Stillwater, OK – Seeking their first win in Stillwater since ranked Kansas State Wildcats tangle with the Oklahoma State Iba Arena.
Both teams have identical 2-3 records in conference, but in the case of the Wildcats, at least they are coming off a victory as they outlasted the visiting Texas Longhorns on Wednesday night, 84-80. The win improved K-State to 9-1 at home and 13-4 overall. Coach Frank Martin's club has yet to win a Big 12 road game after suffering defeats at Kansas and Oklahoma, and this bout begins a stretch of three road games in the next four, with trips to Texas Tech and Iowa State coming before the end of the month.
As for Oklahoma State, it has lost its last two outings, and three of the last four overall after falling at Iowa State on Wednesday, 71-68. As a result, the Cowboys are saddled with a 9-9 record for the season, although there is reason to be optimistic today as the team is 7-1 at home thus far.
Kansas State owns a 70-47 lead in the all-time series with Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys have won three of the last four meetings, and 13 of the 16 encounters played since the inception of the Big 12. OSU's win streak over KSU in Stillwater stands at 11 games. The teams are scheduled to meet once more this season when the Pokes visit the 'Cats in Manhattan on March 3.
Kansas State is one of the top rebounding teams in the Big 12, as it grabs 39.5 ppg while the opposition corrals 33.6 rpg. At +5.9 in rebounding margin, the Wildcats rank second in the conference, and they are led in that department by Jamar Samuels (6.5 rpg). In actuality, there are four guys who come up with at least 5.1 rpg so it's pretty much a team effort each time the 'Cats take the floor. When it comes to scoring, Rodney McGruder paces the team with 15.7 ppg, shooting 48.3 percent from the field, and he also leads the club with 22 steals. Samuels (11.1 ppg) and Will Spradling (11.1 ppg) are the only other players currently averaging double digits for K-State, which puts up 75.3 ppg while allowing 64.9 ppg, making the team one of five in the Big 12 laying claim to a double-digit scoring margin (+10.4). McGruder scored a career-high 33 points in the recent win over Texas, giving him a pair of 30- point efforts in the last three games. Samuels added 14 points, while Gipson and Spradling chipped in 11 apiece for the Wildcats, who made good on 47.5 percent of their total shots, including 7-of-15 three-point tries. The one glaring negative from the game was that KSU missed nearly half of its free throws (21-of-39). Coach Martin announced on Friday that junior forward Jordan Henriquez has been suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. Henriquez is averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 caroms per contest this season.
Oklahoma State isn't nearly the offensive team K-State is, as the Pokes average 66.4 ppg to rank eighth in the 10-team league. Their .412 field goal percentage is dead last. Additionally, OSU is the worst team in the conference as it pertains to rebounding margin (-3.3), and the Cowboys also dish out a league-low 10.8 assists per game. So, how in the world is coach Travis Ford's club even .500 on the year? Well for starters, the team boasts a pair of solid scorers in Keiton Page (14.8 ppg) and Le'Bryan Nash (12.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg), even though neither is shooting the lights out at the moment. Page does do a decent job from long range (.376), as well he should considering he has nearly as many made three-pointers (47) as his closest teammate has attempts (54). Both players were on top of their game in the recent loss at Iowa State, scoring 21 points apiece. Unfortunately for the Pokes, the Cyclones connected on 50.0 percent of their total shots, nailed 10 treys, and won the battle for points from the foul line (11-5), as well as in bench points (19-4). Both teams demonstrated tremendous ball control as they committed nine turnovers each, and OSU's Markel Brown came within a whisker of logging a double-double as he finished with nine points and 11 assists.