PREVIEW: Here’s what to expect in the Dillon’s Sunflower Showdown

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Freshman forward Antonio Gordon charges the basket for a layup during the men’s basketball game against West Virginia in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 18, 2020. The Wildcats took the Mountaineers with a final score of 84-68. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State:

If you have not followed the Kansas State men’s basketball team since last March, then you are in for a treat. The Wildcats are 8-9 on the year, losing four out of their last five in Big 12 play.

Redshirt junior guard Cartier Diarra is the man for the Wildcats this season. He is neither the leading scorer or rebounder on this team, but Diarra leads K-State in assists and steals, at 5.4 and 1.8 per game.

Diarra is the floor general, and seems to make plays when his team needs him most.

Senior guard Xavier Sneed is the primary scorer on the roster, averaging 14.6 points per game while also leading the team in rebounds with 4.8 per contest.

As previously mentioned, the Wildcats are struggling to get much going this year, whether it is on the offensive or defensive side of the ball.

However, K-State may have just found an answer to some of their problems. The Wildcats pulled quite the upset in Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday, beating West Virginia 84-68.

The Wildcats are finding some production from the freshman players, and will hope to have a full team effort in this game.

Kansas:

Kansas is led by sophomore guard Devon Dotson who is leading his team in points at 18.2 points per game.

Kansas is also led by one true senior in center Udoka Azubuike who not only leads the Jayhawks in rebounds at 9.2 per game, but nearly averages a double-double scoring 13.1 points per game.

The Jayhawks have two other seniors on the roster with redshirt senior forward Mitch Lightfoot, and graduate transfer senior guard Isaiah Moss. However, Azubuike is the only true senior on this season’s roster.

The Jayhawks started off as predicted, only losing three games this season.

After a disappointing two-point loss, the Jayhawks followed up with a nine-game win streak before falling to No. 18 Villanova.

Allen Fieldhouse has always been one of the most hard-to-win in venues in college basketball. Furthermore, in the era of Kansas head coach Bill Self, the Jayhawks have a 234-13 record at home, according to KU athletics.

That being said, Kansas lost to then-No. 4 Baylor (15-1, 5-0 Big 12) in Lawrence this season, making this the first loss at home for the Jayhawks this season.

Last Saturday the Jayhawks escaped Austin with a win against the hard-nosed Texas Longhorns (12-6, 2-4 Big 12). Kansas will look to extend their home winning-streak against Kansas State to 14 with a win tonight.

What to watch for:

The biggest thing to watch for in tonight’s contest is the shooting guard matchup between K-State freshman guard DaJuan Gordon and Kansas freshman guard Christian Braun.

Gordon leads all K-State freshman in scoring with 6.8 points per game, and recently had a career performance in win over West Virginia with a career-high 15 points.

Gordon is expected to be the new leader on this year’s team — something he proved in the win against West Virginia.

Braun is in a similar position, but features different strengths. Despite only averaging 3.7 points per game with 14.5 minutes per game, he carries the team in the little things he does — rebounding, dishing the ball and even diving on the ground to secure loose balls.

These two guards have emerged as X-factors for their respective teams, and it will be fun to watch these two battle it out.

Last season in the first matchup between these two rivaled programs, the Wildcats came out on top, beating the Jayhawks in a 40-minute thriller. The Wildcats will look to do the same as they travel 88 miles east to take on the Jayhawks in this Super Tuesday matchup.

Tune in at 6 p.m., to ESPN2 to catch the action.

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