As the Kansas State Wildcats return to action this weekend after an off week for finals, the men’s basketball team will be spending another weekend away from Bramlage. Except this won’t be a glorified home home game, this will be a glorified road game against one of the best teams, so far this year, in the Mountain West conference.
Colorado State enters today’s match-up at 8-2 on the season. The Rams two losses are a 7-point loss at Stanford, and a 15-point loss to Wichita State at home that was far closer than the final score indicated. CSU also has a win in Boulder over the Buffaloes in their resume. These Rams are looking pretty good. And the Rams have history on their side in this match-up, holding a 5-0 record at home against the Wildcats, and while this game is Denver, it is a home game for CSU.
In his fifth season at the helm, Larry Eustachy is 95-50 and while he guided his Rams team to the NCAA tournament in his first season, he has only been able to return to the post season one, and NIT bid in 2015. But Larry knows the Cats, and is 6-6 all time against K-State, including his time at Iowa State.
The game last season was ugly and close, with the Cats winning in Wichita 61-56. But CSU finally returns possibly their most dynamic player, senior guard Gian Clavell, who was injured just before the game last year and sat out the first part of this season. Clavell dropped 15 points in his debut against Northern Colorado last weekend. The Rams are led by senior forward Emmanuel Omogbo, who is averaging a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds per game. Omogbo is joined in double digit scoring average by two other Rams, sophomore guards J.D. Paige and Prentiss Nixon.
K-State will be looking to keep up their current defensive streak, holding each of their last three opponents to 56 points or less, and have yet to allow a regular season opponent to score more than 69 points this season. So far this season the Cats are ranked 6th in scoring defense (57.8), 11th in field goal percentage defense (36.6), 36th in steals (8.4) and 39th in turnovers forced (16.3). The Cats are still led offensively by sophomore guard Barry Brown, who is averaging 13 points per game, and is joined in double digits by three other Cats. After last weekend’s effort against Washington State, led by senior forward Wesley Iwundu and his yield of 15 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, the Cats have now had at least four players score double digits in 7 of the Wildcats 10 games so far this season.
This game will likely look a lot like last season’s, as both teams are defensive minded and lack elite scoring. But if the Cats play their game, this should be another victory for K-State. And this is the last chance for a Top-100 RPI win before conference play starts, and the Cats are in desperate need right now of anything that looks like a quality win.
The game, scheduled for 2:00pm CST, will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network, and streaming may be available to you (depending on your provider/package) at CBSSportsNetwork.com. Audio, as always, is available on the K-State Sports Network (and on Sirius 113/XM 200) and streaming online at K-StateSports.com.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
G: #3 Kamau Stokes
G: #5 Barry Brown
G: #25 Wesley Iwundu
F: #32 Dean Wade
F: #4 D.J. Johnson
G: #11 Prentiss Nixon
G: #22 J.D. Paige
F: #2 Emmanuel Omogbo
F: #10 Che Bob
C: #32 Nico Carvacho