The Kansas State Wildcats (14-4, 4-1) travel to face the Texas Longhorns (14-4, 3-2) in a battle between two teams both looking to keep their short winning streaks going. Texas lost their opening two conference games but have since won three in a row, including an impressive 10 point win over #8 Iowa State.
Kansas State has meanwhile recovered nicely after their embarrassing loss to in-state rivals, Kansas, with wins against #25 Oklahoma and a blowout victory over West Virginia. The Longhorns are 11-3 at home so far this season and already have great wins over the then-ranked #14 North Carolina and #8 Iowa State, and look to once again have a strong defense.
Here is all the information you need to catch the game:
Who: Texas Longhorns (Big 12 Conference)
The Longhorns are coming off of a 16-18, 7-11 Big 12 season, head coach Rick Barnes’ only losing season in his 15 years at Texas and have lost their top three scorers from last season, including easily their biggest name in Myck Kabongo.
Barnes has worked on rebuilding the program’s culture during the offseason and brought in a group of talented guards to replace their losses.
Keys to the Game:
1: Post Play: Texas’ leading scorer this season is Jonathan Holmes, whose 13.1 PPG is good for 15th in the conference. Holmes and Sophomore Cameron Ridley, a 5-star recruit last season that had a tough start but has improved, make up the core of the 8th best rebounding team in the nation.
K-State’s will be at a disadvantage on the inside with Thomas Gipson and company attempting to stop those two players. No one player has shown they can take over the inside game in and game out so far, and they’ll need another team effort to prevent offensive rebounds leading to second chance points for the Longhorns.
One positive is that Kansas State won’t be at as significant of a size disadvantage as in many games this season, though they’ve shown they can still do well in those situations.
2. Outside shooting: Prince Ibeh and Cameron Ridley both rank in the top 5 in the Big 12 for blocking shots, which will make it tough for K-State to get inside for easy shots. If they can do this and get the Longhorns’ big men into foul trouble it could make this game significantly more manageable for K-State, but if this doesn’t happen the Wildcats will need to keep up their hot streak from the outside.
Wesley Iwundu and Shane Southwell have both been on fire from 3-point range the past two games, but the Wildcats need to continue taking smart, high percentage shots and not settle for guarded long balls.
3. Quick Feet: Outside of Jonathan Holmes on the inside, Texas relies on guards for scoring. Javan Felix and Isaiah Taylor both average double digit scoring, and Felix has shown he can go off when he scored 28 against Oklahoma. Neither of these players shoot that well from 3-point range though, and get most of their scoring on mid-range shots and drives.
Taylor has scored nearly half of his points from the free throw line this season, and K-State will need to make sure to keep their feet moving so they don’t get blocking fouls called on him. Texas is one of the worst shooting teams in the Big12, but the Wildcats are too so this game could come down to rebounds and free throw shooting as the major deciding factors.
Where: Frank Erwin Special Events Center
When: 6:00 PM CT
Tuesday, Jan. 21st
Radio: K-State Sports Network