Fresh off of consecutive conference wins at home, Kansas State hits the road this week with a lot of confidence and some swagger, both of which they will need plenty of for the challenges the Cats face at Texas on Tuesday and on Saturday at Iowa State.
The K-State coaching staff was able to get a good look at both of its opponents this week in a single tape, as the same two teams played each other in Austin last Saturday. Bruce Weber and his Wildcat coaches probably would be better served, however, watching Iowa State game tape from earlier in the month – say the Cyclones’ win over Baylor – because the team ranked in the nation’s top 10 at the beginning of last week was not the group on display on Saturday at Texas.
The Longhorns had it all going their way against the Cyclones and handed ISU its third loss in eight days after standing 14-0 and one of four unbeaten teams in Division I men’s college basketball just 10 days ago.
That sets up a terrific matchup between 22nd-ranked Kansas State (14-4, 4-1) and a Texas team that is feeling pretty good about itself, as well. The Wildcats, who are just a game back of league-leading Kansas in the conference standings, must guard against looking beyond the Longhorns to Iowa State on Saturday. Texas, which like K-State has a 14-4 season record, is on a bit of a roll itself, winners of its last three Big 12 games after starting he conference season with back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
As a team, Texas average about 10 more points per game then K-State (78 to 68), but the Longhorns also allow their opponents 13 more points a game, on average, than do the defensive-minded Wildcats. Texas likes to push the ball on offense, in contrast to the more deliberate approach taken by Kansas State.
Texas leads the conference in rebounding and blocked shots. With wide-body Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes both averaging over seven rebounds a game, Texas averages close to eight rebounds more a game than its opponents. Offensiuve rebounding was a big difference maker in the Longhorns win over Iowa State. Both Kansas State and Texas have done a good job this season on the offensive glass, creating second-shot opportunities.
Kansas State is led in scoring by freshman Marcus Foster, averaging right at 14 points a game. Texas is led on the offensive end by junior Jonathan Holmes, averaging 13.1 a game. Sophomore center Ridley has been on fire for the Longhorns the last two games, averaging 14 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in just 28 minutes of action.
Three Things To Watch For In This Game
- Will Kansas State’s glove-tight defensive pressure and the Wildcats’ more deliberate, ball-control style of offense take Texas enough out of the game it likes to play and keep the game in the 50s or low 60s. If so, this will play heavily in favor of Kansas State.
- Texas is not a prolific three-point-shooting team, but the Horns do like to launch it from behind the arc. Kansas State is the best in the conference at defending three-point shooters. Wildcat opponents are hitting just 27 percent from beyond the three-point line.
- In contrast to the other teams in the conference, neither Kansas State nor Texas shoots the ball that well percentage-wise, from the field or the free-throw line. They are the two worst teams in the league in both categories. Prolonged shooting spells could pose a big problem, even more so if you are wearing burnt orange because of K-State’s defensive skill.
Game prediction: Kansas State 62, Texas 71