Junior point guard Carlbe Ervin II said he wasn’t nervous after it was confirmed that he would be making the second start of his K-State career, even if it is inside Allen Fieldhouse against the No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks.
Ervin will be filling in for freshman guard Kamau Stokes, who went down with a knee injury against Ole Miss.
In his last start, Ervin got into some foul trouble early and didn’t get to play much as his team went down valiantly on the road in double overtime versus Baylor. It was a mistake that Ervin said he is looking to rectify his second time out.
“Don’t do nothing stupid,” Ervin said.
That’s easier said than done heading into Lawrence, where many good teams have played below their potential, which feeds into Kansas head coach Bill Self’s impressive 201-9 record at home, including 37 straight going into tonight.
“Well there haven’t been many that have had success there except for Kansas,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. “They play at a high level. They obviously have a great crowd there. It’s loud. They feed off of being there. Everyone plays better at home, but it seems that they take it to another level.”
With Stokes listed as questionable going into tonight’s game, Ervin will be the first line of defense against veteran Jayhawk point guard Frank Mason III, who Weber described as a “bulldog.” Others will fill in the gaps left by Stokes, who has been a rock both offensively and defensively at the point.
“It’ll be by committee,” Weber said. “(Junior forward Wesley Iwundu) already plays point as it is. (Freshman guard Barry Brown) has played a little bit of point when (Stokes) has had foul trouble. Carlbe is going to play, I just don’t know if he can play 35 minutes.”
This matchup has been a rivalry where wins have been tough to come by for K-State, especially on the road. The last time K-State won in Lawrence was a little over 10 years ago, and before that, it was in 1994.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure on our guys,” Weber said. “I don’t think anyone expects us to win. We just have to go play. Focus on what you can control and enjoy the opportunity. The good thing about our league is that we have so many good opportunities against top teams.”
Kansas is the first of a hefty three-game stretch where the Wildcats will play three top 15 teams in a row — No. 7 Kansas, No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 15 Baylor — for the first time since 2012.
“But I’ve told our young guys that they’ve been through two-thirds of the season, and in some ways they’re not freshmen anymore,” Weber said. “This is it. We’ve got these last 10 (games) and then the Big 12 tournament. Play relaxed, get after it, have some fun, enjoy the opportunity. Don’t get to mid-March and regret that you were uptight and didn’t play well at the end of the year.”
Tipoff between the Wildcats and Jayhawks is set for 8 p.m. tonight inside Allen Fieldhouse.