Men’s and women’s basketball and some football news. Let’s get right to it.
After last night’s result between the Cyclones and Jayhawks in Lawrence, Kansas State (14-4, 4-2 Big 12) finds itself tied with No. 14 Texas Tech (15-3, 4-2) for second place in the Big 12, half a game behind the blue and red conference gorilla. Coincidentally, the two second-place teams will play each other tonight at 6:00, with the winner moving into a tie for first, and the loser tumbling to a share of third, behind the surprising Baylor Bears, who topped West Virginia in Morgantown last night to move to 4-2 in league play.
Three weeks ago, such a scenario seemed unfathomable, after the Wildcats lost their first two conference games, and struggled mightily to score. To their credit, Weber’s guys gathered themselves beginning in the second half against West Virginia, reeled off four straight wins, and now look to keep pace at the top of the standings. Barry Brown carried a big load in the beginning, but with Dean Wade back, Kamau Stokes knocking down some shots, and Xavier Sneed getting into the act on Saturday, the struggles of the first week seem a distant memory.
Defense has been K-State’s calling card, and as the athletic department’s preview notes, tonight’s match-up features the league’s two most accomplished defensive units. In the first contest between the teams, K-State failed to score a field goal in the first 10:47 of the contest and trailed 14-0 before making it a one-point game with seven minutes to play. Texas Tech ultimately held on, 63-57. Dean Wade was not available for K-State in the first meeting.
Wade has played well since his return, however, and for his efforts in last week’s wins against No. 20 Oklahoma and TCU, Dean was named Big 12 co-Player of the Week. He averaged 18 points, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals in the two games. Wade shares his second-ever player of the week honor with Baylor’s King McClure. After Barry Brown won the award last week, Dean’s honor marks the first time K-State players have won the award in consecutive weeks since Rodney McGruder went back-to-back in the 2012-2013 season.
After the Chicago Bears’ disappointing theft of Ted Monachino’s services, Coach Klieman was forced to seek a new defensive coordinator for his first K-State staff. It appears he is prepared to hire Scottie Hazelton, who currently serves as defensive coordinator under Klieman’s old boss, Craig Bohl, at Wyoming. The Cowboys’ ranked 19th in total defense this past season, yielding only 326.2 yards per game, and 22nd in scoring defense, surrendering 17.5 points per contest. The question, of course, is whether Hazelton’s success will translate to the high-octane offensive world of Big 12 football.
Corbin McGuire at K-State Sports Extra relived Matthew McCrane’s nomadic season as an NFL place-kicker, which included stops in Arizona, Oakland and Pittsburgh.
Not to be outdone on the awards front, women’s team members Kayla Goth and Christianna Carr won player of the week and freshman of the week awards from the Big 12. Goth, who averaged 15 points, 10.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in wins against Texas and Texas Tech, shared her award with Texas Tech’s Brittany Brewer. Goth is now fifth on K-State’s all-time assists chart, with 432. Carr, who averaged 13.5 points and went 6-for-12 beyond the three-point arc on the week, shares her rookie award with Iowa State’s Ashley Joens.
While the scoring of Goth and Carr certainly spurred K-State to two big wins, Rachel Ranke has elevated the team by contributing in other ways, including defense, rebounds, blocks and steals. She says her game has matured since last year, when her 3-point shooting prowess took her to a spot on the Big-12 All-Freshman team.
Jeff Mittie’s team will play Oklahoma State Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum with an opportunity to raise their conference record above the .500 mark.