Kansas State Travels To Texas Tech Tuesday

By: K-State Sports Information (posted by J.B. Bauersfeld)
By: K-State Sports Information (posted by J.B. Bauersfeld)
Kansas State (17-4, 6-2 Big 12) concludes its brief two-game road trip on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats travel to Lubbock, Texas to face Texas Tech (9-10, 2-6 Big 12) at the United Spirit Arena at 7 p.m.

Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber calls out a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against TCU, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Fort Worth, Texas. Kansas State won 67-54. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

K-STATE RELEASE:

Game 22

13/15 Kansas State (17-4, 6-2 Big 12) at Texas Tech (9-10, 2-6 Big 12)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 * 7:05 p.m. CT

Lubbock, Texas * United Spirit Center (15,098)

Television: Big 12 Network (ESPN Full Court)

Doug Bell (play-by-play); Stephen Howard (analyst)

Channels: KMCI (Kansas City), KMTW (Wichita), KSNT (Topeka)

Internet: www.ESPN3.com and WatchESPN

http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/id/758252/kansas-state-vs-texas-tech

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. Big 12: K-State trails 442-451 (153-234 on the road)

vs. Texas Tech: K-State leads 16-12 (5-7 on the road)

Last Meeting: K-State won 65-46 (2/7/2012 in Manhattan)

13/15 Kansas State (17-4, 6-2 Big 12)

Head coach: Bruce Weber (Wisconsin-Milwaukee ‘78)

School Record: 17-4 (1st season) * Career Record: 330-159 (15th season) * vs. Texas Tech: 1-0

Texas Tech (9-10, 2-6 Big 12)

Interim Head coach: Chris Walker (Villanova ‘92)

School Record: 9-10 (1st season) * Career Record: 9-10 (1st season) * vs. K-State: 0-0

THE GAME

No. 13/15 Kansas State (17-4, 6-2 Big 12) concludes its brief two-game road trip on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats travel to Lubbock, Texas to face Texas Tech (9-10, 2-6 Big 12) at the United Spirit Arena at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Network with Doug Bell (play-by-play) and Stephen Howard (analyst) on the call. K-State was able to keep pace in the Big 12 title race with its 52-50 win at Oklahoma on Saturday, which gave the Wildcats a season sweep of the Sooners for the first time since 1993. The squad now sits alone in second place in the league standings with a 6-2 mark, one game behind conference leader Kansas (19-2, 7-1 Big 12) and one game ahead of the quartet of Oklahoma State (15-5), Iowa State (15-6), Oklahoma (14-6) and Baylor (14-7), which are in a four-way tie for third place with 5-3 league records. Despite seeing its six-game road winning streak end at Iowa State on Jan. 26, K-State has been solid on the road of late, winning seven of its last eight road games, including six of its last seven Big 12 road contests. The Wildcats have a 4-1 mark in true road games this year, including wins at West Virginia, TCU and Oklahoma. Overall, the squad has improved its play on the road in the Big 12, posting a 27-25 record over the past seven seasons (which began in 2006-07) after winning just 10 of 80 road games in the league’s first 10 years (1997-2006).

TELEVISION NOTE

Tuesday’s contest will be the sixth of eight games 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 Big 12 region on KTXA-TV in Dallas, KTVI-TV in St. Louis, KSBI-TV in Oklahoma City, KMYT-TV in Tulsa, WOI-TV in Des Moines, KPTM-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 IN THE POLLS

K-State moved up in both major polls on Monday, jumping five spots to No. 13 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll and six spots to No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches poll. It marks the seventh straight week that the Wildcats have been ranked in the AP poll, while the No. 11 ranking on Jan. 21 was the highest in the AP poll since also placing 11th on Dec. 20, 2010. The program has now been ranked in the AP poll at least one week in each of the last four seasons. K-State is 246-93 (.726) all-time as a ranked team.

