Despite the connotations Valentine’s Day brings, February has never been a loving month for the Wildcats. In fact, K-State has historically posted its lowest winning percentage of any month throughout the month of February.
Heading into the second month of 2009, head coach Deb Patterson’s team had posted a 20-2 record and gained a reputation as a group of road warriors. The Wildcats accumulated an impressive 9-2 record in road games, including consecutive wins at Texas Tech and Kansas.
Yet, the No. 20 Wildcats have suffered an all too familiar slump as the calendar flipped to February. After suffering two of their four losses throughout the entire season, K-State will look to steal their first road win of the month on Wednesday as they travel to Lincoln, Neb., to face the Cornhuskers.
Patterson’s team has suffered three consecutive road losses dating back to their Jan. 31 60-50 loss at Iowa State.
“We haven’t won a road game in three games,” Patterson said. “That is the big challenge and that is where this basketball team has to turn a corner.”
The Wildcats have played without the assistance of senior point guard and Wooden Award candidate Shalee Lehning for the previous three games and in that time K-State is 2-1 with one road loss.
Lehning continues to be on a day-to-day basis as she is suffering from a mononucleosis infection.
“I don’t know that we are playing without her,” said senior guard Kelsey Nelson. “We are making adjustments and we are ready for her to come back. We just have to keep making adjustments.”
In their last meeting against the Cornhuskers, the Wildcats struggled early offensively shooting 33 percent from the field and trailed at halftime 23-21.
However, second-half adjustments and a great bench performance in the second half by sophomore guard Shalin Spani propelled the Wildcats past Nebraska.
“Nebraska is a very dangerous team and we know that going in,” said junior guard Kari Kincaid. “They have multiple threats outside and inside and we are going to have to play our very best basketball to beat them.”
Nebraska forward Cory Montgomery led the Cornhuskers with a game-high 21 points in their previous meeting. She shot 50 percent from the field and anchored the Cornhuskers’ offensive attack.
“[Nebraska] is just rock-solid fundamental,” Patterson said. “They put [Montgomery] in position to play off of those quick guards. Cory is just playing tremendous basketball.”
The Wildcats will head to Lincoln looking to remain in sole possession of fourth place in the Big 12 standings after a pivotal two-game home stand against Texas A&M and Texas before closing the regular season at Colorado.
However, Patterson insisted that the Wildcats must remain focused on securing a road win Wednesday in Lincoln to stay competitive in the standings as the season draws to a close.
“If you want to stay in the hunt, this is a must win,” Patterson said. “It’s go time right now. Every game is significant in the standings. There is no game that doesn’t have a major impact where you finish down the stretch in this league.”