After winning their eighth straight conference game, the Wildcats jumped to No. 18 in the national rankings, and then they had their ninth straight win against Texas on Tuesday.
When these teams last met up on Jan. 12, senior guard Barry Brown’s layup with four seconds left in the game put K-State up 58-57, giving the Wildcats their second Big 12 win of the season over Iowa State.
On Tuesday night, the Wildcats traveled to Austin, Texas, to take on the Longhorns and attempt to split the season series 1-1. They succeeded and kept their spot at the top of the Big 12.
Against the Longhorns, the Wildcats netted 54.9 percent of their field goals. K-State kept the scoring balanced between its starting five players, which did not include sophomore guard Cartier Diarra. Unfortunately for Wildcat fans, Diarra sustained a hand injury that will require surgery and keep him off the court indefinitely.
The starting five for K-State all scored in double digits in the team’s 71-64 win over Texas. This was also the third straight win over the Longhorns in Austin.
Looking ahead to the game against the Iowa State Cyclones, the Wildcats will need to keep up the tough defense they showed in the second half against Texas. The Longhorns were held to just 25 points in the second half, and K-State recorded 19 defensive rebounds.
Junior forward Xavier Sneed had a team-high eight rebounds in just under 30 minutes of play. Without Diarra’s offensive contributions on the court, every starter was able to step up, but one player to point out is junior forward Makol Mawien.
Mawien saw 35 minutes of game action and shot 5-7 from the field, totaling 11 points for the Wildcats.
When looking at the rosters, both K-State and Iowa State match up pretty well height-wise. Still, one player to keep an eye on for K-State is senior forward Dean Wade.
After missing six games during conference play, Wade is back at full strength now, which will help the Wildcats on both ends of the floor. Wade leads the team from the free-throw line, shooting 79 percent, and he is second in average points scored per game with just under 14.
For Iowa State, redshirt senior guard Marial Shayok is one of just two Big 12 players named to the Naismith Trophy Midseason 30 Team, averaging 19 points per game.
K-State will want to keep Iowa State’s senior guard Nick Weiler-Babb at bay. Weiler-Babb led the Cyclones with 11 points when K-State won in Ames, Iowa, earlier this season.
The Wildcats and the Cyclones will tip off at 3 p.m. on Saturday inside Bramlage Coliseum, and it’s guaranteed to be a loud one.
The ‘Cats will need every fan available to help cheer them on to keep their spot at the top of the Big 12. If students show out like they do when K-State takes on Kansas in Manhattan, who knows what will happen against Iowa State?
If the Wildcats win, K-State will have its 10th straight Big 12 win this season and have a chance to be three games ahead of the rest of the conference in the standings before the Big 12 Championship.