Jerome Tang: Making Basketball Fun Again.
There is no way on Earth anyone could have predicted where we are at right now, headed into the second week of 2023. Even lofty goals would have had us at maybe 1-2 in Big 12 play, and maybe 10-4 overall at this point of the season. I think even optimistic fans would have been thrilled with that.
But here we are, living in a scenario beyond dreams and hopes. Your Kansas State Wildcats are 14-1 for the first time since Tex Winter was head coach, and have opened Big 12 play at 3-0, all against Top 25 teams no less, for the first time since the 2012-13 season. A year the Cats won the Big 12 title. Who cares that the pace feels unsustainable, that we’ve been conditioned to feel like the other shoe is just waiting to drop. Right now, we are riding a high that K-State basketball fans have not felt in a decade, and really from a few years prior to that when Jacob Pullen and Dennis Clemente were leading the Cats.
Standing in the way of our continued euphoria are the Oklahoma State Cowboys. They have the worst overall record of teams in the conference, and enter today’s game at 9-6 overall and are the only team without double-digit wins. But they also hold a win over West Virginia in Stillwater, coming a couple days after the Mountaineers lost in overtime in Manhattan. But they came within two points of upsetting KU in Lawrence, and, in a very Bruce Weber-esque outcome, held Texas to just 56 points in a 56-46 loss last Saturday.
This could easily be the game that breaks K-State’s streak of high-scoring games. As Drew notes in his preview, the Pokes offense is pretty average, but their defense is elite, and will cause problems for a K-State team that still has a tendency to turn the ball over more often than they should. But, we did think the same thing about Texas last week, and the Cats ended up setting the school scoring record that night.
Win or lose, this should be one of the most electric atmosphere’s in Bramlage since at least the end of the 2018-19 season. The game, despite being on a Tuesday night and during K-State’s semester break, is a near-sellout, and fan excitement is as high as K-State’s #11/13 ranking...their highest since the end of the 2012-13 season.
This evening’s matchup is scheduled for a 6:01pm CT tip and will be aired on ESPNU with Chuckie Kempf (play-by-play) and King McClure (analyst) on the call. You’ll also be able to hear the game online at K-StateSports.com (and via the Varsity Network app), plus parts of the K-State Sports Radio Network and on SiriusXM 375 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!