Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez (13) is covered by Texas Tech guard Josh Gray during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kan., Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
11/12 Kansas State (25-6, 14-4 Big 12) vs. Texas (15-16)/TCU (11-20)
Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship Quarterfinals
Thursday, March 14, 2013 * 6:07 p.m. CT
Kansas City, Mo. * Sprint Center (18,972)
Television: Big 12 Network (ESPN Full Court)
Dave Armstrong (play-by-play); Reid Gettys (analyst); Holly Rowe (sideline reporter)
Channels: KMCI (Kansas City), KMTW (Wichita), KSNT (Topeka)
Internet: www.ESPN3.com and WatchESPN
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 84/XM 84
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
11/12 Kansas State (25-6, 14-4 Big 12)
Head coach: Bruce Weber (Wisconsin-Milwaukee ‘78)
School Record: 25-6 (1st season) * Career Record: 338-161 (15th season)
 Texas (15-16) or  TCU (11-20)
Head coach: Rick Barnes (Lenoir-Rhyne ‘77) | Head coach: Trent Johnson (Boise State ‘86)
Barnes: 357-153 (15th at Texas)/559-287 (26th) * Johnson: 11-20 (1st at TCU)/237-205 (14th)
Big 12 co-champion and No. 11/12 Kansas State (25-6, 14-4 Big 12) will converge on Kansas City, Mo., for the 17th annual Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at the Sprint Center this week. The Wildcats, which has their second No. 2 seed at the tournament for the second time in four seasons, will play the winner of Wednesday’s first round match-up between No. 7 seed Texas (15-16, 7-11 Big 12) and No. 10 TCU (11-20, 2-16 Big 12) on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Network with Dave Armstrong (play-by-play), Reid Gettys (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline reporter) on the call. The Wildcats, which has won 10 of their last 12 games, captured their 18th regular-season conference title in 2013 and their first since the 1976-77 team won the Big Eight crown with an 11-3 mark. In the process, K-State posted its most regular season wins in school history and just its fifth 25-win season to go with a school-record tying 14 conference wins, while also earning its first Big 12 title in men’s basketball. It marks the seventh consecutive 20-win season in school history, while it represents the sixth time in the last seven season that the squad has posted at least 10 conference wins (only Kansas has done that in each of the last four seasons). Prior to the 2006-07 season, K-State had not recorded more than three straight 20-win seasons (done twice), while its last 10-win seasons in conference play came in 1987-88. The Wildcats received a bye to the conference quarterfinals for the seventh consecutive season, joining Kansas as the only Big 12 schools to accomplish this feat. A win on Thursday would give seniors Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder - already the winningest class in school history - their 100th career victory.
Thursday’s contest will be the ninth game on the Big 12 Network. The league television package can be seen locally on KMCI-TV in Kansas City, KMTW-TV in Wichita and KSNT-TV in Topeka. The game can also seen in the region on KTXA-TV in Dallas, Altitude2 in Denver, KTVI-TV in St. Louis, KOCB-TV in Oklahoma City, KPTM-TV in Omaha, KMYT-TV in Tulsa, KUBE-TV in Houston and KCWX-TV in San Antonio. The game can also been viewed on ESPN Full Court as well as ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN app.
K-STATE IN THE POLLS
K-State dropped two spots in both major polls on Monday, falling to No. 11 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll and No. 12 in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll. It marked the 12th consecutive week that the Wildcats have been ranked in the AP poll and 10th straight week the team has been ranked in both polls. The No. 9 ranking on March 4 was the highest in the AP poll since placing No. 6 on Dec. 13, 2010. K-State is 254-95 (.728) all-time as a ranked team since first being ranked in 1949-50.
PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
K-State is 29-34 all-time in the Big Eight/12 Championship dating back to its inception in 1977, including 9-16 in the 16-year history of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The Wildcats have won two championships (1977, 1980), while they have advanced to the finals on four other occasions (1978, 1981, 1993 and 2010). This will mark the sixth time that K-State has been the No. 2 seed at the championship (1980, 1981, 1982, 1988, 2010) with a 10-4 mark in those previous five appearances. The last time the squad was a 2-seed they advanced all the way to the 2010 Finals, losing to top-seed Kansas, 72-64, at the Sprint Center. The Wildcats are 7-2 all-time vs. No. 7 seeds at the championship (1980, 1981, 1982, 1988, 1993, 2001, 2005 and 2010) with the last appearance coming in 2010, while they are 2-0 vs. No. 10 seeds (1999, 2002) with the last appearance coming in 2002. K-State is 0-1 vs. Texas at the Big 12 Championship, losing 61-58 in Oklahoma City in 2009, while this would be the first meeting vs. TCU. Overall, the team is 28-29 all-time when the championship is held in Kansas City, including 2-4 in the Sprint Center (2008, 2010-12). Overall, K-State is 8-6 in the Sprint Center, including a 67-61 win over No. 8 Florida on Dec. 22, 2012.
K-State owns a 10-0 record against Texas-based schools (Baylor, Lamar, TCU, Texas, Texas Southern, Texas Tech) in 2012-13 with at least one more try remaining against either Texas or TCU on Thursday. The Wildcats have won these 10 games by an average of 14.6 points, including sweeps of league foes Baylor, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech. In its eight Big 12 wins over Texas schools, K-State won games by average of 11.5 points, including two wins each over Texas (83-57 and 81-69) and TCU (67-54 and 79-68).
K-State is 15-10 all-time vs. Texas, including 10-10 in Big 12 play, while the school is 5-2 vs. TCU, including 2-0 in Big 12 play.
QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE
--Kansas State’s 25 wins tie three other teams for the second-most in a single-season in school history with only the 2009-10 squad (29) posting more wins. The 25 wins are the most-ever in a regular season at K-State, while the 25-6 start is the best after 31 games (equaling the 2009-10 team which went 25-6). It is the 26th 20-win season in school history, including a school-record seventh consecutive 20-win season. The 14 wins in Big 12 play tie the 1958-59 team for the most in school history, while the team has now collected 10 or more wins in conference play six times in the last seven seasons. The school earned its first Big 12 championship in men’s basketball, which is the 20th overall title and the 18th captured in the regular season in its history dating back to the start of conference play in 1914. The other regular season titles came in 1917, 1919, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1977. 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 25 wins are the most by a first-year head coach in the school’s 109-year history, while he is just the fourth to win 20 games in his first year, joining Bob Huggins (23, 2006-07), Frank Martin (21, 2007-08) and Lon Kruger (20, 1986-87). He is the second first-year head coach to win a league title, joining Zora Clevenger (15-2, 1916-17), while his 14 Big 12 wins are also the most by first-year head coach. He is one of three coaches (Rick Barnes and Larry Eustachy) to win the league title in his first season, while his 25 wins tie Mark Turgeon (2007-08, 25-11) for the third-most by first-yearcoach in Big 12 history, trailing Larry Eustachy (1999-2000) and Frank Haith (2011-12). His 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.
--K-State is enjoying an outstanding 2012-13 athletics season, as the Wildcats have one of the best records (36-8, .818) among BCS schools when combining its football and men’s basketball teams. The 36 wins are only surpassed by Louisville (37-7), while the school is one of just six schools (Louisville, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oregon and Florida) with 30+ combined wins in football and men’s basketball. K-State is just the third school in Big 12 history (Oklahoma, 2004-05 and Texas, 2005-06) to win conference titles in both football and men’s basketball in the same academic year. The school is also just the second (Oklahoma State, 1996-97) in the Big 12 to collect league Coach of the Year honors in both football and men’s basketball in the same athletics season.
--K-State has built a solid resume, as the Wildcats boast a No. 20 RPI in the latest NCAA rankings. Four of the six losses have been to teams (Gonzaga, Kansas and Michigan) ranked No. 1 in either the AP or the Coaches’ poll at some point this year, while the two other defeats (Iowa State and Oklahoma State) came on the road to teams with a combined home record of 31-3. The team is one of six Big 12 schools in the Top 65 of the RPI, including Kansas (7), Oklahoma (33), OSU (23), ISU (47) and Baylor (61).
--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 highest ranking at No. 9 on March 4. The No. 9 ranking is the highest since checking in at No. 6 on Dec. 13, 2010. The Wildcats dropped two spots in both polls on Monday, ranking No. 11 in the AP poll and No. 12 in the USA Today Coaches poll, which marked the 10th straight week that the team has been ranked in both polls. The school has a 254-95 (.730) all-time record as a ranked team.