THE OPPONENT

Texas Tech (9-10, 2-6 Big 12) has lost six of its last seven games since opening Big 12 play with a 62-53 win at TCU on Jan. 5. The Red Raiders dropped two games last week, 73-57 at Texas and 77-61 at home to West Virginia. The squad is 8-7 at home this season, including an impressive 56-51 win over Iowa State on Jan. 23. The Red Raiders are averaging 67.3 points on 42.7 percent shooting, including 27 percent from 3-point range, while holding opponents to 70.3 points on 45.1 percent shooting, including 36.9 percent from beyond the arc. The team paces the Big 12 in steals at 8.7 per game with freshman Josh Gray placing second (2.1 spg.) in the league. A balanced scoring squad with six players averaging six or more points, Texas Tech is led by Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jaye Crockett, who leads in both scoring (12.7 ppg.) and rebounding (7.6 rpg.) on 52.6 percent shooting from the field. Gray and junior Dejan Kravic are second in scoring at 9.3 points per game, while sophomore Jordan Tolbert is third at 9.1 points per contest. Interim head coach Chris Walker is 9-10 in his first season as a head coach.

LAST MEETING: KANSAS STATE 65, TEXAS TECH 46 [FEB. 7, 2012]

Shane Southwell paced three Wildcats in double figures, as Kansas State completed the season sweep of Texas Tech with a 65-46 win at Bramlage Coliseum in the teams’ last meeting on Feb. 7, 2012. Just four games prior, K-State tallied a 69-47 victory over Texas Tech in Lubbock on Jan. 25. Neither team shot well in Manhattan with the Wildcats connecting on 30 percent to the Red Raiders’ 28.9 percent. K-State knocked down 30-of-40 free throws in the game, including a 10-of-10 effort by Will Spradling.

SERIES

This will be the 29th meeting between K-State and Texas Tech with the Wildcats holding a 16-12 lead in a series that dates back to 1955. K-State won seven of the first eight meetings in the series with Texas Tech posting an 11-9 edge since the start of Big 12 play. However, the Wildcats have won six of the last seven meetings, including five in a row, and the last two in Lubbock. Texas Tech is 7-5 all-time at home in the series, including wins in six of the last eight contests. Head coach Bruce Weber is 1-0 in his career against Texas Tech with his SIU team posting a 76-68 win in the first round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament on March 15.

QUICKLY ON KANSAS STATE

--Kansas State’s 17-4 start ties the 2009-10 team for the sixth-best start in school history and the best in the last 50 seasons after 21 games. The 1957-58 and 1958-59 teams all posted the best start after 21 games (20-1), while the 1961-62 squad was just one game back at 19-2 and the 1947-48 and 1950-51 teams were 18-3. The 6-2 start to Big 12 play ties for the second-best since the league’s inception in 1997 and the best since the 2007-08 team went 7-1. The team saw their season-best eight-game winning streak end at No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22, which was the longest winning streak since the team won 10 in a row from Nov. 21, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010. Three of the team’s four losses are to current Top 10 teams in No. 3/3 Michigan, No. 5/5 Kansas and No. 6/6 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. 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. The team’s strength of schedule is 57th by ESPN.com.

--Bruce Weber’s 17-4 record is the second-best start by a first-year K-State head coach in the program’s 109-year history with only Zora Clevenger (15-2, 1916-17) posting a better mark. The best campaign by a first-year head coach is still held by Clevenger, who led the Wildcats to a 15-2 (.882) mark in his inaugural season in 1916-17. The eight-game winning streak was the second-longest by a first-year coach and the longest since Clevenger’s 1916-17 squad ended the year with 13 straight wins from Jan. 25 to March 6, 1917. Clevenger made most of his impact on the gridiron, where he was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

--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 Sunday, the school’s 40 wins tie for 16th nationally and its .727 winning percentage (40-15) places 17th. K-State is one of 16 BCS schools (along with Big 12 brethren Baylor and Oklahoma) with 40+ combined wins among its three major sports. The football team produced its second regular-season 11-win season and advanced to a BCS game (Fiesta Bowl) for the first time in eight years. If you take into account the success of the volleyball team, which won 20 matches and advanced to NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats are 61-24 (.718) since August 24.

--K-State has built a solid resume, as the Wildcats boast a No. 24 RPI in the latest NCAA rankings. The squad is one of six Big 12 schools in the Top 50 of the NCAA RPI, including Kansas (6), Oklahoma (22), Oklahoma State (31), Iowa State (40) and Baylor (49). K-State is one of just four teams with four wins over Top 35 RPI teams, along with Kansas, Indiana and Miami (Fla.).

--K-State is 4-1 in true road games this season, winning contests at George Washington (65-62), West Virginia (65-64), TCU (67-54) and Oklahoma (52-50) to go with a 73-67 loss at Iowa State on Jan. 26. 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 27-25 record over the past seven seasons (which began in 2006-07) after winning just 10 of 80 road games in the league’s first 10 years (1997-2006).

