It’s time for the annual Sunflower Showdown: Women’s Basketball Edition in Bramlage.
Headed into the season, this was expected to be a top-flight matchup. Kansas was picked 3rd by the league’s coaches, just ahead of Kansas State at 4th. Coming off a WNIT championship last season, big things were expected for KU, but so far the Jayhawks (9-8, 2-4) have struggled along, and are coming off a 35-point beatdown at the hand of Texas earlier this week. They are 1-5 against ranked foes this season, though that “1” is a big one, as they took down then-No. 4 Baylor in Allen Fieldhouse 10 days ago. So it’s possible for the Squawks to surprise today, but it would take a a lot to overcome the Wildcats.
However, today’s opponent, and the next several did get a big gift. All-American Ayoka Lee was apparently injured during the Oklahoma game, and played through discomfort in the win over UT, but that pain turned out to be a fracture that needed surgery to fix. Now the Wildcats are without Lee for at least four weeks.
Thankfully, the MittieCats (17-1, 6-0) are more than just Ayoka Lee, no matter how good she is. The stellar guard rotation, coupled with the emergence of Gisela Sanchez and Imani Lester inside, still makes this a great team. And K-State’s defense is crazy good with or without Lee on the court. K-State has also had a week off, thanks to TCU forfeiting their game earlier this week due to lack of healthy players. The Wildcats have to be itching to get back on the court and continue their dominant run.
This is a game the No. 7 Wildcats should win, and win easily. But it’s a rivalry game, and crazy things can happen...though that’s probably not in store today.
This afternoon’s tipoff is at 1:00pm CT from Bramlage Coliseum, and can be seen on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with Brian Smoller (play-by-play), Missy Heidrick (analyst), and Hannah Whetstone (sideline) on the call. You can also listen to Matt Walters (play-by-play) and Kaylee Page (analyst) call the action online at K-StateSports.com and via the Varsity Network app, as well as over-the-air in the Manhattan area on Sunny 102.5 FM, and also available on SiriusXM Channels 160 or 202 and the SiriusXM app.
This will be an odd week for the K-State men, going from first to worst in one week.
After the stunning upset of No. 9 Baylor on Tuesday night in Bramlage, giving the Bears their first Big 12 loss of the season, the Wildcats now turn to face the only team without a Big 12 win this season: Oklahoma State.
K-State (13-4, 3-1) have had a second-straight strong start to their Big 12 schedule, and showed they are capable of playing with the top teams when they put the effort in. The TangCats are finally starting to shoot a bit better, and the rough edges are finally showing refinement. Jerome Tang and his staff are showing their coaching chops again getting this collection of parts to finally gel and show what they are fully capable of. And they have a great opportunity to continue to improve today against a Cowboys team that is just 8-9 on the season, and 0-4 in Big 12 play.
To be fair to the Pokes, they had one of the toughest opening schedules, facing off against Baylor (whom they took to overtime) to open conference play, then road trips at Texas Tech and Iowa State, before facing KU in Stillwater on Tuesday night. That’s three of the four teams currently tied for first in the Big 12, plus an Iowa State team that’s always really good at home. And OSU gets the fourth of those first-place teams today in Manhattan.
Though don’t expect this one to be an easy game for K-State. This is the Big 12, and anything can and will happen. But Bramlage should be plenty DOOM-y, and if we continue to see progression being made this should be a game the Wildcats should win at least comfortably. Hopefully comfortably enough that there is a minute for the walk-ons to get in at the end of the game.
This evening’s matchup is scheduled for a 6:01pm CT tip at Bramlage Coliseum and will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with Shawn Kenney (play-by-play) and Bryndon Manzer (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 383 with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) calling the action over there.