--The three-man senior class of Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder became the winningest class in school history on Feb. 25 vs. Texas Tech, earning its 97th victory. The trio currently boasts a 99-36 (.733) overall record during their careers, which is three 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 (131) is third, Irving (126) is fifth and Henriquez (122) is tied for eighth.
--Head coach Bruce Weber earned Big 12 Coach of the Year from the league coaches and The Associated Press, while Rodney McGruder, Angel Rodriguez and Shane Southwell were named to the coaches’ all-conference team. McGruder was named to five-man All-Big 12 First Team and Rodriguez to the five-man All-Big 12 Second Team by both groups, while Southwell was named honorable mention by the coaches. It marked just the third time in school history that three players appeared on an all-conference team (1951 and 1999). McGruder became just the third Wildcat to earn first team honors in the Big 12 era, while Weber became the sixth K-State head coach to earn conference Coach of the Year honors and the second in the Big 12 era. He also collected league Coach of the Year accolades for the third time in his career in his third different league (MVC and Big Ten).
--18 of K-State’s 30 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 18 of their last 19 home games, including 17 of 18 at Bramlage Coliseum. The Texas Tech win on Feb. 25 gave the school 300 victories in the arena’s 25-year history, while the win vs. TCU tied the 2008-09 and 2010-11 teams for the most wins (16) at Bramlage Coliseum and the 2010-11 squad for the highest home winning percentage (16-1, .941).
--K-State is 7-3 in road games this season, winning at George Washington, West Virginia, TCU, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and Baylor to go with losses at Iowa State, Kansas and Oklahoma State. The seven road wins this season tie the 2009-10 team for the most in the Big 12 era and the most since the 1987-88 squad won eight, while the six in league play also tie the 2009-10 team for the most in the Big 12 play. The Wildcats have improved their play on the road in the Big 12, posting a 30-27 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 has a combined 9-2 record in the months of February and March this season, which is the best record in the Big 12. Since the 2008-09 season, the Wildcats are a combined 45-19 (.703) in the two months, including 32-7 (.821) in February.
--K-State ranks in the Top 50 in six categories, including seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio, 11th in assists, 31st in offensive rebounds, 40th in scoring defense and scoring margin and 46th in turnover margin. The team places first in the Big 12 in scoring defense, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio, turnover margin and rebounding defense, second in 3-point field goal percentage and offensive rebounds and third in 3-point field goals. In Big 12-only games, the Wildcats ranked first in assists, field goal percentage, turnover margin, assist-to-turnover ratio and rebounding defense and second in scoring defense and 3-point field goals.
--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 (15.1 ppg., 7th in Big 12) and sophomore Angel Rodriguez (11.5 ppg., 19th in Big 12) are the only Wildcats averaging in double figures, while three others - Thomas Gipson (8.3 ppg.), Shane Southwell (8.3 ppg.) and Will Spradling (8.2 ppg.) - are averaging better than eight points per contest. The team has seen 10 players collect 95 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (25) leading the way, while the squad has eight players with 50+ field goals made with McGruder’s 174 the second-most of any player in the Big 12. K-State is the only Big 12 school to have eight players with 50+ made field goals and five players with 30+ 3-pointers, while Baylor is the only other league school with 10 players with double-digit scoring efforts. The squad is 22-2 this season when scoring 65 or more points in a game, including 15-1 when scoring more than 70. In all, the Wildcats have had six players lead or share the lead in scoring led by McGruder (15). McGruder and Gipson tie for rebounding lead at 5.2 per game, while Jordan Henriquez (4.7 rpg.) also averages better than four rebounds per game. The team has seen eight players either lead or share the lead in rebounding with Gipson and Henriquez leading the way in eight games and McGruder in seven games.
The Wildcats have also been diverse in other categories, including nine players with 10+ assists and eight with 10+ steals. Rodriguez has dished out a team-best 159 assists (112 in Big 12 play) with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists. Rodriguez also has a team-high 43 steals (33 in Big 12 play), while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals. Four players -- McGruder (32.9 mpg.), Spradling (28.5), Rodriguez (27.6) and Southwell (24.8) -- are averaging more than 20 minutes, while five others are averaging 10+ minutes. Seven players have at least one start with only McGruder starting all 31 games.
