K-State will play Baylor this weekend. The stakes: 1st place in the Big 12

Senior guard Barry Brown celebrates after a play during the K-State men's basketball game against KU in Bramlage Coliseum on Tuesday. The Wildcats broke an eight-game losing streak against the Jayhawks with a final score of 74-67. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

After a thrilling 74-67 win over in-state rival Kansas in the Sunflower Showdown on Tuesday night, the Kansas State men’s basketball team will travel to Waco, Texas, on Saturday in an attempt to keep its first place spot in the Big 12 Conference standings.

The Wildcats’ record is 17-5 overall this season and 7-2 in conference play, while the Bears are 15-7 overall and 6-3 in the Big 12. Baylor won six games in a row against conference opponents before falling to Texas on the road Wednesday, 84-72.

With a healthy roster for K-State, this team will need to avoid a big let down after its first win over KU in three years. The Wildcats need to keep up their stifling defense that has only allowed their opponents an average of 59 points per game, but the Bears’ offense averages 73 points per game.

So far, K-State’s offensive capabilities are looking promising.

Senior guard Barry Brown leads K-State with 18 points per conference game on average. Meanwhile, senior forward Dean Wade is hitting 77 percent of his shots from the free-throw line and 51 percent from the field during conference play.

Redshirt sophomore guard Cartier Diarra has come up big this season when the team needed him. Diarra is seeing an average of 24 minutes on the floor while shooting 70 percent from the free-throw line during conference play.

In the game against KU on Tuesday, Diarra contributed 11 points in 20 minutes of play. He came up with two timely 3-pointers that helped the Wildcats win the Sunflower Showdown.

Against Baylor, K-State will need junior forward Xavier Sneed to continue his contributions on the boards and on the scoring end of the floor. Against the Jayhawks, Sneed recorded seven rebounds and shot 5-11 from the field.

Fortunately for the Wildcats, Baylor is without one of its top scorers after sophomore forward Tristan Clark suffered a season-ending knee injury back in January. Clark averaged 14 points and six rebounds in the first 14 games of the season for the Bears.

Baylor’s junior guard Devonte Bandoo has hit 40 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Redshirt senior guard Makai Mason averages 16 points for Baylor.

The Wildcats will have to carry their momentum from playing the Jayhawks to go up 1-0 in the series against the Bears. With a win over Baylor, K-State would improve to 8-2 in the Big 12 standings and have its third consecutive win.

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