the bench in the win over No. 22/21 Oklahoma State. The rebounding leader has come from the bench in six games with D.J. Johnson posting a team-high vs. North Dakota (9) and Lamar (8), Southwell recording a career-high nine boards vs. UAH, Adrian Diaz grabbing a career-best 10 vs. North Florida, Gipson tying Will Spradling for the rebounding lead (6) vs. Delaware and Williams snagging seven boards vs. No. 8/9 Florida. Over 40 percent (246) of the rebounding total and nearly 35 percent of the scoring total has come from the bench.
Protecting The Ball
K-State has been solid protecting the ball this season, as the squad ranks second in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3) and fifth in turnover margin (+2.2). Through the first 14 games, the Wildcats have produced 12.9 turnovers per game (fourth-lowest average in Big 12), while forcing its foes into an average of 15.1 turnovers (tied for third-most in the Big 12). The team has 14 or fewer turnovers in nine games, including just six vs. No. 4/4 Michigan on Nov. 23, while they have forced their opponents into 19 or more turnovers four times, including a season-high 26 by Lamar on Nov. 12. K-State has also capitalizing on its foes’ mistakes, averaging 15.4 points off of turnovers, while allowing opponents to score just 11.8 points per game off of its miscues.
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 161 assists to 73 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. Spradling (2.8, 1st) and Rodriguez (2.0, 3rd) both rank in the Big 12’s Top 5 in assist-to-turnover ratio and are two of three players in the league with a ratio above 2.0. Spradling, who has 48 assists to just 17 turnovers, led the team with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio a season ago, while Rodriguez has made a notable improvement (55 assists to 27 turnovers) in the area after posting a 1.2 ratio (101 assists to 85 turnovers) as a freshman. Irving has also doubled his ratio (2.4 from 1.5) with 29 assists to 12 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 1.7 ratio (29 assists to 17 turnovers) after posting a 1.6 ratio last season.
McGruder Named Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week for Third Time
Senior Rodney McGruder earned Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honors for the third time in five weeks on Monday after helping K-State to wins over South Dakota and No. 22/21 Oklahoma State. He was also named the ESPN.com National Player of the Week for his efforts. The three Big 12 Player of the Week awards tie Michael Beasley (2007-08) for the most by a Wildcat in a single-season, while McGruder’s four overall weekly awards are the most-ever by a K-State player in the Big 12 era. He won the first time as a junior on Dec. 26, 2011 then again on Dec. 10 and 24 of this year. He averaged a team-best 21.5 points on 48.6 percent shooting (17-of-35), including 50 percent (8-of-16) from 3-point range, with 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in 36.5 minutes per game in the two wins. He opened the week with a near double-double in the win over South Dakota with 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds. He scored a game-high 28 points, including 26 in the second half, in the win over OSU on 11-of-19 field goals, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range, in 37 minutes. It was his 16th career 20-point game, including the third this season. The Wildcats are 14-2 in games where McGruder has 20 or more points. McGruder’s 26 second-half points are the most by a Wildcat since Denis Clemente had 32 in a win at Texas on Jan. 31, 2009. He went 10-of-13 from the field in the second half, including 5-of-5 from beyond the arc. He had more field goals (10) than the Cowboys (nine) in the half.
McGruder Among Elite Company
Senior Rodney McGruder joined elite company against USC Upstate on Dec. 2, as he became the eighth Wildcat in school history with at least 1,100 points and 500 rebounds in a career. He narrowed that company with his 1,200 career point against South Dakota, making him one of just six with 1,200 points and 500 rebounds, along with Rolando Blackman (1,844 points and 607 rebounds), Bob Boozer (1,685 points and 824 rebounds), Cartier Martin (1,546 points and 546 rebounds), Ed Nealy (1,304 points and 1,069 rebounds) and Jamar Samuels (1,259 points and 716 rebounds). McGruder currently ranks 13th in scoring with 1,235 points (needing 69 points to tie Nealy for 10th), while he places in the Top 10 in seven other career categories, including field goals (446), 3-point field goals (153), 3-point field goals attempted (395), minutes (2,965), consecutive games (90), starts (81) and consecutive starts (81). He could become just the seventh Wildcat with 3,000 career minutes vs. West Virginia. One of eight players to rank in the Big 12’s Top 20 in both scoring (6th) and rebounding (18th), McGruder leads the Wildcats in scoring, field goals (82), double-digit scoring games (10) and steals (18). He ranks in the Top 20 in four Big 12 categories.
