MANHATTAN, Kan. - Reserves can make or break a team's success, and much of K-State's success this season has been due to the play of Martavious Irving off the bench to spell Angel Rodriguez.

Martavious Irving is having the time of his life, yet there comes a moment each night that he becomes very sad.

Sure, his Wildcats are in first place in the Big 12 Conference, and the 6-foot-1 guard has never played a personal brand of basketball in his life. Yet each evening … some evenings right after practice, and others right after studying … that the sadness kicks in.

"I'm being honest with you," said the Wildcat senior. "Every night I think that the end is near. I have so many great memories from my years here, and now it's about over. I honestly try not to think about it, but there's a time each night that it kicks in and I get sad."

At the same time, there are plenty of reasons to be happy.

The Wildcats are in first place in the Big 12 Conference; the ‘Cats have won 19 games; and Irving is scoring points like never before. No, not 18 or 22, but in the last four games he has contributed at least 10 points in three of his last four games against Iowa State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.

"My thing will always start on defense, but with this offense I'm comfortable and playing the confidence," said Irving, who is averaging 4.8 points for the total season. "It's given me the opportunity to show off my whole game."

No one is applauding Irving's play more than coach Bruce Weber: "He's been a rock for us. He's playing strong, tough and physical. Tay has accepted his role. As a senior, he could be pouting about not starting, but he realizes that if he plays well when he goes in, he'll get the minutes. His defense is always there, but now he's jumping up and making some shots.

"He didn't shoot real well early, but he's proven that he can make open 3s, plus pull up in transition and hit that jumper," said Weber.

"But the main thing is how tough he's playing, and when Angel (Rodriguez) isn't in there, he's running the show and making sure things are done the right way."

The right way, to Irving, is playing "… with focus, paying attention to detail and playing hard. You prepare by watching all that film and from that correct the errors."

A product of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Boyd Anderson High School, which also produced K-State All-American Mitch Richmond, Irving's career has covered 121 Wildcat games with the Wildcats winning a total of 93 times going into the Baylor game on Saturday. He's played in eight, and counting, NCAA Tournament games.

When the curtain does come down on his K-State career, Irving says, "I'm going to have a lot of good memories to tell my kids about. It's been a great place to play, I've had great coaches, and there's been a great fan base.

Coming to K-State is the best choice I've ever made in my life."

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