Wildcats return home to face Texas A&M

(Joslyn Brown)

Following their fourth consecutive loss on the road at Nebraska Wednesday evening, the No. 20 Wildcats (19-5 8-5 Big 12 Conference) will return to the friendly confines of Bramlage Coliseum Sunday afternoon to face No. 12 Texas A&M.

The game will be the first of a two-game home stand that also includes a game against No. 16 Texas on Wednesday. This home stand will be the final home games of the season for the Wildcats.

Following the game, the K-State athletic department will honor senior point guard Shalee Lehning and her prolific career in a jersey retirement ceremony.

“I’m honored. I get the goose bumps whenever they mention it,” Lehning said. “It’s one of those things — it was a dream of mine since I was a little girl to have stuff like this happen.”

Lehning returned to the court Wednesday in the Wildcats’ contest against Nebraska after missing three games due to mononucleosis infection. She played 14 minutes against the Cornhuskers, but is still on a day to day basis.

However, according to head coach Deb Patterson, Lehning might start Sunday.

“I really would have to make that a gameday decision on how she feels that morning and what her energy level is and overall how she feels,” Patterson said. “It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.”

Texas A&M will enter Sunday’s match up after upsetting No. 2 Oklahoma at home on Monday evening.

The Aggies’ offense is led by senior guard Takia Starks. Starks scored 12 points in the Aggies’ victory over the Sooners, including the go ahead layup with 6 seconds remaining to seal the win.

“Starks is just a tremendous specimen,” Patterson said. “She is such a phenomenal silky, but yet quick, point guard and she has some size to her too.”

The Wildcats will look to recover from a poor shooting performance on the road against Nebraska. In Lincoln, the Wildcats shot a mere 32 percent from the field and 17 percent from behind the 3-point line.

However, the Wildcats have been a different team while playing at home this season and have yet to lose a game at Bramlage Coliseum.

Lehning said that the team is thankful to be back home and that they are looking to build up their confidence while playing at Bramlage.

“There are just a lot of different elements that go into it,” Lehning said. “We just haven’t been shooting the ball very well on the road. That is something that we have to get out of because a lot of our games from here on out are going to be on the road.

“Luckily we can come here at home and hopefully get our confidence back up, make some shots and then carry it out with us as we get on the road,” she said.

The two-game home stand will be a critical test for the Wildcats before closing the season out at Colorado. Currently, K-State is in a three-way tie for fourth place with Texas and Iowa State in the Big 12.

With a first-round bye in the conference tournament on the line, the Wildcats will look to keep their record at home perfect.

“It’s great to be home,” Patterson said. “The saying is true — there is no place like home.”