--Twelve of the 21 games have been at home (including a home game vs. No. 8/9 Florida in Kansas City’s Sprint Center), where the Wildcats have won 13 of their last 14 home games, including 12 of 13 at Bramlage Coliseum. The team’s 12-game overall home winning streak and 11-game streak at Bramlage ended in a 59-55 loss to No. 3/2 Kansas. The 11-game streak tied three other teams for the fourth-longest in the arena’s 25-year history, including the longest since winning 14 in a row in 2011-12.

--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 91-34 (.728) record during their playing careers, which ranks sixth on the all-time wins list by a class. They are six 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.

--K-State received its first national ranking of the season on Dec. 24, appearing at No. 25 in The Associated Press Top 25 with 152 points, and held its best ranking at No. 11 (with 927 points) on Jan. 21. The No. 11 ranking was the highest since also checking in at No. 11 on Dec. 20, 2010. The Wildcats improved to No. 13 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches poll on Feb. 4, which marked the fifth straight week the team has been ranked in both polls. K-State has now been ranked in the AP poll at least one week in each of the last four seasons. The Wildcats have a 246-93 (.726) all-time record as a ranked team since first being ranked in 1949-50, including a 6-4 (.600) mark as the No. 13 team in The Associated Press poll.

--K-State ranks in the Top 50 in seven categories nationally, including 16th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.8), 18th in scoring defense (57.8), 20th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.35), 23rd in assists (16.0), 40th in scoring margin (10.6), 42nd in turnovers margin (2.9) and 46th in turnovers per game (11.8). Angel Rodriguez (28th, 2.54) ranks 28th in assist-to-turnover ratio. The Wildcats place in the Top 5 in 16 of 21 Big 12 categories, including first in scoring defense, turnover margin, and assist-to-turnover ratio and second in assists, offensive rebounds and 3-point field goal percentage defense. In Big 12-only games, the squad ranks first in field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage, assists, turnover margin and assist-to-turnover.

--Saturday’s meeting with Oklahoma marked the 11th time K-State has faced a former head coach (Tex Winter, Lon Kruger and Bob Huggins) with the Wildcats winning four (including three this season) of those occurrences. Prior to the win over West Virginia and the two over Oklahoma, the last victory over a former head coach came in a 95-80 win over a Kruger-coached UNLV squad on Dec. 12, 2009. The team will play at least one more such game (West Virginia at home on Feb. 18) this season. K-State lost twice to Winter (Washington in 1971 and Long Beach State in 1978), while the Wildcats are now 4-4 against Kruger in his stops and 1-1 against Huggins at West Virginia (2011, 2013). Interestingly enough, the Wildcats are 6-0 against head coaches prior to them coming to K-State. The school went 1-0 against Winter at Marquette (1953), 3-0 against Jack Hartman at Southern Illinois (1964, 1968 and 1969), 1-0 against Kruger at 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. Rohleder was one of 31 student-athletes to post a perfect 4.0 GPA during the semester.

BALANCED ATTACK

K-State has proven to be a balanced team across the board with seven players averaging five or more points, including just one in double figures, and seven averaging three or more rebounds per game. Senior Rodney McGruder (14.5 ppg.) is the only Wildcat to average in double figures (ranks sixth in the Big 12 in scoring), while five others - Angel Rodriguez (9.2 ppg.), Will Spradling (8.5 ppg.), Shane Southwell (8.0 ppg.) and Thomas Gipson (7.2 ppg.) - are averaging better than seven points per contest. The team has seen nine players collect 56 double-digit scoring games with McGruder (15) leading the way, while the squad has seven players with 45 or more field goals made with McGruder’s 118 makes tied for the most in the Big 12. Only Baylor (10) has more players with double-digit scoring efforts in the Big 12, while K-State and Iowa State are the only league schools with seven players with 45 or more made field goals. In all, the Wildcats have had six players lead or share the lead in scoring led by McGruder (9). Gipson (5.5 rpg.) paces the squad in rebounding, while McGruder (5.2 rpg.), Jordan Henriquez (4.5 rpg.) and Nino Williams (4.1 rpg.) are averaging better than four rebounds per game. The team has had eight players either lead or share the lead in rebounding with Gipson and McGruder leading a team-high five times.

