It was a pretty great week for the Kansas State Wildcats. Beating No. 4 Oklahoma in a rout was awesome by itself, but for the first time in a while it looked like a Bruce Weber-led Wildcats squad found consistency in beating No. 24/25 TCU 73-68 on Throwback Saturday (and please, let that not be the last time we see that uniform on the court).
The Wildcats took the lead at the tip and never trailed, even though TCU pushed and fought to keep it close and give the Cats a few scares. But Dean Wade appears to have finally found himself, and looks like the elite player that K-State fans thought they were getting out of southwest Kansas. Barry Brown is leading the team with poise, and has become the unquestioned end-of-game go-to guy. Cartier Diarra has looked like anything but a freshman since taking a starting role, even through some foul trouble against the Horned Frogs. And Xavier Sneed is just doing his thing, and is, almost quietly, averaging 11.5 points-per-game.
But the surprise star against TCU was Makol Mawein, who scored a career high 18 points and hauled in five rebounds for maybe his best game as a Wildcat, and certainly since his 15-point, 9 rebound effort against a sub-par Washington State squad. Weber will need more of that from the Wildcats big man tonight.
The Baylor Bears come into tonight's game in a similar way to the Wildcats last week: they beat Oklahoma State at home on Wednesday, then took KU to the wire in a losing effort on Saturday. Baylor sits at 12-7 on the season, but only 2-5 in conference play. They’ve dropped just two games at home this year, dropping an overtime game to TCU at the beginning on January, and dropping a non-conference game to some school in Wichita, KS exactly a month before that.
Baylor certainly has something that K-State lacks: length and depth on the interior. The Bears have four players averaging over five rebounds per game, led by Jo Lual-Acuil’s 9.6. Lual-Acuil is almost averaging a double-double for the Bears, and is the team’s second-leading scorer at 15.3 ppg. The top spot is held by Manu Lecomte, who is knocking down 16.5 ppg aided by a 57-145 (39.3%) stroke from behind the arc.
The Wildcats will have a tough game, but win this one and they’ve have something really special going: a conference win streak. It would be the first since the Cats won four straight from January 7th to January 17th way back in 2015.
Tonight’s game, scheduled for a 8:00 p.m. CST tip-off, will be on ESPNU/ESPN3 with Matt Schick (play-by-play) and Dino Gaudio (analyst) on the call (probably not live at the Ferrell Center, as Schick also called the game against OU that was called from
never-never-land not Manhattan). Be sure and check out Jon Morse’s full How To Watch post for more details.
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 83, and “Internet” 83 (this should be the K-State broadcast).
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Kansas State (14-5, 4-3 Big 12)
G: #2 Cartier Diarra
G: #5 Barry Brown Jr.
G: #20 Xavier Sneed
F: #32 Dean Wade
F: #14 Makol Mawien
Baylor (12-7, 2-5 Big 12)
G: #20 Manu Lecomte
G: #22 King McClure
F: #11 Mark Vital
F: #25 Tristan Clark
F: #00 Jo Lual-Acuil Jr.