K-State men’s basketball prepares for second true road game at Tennessee

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Knoxville, Tennessee will play host to the Wildcats on Saturday as they look to capture their first true road win this season.

Tipoff between K-State and Tennessee is set for 2:15 p.m and the game will air nationally on ESPN2 as a part of the second-annual Big 12/SEC Challenge.

The Wildcats are 1-0 all-time in the Challenge. Last season in the first installment, K-State hung on to a two-point halftime lead to beat Ole Miss 61-58 at Bramlage Coliseum. The Big 12 won seven out of the 10 games against the SEC to take the first year’s bragging rights.

Tennessee (2-3) comes into the game with a 67-59 road loss against Marquette. Two of the Volunteers’ three losses are to top-15 ranked teams, including an 82-67 loss to No. 11 Kansas in the Orlando Classic semifinal last Friday.

“We have to go on the road and play a tough game against Tennessee,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said Tuesday. “I hope our guys are looking forward to it, it is a chance to redeem ourselves and move forward as a group.”

Senior guard Josh Richardson and his 15.8 points per game lead the Volunteers early on this season. Richardson has appeared in over 100 games in his career, including 84 starts.

Junior forward Armani Moore has been the go-to threat underneath the basket despite being undersized at 6-feet-5-inches. Moore is the second-leading scorer on the team with 12 points per game and leads in rebounding with seven boards a contest.

K-State rebounded from a disappointing finish in the 2014 Maui Invitational on Tuesday with an 84-66 victory over Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks had won at Marquette earlier this season. Senior forward Nino Williams and sophomore guard Jevon Thomas led the Wildcats in scoring, combining to shoot 12 for 16 en route to the win.

“We played well against Purdue, we played well against Arizona,” Williams said. “We were tired or whatever against Pittsburgh, but I think everybody got a little bit of confidence back (against Nebraska-Omaha).”

K-State will look to continue its offensive prowess against the Volunteers. Weber’s squad has already topped the 80-point mark four times after doing it only twice in the 2013-14 season.

However, Weber said the focus will be on the defensive side the ball where K-State ranks 273rd in the country, allowing 71 points per game. That is good for last in the Big 12 conference, but the Wildcats are only giving up one more point than all of last season when they ranked second in the Big 12.

“We have to hang our hats on something,” Weber said. “We have to guard people, first half, second half. That’s got to give us a chance, especially at home. I hope they realize that … It’s time to figure out the roles.”

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