The K-State men’s basketball team hit highs and lows throughout their journey through the first half of the Big 12 season.
The Wildcats even saw a glimpse of the conference from the top spot, where they resided briefly after rattling off four-straight wins before settling into their place in the middle of the pack.
“With the 4-1 start, I thought if we could get 6-3 it would be pretty good,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. “Obviously, the Iowa State and West Virginia game were both within reach. We let those opportunities slip by. Now you’re starting 0-0 in the second half and you can just see what you can do.”
K-State (12-10, 5-4) starts the second half of the conference season with clean slate, matching up with Texas Tech (11-11, 1-8) tonight.
The Red Raiders are intriguing in relation to K-State, because no other team in recent Big 12 history has been dominated by the Wildcats more.
In fact, the Red Raiders are 0-10 in the last 10 meetings against K-State dating back to 2008.
Even so, four out of the last five contests have been decided by 10 points or less, though that hardly pleases Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith, who said he doesn’t believe in moral victories.
“Well I don’t know if it’s been much of a matchup,” Smith said during Monday’s Big 12 teleconference. “We have lost 10-straight to K-State. We have played K-State close, but close really doesn’t make much of a difference if you lose.“
Smith and Weber have dealt with close games against each other even before entering the Big 12, way back when the two battled in the Big 10 at the helms of Illinois and Minnesota.
“They play hard and they control the tempo,” Weber said. “That’s Smith’s M.O., it’s how they play. It’s our style too. We don’t have the ability this year to explode and get a lot of points. I hope we make a bunch of shots, and I hope they don’t. If it’s going according to what happened, now they’ve had their Iowa State game, they made a bunch of shots. But it’s probably going be a hard fought, low scoring game.”
Texas Tech is coming off of two blowout losses on the road, a 81-36 dismantling by Oklahoma and a slightly better 77-58 loss in which the Red Raiders were broken down by the West Virginia press.
Smith said Monday that he would not be surprised to see K-State press his team, considering the struggle they had against the Mountaineers. However, Weber was candid that his team just isn’t built to press in such a way.
“We just haven’t worked on the aggressive press, and with (senior forward Nino Williams’ injury) situation we just don’t have the depth,” Weber said. “We got after them a little bit the first time, but we don’t have the man power from the get-go like West Virginia.”
The aforementioned Williams, who played Saturday in K-State’s 11-point loss to Kansas, is on the mend, but not quite at 100 percent yet.
“He’s sore,” Weber said. “You could tell he wasn’t where he should be or where he was. It’s probably a day-to-day thing. It’s going to be a week, two weeks before he gets healthy. I think if we just said ‘do nothing,’ I think he’d probably be ready in a week or 10 days and feel good. But then you lose practice and lose those reps in game and then you’re starting over. It’s that fine line.”
Texas Tech is hoping for a lively home crowd to boost its spirits as the Red Raiders are planning a “blackout” event with the goal of breaking the national record for student attendance by having 10,000 students in the stands tonight.
Last season, the Red Raiders broke the Big 12 student attendance record against the Wildcats in a 60-56 K-State win.
Tipoff from Lubbock, Texas is scheduled for 8 p.m.