MANHATTAN, Kan. - Slow starts, like this one in 2012, are nothing new when it comes to K-State basketball, and, strong finishes are the norm. Will it happen again? Frank Martin says, ‘Why not?' "

Frank Martin will quickly tell you, "If you've followed my career, my teams play their best basketball at the end of the year." After a 4-5 start to the Big 12 year, Kansas State defeated Texas A&M on Saturday to open the second half of the season, and open February with another win.

Under Martin, K-State is 23-8 in the month of February, which includes a 15-2 mark in Bramlage Coliseum dating back to the 2008-09 season. The lone losses were to No. 5 Texas in 2008 and No. 16 Kansas in 2009.

In the last three seasons in February, the Wildcats are 21-3, which includes a 12-1 record in Bramlage Coliseum. That record after January records of 9-12 the last three years – 2009 (3-4), 2010 (4-3), 2011 (2-5). This year it was a 4-5 record.

As Martin, who is also 4-1 in the month of March, sees it, "It's a mile race. All that matters is how you cross the finish line at the end and not where you are in the middle. I'm worried about the end line and that's not where we are right now."

Where the Wildcats are today is in fifth place in the Big 12 with a 5-5 record, which leaves them two games away from fourth-place Iowa State at 7-3, and, one game ahead of 4-6 Texas and Oklahoma State.

So can the Wildcats finish strong again with eight games remaining – at home against Texas Tech, Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State; on the road to Texas, Baylor, Missouri and Texas A&M?

ENCOURAGING is the fact that while scoring just 68 points per Big 12 game, the defense has been steady allowing only 65 points per game.

CONCERNING is the fact that K-State has been unable to put together more than two wins in a row this year.

ENCOURAGING is that Rodney McGruder is having a first-team All-Big 12 season with a huge amount of consistency (until a 5-point game against A&M on Saturday).

CONCERNING is the fact that McGruder is KSU's only twin-figure scorer in Big 12 play.

ENCOURAGING is the fact K-State has had five different leading scorers in the last four games –Martavious Irving, Rodney McGruder, Thomas Gipson, Angel Rodriguez and Will Spradling.

CONCERNING is that KSU's team free throw percentage of 66 (8th in the league) will bite them in a pivotal moment.

ENCOURAGING/CONCERNING is the fact that K-State has positioned itself in the middle of the standings with Will Spradling shooting 27 percent (until Saturday's 19-point effort) and Angel Rodriguez shooting 37 percent with the majority of his makes coming by driving at the basket.

CONCERNING is that K-State has 25 more turnovers than assists in Big 12 games.

ENCOURAGING is that along with defense, rebounding has remained a constant ranking first in the Big 12 at plus-six per game.

CONCERNING is the fact K-State has not proven to be a quality outside shooting team with a chilly .311 mark from 3-point range (7th in the league).

ENCOURAGING is K-State's depth with the likes of Martavious Irving, Jordan Henriquez, Victor Ojeleye and Adrian Diaz poised to come off the bench.

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