PREVIEW: Men’s basketball returns home looking to avoid seventh straight loss

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Senior forward Xavier Sneed scans the court for an open play during the men's basketball game against Oklahoma in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 29. The Wildcats were able to take the Sooners 61-53. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

The men’s basketball returns home from their two-game road stretch in the Lone Star State to take on Texas in Bramlage Coliseum. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s matchup.

Kansas State

Kansas State is coming off of a 69-62 loss to Texas Tech on Wednesday night, dropping the Wildcats to 9-17 on the year and just 2-11 in the Big 12 Conference. The Wildcats are currently riding the longest losing streak in the Bruce Weber coaching era, dropping their last six games.

K-State is led by senior forward Xavier Sneed, averaging 14.3 points per game as well as 4.6 rebounds per game. Sneed is also currently fourth in the Big 12 in steals per game, averaging 1.9 each contest.

Redshirt junior guard Cartier Diarra has been a key factor as well this season, averaging 13 points per game, while leading the team in assists with 4.4 per game which is good for fourth in the Big 12.

Even though the team is led by a senior and a redshirt junior, there is still a lot of talented underclassmen. The freshman trio of Montavious Murphy, DaJuan Gordon and Antonio Gordon have each gotten valuable minutes throughout this season.

K-State never led in their 69-62 loss in Lubbock, Texas, on Wednesday, and on their current losing streak, the Wildcats have only led for 17 minutes out of 240 total minutes played in those games.

Even though K-State never led, they kept it close for the most part, turning double-digit leads for the Red Raiders into just single-digit leads multiple times. A lot of that was thanks to the great defensive play of the Wildcats, forcing 18 Texas Tech turnovers and turning those miscues into 17 points. Those forced turnovers have been a bright spot for the Wildcats this season as K-State ranks first in the Big 12 in steals per game with 8.65.

Sneed and Antonio Gordon are both coming off of solid performances. Wednesday night, Sneed led the team with 15 points on a 42 percent shooting night as well as knocking down two shots from behind the arc. Gordon is coming off of a near double-double performance, scoring a season-high 14 points on an 87 percent shooting night, while collecting eight rebounds.

Texas

After starting the season with an impressive record of 10-2 in non-conference play, Texas has hit a big slump in Big 12 play, going just 5-8 in conference play so far with a loss to LSU in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

The Longhorns are a team that have beaten who they should in the lower tier of the Big 12 Conference, including K-State, but have lacked the ability to beat anybody else in the conference. That is a reason why head coach Shaka Smart is currently sitting on the hot seat at Texas, with zero NCAA Tournament victories in his five-year tenure with the Longhorns.

The Longhorns are led by a talented trio of guards in junior Matt Coleman III, redshirt sophomore Andrew Jones and sophomore Courtney Ramey, with one of the three typically leading the way for the Longhorns in most of their games.

In their most recent game, a 70-56 victory over TCU on Wednesday night, it was both Jones’ and Ramey’s night. Jones lead the offensive attack with a career-high 21 points, shooting 50 percent from the field. Ramey netted 15 points and led in rebounds with six, assists with five and steals with two.

On top of the stats overall this season though, is Coleman III, averaging 12.5 points, 1.4 steals and 3.8 assists per game. Coleman missed the Longhorns last game against TCU due to a bruised heel that he suffered against Iowa State just a game prior.

Their victory over TCU snapped their longest losing streak of the season at four games and put the Longhorns just one spot ahead of the bottom four teams in the Big 12.

The Longhorns shot 51 percent on the night from the field and 60 percent from behind the arc, including a perfect five for five from three-point range in the first half. The bench showed up as well, contributing 30 points. This shows that if the Longhorns can get hot shooting-wise, opponents need to watch out.

What to watch for:

The status of Coleman III will be big for the Longhorns on Saturday. He led the way for the Longhorns in their last meeting with the Wildcats on Jan. 11 in Austin, Texas. In that game, Coleman III scored 14 points as well as recording four assists and three steals in the 64-50 victory for Texas.

With reports saying that he was expected to play against TCU, expect Coleman III to most likely see the court on Saturday.

The 50 points scored against Texas in their last matchup is still a season-low for the Wildcats. K-State’s offense can not afford to have a sluggish game this time around.

Catch all of the action between the Longhorns and the Wildcats at 1 p.m Saturday in Bramlage Coliseum. Live coverage of the game can be found on CBS, with live audio coming from KMAN radio.

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