We’ll start with the team that played on Sunday in Lawrence. The MittieCats have started slow most of 2023, and Sunday’s contest against the Jayhawks was no exception. The Hawks built an 18-6 lead before the Cats woke up, and then it was a tight middle before things got away again late, as the Cats fall 85-72 to drop to 13-9 overall and 2-7 in Big 12 play. Beating KU consistently was once a hallmark of Jeff Mittie’s tenure in Manhattan, but the Wildcats have now dropped two-straight, and three straight in Lawrence. It’s the first losing streak in the series for K-State since the Cats dropped three straight from the last two games of Deb Patterson’s run to Jeff Mittie’s first in the series in the Little Apple.
And no rest for the weary, as the Cats begin February with a home game against No. 12/15, and Big 12-leading, Iowa State on Wednesday evening. As usual, that game will be available on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
Over on the men’s side, your Kansas State Wildcats continued their historic run as they clobbered Florida 64-50 on Saturday afternoon in Bramlage. The Cats learned a lot from the loss in Ames, and put that to practice against the Gators as they limited second-chance points, dominated in the paint, and played solid defense inside and out all game long. They were aided in those efforts by the full return of David N’Guessan, who contributed 9 points in his 20 mintues, but played great defense on Florida’s star forward Colin Castleton.
For their efforts in leading the Cats to their current #7 ranking and the 18-3 (6-2) start, both Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson have been named to the 20-member Late Season Watch List for the John R. Wooden Award. They are one of the best tandems in the nation, combining to average 35 points per game. There will be three members from that watch list on the court tonight, as KU’s Jalen Wilson also appears on the list.
We’re finally into the repeat part of the schedule, with the second meeting with the Jayhawks on deck for tonight. We’ll have your preview and game thread later today. Though they’ll have revenge on their minds, the Jayhawks already short bench will be further limited, as Bill Self’s squad will be without the services of forward Zuby Ejiofor — though he only played four minutes in the game in Manhattan. Kevin McCullar may also be somewhat limited after he “tweaked” his ankle in their win over Kentucky on Saturday.
Game time tonight for No. 7/6 K-State vs No. 8/8 KU is set for 7pm CT, and, regardless of the stupidity, will be stuck on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
Chris Klieman and Collin Klein will be looking for a new member of the offensive coaching staff after wide receivers coach Thad Ward has decided to return to Illinois after just one season in Manhattan. Ward will be the running backs coach for
BERT Bret Bielema and the Illini. He was at Illinois from 2016-18 before leaving for Temple, and presumably will get a nice pay bump from his $300k salary in Manhattan.
While the receivers saw just modest gains in 2022 over the three-year run of Jason Ray and Courtney Messingham leading the group, Ward was an ace recruiter and helped bring in three high-3* wideouts for the 2023 class, as well as highly-rated Iowa transfer Keagan Johnson.