The Kansas Jayhawks (18-5, 9-1) enjoyed a 26-point victory over the Kansas State Wildcats (16-7, 6-4) when the two teams met in Lawrence on January 11th. The Jayhawks should not be counting on such an easy ball game on ESPN’s Big Monday
Kansas State is just a different ball team at home than they are on the road. It is that simple. In Big 12 play, all of the Wildcats’ wins but one have come in Bramlage (they beat TCU on the road), and all they have all of their losses away from home.
They need that pattern to continue tonight against their Sunflower State rival, but history is not on their side. Kansas has won 28 of their last 30 games in Manhattan. Despite this, the Wildcats are playing so well right now at home, as indicated by their 74-57 win over the Longhorns, a team that beat Kansas.
Marcus Foster scored 34 against Texas Saturday, including going 5-8 from behind the arc. He tallied just 7 points against Kansas in Lawrence. Despite being a freshman, Foster is the best scorer the Wildcats have, and he must be able to score some points for Kansas State to have much of a chance.
Foster leads Kansas State with 14.7 points a game but he shoots just 42.4% from the field. Thomas Gipson is second on the squad in scoring with 11.7, and he leads the Wildcats in rebounding with 6.5 caroms a game. Shane Southwell pitches in with 10.7 points. Since joining the team, Jevon Thomas averages 3.3 assists a content to pace the Wildcats.
Kansas State’s biggest issue is getting the ball in the basket. They hit just 43.5% of their field goal attempts on the season. Only Gipson (58%) and Nino Williams (51.7%) connect of more than 50% of their shot attempts. As a team, they are only successful 32% of the time from 3-point range. Kansas State MUST shoot to ball well to win this game, even at home.
The Jayhawks continue to rely on their freshman Andrew Wiggins to lead them in scoring. Wiggins tallies 16.0 a game, followed by Perry Ellis with 13.0, Joel Embiid with10.9, and Wayne Selden, Jr. with 10.5. Embiid pulls down 7.8 boards, and Naadir Tharpe dishes out 5.1 assists.
Kansas is a much better shooting team the Kansas State, as they are 4th in the nation in field goal percentage, hitting 50.3 % of their shots. Jamari Traylor hits 72.3% of his attempts, and Joel Embidd 62.0% of his. Kansas also connects on 36.8% from behind the arc.
The Jayhawks have their work cut out for them. The first meeting with the Wildcats was an aberration. The 86 points Kansas scored in that game was the second biggest total Kansas State has allowed all season (90 – Georgetown), and they have given up more than 80 points just three times all season.
While the Jayhawks hit half their field goal attempts on the season, the Wildcats hold opponents to just 39.8% (best in the Big 12) shooting from the field. The first meeting notwithstanding, Kansas has struggled against top notch defenses this season. Something has to give in this one.
The Wildcats also allow the fewest points in the league, giving up just 61.8 points an outing.
The Jayhawks have slowing been getting better on the defensive end, and they actually have the lowest field goal percentage against in conference play at 40%, just fractionally better than Kansas State at 40.1.
These numbers indicate this could be a very low scoring game but Kansas’ offense is just more potent than Kansas State’s.
If Kansas State can force the Jayhawks out of their comfort zone, like San Diego State and Texas did, and hit for a decent percentage from the field, the Wildcats can pull off another big victory over a top Big 12 team.
Look for an ugly, low scoring game tonight, with a lot of defense. Kansas State is a different team at home, and their fans should be plenty fired up with the Jayhawks in town. This should be fun.