Sunflower Showdown tips off semester

Head coach Jeff Mittie reacts to a recent call during the game against UT Arlington on Dec. 3, 2015 inside Bramlage Coliseum. (File Photo by Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

School is back in session and college life has resumed on campuses across the country. Nothing gets students back into the swing of the daily grind after the winter break like a game between two of the longest continuous rivals in women’s college basketball.

K-State travels to Lawrence, Kansas, tonight for the Sunflower Showdown. The Jayhawks are 5-12 overall and are sitting last in the Big 12 rankings with an 0-6 record. Kansas is currently struggling to overcome an eight-game losing streak and is ranked eighth or lower in the Big 12 in all categories except free-throw percentage and 3-point field goals made.

While K-State had their own struggles at the beginning of conference play, things have been looking up for the Cats. After dropping their first four conference games, they managed to turn things around, surviving at home with a 47-44 win over Oklahoma State and a 58-49 rematch win against TCU in Bramlage.

The main cause of K-State’s struggles has been its defense. Though their defense has improved over the past few games, the Wildcats are allowing their opponent an average of 60.4 points per game.

Junior center Breanna Lewis leads part of the defensive improvement with her impressive shot blocking. Lewis has 43 blocked shots so far this season and is averaging 2.5 blocks per game. As a whole, the team has 98 blocks and is ranked second in the Big 12 and 13th in the nation.

Against Kansas, the Wildcats’ main concern will be shutting down two of the Jayhawks’ guards. Sophomore Lauren Aldridge leads the team in scoring at 11.4 points per game. Aldridge is coming off a 10-point performance against West Virginia and shoots .367 from the 3-point line.

Aldridge is backed by one of the Big 12’s top freshman in scoring, Kylee Kopatich. At 10.4 points per game, Kopatich ranks third in the Big 12 for freshman in scoring.

Kopatich and Aldridge are the only two players on the team who average double digits and are two of only three players who average above five points per game. As a whole, the Jayhawks average 55.1 points per game.

Currently, the Wildcats are sitting at eighth in the Big 12 rankings. A win would improve their record to 3-4 in conference play and 13-5 overall. The Wildcats currently lead the series against the Jayhawks 66-46 and are 28-25 in games played in Allen Fieldhouse. K-State has won 24 of the last 30 meetings with Kansas. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside Allen Fieldhouse.