Your Kansas State Wildcats put themselves back in the mix for a shot at a Big 12 title with a resounding 82-61 win over TCU on Tuesday night in Manhattan. It was close through much of the game, but in the end K-State (19-5, 7-4) turned on the jets and pulled away from the Horned Frogs (17-7, 6-5) with a 15-0 run from the 4:50 mark to a minute left, and 17-2 overall to finish the game. The win ends a three-game conference losing streak, and with wins by KU over Texas on Tuesday night, as well as West Virginia over Iowa State last night, the Wildcats are now in a 4-team scrum in 2nd place behind the Longhorns.
Next up for the Cats is a trip to Lubbock this Saturday to face a Red Raiders squad that isn’t looking much better than the squad that fell in Manhattan 68-58 just a few weeks ago.
Earlier this week, Markquis Nowell was named a Top 10 candidate for the 2023 Bob Cousy Award, an award which annually honors the top point guard in Division I men’s basketball. Despite a lull during the losing streak, Nowell broke the K-State single-season record for assists in the win over TCU, and has been an incredible leader for Jerome Tang this season. Fellow Big 12 guard Mike Miles, Jr. (TCU) is also on this list, as is Detroit Mercy’s Antonie Davis — who Wildcat fans may remember as the guy who nearly transferred to K-State before heading back to Detroit Mercy with a new NIL deal in hand for glowing basketballs.
But Nowell isn’t the only Wildcat on a national award list, as Keyontae Johnson was named a Top 10 candidate for the 2023 Julius Irving Small Forward Award, given annually to the top small forward in Division I men’s basketball. Johnson has been a near-double-double machine for the Wildcats (when he isn’t being saddled with two early fouls...) after missing basically all of the last two seasons recovering from a heart issue that nearly ended his career. Johnson is joined by fellow Big 12 forwards Jalen Wilson (KU) and Kevin Obanor (Tech).
K-State fans can help both Nowell and Johnson by participating in Fan Voting starting this Friday, February 10th on hoophallawards.com. The Fan Vote will count as one committee vote during the finalist selection process.
The MittieCats got a break this week after returning from Lubbock last Sunday. After falling to the Red Raiders 68-78 (completing a sweep by Tech), the Cats are sitting at 3-8 in Big 12 play and are sitting second-to-last in the conference. This has been a perplexing squad, with wins over two teams currently in the Top 25 (don’t come to Manhattan if you’re a Top 15 team from Iowa) — but head-scratching losses across the board, including the sweep at the hands of Red Raiders who sit just above the Cats in the Big 12 at 4-7. If they want to play in the postseason again this year, they’ll need to get things figured out in a hurry.
Next up is a visit from No 16/17 Oklahoma on Sunday, a game that will actually be broadcast on ESPNU. Tip-off is at 1pm.
In what is somewhat of a surprise, four Wildcats have been invited to the 2023 NFL Combine that will be held in Indianapolis from February 28th through March 6th. The four are part of a group of 319 athletes at the NFL’s official
meat market evaluation event, and marks the most Wildcats at the event since 2013 (Hmm...I wonder how those two years are related...). Defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah, cornerback Julius Brents, wide receiver Malik Knowles, and running back Deuce Vaughn will be able to put their skills and abilities on display and hopefully work their way into decent draft positions.
FAU earned his spot after two straight seasons of wreaking havoc on Big 12 offenses. Vaughn the same, but on Big 12 (and even SEC) defenses. Brents has shot up the draft charts to start 2023 after nailing workouts and game action at the Senior Bowl last week. Knowles is easily the biggest surprise of the group, who, despite having the measurables (size/speed) of an NFL receiver, has lacked consistency on the field while at K-State owing to both injuries and history of dropped passes (both did seem to improve this season).
Despite a rough start to this season that saw them fall to 1-5 this weekend, K-State tennis hauled in the 22nd-best recruiting class for the in the country according to the Tennis Recruiting Network. Head coach Jordan Smith announced in December the signings of Tereza Polakova and Charlotte Keitel, who will join the team in the fall as freshmen.