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Akela Jones in third place

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Plus, hoops wins in Europe

Athletics - Olympics: Day 7 Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

It’s just 20 days to Kansas State football. BracketCat counts us down with #21 walk-on punter Devin Anctil, and #20 walk-on lineman Dylan Couch.

We conclude our series on Kansas State athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics with a feature on current Wildcat and Big 12 champion discus thrower Shadae Lawrence.

Speaking of Rio, we are officially on #EMAW medals watch.

Akela Jones began competition in the heptathlon yesterday, and with four events (100m hurdles, 200m, high jump and shot put), she’s currently in third place with 3,964 points. A second-place finish in the 100m hurdles and a strong 1.89 mark in the high jump are helping keep Jones in contention. Luckily, her best event is the long jump, still to come. Unluckily, her two worst events (javelin and the 800m race) are also still to come.

Still, it’s her first Olympics and only her sixth heptathlon ever, and she’s only 93 points behind 2012 gold medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill. If current form holds, Jones will have a great shot at a podium finish.

In other Rio news, Erik Kynard will take the field in the high jump qualification round on Sunday.

The men’s basketball team bounced back from an opening loss on the European tour and won their second game, 97-80, over BC Silute in Rome. Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown combined for 33 points and 14-of-23 on field goals. In contrast, the two had only 12 points between them against LCC International off of 5-of-22 shooting in the first game.

Carlbe Ervin had 12 points, and has now scored 20 points over two games. Isaiah Maurice and Xavier Sneed each had 10 points, while Wesley Iwundu led the team in rebounds (7), steals (4), and blocks (3), and also scored 8 points.

Bruce Weber said afterwards that the players were responding well to his challenge to play hard, but that he was concerned about turnovers.

The team will play in Florence today at 1 PM CT against Italian Select.

Could Snyder have Kansas State in the Big 12 title race again? That’s the premise of this article, which suggests bigger things for the 2016 season than expected, but suggesting Kansas State could make a seventh consecutive bowl game isn’t really going out on a limb. Also, in touting the Wildcats’ opener against Stanford, the article also trots out that old canard about soft scheduling.

Speaking of the Big 12, it’s hard to find the words to explain what’s happening with expansion these days. The conference is set to talk to 17 different schools about joining the Big 12, suggesting a long, drawn-out negotiation rather than the almost-done-deal we suspected some weeks ago. Meanwhile, not expanding at all remains on the table, and it’s possible the Big 12 is merely using expansion as leverage against FOXSports and ESPN. Let’s see how this all shakes out, but given the Big 12’s history of incompetence , it’s hard to get excited.