Wildcats look to overcome Tigers

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K-State is sitting in a slump, but the tides may change when it plays the lowest-rated team in the league tonight.

The University of Missouri (11-11, 1-8 Big 12 Conference) will come to Manhattan tonight with the worst conference record – but even overall – and face K-State (11-11, 3-5) in the second of two matchups this season. But K-State head coach Deb Patterson said records will not affect the game.

“All of these players that you line up against in the Big 12 could care less about records,” she said.

In their last meeting a month ago in Columbia, Mo., the Wildcats were victorious with a decent point spread of 65-50. Patterson said the win has only made Missouri more focused for a victory.

“I think they’re going to come in here as hungry and as quality a basketball team as anyone you line up against in the Big 12,” she said.

The teams have a scattered history against each other. K-State leads with a 41-36 record, but neither team has held a streak of wins for very long.

The Wildcats retained their pattern of losses last weekend with a 60-70 defeat at Kansas. Patterson said it was one of her team’s worst games.

“I really thought we played as poorly as I’ve seen us play,” she said. “I don’t think we remotely resembled the basketball team we have shown ourselves able to be, and that’s a huge disappointment in a game like yesterday.”

Missouri is also working off a string of losses; of their last 10 games, the Tigers have won only once. Their lone Big 12 victory was over Baylor more than two weeks ago. Despite its dismal conference record, Patterson had positive words for Missouri.

“They have a very balanced, extremely talented basketball team,” she said, adding that Missouri is “on par” with K-State and is probably anticipating a win after seeing K-State’s performance against Kansas.

Currently, Missouri’s top-scoring player is senior forward Jessra Johnson, averaging 12.7 points per game. She outranks any K-State player with 6.2 rebounds per game and a total of 19 blocks. Close behind in the Tigers’ ranks is junior forward Shakara Jones, who is recording per game 9.5 points and 5.2 rebounds. Both of the players are hitting a bit more than three out of 10 shots taken. Senior forward Amanda Hanneman, whom Patterson described as a “tough, hard-nosed player,” holds the only foul out for Missouri.

Compare those statistics to K-State’s senior forward, Ashley Sweat, also the top scorer for her team, with 18.2 points per game and 5.5 rebounds on average. She leads both teams in field-goal percentage, making about half of her baskets. For rebounds, freshman guard Taelor Karr is rising in the ranks. She is regularly among the players with the most rebounds, including a tie with Sweat last weekend at Kansas for the top spot. Patterson said she thought the Tigers were going to be a challenge under the basket.

“I think they’re significantly more physical and athletic in the post game than we are,” she said. “It’s a great challenge.”

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum. Students who present their Wildcat ID card will receive free admission. Fans unable to be in attendance can catch the game on Fox Sports Network.

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