To say that the K-State fanbase has been a bit deflated this week may be a bit of an understatement. Enthusiasm gained over a four-game win streak evaporated quickly after a humiliating 70-56 loss to the arch-rival Kansas Jayhawks. And things don’t get any easier for the Kansas State Wildcats.
Today’s match-up with the West Virginia Mountaineers is not a great place to try a bounce-back game. The Wildcats have not fared well in Morgantown since the Mountaineer’s joined the Big 12 Conference, and are pretty lackluster overall against West Virginia in the last four years. The ‘Eers are 8-4 against K-State since joining the Big 12, with all 8 victories coming in the last nine meetings. WVU is also looking to sweep the series for the third time in the last four seasons, as they already hold a 77-69 victory against K-State from the New Year’s Day game in Manhattan.
Though there may be a saving grace for the Wildcats, though it could turn out to be a dark blessing for the Cats. The Mountaineers have been dealing with a case of influenza running through the team. That may leave them less active in their press, and less aggressive overall. But it could also give our guys the flu too, which would not be a good thing.
Also, it’s possible that Kamau Stokes may return to action today. Bruce Weber indicated he’d try to bring back slowly, so he may not play many minutes today, but he could at least add a few important minutes off the bench. Having Stokes back may help to energize both Barry Brown and Cartier Diarra, who have both seen a bit of a slump lately. But the key for the Wildcats will be if Xavier Sneed can work through his own slump, that has hit about the same time that his slump did last season. Maybe Sneed just doesn’t like February.
It’s going to take an “A” effort from the Wildcats to win today, regardless of other factors. And the Cats need it too. The last few years, K-State has not responded well to the home loss to KU and need to avoid a similar fate this season to keep NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Today’s game, scheduled for a 3:00 p.m. CST tip-off, will be on ESPN2/ESPN3 with Rich Hollenberg (play-by-play) and “go ask” Fran Fraschilla (analyst) on the call. 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 81, and “Internet” 81.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Kansas State (16-6, 5-4 Big 12)
G: #2 Cartier Diarra
G: #5 Barry Brown Jr.
G: #20 Xavier Sneed
F: #32 Dean Wade
F: #14 Makol Mawien
West Virginia (16-6, 5-4 Big 12)
G: #2 Jevon Carter
G: #14 Chase Harler
F: #21 Wesley Harris
F: #23 Esa Ahmad
F: #50 Sagaba Konate