Williams Emerging As An Impact
After playing in just 15 games his first season (including a medical redshirt in 2010-11), sophomore Nino Williams is starting to emerge as an impact player for K-State. He has played in 13 of 14 games with the third-most starts (11), averaging 7.1 points on 46.4 percent shooting with 5.5 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game. He is second to Thomas Gipson in rebounding, while he is one of five players to average more than seven points per game. Williams in coming off a career week, in which, he averaged 16.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting (14-of-21) with 6.0 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game in wins over South Dakota and No. 22/21 Oklahoma State. He opened the week with a career-best 16 points vs. South Dakota on 7-of-10 field goals before eclipsing that mark with 17 points off the bench in the win over OSU on 7-of-11 field goals. If you include the Kansas City game on Dec. 29, he is averaging 13.7 points on 51.5 percent shooting with 8.3 rebounds in the last three games in 25.7 minutes per game.
Rodriguez’s Improved Play
Despite missing the last two non-conference games, sophomore Angel Rodriguez has continued his improvement from his freshman season in 2012-13, as he ranks first or second on the squad in six categories, including first in assists (55) and second in scoring (9.5 ppg.), double-figure scoring games (7) and 3-point field goals (17). He has helped the Wildcats rank second in assist-to-turnover ratio and third in assists, while he places in the league’s Top 15 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0, 3rd), assists (4.6, 6th) and 3-point field goals (1.4, 14th). He has scored in double figures seven times, including a career-best 19 points vs. Lamar to go with game-highs at George Washington (17) and Gonzaga (14). He was named to the NIT Season Tip-Off All-Tournament Team after averaging 11 points and 5.5 assists in two games in New York in helping the Wildcats to a second-place finish.
Spradling Coming Up Clutch
Junior Will Spradling has been a model of consistency from the free throw line, knocking down 33-of-38 opportunities, including going 10-of-10 in the last 35 seconds in wins over Delaware, George Washington and Texas Southern. His effort has raised his career free throw percentage to 83.2 (158-of-190), 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 in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8), ninth in assists (3.4), 12th in 3-point field goal percentage (33.3) and 13th in 3-point field goals made (1.6). He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (21), second in double-digit scoring games (7) and assists (48) and third in scoring (8.9 ppg.), which including a season-high 17 points in the win over No. 8/9 Florida on Dec. 22.
Gipson A Factor Down Low
Sophomore Thomas Gipson is starting to emerge as the Wildcats’ go-to player in the post, averaging 7.8 points on 50 percent shooting (22-of-44) with 7.1 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game in his last eight starts. After a poor game against No. 14/14 Gonzaga on Dec. 15, he rebounded to collect arguably his best all-around game of the season vs. Texas Southern on Dec. 18 with a season-high 14 points on 5-of-7 field goals to go with 12 rebounds and career-bests in blocks (4) and steals (3) in 26 minutes. It marked his fourth career double-double, but the first of the season. The 12-rebound effort tied his season-high that he also had against George Washington on Dec. 8. The leader in rebounds at 6.6 per game, he ranks 12th in the Big 12 in overall rebounds, while his first in offensive rebounds at 3.4 per game. He had a career-best seven offensive boards vs. Texas Southern.
Up Next: at TCU (9-6, 0-2 Big 12)
K-State will make its first trip to TCU since 1969 when it visits the Horned Frogs on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. CT. on ESPNU.