Last season, the K-State Wildcats made it all the way to the championship game in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Kansas City, Mo. If they hope to return, they will first have to go through the Iowa State Cyclones. This will be the rubber match between the two teams who have had similar Big 12 seasons.
“It’s going to be a great game, I’m confident in that,” Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg said Monday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “Both teams won on their home court. We played a very physical game in Manhattan.”
The last time the Wildcats (20-11, 10-8 Big 12) won a game, it was against the Iowa State Cyclones (23-7, 11-7 Big 12). K-State had one of their more complete team performances in their last game against Iowa State. Senior forward Shane Southwell led the Wildcats with 13 points, hitting four of six attempts from long range.
“When we win, we’re a good team,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said Monday. “When we beat Iowa State, we had five guys in double-digits, we had a couple with nine or eight. We had 10 guys produce and that didn’t happen Saturday.”
For the Cyclones, seniors DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim have both been named to the Big 12 All-First team. Ejim was named Big 12 player of the year, while Kane was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. They are the two main scoring threats for the Cyclones. In the last matchup, the two seniors combined to score 54 of the Cyclones 73 points.
As it has all season, the Wildcats’ success on Thursday may be determined by freshman guard Marcus Foster’s ability to get the ball in the hoop. The freshman, who was just named a second team all-Big 12 selection, leads K-State in scoring. Foster is averaging 15.4 points per game this season against the Cyclones.
The Wildcats have struggled away from Bramlage Coliseum this season. However, the trip to the Sprint Center isn’t exactly another road game for the Wildcats. In fact, because of the short two-hour drive from Manhattan to Kansas City, there should be plenty of purple clad fans in the stands to cheer on the Wildcats. So despite a 2-7 road record in Big 12 play this season, the Wildcats should be able to find comfort at the Sprint Center.
The Wildcats and Cyclones will play the first game of the day on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 11:30 a.m.