K-State must bounce back to stay relevant in Big 12

(Photo by Parker Robb | Collegian) Head coach Bruce Weber yells directions at his team during the second half of K-State's 81-75 loss to the Cyclones January 25, 2014, in Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.Photo credit: Parker Robb

Head coach Bruce Weber said it best when he said it’s gut-check week for his squad. Not only did the Wildcats drop two straight games to nationally ranked teams, they came up just short in both contests.

“You were close and that’s what kind of eats at your gut that you didn’t get it done,” Weber said.

The Wildcats sat in second place in the Big 12 this time last week. However, after close road loses to both Texas and Iowa State, the Wildcats are at the point where their season could be sitting on a teeter totter.

“Usually around this time, teams either go north or south,” junior forward Nino Williams said Monday night. “Tomorrow is probably the biggest game of the season.”

It is all about the next game for this Wildcat squad. K-State still has games remaining against Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas just to name a few. But none of those games against highly ranked opponents is happening this week. If the Wildcats get caught up in what is down the road, they could be one of those teams that travel south in the Big 12 standings.

Most teams in the country have played around 20 games in their season. Every game, every practice is a grind from this point out. For a Wildcat team that has three freshmen within their top six in minutes played per game, they must show that they will go north through this grind.

It all starts with freshman guard Marcus Foster. The Texas native has been asked to do a lot this season for the Wildcats, but he must continue to play at a high level. The Wildcats are undefeated at home this season when Foster hits the double-digit point total.

Texas Tech is a team that the Wildcats have found a lot of success against lately. No one on Weber’s squad has lost to the Red Raiders during their time at K-State. Despite that stat and Tech’s 10-10 record, the Wildcats understand that the Red Raiders can not be overlooked.

“Texas Tech is a dangerous team,” Weber said. “Like everyone in the league, I think they are capable of beating people. Not only have they stomped on Baylor, but every game they played was close.”

This year’s Wildcat team is no stranger to adversity. Starting the season with a loss to Northern Colorado, along with two other losses in their first five games, K-State needed to grow up quickly. They did, winning 12 of their next 13 games. They must now respond to two consecutive losses for the second time this season.