We’re back right to it tonight, with the second of three games in three days as Kansas State attempts to win it’s first pre-season tournament title since the eventual Big 12 Champions won the Paradise Jam in 2018.
Standing in the way tonight is literally the best opponent K-State has faced so far this season. The Nevada Wolf Pack are 5-0, with their best win, like K-State, coming yesterday in the opening round of the Cayman Islands Classic when they took down Tulane 75-66. They currently sit at 94 in KenPom’s ratings, 35 spots behind the Cats, while they are all the way up at 39th in the Massey ratings, just nine spots behind K-State.
The Wolf Pack are coached by Steve Alford in his fourth season in Reno. Alford has been around the block, with D1 head coaching stops at Iowa, New Mexico, and UCLA before heading northeast. At New Mexico, he was a three-time MWC coach of the year honoree, a four-time regular season champ, and a two-time MWC tournament champ. He is better known for leading UCLA to three NCAA Sweet 16 appearances in four season, and a 31-5 season in 2017-18, before getting canned just 13 games into the 2018-19 season after a 7-6 start. He has yet to lead Nevada to the NCAA tournament after taking over for Eric Musselman, who turned his success in Reno into the gig at Arkansas.
Last time out, Nevada trailed Tulane 32-39 at halftime and shot just 20% from the field in the first half, but turned things around with much better shooting in the second half for a 46-point second half that pushed them to victory. That’s something that K-State will have to contend with tonight, as the Wildcats have done really well in the first half of games this season, with an average margin of 17+ points through for games in the first period.
But the Cats are winning the second half by just 4+ points on average, and that’s just not going to cut it against a team that likely won’t give up a big first half deficit. Heck, at times it didn’t feel like it was going to cut it against a struggling Cal team last week.
For the first time this season, the Wildcats will need to play a full 40 minutes to grab the victory. That should tell us a lot about where Jerome Tang’s program is at early in his first season.
This evening’s matchup between the Cats and Wolf Pack, scheduled for a 6:30pm CT tip at John Gray Gym in Grand Cayman, C.I., will be streamed via FloHoops with Jess Settles (play-by-play) and Scott Warmann (analyst) on the call. If you don’t want to pay the $30 for the month, you’ll also be able to hear the game online at K-StateSports.com, plus parts of the K-State Sports Radio Network and on SiriusXM 381 with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) calling the action over there.
Hey, are you on Discord? We are now, too! Feel free to join us! (Make sure you click the reaction button on the rules notice though, or you won’t see anything.) We’ll have a game thread there as well!