The switch to a four-guard lineup has proved to be a pivotal decision by Bruce Weber, as the Wildcats are averaging 69.5 points on 45.7 percent shooting, including 38 percent from 3-point range, since making the change 22 games ago. The squad has posted an 18-4 mark in that span, including victories over No. 8/9 Florida, No. 22/21 Oklahoma State, Oklahoma (twice), Iowa State and Baylor (twice). Although the team scored 70.8 points in their first nine games, they are shooting nearly five percent higher from the field (45.7 from 40.8), four percent higher from 3-point range (38.0 from 33.3) and posting more 3-pointers (7.2 from 6.0), while dishing out more assists (17.0 from 15.6) and producing fewer turnovers (11.3 from 12.8) in the last 22 games. K-State has connected on better than 45 percent from the field in 13 of those games, including 50 percent or better on eight occasions, while shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range in 11 games. Rodney McGruder is averaging four more points per game (16.4 from 11.9) on nearly 10 percent higher field goal percentage (46.3 from 37.8) in the last 22 games, while Shane Southwell has improved his average from 6.3 points in first nine to 9.0 points in the same span.
HEATING UP FROM THE FIELD
K-State found more of an offensive rhythm during Big 12 play, where the Wildcats led the league in field goal percentage (45.7), assists (16.9), turnover margin (+2.7) and assist-to-turnover radio (1.6) and were second in 3-point field goal percentage (38.9) and makes (7.8). The squad connected on 45 percent or better in 11 league games, including better than 50 percent against West Virginia (twice), Iowa State (twice), Texas Tech and TCU. The team shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range in 10 league games with 9+ 3-point makes in seven contests, including a season-high 12 vs. TCU on March 5. Rodney McGruder ranked first in Big 12 games in minutes (34.9), sixth in scoring (16.1 ppg.), seventh in free throw percentage (76.1), ninth in field goal percentage (46.2), 10th in 3-point field goal percentage (36.0) and 11th in 3-point field goals (1.8). Angel Rodriguez was second in league-only contests in assists (6.2), third in free throw percentage (83.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5), 13th in 3-point field goal percentage (34.5) and 15th in scoring (12.3 ppg.) and 3-point field goals (1.6). Shane Southwell ranked in the Top 10 in 3-point field goal percentage (44.0, 4th) and makes (1.8, 10th), while he was 14th in assists (2.6).
PROTECTING THE BALL
K-State has been solid protecting the ball, as the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 in both assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4) and turnover margin (+2.5). The assist-to-turnover ratio ranks seventh nationally, while the turnover margin and turnovers per game rank 46th and 51st, respectively. Thus far, the squad has produced a Big 12-low 11.7 turnovers per game, while forcing its foes into an average of 14.3 turnovers (third-most in the Big 12). The team has 14 or fewer miscues in 24 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. The Wildcats’ 1.41 assist-to-turnover ratio is currently the best for a single season, ahead of the 1.28 posted by the 2004-05 team, while the 363 turnovers are the third-fewest for a season behind the 1983-84 (358) and 2004-05 (360) totals. The 513 assists rank sixth for a single season (32 from the school-record 545 in 2006-07) and the 16.5 assists per game average places third. Angel Rodriguez’s 159 assists are the third-most in school history behind Steve Henson (186, 1987-88) and Jim Roder (163, 1983-84), while his 5.48 per game average places second only to Roder’s 5.62 average in 1983-84.
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 374 assists to 165 turnovers (2.3 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 third in the Big 12 and 36th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, while Spradling’s team-best ratio (2.5) is outside the minimums to rank. Spradling, who has 78 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 (159 assists to 69 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 63 assists to 31 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 2.1 ratio (74 assists to 35 turnovers) after posting a 1.6 ratio last year. Rodriguez’s 2.30 assist-to-ratio ranks fifth on the school’s single-season chart and is the highest for a Wildcat since 1991-92.
K-State is averaging 18.3 personal fouls per game this season, including 19.8 per game in its 18 Big 12 games. Opponents have knocked down 393 free throws in 584 attempts, an average of 12.7 makes per game, with the Wildcats countering with 387 makes on 560 attempts for an average of 12.5 makes per game. The 18 Big 12 opponents combined to shoot 92 more free throws than K-State (379 to 287), while scoring 257 points (14.3 FT/m) to just 209 (11.6 FT/m) for the Wildcats from the line.