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 94 assists (47 in Big 12 play) with six players either leading or sharing the lead in assists. Rodriguez also has a team-high 25 steals (15 in Big 12 play), while eight have either led or shared the lead in steals. Four players -- McGruder (31.2 mpg.), Spradling (30.0), Rodriguez (24.9) and Southwell (22.8) -- are averaging more than 20 minutes, while seven others are averaging 10+ minutes. Seven players have at least one start with McGruder and Spradling starting all 21.

LINEUP CHANGE

The switch to a four-guard lineup has proved to be a pivotal decision by Bruce Weber, as the Wildcats are averaging 66.5 points on 45 percent shooting, including 35.5 percent from 3-point range, since making the change 12 games ago. The squad has posted a 10-2 mark in those 12 games, including victories over No. 8/9 Florida, No. 22/21 Oklahoma State, Oklahoma (twice) and Texas. Although the team scored nearly 71 points in their first nine games (before the switch), they are shooting nearly five percent higher from the field (45.0 from 40.8), two percent higher from 3-point range (35.5 from 33.3) and posting more 3-pointers (6.4 from 6.0), while dishing out more assists (16.3 from 15.6) and producing fewer turnovers (11.1 from 12.8) in the last 12 games. The Wildcats have connected on better than 45 percent from the field in seven of 12 games, including 50 percent or better on four occasions, while shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range in four games. Rodney McGruder is averaging almost five more points per game (16.4 from 11.9) on nearly 10 percent higher field goal percentage (47.5 from 37.8) in the last 12 games, while Shane Southwell has improved his scoring average from 6.3 points in first nine to 9.0 points in the last 12 games.

HEATING UP FROM THE FIELD

K-State is starting to find more of an offensive rhythm in Big 12 play, where the Wildcats rank first in both field goal percentage (44.8) and 3-point field goal percentage (37.1) and second in 3-point field goals made (7.4) after eight Big 12 games. The squad has connected on 44 percent or better from the field in six of its eight league games, including better than 50 percent against West Virginia and Iowa State, while the 200 field goals are second to Iowa State’s 203. The team has shot better than 35 percent from 3-point range in five league games with nine or more 3-point makes in three contests. Rodney McGruder ranks second in Big 12 games in 3-point field goals made (2.5), sixth in scoring (15.8 ppg.), third in 3-point field goal percentage (42.6) and eighth in field goal percentage (48.0), while Shane Southwell is fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (42.4), eighth in 3-point field goals made (1.8) and 20th in scoring (10.8 ppg.) in Big 12 games.  Angel Rodriguez, who has 37 assists to just six turnovers in the last six games, is tops in league-only contests in both assists (5.9 apg.) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.6).

PROTECTING THE BALL

K-State has been solid protecting the ball this season, as the squad ranks first in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4) and turnover margin (+2.8). Thus far, the Wildcats have produced a Big 12-low 11.8 turnovers per game, while forcing its foes into an average of 14.7 turnovers (third-most in the Big 12). The team has 14 or fewer miscues in 15 games, including a season-low six against Texas, while they have forced their foes into 18 or more turnovers five times, including a season-high 26 by Lamar.

MORE ON BALL PROTECTION

Seven Wildcats have posted an even or positive assist-to-turnover ratio this season, including its four primary ball-handlers (Angel Rodriguez, Martavious Irving, Shane Southwell and Will Spradling) combining for 249 assists to 104 turnovers (2.4 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 (2.5) ranks first in the Big 12 and 28th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, while Spradling’s team-best ratio (2.7) is outside the minimums to rank. Spradling, who has 62 assists to 23 turnovers, led the team with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio a season ago, while Rodriguez has made a notable improvement (94 assists to 37 turnovers) in the area after posting a 1.2 ratio (101 assists to 85 turnovers) as a freshman. Irving has also nearly doubled his ratio (2.2 from 1.5) with 47 assists to 21 turnovers, while Southwell has a solid 2.0 ratio (46 assists to 23 turnovers) after posting a 1.6 ratio last year.

BENCH PRODUCTION

Adding to the K-State’s balanced attack is the production from its bench, where the Wildcats are averaging 22.3 points, including a 469-332 edge over foes. The team has collected at least 20 points from its bench in 11 games, including a season-high 45 points vs. North Dakota on Nov. 9 and Texas on 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 nine games with Gipson posting team-highs vs. Delaware (6) and Texas (7), Jordan Henriquez collecting team-bests vs. West Virginia (7) and TCU (10), D.J. Johnson grabbing team-highs vs. North Dakota (9) and Lamar (8), Southwell recording a career-high nine rebounds vs. UAH, Adrian Diaz collecting a career-best 10 vs. North Florida and Williams snagging seven rebounds vs. No. 8/9 Florida. Over 40 percent (331) of the team’s rebounding total and nearly 35 percent (479) of the scoring total has come from the bench this season.

