Matching Up With Texas

(Photo by Parker Robb | Collegian) Junior forward Thomas Gipson looks for another way around ISU forward Georges Niang during the first half of K-State's 81-75 loss to the Cyclones January 25, 2014, in Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

On Jan. 21, the K-State Wildcats played the Texas Longhorns in the two teams’ first meeting of the season. The game ended in a heartbreaking buzzer beater by Texas junior forward Jonathan Holmes that won the game for the Longhorns.

The sequel will be played on Saturday in Bramlage Coliseum. The teams matchup well together and could provide another instant classic in a 2014 Big 12 season that has already been full of great games.

Back court: Texas

Holmes is the Longhorns’ leading scorer. He scores 13.7 points per game, and grabs 7.7 rebounds per game. While he had the big shot against K-State to win the game, he did not have an overall great game offensively. He scored just eight points. His biggest contribution was his 10 rebounds. The Wildcats must find someone to get a body on him and box him out to limit his rebounding on Saturday.

Holmes’ made the final shot, but the first game’s MVP was sophomore guard Javan Felix. Felix led the Longhorns with 23 points, carrying the team through multiple dry spells. He will be guarded on Saturday by freshman Marcus Foster. The Foster/Felix matchup will be crucial to the game. Felix won round one, outscoring Foster by 15 points. If K-State wants to win on Saturday, they must contain Felix. Foster must also produce more than just eight points.

Texas freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor should also be a factor in Saturday’s contest. Taylor had just four points against K-State in January, but has averaged 12.1 points per game throughout the season. He has scored 61 points in his past three games, tearing up KU and Baylor.

Front court: K-State

K-State’s big man, junior forward Thomas Gipson, was the reason the Wildcats stayed in the game against Texas in January. He scored 24 points and had 5 rebounds. While he was great offensively, his defense needed some work. His matchup, sophomore center Cameron Ridley scored 18 points. Ridley also had three blocks. The Longhorns might have more depth in the front court, but Gipson can clearly cause problems for Texas.

The Wildcats need the same type of production from Gipson in game two. The front court for K-State matches up just about equally with Texas. If Gipson puts up big numbers and plays better defense, that gives the Wildcats an advantage in the game.

Player to Watch: Javan Felix

Felix had a huge game against K-State earlier this season. Felix hasn’t been the best scorer so far for the Longhorns, so when he goes above his average, he’s an X-Factor. Another 23-point outburst could doom the Wildcats in Bramlage. If Foster can contain him, Felix’s team may be in trouble.

Best Matchup: Ridley vs. Gipson

This matchup could decide the game. Ridley and Gipson had nearly identical games in Austin, Texas. If these two players cancel each other out again, then the game will most likely end up coming down to the last possession. But if one player gains a clear advantage in the matchup, his team will be on the fast lane to victory.