ON THE DEFENSIVE
K-State has continued to be one of the nation’s best defensive teams, ranking 40th in scoring defense (60.5) and 46th 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, turnover margin and rebounding defense and third in rebounding margin. The squad ranks fifth in 3-point field goal percentage defense and steals, sixth in field goal percentage defense and eighth in rebounding.
The 1,876 points surrendered through 31 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 its 28-game schedule. The current 60.5 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 Wildcats have held 21 opponents to 65 points or less, including 10 to 55 points or less, while nine have been held under 40 percent shooting from the field and nine to 25 percent or less shooting from 3-point range. 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, 517-369 (an average of 16.7 points per game), through 31 games in points off of turnovers. The squad has posted 10 or more points off of miscues in 26 of 31 games, including 20 or more points on nine occasions, with a season-best 34 vs. Lamar on Nov. 12. The team out-scored its 18 Big 12 opponents, 314-215 (average of 17.4 points per game), in points off of turnovers, including 20+ points in wins over TCU (twice), Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech and a near season-best 33-point effort in a win over Texas on Jan. 30. They are 19-1 when scoring more points off of turnovers, while they are just 6-5 when being outscored in points off of turnovers. In contrast, the Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 451-282 (average of 18.0 points per game), in points off of turnovers in their 25 victories, while are being outscored 87-66 (an average of 11.0 points per game) in points off of turnovers in their six losses.
K-State is forcing its opponents into 14.3 turnovers per game (third-most in Big 12), including a season-high 26 by Lamar, while turning the ball a Big 12-low 11.7 times per game. The 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks seventh and first in the Big 12 with Angel Rodriguez boasting the league’s second-best assist-to-turnover ratio. 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. With 517 this season, the school has now scored 500 or more points off of opponent turnovers in seven straight seasons.
Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 21.1 points, including a 654-501 edge over foes. The team has collected at least 20 points from its bench in 16 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 11 games with Gipson posting team-highs vs. Delaware (6), Texas (7), Iowa State (7) and Oklahoma State (6). Gipson has come off the bench in 11 of last 12 games, where he is averaging 9.8 points on 59.5 percent shooting with 4.5 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game off the bench. Ten of his 14 double-digit efforts have come from the bench, which include seven in Big 12 play. Before starting the last two games due to an injury to Will Spradling, Martavious Irving had also provided a lift from the bench, averaging 5.7 points on 40.9 percent shooting and 1.2 treys in 20.9 minutes per game.
Although they have dropped games to No. 3/2 Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State by a combined 16 points this season, the Wildcats have been successful in close games, posting a 13-3 record in games decided by 10 points or less and a 7-3 mark in games decided by six points or less, including seven 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-27 in the last five minutes this season and 79-of-97 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 (18-of-22) 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 on Feb. 2, Rodriguez knocked down a pair of game-winning free throws with 5.6 seconds left. McGruder hit the game-winning 3-pointer with one second left in a 64-61 win at Baylor on March 2, as the team is 5-1 in games decided by three points or less. It was the first buzzer-beating 3-pointer since Jarrett Hart’s trey against Gardner-Weber on Nov. 29, 2003 and just the third game-winning 3-pointer since 1986.
REBOUNDING BECOMING A BIGGER PRIORITY
Rebounding had been a source of strength earlier in the season, but became more of a concern during Big 12 play, where K-State ranked seventh in offensive rebounds (10.9) and rebounding margin (-0.1) and eighth in rebounding (30.9) and defensive rebounds (19.9). Since switching to a four-guard line-up 22 games ago, the team is averaging 32.2 rebounds, including 11.4 offensive rebounds, with opponents posting 30.5 rebounds, including 10.2 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 opponents, 153-99 (+54), in second chance points in these nine games, while they own a 235-229 (+6) edge in second chance points in the last 22 games, including a 19-4 edge vs. Texas Tech on Feb. 25. In its four league losses, K-State was out-rebounded by 35 (143-108) and allowed 32 more (54-22) second-chance points. In contrast, in its 14 league wins, the squad posted a +35 rebounding edge (449-414) and tallied 37 more (169-132) second-chance points.