FOUL PROBLEMS

K-State is averaging 17.8 personal fouls per game this season, including 19.9 per game in its eight Big 12 games. Opponents have knocked down 243 free throws in 375 attempts, an average of 11.6 makes per game, with the Wildcats countering with 250 makes on 380 attempts for an average of 11.9 makes per game. The eight Big 12 opponents have combined to shoot 63 more free throws than K-State (170 to 107), while scoring 107 points to just 72 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 16th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.8), 18th in scoring defense (57.8) and 42nd in turnover margin (+2.9). In all, the Wildcats rank either first or second in five Big 12 defensive categories, including first in scoring defense (both overall (57.8 ppg.) and Big 12-only games (60.5 ppg.), turnover margin and rebounding defense, second in 3-point field goal percentage defense and third in rebounding margin.

The 1,213 points surrendered through the first 21 games are the fewest in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the fewest since the 1982-83 squad allowed just 1,178 points (56.1 ppg.) through the first 21 games. The team has held 16 of its 21 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 21 opponents to just 24.7 points on 37.5 percent shooting, including 26.8 percent from 3-point range. It has held five 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 (9-of-55) was only surpassed by Savannah State’s 15.5 percentage.

POINTS OFF TURNOVERS

A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams were their ability to score points off of opponent’s mistakes and Bruce Weber has continued that legacy. The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 346-236 (an average of 16.5 points per game), through the first 21 games in points off of turnovers. The squad has posted 10 or more points off of miscues in 17 of 21 games, including 20 or more points on five occasions, with a season-best 34 vs. Lamar on Nov. 12. The team has out-scored its eight Big 12 foes, 143-82 (an average of 17.9 points per game), in points off of turnovers, including 20 or more points in back-to-back wins over TCU and Oklahoma and a near season-best 33-point effort against Texas. They are 13-1 when scoring more points off of turnovers. The Wildcats are out-scoring their opponents, 303-181 (an average of 17.8 points per game), in points off of turnovers in their 17 victories, while are being outscored 55-43 (an average of 10.8 points per game) in points off of turnovers in their four losses.

K-State is forcing its opponents into 14.7 turnovers per game (third-most in the Big 12), including a season-high 26 by Lamar, while turning the ball a Big 12-low 11.8 times per game. The 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 20th and first in the Big 12 with Angel Rodriguez boasting the league’s best assist-to-turnover ratio and ranking 28th nationally. In Martin’s five seasons, the Wildcats averaged 18.2 points per game off of turnovers. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in that period came off of offense generated from miscues. The school has scored 500 or more points off of opponent turnovers in six straight seasons.

CLOSE GAMES

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 9-2 record in games decided by 10 points or less and a 6-2 mark in games decided by six points or less, including four Big 12 wins. Junior Will Spradling, who went 10-of-10 in the last 35 seconds in wins over Delaware, George Washington and Texas Southern, paces the team in both free throws (19) and free throw attempts (24) in the last five minutes of games. Sophomore Angel Rodriguez (13-of-16), senior Rodney McGruder (10-of-13), junior Shane Southwell (8-of-10) have all been solid in the last five minutes of games. In the 65-64 win over West Virginia on Jan. 12, Southwell knocked down two free throws in the last 21 seconds and also blocked the game-winning shot with one second left. With the score tied at 50-all against Oklahoma on Saturday, Rodriguez knocked down a pair of game-winning free throws with just 5.6 seconds left.

REBOUNDING ISSUES

Rebounding had been a source of strength earlier in the season, but has now become a source of concern since the start of Big 12 play, where the Wildcats rank seventh in rebounding margin (-1.4) and defensive rebounds (21.9), eighth in rebounds (31.3) and 10th in offensive rebounds (9.4). Since switching to a four-guard line-up 12 games ago, the squad is averaging 33.6 rebounds, including 10.7 offensive rebounds, with opponents posting 31.4 rebounds, including 9.9 offensive rebounds. In the team’s first nine games, they averaged 42.6 rebounds, including 18.2 offensive rebounds, with its foes posting 34.1 rebounds, including 11.3 offensive rebounds. The Wildcats out-scored their opponents, 153-99 (+54), in second chance points in its first nine games, but has since been out-scored 129-126 (-3) in second chance points in the last 12 games.

