Your Kansas State Wildcats are in a position they haven’t been in a very long time.
They are not only in first place in the Big 12, they are there with a 2-game margin on second place, and are currently the hunted team in the conference. They’ve also now shown that they can handle the pressure of being the top team, and can win on the road even when everything doesn't go exactly right.
That’s how championships are built, that’s how those
professional athletes Jayhawks have won 14 straight.
But to maintain that position, they are going to have to keep winning, especially conference road games. And next up are the Texas Longhorns. And while this normally might be a trap game for the Wildcats — a middling team with a decent little 3-of-4 streak and a lackluster road atmosphere — there is no reason that these Cats shouldn’t be up for this game. All Bruce Weber needs to do is write 67-47 on the board if he needs to get these guys’ attention. But he likely won’t have to.
This is a completely different team that is in Austin tonight from the team that faced the Longhorns in Bramlage back in very early January. Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes both missed that game with injuries, and Barry Brown was struggling to re-find his aggressive streak. That Makol Mawein was the player of the game for the Wildcats should speak volumes about how off that team was that night.
But Wade is back, and is looking very much like the player that was voted Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year. And Barry Brown is doing his best job to lay his own claim for that nod. And Kam Stokes is doing what Kam Stokes normally does, which is dishing assists and occasionally getting hot from deep. The only downer for this team right now is that Cartier Diarra will be unavailable for a while, but that just give Mike McGuirl and Shaun Neal-Williams for opportunities to play and get neck-deep in Big 12 basketball. Come March, losing Diarra now could actually be a very good thing for this team.
But right now it’s Tuesday night in mid-February, and these Wildcats need to focus on avenging their loss to the Longhorns while making a statement that the Big 12 title runs through Manhattan this year, not Lawrence.
Tonight’s game is scheduled for a 8:05pm CST tip-off, and will be available on ESPN2 with Jon Sciambi (play-by-play) and Chris Spatola (analyst) on the call. You should also be able to access the game on WatchESPN.com/ESPN3.
You will also be able to listen to live audio across much of the K-State Sports Network with with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) calling the action. The game will also be available streaming for free online via the TuneIn app/TuneIn.com and at www.kstatesports.com/watch. Satellite coverage is also available at XM 387 / Internet 978 (likely the UT broadcast). Live stats are available at k-statesports.com, and Twitter updates (@KStateMBB) will also be a part of the coverage from K-State Athletics.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Kansas State Wildcats (18-5, 8-2 Big 12)
G: #3 Kamau Stokes
G: #5 Barry Brown Jr.
G/F: #20 Xavier Sneed
F: #32 Dean Wade
F: #14 Makol Mawien
Texas Longhorns (14-10, 6-5 Big 12)
G: #2 Matt Coleman III
G: #12 Kerwin Roach II
G: #55 Elijah Mitrou-Long
F: #21 Dylan Osetkowski
F: #10 Jaxson Hayes