K-State needs success on the road

Parker Robb | Collegian Freshman forward Marcus Foster jumps toward the basket like he is going to take a shot, but instead passes the ball across the baseline to a teammate for an assist in the first half of the Wildcats' 74-71 upset victory over the #6-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys in Bramlage Coliseum Saturday evening.

The K-state men’s basketball team needs to find a way to win on the road. With such a young team, any game away from home is a tough task. But, if the Wildcats want to stay relevant in the Big 12 and earn a nice seed in the NCAA tournament, they have to overcome those growing pains.

The Big 12 is an elite basketball conference right now. Over half of the conference is ranked in the Top 25, and every team is at or above .500. Almost any conference win for the Wildcats this year is a good win. Although a single defeat won’t hurt a team’s resume, losses piling up will.

Right now, the Wildcats have played three conference road games and lost two of them. The one win for K-State came against TCU, who hasn’t made the tournament since 1998. One reason for this futility – in a small sample size – is the lack of production from freshman guard Marcus Foster.

Foster has been great for the Wildcats this season, but in the two road losses his offense has been very limited. He has only scored in single digits four times this season, and three of those games were away from Bramlage Coliseum. K-State needs his production. The offense has spells where they can’t buy a basket. But when those spells happen at home, Foster is normally there to pick up the slack and carry the team. When he’s not, it spells trouble for the Wildcats.

Carrying a team as a freshman is a difficult challenge. But, if the Wildcats want to succeed in the Big 12, Foster has to also succeed and fellow freshman guard Jevon Thomas must help. Thomas has shown flashes of being a brilliant passer. He has to continue to distribute the ball well between K-State’s key scorers as the season goes along.

K-State has no reason to be worried – yet. But the Wildcats have four games remaining on the road against ranked teams, and six total. They cannot afford to lose all of those games. This Saturday’s game in Ames, Iowa against Iowa State is the next test. Iowa State is a hungry team, and Hilton Coliseum is a tough place to play. A win would be huge for the Wildcats.

K-State must have their freshmen come up big for them in their remaining six road games, as well as get production from the upperclassmen. If the Wildcats can take care of business, they will enjoy the pleasures of playing in March.