ANALYSIS: K-State must stay focused Saturday before KU matchup Monday

Senior guard Barry Brown laughs with freshman guard Shaun Neal-Williams while practicing before the game against Iowa State in Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 16, 2019. The Wildcats fell to the Cyclones 78-64. (Emily Lenk | Collegian Media Group)

Oklahoma State is a team that is very easily overlooked, but the Kansas State men’s basketball team can’t do that in its upcoming matchup with the Cowboys.

This game is looking more like a trap for the Wildcats as they host the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday at 3 p.m. inside Bramlage Coliseum.

After Saturday, K-State will gear up for a matchup with Kansas that could determine the winner of the Big 12 Championship, and there’s no doubt the Wildcats have been preparing for KU more than they’ve been worried about Oklahoma State.

So, here are some key factors to keep K-State from being upset at home by the Cowboys and put a nail in the Jayhawks’ coffin in Lawrence on Monday.

First, the Wildcats must stay out of foul trouble, especially when it comes to the big guys. K-State has had some problems the past few games getting into foul trouble, and there isn’t much depth in that area.

Junior forward Makol Mawien must play well on defense, and sophomore forward Levi Stockard III needs a big boost off the bench when the time comes.

I will also throw junior forward Xavier Sneed in the mix because the Wildcats will need big minutes from him in the Oklahoma State game.

Very few people know the true extent of senior forward Dean Wade’s injury, but it’s key for him to stay healthy to play against KU.

The Wildcats will need Wade for most of the game Monday, so if K-State can jump out to a big lead against the Cowboys, then maybe he can take some time off. Avoiding any further injury isn’t just important for this game, but for post-season play, too.

The final key in this game is shooting well, just like the Wildcats did against the Oklahoma Sooners in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Everyone looks better when shots are falling, but going off my last key, if K-State can get its score up early, maybe the starters can rest for most of this game.

The Cowboys are coming off a win against TCU, so even if their eyes are set on KU, the Wildcats must not look past Saturday’s game. If K-State wants a chance to put an end to KU’s 14-year Big 12 title streak, it starts with winning on Saturday.

Personally, I predict K-State will win 76-59 against the Cowboys, but only time will tell.