It was a mostly magical night in Houston for the Kansas State Wildcats, who looked dominant all game against a short-handed LSU team in the TaxAct Texas Bowl on their way to a 42-20 victory Tuesday night (that wasn’t even that close until a last-second desperation heave scored LSU one more touchdown). Skylar Thompson looked great, Deuce Vaughn set a bunch of records, and the defense was solid all night. And Malik Knowles, let’s not forget that Knowles was impressive in his own right with two TD catches and a kick return that was very nearly housed.
We also saw what an offense called by Collin Klein can look like, and it was impressive enough that many now believe it’s the former Heisman-finalists’ job to lose. Though it does help when you’ve got a 6th-year senior under center and an All-American at running back, and he’ll only have one of those next year.
Looking around the rest of the storylines, Kurt Warner threw a bit of shade at Nebraska on social media, after posting he was excited to experience his first-ever college bowl game (not to be confused with those Super Bowls he’s been to) and watch his son Kade play one more time (and Kade played well, even with just one catch for 25 yards). Also, it was the first time since 1999 that LSU finished with a record below .500, as the Bayou Bengals dropped to 6-7 with the loss.
Despite having just seven scholarship players available, and without the services of both head coach Bruce Weber and associate head coach Chris Lowery, the Wildcats came charging out of the gate against Texas and built a 35-29 halftime lead, but were unable to sustain the energy through the second half, eventually falling to the ranked visitors 70-57. With the loss, the Cats fall to 8-5, 0-2 on the season. Of the seven players available, five have been regular starters this season (Pack, Miguel, Smith, McGuirl, and Massoud), plus one regular rotation guy in Kasubke. But the real surprise was Carlton Linguard, who made the first start of his K-State career in just his third game of action this season. He played 14 minutes, mostly in the first half, and had four points and two rebounds and one very impressive block.
Also, big shout out to Shane Southwell, who was the “head” coach last night, and did enough right in the first half to help get his guys going early. They did way more switching on defense than Bruce does, and before the guys got tired the offense looked a little more free. Mr. Southwell has a bright future ahead of him.
Next up is (presumably) a trip to West Virginia this coming Saturday as the Cats continue to look for their first Big 12 win of the season, and their first win in 2022. Hopefully all seven guys who played against UT will be available, and Markquis Nowell should be able to return after sitting out the last two games in COVID protocols.
We didn’t have a Slate for you yesterday (sorry), so we missed reporting that Mark Smith was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Monday after his stellar outing against Oklahoma over the weekend. He’s the first Wildcat to earn the honor since Dean Wade back in 2016. His 25 points against OU were a career high, and his 16 rebounds (also a career high) were the most by a Wildcat in a conference game since Michael Beasley pulled down 17 against Missouri in 2008.
The K-State women are back in action tonight from Stillwater, as they take on Oklahoma State looking to ride the momentum of their big home win over Baylor. Despite the serious snubbing in the polls, the Cats are playing like a Top 15 team right now, and of course a lot of that is due to Ayoka Lee, who picked up a trio of national awards, as well as yet another Big 12 Player of the Week honor, after her 32 point, 10 rebound performance against Baylor (who threw everything they had at her all game and it still didn’t matter). But it’s not just Lee, the trio of freshmen from Missouri are playing superb so far this season, and the MittieCats are getting significant contributions from across the roster.
Tonight’s game tips at 6:30pm and can be seen on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.