There is an opportunity, history says so. The last time the Kansas State Wildcats won in Allen Fieldhouse was 12 years ago, almost to the day. The time before that? 12 years before that in 1994.
K-State enters this morning’s contest (11am games are never good, football or basketball) still with plenty of questions, but maybe some more hope than they’ve had in recent years headed into games in Lawrence. Sure, some more complete K-State teams have been beaten soundly in AFH, but something feels different today.
The Kansas Jayhawks have not looked invincible this year, even at home. They’ve already dropped two true home games, and Bill Self’s roster lacks an elite “it” guy. And while the sum of the parts he has still creates a very talented group, it just doesn’t feel like a Jayhawks team of old.
Sure, they have the Big 12’s 2nd-leading scorer, but Devonte’ Graham isn’t pulling away from the field like OU’s Trey Young. Though four of their five starters are in the top 15. Rebounding maybe tells a better picture. The team’s leading rebounder, Udoka Azubuike, is only 6th in the Big 12. And as a team, KU ranks 9th in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage (K-State is 10th on defense, but all the way up at 6th on offense). This KU team lives by shooting very well, and well from range, and not turning the ball over. Defend the 3-pt line and force some turnovers, and you can beat them - just ask Texas Tech who held KU to just 23% from the arc, and forced 15 turnovers to just 10 assists.
For it’s part, K-State doesn’t need Barry Brown to drop 38 points to win this game. The Cats will need a balanced effort, and will need Dean Wade and Xavier Sneed to really push hard at the rim to get points and get Azubuike in foul trouble. Cartier Diarra doesn’t need 17, but he really cannot afford to have a “freshman” game today. And the bench needs to step up and provide something. Scoring, rebounding, meaningful minutes — something useful.
Just because, here’s an interesting tidbit from K-State’s game preview: Kansas’ 193 wins are the most against one opponent in NCAA history, while K-State’s 93 victories are the most by any Kansas opponent. Of course, we have played each other 286 times, and at least twice a year since 1912.
Today’s game, scheduled for a 11:01 a.m. CST tip-off, will be on ESPN/ESPN3 with Rich Hollenberg (play-by-play) and Fran Fraschilla (analyst) on the call.
The game can be heard over-the-air on the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) on the call (you can also listen online for free at TuneIn.com or at KStateSports.com). Satellite radio is available on Sirius/XM 81, and “Internet” 81.
The game is sold out via the KU ticket office, but there are tickets still available on secondary markets if you were looking to try and drag yourself to the Pit of Misery.
LATE UPDATE: Kansas learned this morning that anticipated freshman and early qualifier Silvio De Sousa has been cleared by the NCAA and will play today. That’s right. Just as we knew all along, the NCAA will even work on Saturdays to ensure the disadvantage of K-State. RAEG!
De Souza is a 6-9, 220-pounder who KU aficionados compare to Thomas Robinson—only stronger than T-Rob was as a freshman. Sounds like bloviating, though there is no debating: The guy is a specimen. I guess we will get the first chance to see how good he is. Here’s hoping Bruce’s staff had the foresight to game-plan for 5-10 minutes of two-big sets.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Kansas State (12-4, 2-2 Big 12)
G: #2 Cartier Diarra
G: #5 Barry Brown Jr.
G: #20 Xavier Sneed
F: #32 Dean Wade
F: #14 Makol Mawien
12/12 Kansas (13-3, 3-1 Big 12)
G: #0 Marcus Garrett
G: #2 Lagerald Vick
G: #4 Devonte’ Graham
G: #10 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
F: #35 Udoka Azubuike