Men’s basketball aims move forward against Texas Tech Saturday

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The Kansas State men’s basketball team will return home to Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday to host the Red Raiders of Texas Tech University after halting a two-game skid on the road against the University of Texas.

The Wildcats defeated the Longhorns on the road Wednesday night by a score of 67-64. The game was close all the way through, tied up at 34 at halftime. K-State gave it just enough to come out on top in the hard-fought game.

Getting a win over Texas was huge for K-State, who had lost its last two games. The play of the Wildcats had dropped off significantly after winning four in a row.

A few key components that led to the Wildcats defeating the Longhorns were improved shooting, steals and points in the paint.

In its last three games, K-State had shot just 33.5 percent on field goals. Against Texas, K-State shot significantly better, with a 53.7 percent mark from the field. All five Wildcat starters scored in double digits.

They also stole the ball from the Longhorns 10 times and scored 22 points off turnovers.

K-State won the scoring battle down low as well, pouring in 38 points in the paint while Texas only had 28.

The last time that K-State played Texas Tech was in Lubbock, Texas, and things did not go well. It suffered its second-worst loss of the whole season, falling 74-58.

That loss also marked a key loss for the Wildcats, as it was the game that junior point guard Kamau Stokes injured his foot. Stokes would not return to action until Feb. 3 against West Virginia University.

Despite the injury to Stokes, the loss to Tech seemed to be a turning point for head coach Bruce Weber’s team. K-State went on to win five of their next six contests, including two wins against top-25 teams.

Redshirt freshman point guard Cartier Diarra stepped in to replace Stokes and exceeded expectations. In the eight games that Stokes was absent — including the Tech game when Stokes suffered the injury — Diarra averaged 12 points per game.

K-State is currently averaging 74 points per game, which is 6.4 more than it is allowing its opponents to score.

The Wildcats shoot an average of 47.5 percent from the field, and 36.1 percent from behind the three-point line.

K-State’s leading scorer is junior forward Dean Wade, who averages 16.4 points per game.

A weak spot for this team is rebounding. They average 30 rebounds per game, which is approximately three less than their opponents get.

This season the team has been great at stealing the ball and scoring off turnovers. The Wildcats average 8 steals per game and average 18 points off turnovers.

Since defeating K-State in January, Texas Tech has a 6-3 record. After suffering a devastating 70-52 loss at the hands of Iowa State on Jan. 20, the Red Raiders have won their last five games.

Senior guard Keenan Evans is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 18.4 points per game.

Offensively, the Red Raiders average 76.7 points per game. Their defense holds opponents to an average of 62.7 points per game. That mark, as well as their 14-point scoring margin, are good for first in the Big 12.

Texas Tech has an advantage over K-State in rebounds, averaging 36.4 per game. Like K-State, Tech also has a knack for stealing the ball, averaging 7.9 steals per game.

Both teams are strong defensively, so the contest will be decided by which offense comes with the hot hand.

Texas Tech is tied for first in the Big 12 with Kansas, while Kansas State is tied for third with the University of Oklahoma.

The Wildcats (17-7, 6-5) and Red Raiders (20-4, 8-3) are set to battle Saturday at 7 p.m. Fans not in attendance can view the game on ESPNU or listen on the radio via the K-State Sports Network.

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