K-State still boasts solid overall rebounding numbers, where it ranks second in offensive rebounds (13.9), third in rebounding margin (+4.9) and fifth in rebounds (37.4) in 21 games. Overall, the Wildcats have out-rebounded their foes by a 786-684 margin, including 292-221 on the offensive end. The squad is 15-0 this season when out-rebounding its opponent, but just 2-4 when it is out-rebounded. K-State has at least 10 offensive rebounds in 17 games with a season-high 29 against North Florida on Nov. 18. Sophomore Thomas Gipson (5.5 rpg.) ranks 17th in the Big 12 in rebounding, while he is seventh (2.6) in offensive rebounds.

McGRUDER AMONG ELITE COMPANY

Senior Rodney McGruder (1,333 points & 575 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 ninth all-time in scoring at

K-State, just 31 points away from Chuckie Williams (1,364; 1972-76) for eighth place. He is now one of just six players in school history with at least 1,300 points and 500 rebounds in a career, joining Rolando Blackman (1,844 points & 607 rebounds), Bob Boozer (1,685 points & 824 rebounds), Cartier Martin (1,546 points & 546 rebounds), Ed Nealy (1,304 points & 1,069 rebounds).

McGruder ranks in the Top 10 of 12 other career categories, including consecutive starts (88, 3rd), 3-point field goals (168, 5th), 3-point field goal percentage (38.8%, 6th), 3-point field goals attempted (433, 6th), minutes (3,192, 6th), games (121, 8th), starts (88, 8th), consecutive games (97, 8th), field goals (482, 9th), double-digit scoring games (72, 9th), field goal attempts (1,066, 10th) and steals (93, 10th). He ranks in the Top 15 in five Big 12 categories, including field goals (1st), scoring (6th), minutes (9th), 3-point field goals (11th) and field goal percentage (14th). He ranks sixth in scoring in Big 12-only games (15.8 ppg.), while he is second in 3-point field goals, third in 3-point field goal percentage and eighth 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. He has now scored in double figures in 10 consecutive games with an average of 18.3 points per game. McGruder opened the week with a 21-point effort in a road win at TCU then followed with his fifth 20-point outing of the season in a win over Oklahoma. It was his 17th and 18th 20-point games of his career with the Wildcats posting an impressive 16-2 mark in those contests.

SOUTHWELL’S JUMP IN PRODUCTION

Junior Shane Southwell has made quite the jump in his productivity in year three, as he is averaging 8.0 points on 47.1 percent shooting, including 43.6 percent from 3-point range, with 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 22.8 minutes per game with 12 starts in 19 games played. That production has been even more of factor during the team’s last 12 games (of which the team is 10-2), as he is averaging 9.0 points on 44.0 percent shooting, including 40.5 percent from 3-point range, with 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 27 minutes per game in 12 starts. Southwell had a huge game in the win against West Virginia on Jan. 12, as he knocked down two free throws in the last 21 seconds to give the Wildcats the lead then blocked the game-winning shot with just one second remaining. After a career-high 19 points against No. 3/2 Kansas on Jan. 22, he posted 11 points against Iowa State to give him double-digit points for the 10th time in his career (8 K-State wins), including the sixth time this season. He entered the 2012-13 campaign averaging just 2.5 points on 36.1 percent shooting, including 25 percent from 3-point range, with 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 14.8 minutes per game with 62 games played and 19 starts during his two-year career.

RODRIGUEZ’S IMPROVED PLAY

Sophomore Angel Rodriguez has made steady improvement from his freshman to his sophomore season, as he ranks first or second on the team in six categories, including first in assists (94) and steals (25) and second in scoring (9.2 ppg.) and double-figure scoring games (10). He has helped the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio and turnover margin and second in assists, while he places in the league’s Top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5, 1st), assists (4.9, 4th) and steals (1.3, 9th) and paces the league in conference-only assists (5.9) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.6). He has scored in double figures 10 times, including a career-best 19 points vs. Lamar to go with game-highs at George Washington (17) and Gonzaga (14). He nearly had his first career double-double against Oklahoma on Jan. 19 with 12 points and a career-high nine assists before posting 12 points and a game-high eight assists against Kansas on Jan. 22. In Big 12 play, he has 47 assists to just 13 turnovers, including a remarkable 37 assists to just six turnovers in the last six games. He was named to the NIT Season Tip-Off All-Tournament Team after averaging 11 points and 5.5 assists in two games at Madison Square Garden, as the team finished in second place.