K-State still boasts solid overall rebounding numbers, where it ranks second in offensive rebounds (13.4), third in rebounding margin (+3.7) and eighth in rebounding (35.2). Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their opponents by a 1092-977 margin, including 414-327 on the offensive end. The team is 19-0 this year when out-rebounding its opponent, but just 6-6 when it is out-rebounded. K-State has at least 10 offensive rebounds in 25 games with a season-high 29 against North Florida on Nov. 18.
WEBER, THREE WILDCATS HONORED BY COACHES, AP
Head coach Bruce Weber earned Big 12 Coach of the Year honors, while Rodney McGruder, Angel Rodriguez and Shane Southwell were named to the Coaches’ All-Conference team, as the league office announced its annual men’s basketball awards on Sunday. Weber was also tabbed the league Coach of the Year by The Associated Press, while McGruder (first team) and Rodriguez were selected to the AP’s All-Big 12 team. Rodriguez was also named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team by the league coaches.
McGruder was named to the coaches’ five-man All-Big 12 First Team and Rodriguez to the five-man All-Big 12 Second Team, while Southwell was one of nine players to earn honorable mention. It marked the first time in 14 years that K-State had three players on the all-conference team with four players earning honorable mention in 1999. Overall, only one other time (1951) in school history was there three Wildcats on an all-conference squad.
Weber is the sixth K-State coach to earn conference Coach of the Year honors and the second in the Big 12 era, following Tex Winter (1958, 1959, 1960), Cotton Fitzsimmons (1970), Jack Hartman (1975, 1977), Dana Altman (1993) and Frank Martin (2010). He also collects league Coach of the Year accolades for the third time in his career in his third different league after winning the honor in the Missouri Valley in 2002-03 and the Big Ten in 2004-05. With the honor, K-State becomes the second Big 12 school to have its football and men’s basketball coaches earn league Coach of the Year honors in the same season.
McGruder became just the third Wildcat player to earn All-Big 12 First Team honors since the inception of the league, joining Michael Beasley (2008) and Jacob Pullen (2010, 2011). The leader in six categories, including scoring (15.1 ppg.), double-digit scoring games (25), 20-point games (nine), field goals (174) and minutes (32.9), McGruder also earned first team accolades from the Kansas City Star and ESPN.com. Overall, he earned all-conference accolades for the third time in his career after being named to the second team as a junior (2012) and third team as a sophomore (2011). He is just the seventh Wildcat in school history to earn all-conference honors three times, joining Frank Groves (1935-37), Jack Parr (1956-58), Bob Boozer (1957-59), Mike Evans (1976-78), Rolando Blackman (1979-81) and Pullen (2009-11).
Rodriguez, who ranks among the Big 12’s Top 5 in assists, steals and assist-to-turnover ratio, was named to the league’s second team for the first time in his career. He is averaging 11.5 points on 37.1 percent shooting, including 33.6 percent from 3-point range, to go with 5.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 27.6 minutes per game. He ranks second in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio, third in assists and free throw percentage and fifth in steals. He paces the Wildcats in 3-point field goals (46), free throws (81), assists (159), steals (43), while he is second in scoring, double-digit scoring games (20) and field goals (103). His 159 assists are the third-most in a single-season, trailing Steve Henson (186, 1987-88) and Jim Roder (163, 1983-84), while his 5.48 assists per game average is second only to Roder’s 5.62 average. He was also named to the league’s All-Defensive Team for the first time in his career, marking the fourth straight season that the Wildcats have had at least player on the squad.
A Bronx, N.Y., native, Southwell earned all-conference honors for the first time in his career, as the junior was named honorable mention. The Wildcats’ best 3-point shooter is averaging 8.3 points on 45.5 percent shooting, including 44.3 percent from beyond the arc, to go with 3.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steals in 24.8 minutes per game. He ranks second on the team in 3-point field goals (43), third in scoring, assists and steals and fourth in field goals and minutes played. He has registered double-digit scoring nine times this season, including a career-best 19 points against No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22.
