Things have turned pretty south in Norman.
The last time the Kansas State Wildcats and the Oklahoma Sooners faced off, OU was still still a Top 5 team, and still the odds-on favorite to upset KU for the league crown. Since that time, the Sooners’ freshman phenom trae Young has cooled off, and the rest of the Sooners have fallen suit. After their 87-69 loss to K-State, the Sooners went 2-1 in conference play, but then fell to the Texas Longhorns and have been stumbling ever since, losing their last six conference games. The Sooners have fallen out of the national rankings, and their current free fall is sending them quickly toward 9th place in the Big 12.
In Manhattan, the Wildcats are trending back up after a mid-conference slump that saw the Cats lose three of four, all by double-digits, and one of them the worst loss by a Wildcats squad in the last 15 years. But the Wildcats have responded by winning their last three, including a defensive slop-fest last Wednesday when the basketball mirrored the icy weather in Manhattan.
This is a game the Wildcats should win. K-State coach Bruce Weber has had OU coach Lon Kruger’s number since Weber came to K-State. The Wildcat coach is 8-3 against the Sooners, though all three losses have come in Norman. But the Wildcats figured out the formula to beat OU back in January, put your best defender on Trae Young and live in his bubble the whole game. The Sooner freshman is still likely to be a millionaire this time next year, but he’s been less than stellar since facing the Wildcats and Barry Brown showed the league how to beat him.
But anything can happen, this is the Big 12 after all. The Sooners could’ve used the long break after their 104-74 beat-down at the hands of KU on Monday to figure out how to right the ship. The Wildcats could mirror their end to January that saw defensive slug-fest with Georgia turn into a major loss to KU in Manhattan. Or the Cats could beat the struggling Sooners like they did in Manhattan a little over a ago. We are talking about a Bruce Weber-coached team after all, anything is possible. Welcome to Weberville.
This evening’s game, scheduled for a 5 p.m. CST tip-off, will be on ESPN2/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.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Kansas State (20-8, 9-6 Big 12)
G: #2 Cartier Diarra
G: #5 Barry Brown Jr.
G: #20 Xavier Sneed
F: #32 Dean Wade
F: #14 Makol Mawien
Oklahoma (16-11, 6-9 Big 12)
G: #0 Christian James
G: #11 Trae Young
G: #20 Kameron McGusty
F: #21 Kristian Doolittle
C: #4 Jamuni McNeace