Where: Allen Fieldhouse; Lawrence, Kansas
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Part one of the Sunflower Showdown between Kansas State and Kansas begins on Saturday afternoon when Kansas State travels into Lawrence to take on the #18 Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse. Bruce Weber’s team continues to move along, winning their first two conference games and winners of 10 straight, and are looking for a big statement win against their in-state rivals.
The 10-game winning streak is the longest of Weber’s tenure since taking over as head coach of Kansas State, coming off a 65-47 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs on Tuesday night. It was the ‘Cats first actual road game this season after a few basketball games on neutral sites. But for K-State this will be a true test going into a hostile environment where Kansas will look to redeemed themselves after losing last weekend.
Thomas Gipson and Marcus Foster continue to play at a high level, but Kansas State will need that and more if they want to beat KU. It will not be an easy task, especially on the road. If the Wildcats continue to play well on both sides of the ball on Saturday, this could be a good and exciting game.
Keys 2 Watch 4
Take the Crowd Out of the Game
The first few minutes of the contest will be important, mainly towards K-State. If the Wildcats do not start off fast then this could be a long afternoon. Last season’s game in Lawrence, Kansas State got off to a very slow start before they got going. With a different team this year with three outstanding freshman that type of a start will not get the job done.
Marcus Foster scored 16 points in his road debut, continuing his big-time play coming off Freshman of the Week honors in the Big 12. Also, offensively the veterans need to show the leadership that has gotten the Wildcats this winning streak – Gipson, Shane Southwell, and Will Spradling need to be on their A-game for KSU to have a chance.
The defense has been a very huge part in the winning so far for Kansas State, but they will be going up against the other talented freshman for the Jayhawks. One name that stands out is Andrew Wiggins, who will give the Wildcats a hard days work. Then you still have Perry Ellis and Naadir Tharpe, too.
The Wildcats come into this matchup just a bit small as a team, which means that they have to contain the offensive weapons of Kansas if they want to have a shot at winning. Defense, along with being aggressive from the get go, could go a long way for the ‘Cats.
The Opponent: Kansas
The last time KU was at home they where out-hustled by San Diego State and lost. The Jayhawks, however, responded on the road in their first Big 12 conference game against the Oklahoma Sooners, winning 90-83. Kansas won, in large part, due to Wayne Selden, who scored a career high 24 points.
Kansas comes in at 10-4 overall and this will be their second game of the conference schedule. Naadir Tharpe, who added 17 points versus Oklahoma, had a big game at home last year against the Wildcats. Andrew Wiggins had 9 points against the Sooners, and is one of the best players on the KU roster.
Kansas’ other losses have been on the hands of Villanova, Colorado, and Florida in Gainesville.
X-Factor: Will Spradling
One of the veterans will need to be on top of his game if Kansas State is walking out of Allen Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon with a win. Will Spradling will need to play a big role whether it is on offense or defense. Spradling tends to go cold when he has the ball, especially against Jayhawks a year ago. He is going to have to make some shots in order to keep the Jayhawks defense honest. If Will can get his shot going behind the 3-point line, it could spell trouble for the Jayhawks.