McGRUDER AMONG ELITE COMPANY
Senior Rodney McGruder (1,496 points & 627 rebounds) recently became just the second player in K-State history to rank in the Top 10 in both career scoring (8th) and rebounding (9th), 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 needs just four points to become the school’s eighth 1,500-point scorer and the first since Jacob Pullen. McGruder 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 14 career categories, including consecutive starts (98, 3rd), minutes played (3,556, 3rd), games (131, 3rd), 3-point field goals (180, 4th), 3-point field goals attempted (475, 4th), double-digit scoring games (82, 5th), steals (111, 5th), starts (98, 5th), field goals (538, 6th), consecutive games (107, 7th), field goal attempts (1,191, 8th) and 3-point field goal percentage (37.9%, 9th). He ranks in the Top 20 in five Big 12 categories, including field goals (2nd), scoring (7th), minutes (7th), steals (9th) and field goal percentage (13th). He finished sixth in scoring in Big 12-only games, while he was first in minutes, seventh in free throw percentage, eighth in steals, ninth in field goal percentage and 10th in 3-point field goal percentage. He has scored in double figures in 20 of the last 22 games (with eight 20-point games), including 10 straight games.
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. He is the team leader in six categories, including scoring (15.1 ppg.), double-digit scoring games (25), 20-point games (nine), field goals (174) and minutes (32.9). 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 8.3 points on 45.5 percent shooting, including a 44.3 percent from 3-point range, with 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 24.8 minutes per game with 21 starts in 28 games played. That production has been even more of factor during the team’s last 21 games (of which the team is 18-3), as he is averaging 9.0 points on 43.5 percent shooting, including 42.9 percent from 3-point range, with 4.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 steals in 27.7 minutes per game in 21 starts. He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (36) and second in field goals (73) and assists (61) 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 (159) and steals (43) and second in scoring (11.5 ppg.) and double-figure scoring games (20). He has helped the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 in assists, assist-to-turnover ratio and turnover margin, while he places in the Top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3, 2nd), assists (5.5, 3rd) and steals (1.5, 5th) and ranks second in conference-only assists (6.2) and steals (1.8) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5) and free throw percentage (84.5). He has scored in double figures 20 times, including 20-point games vs. Iowa State (20), Baylor (22) and TCU (21), 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), while he recorded his second one in the home finale vs. TCU on March 5 with 21 points and career-tying 10 assists. In Big 12 play, he averaged 12.3 points, 6.2 assists and 1.8 steals in 30.4 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. His 159 assists are the third-most in a single-season, trailing Steve Henson (186, 1987-88) and Jim Roder (163, 1983-84), while his 5.48 assists per game average is second only to Roder’s 5.62 average. His 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks fifth in a single-season.
SPRADLING COMING UP CLUTCH
Junior Will Spradling has been a model of consistency from the free throw line, knocking down 51-of-59 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 83.4 (176-of-211), 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 (2.6). He also places seventh in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (37.5) and 12th in 3-point field goals (1.5). He ranks second on the team in 3-point field goals (45) and assists (78) and fifth in scoring (8.2 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 vs. 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 11 games, as he is averaging 10.1 points on 60.3 percent shooting with 4.6 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game. His scoring and rebounding averages as well as his field goal total (47) rank third on the team in that span behind Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez. He has scored in double figures in seven of the 11 games, including a game-high 20 points vs. Texas Tech on Feb. 25 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. He was also a big contributor off the bench in the loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday, posting 15 points and a team-high six rebounds in 29 minutes. For the season, Gipson is tops in field goal percentage (53.2) and rebounding (5.2 rpg.) and third in field goals (99) and double-digit scoring games (14). Eight of his 14 double-digit scoring efforts have come in the last 12 games. Before the start of his current 11-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) to go with an 11-point effort at Baylor. He scored 10 points in the two road wins at Oklahoma and Texas Tech to go with another 10 vs. Iowa State on Feb. 9. In the last 11 games, he is averaging 6.7 points on 41.4 percent shooting, including a team-best 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc with 16 3-pointers, in 22.6 minutes per game. He started the last two games for the injuried Will Spradling, averaging 11.5 points on 43 percent shooting with 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in 30.5 minutes per game. He scored a season-high 15 points in the win over TCU on Senior Night on 4-of-9 field goals, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, with five assists in 36 minutes. Although his numbers weren’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 5.1 points, 2.2 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game. He is one of five players with 30+ 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 29 of 30 games with 11 starts, averaging 4.6 points on 46.8 percent shooting with 3.5 rebounds in 13.5 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 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 12.9 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: AT PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
The winner of Thursday’s game will play either No. 3 Oklahoma State (23-7) or No. 6 Baylor (18-13) on Friday at 9 p.m. on ESPNU.
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