The Marquette (6-2) Golden Eagles are coming to Manhattan Saturday to take on the Wildcats at 8 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum. The stage is set, and the “Octagon of Doom” will be ready.
The Golden Eagles are led by senior guard Markus Howard, arguably one of the best guards on the court in college basketball right now.
Howard averages 26 points in 31 minutes of play for Marquette this season. He has three 35+ point games on the year. Howard’s play in Saturday’s matchup remains uncertain as he suffers from symptoms of concussion.
However, he is accompanied by another talented crew this season after losing twins Joey and Sam Hauser to Michigan State and Virginia. Senior guard Sacar Anim and junior guard Koby McEwen are still around to take some of the weight off of Howard’s shoulders.
Anim comes into tomorrow’s matchup averaging 11.8 points, while also shooting 42.1 percent from three. McEwen is also a double-figure scorer, averaging 10.6 points per game and pulling down 5.3 rebounds per game.
Marquette is a very balanced squad with veteran leadership. Just over a year ago, the Golden Eagles torched the 12th rated Wildcats in a commanding 83-71 win in Milwaukee.
Howard scored with ease, putting up 45 points while shooting 64.7 percent from the field, and going 19-21 from the foul line.
The Wildcats are still on the hunt for their main offensive scoring threat this season. Senior forward Xavier Sneed seems to be the front-runner — he is leading the Wildcats in both points with 15 and rebounds with 5.6 per game.
Redshirt junior guard Cartier Diarra is assuming a very different role this season, as he moves into the starting rotation, and is looked upon to be a dual threat player.
Diarra has been playing tremendous on both sides of the ball. He is second in scoring to Sneed with 11.4 points per game, while leading in assists (6.9) and steals (2.9) per game.
K-State must turn their attention to a few things in order to come away with the victory.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
1. Conversion from the foul line.
The Wildcats are shooting 63.7 percent from the line as a team. A deceivingly strong performance in the last game for K-State as they shot 9-11 pushed their percentage up, but in the three games prior, they shot 49 percent from the line. They will need to be on to keep close to the Golden Eagles.
2. Consistent play from start to finish.
Even though the Wildcats do a good job coming back from first half deficits, they tend to put themselves in tight positions consistently.
To dominate this matchup against Marquette, they’ll need to play strong coming out of the gate, and keep that momentum for the whole game.
3. Keep Howard contained.
If Howard plays for the Golden Eagles, he has a pure stroke from all over the floor, and is able to slash his way to the rim. If the Wildcats cannot keep a lid on Howard, it will be a grueling night for the K-State defense.
K-State has a lot to play for Saturday as they seek revenge against Marquette, and they’ll be one of K-State’s toughest non-conference opponents this season.
Tune into ESPN2 at 8 p.m. on Saturday to catch the Wildcats take on the Golden Eagles in the Big East/Big 12 challenge.