SPRADLING COMING UP CLUTCH

Junior Will Spradling has been a model of consistency from the free throw line, knocking down 36-of-42 opportunities, including going 10-of-10 in the last 35 seconds in wins over Delaware, George Washington and Texas Southern. His effort has raised his career free throw percentage to 83.0 (161-of-194), which is the second-highest in school history behind Steve Henson (90.0; 361-of-401; 1986-90). Spradling has not only been stellar on the free throw line, but he ranks first on the team in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7). He also places sixth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (36.7), ninth in assists (3.0 apg.) and 10th in 3-point field goals (1.6). He ranks first on the team in 3-point field goals (33), second in assists (62) and double-digit scoring games (10) and third in scoring (8.5 ppg.) and steals (21), while he tallied a season-high 17 points against Florida on Dec. 22. Since going scoreless against Kansas on Jan. 22, he has posted double-digit efforts at Iowa State (15) and at Oklahoma (12).

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 20 of 21 games with the third-most starts (11), averaging 5.4 points on 45.1 percent shooting (46-of-102) with 4.1 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per game. He had career week in wins against South Dakota and No. 22/21 Oklahoma State, in which, he averaged 16.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting with 6.0 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game. He tallied a career-best 16 points vs. South Dakota on 7-of-10 field goals before eclipsing that mark with 17 points off the bench against OSU on 7-of-11 field goals. If you include the Kansas City game, he averaged 13.7 points on 51.5 percent shooting with 8.3 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per game in a three-game period from Dec. 29 to Jan. 5.

GIPSON A FACTOR DOWN LOW

Sophomore Thomas Gipson broke out of a slump against Texas on Jan. 30, as he responded with a game-high 17 points on 7-of-10 field goals and a team-high seven rebounds in 21 minutes. Gipson, who had started 13 consecutive games prior to coming off the bench against the Longhorns, posted his individual high in a Big 12 game, while registering double-digits for the seventh time this season, including the first time since the Kansas City game on Dec. 29. He came into the Texas game, averaging just 4.7 points on 45.5 percent shooting (10-of-22) and 2.8 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game in Big 12 play. For the year, he is averaging 7.2 points on 47.8 percent shooting with a team-high 5.5 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game. He had arguably his best all-around game of the season against Texas Southern on Dec. 18 with a season-high 14 points on 5-of-7 field goals to go with 12 rebounds and career-bests in blocks (4) and steals (3) in 26 minutes. It marked his fourth career double-double, but the first of the season. The 12-rebound effort tied his season-high that he also had against George Washington on Dec. 8. The team leader in rebounds at 5.5 per game, he ranks 17th in the Big 12 in rebounds, while his seventh in offensive rebounds at 2.6 per game.

RECAPPING THE TRIP TO BRAZIL

K-State got a jump start on its preparations for the 2012-13 men’s basketball season with its 10-day trip to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 8-17, 2012. The NCAA allows teams to make a foreign trip once every four years, but this was the first by the program since playing four games in and around Vancouver, British Columbia in October 2004. K-State played four games during the trip, posting a 2-2 record as the squad had to adjust to international rules (four, eight-minute quarters among other differences with NCAA rules). The Wildcats averaged 70 points on 41.9 percent shooting, including 31.4 percent from the 3-point range, while averaging 37.5 rebounds, 15.8 assists, 17.5 turnovers, 4.8 blocks and 9.8 blocks per game.

Sophomore Angel Rodriguez paced all scorers in Brazil with a 10.3 points per game average on 40 percent shooting, including 35.7 percent from 3-point range, with a team-best 4.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Three others - Nino Williams, Rodney McGruder and Adrian Diaz - all averaged 9.0 points per game, while junior Will Spradling and senior Jordan Henriquez added 8.5 points and 7.3 points per game averages. Williams led in rebounding (6.0 rpg.), 3-point field goal percentage (40.0) and free throw percentage (83.3), while Diaz was tops in field goal percentage (58.3) and blocks (2.5 bpg.).

UP NEXT: IOWA STATE (15-6, 5-3 Big 12)

K-State returns home to Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday as the Wildcats host Iowa State (15-6, 5-3 Big 12) at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.

--www.kstatesports.com--


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