PREVIEW: Men’s basketball returns from short break for match-up against Omaha

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K-State freshman Seryee Lewis battles for the ball in the Wildcat's 70-46 victory over Jacksonville last Monday. (Photo Courtesy of Scott Weaver | K-State Athletics)

The men’s basketball team (4-5) returns to action on Tuesday for a matchup against a struggling Omaha team (2-7) at home. This is the last game of the 2020 calendar year for the Wildcats.

Kansas State comes off a 70-46 win against Jacksonville on Dec. 21 and won three out of the last four games — the lone blemish being a 100-69 blowout loss to No. 2 Baylor.

The Wildcats look to keep getting quality plays out of the newcomers for the rest of the year. Freshman point guard Nijel Pack comes off of his best game in a K-State uniform where he tallied a game-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, six rebounds, and five assists against Jacksonville.

In recent games, K-State saw significant improvement from freshman Selton Miguel and sophomore Carlton Linguard Jr. K-State expects to continue to see significant opportunities from Miguel and Linguard all year.

The Wildcat defense has another opportunity to display their skills as they did against Jacksonville earlier this month. As a team, Omaha struggles to put the ball through the basket and shoots 37.5 percent on the year.

K-State allowed just over 70 points per game during the four-game stretch, but the Mavericks hardly scored 60 points during that same span, which includes a 49 point performance against Colorado on Dec. 16.

Omaha’s defense is subpar so far this season. The Mavericks allow teams to shoot nearly 46 percent from the field and 39 percent on spot-up attempts. K-State, who thrives on spot-up shots, shoots 40.5 percent on those kinds of shots.

In the interior, the Wildcats have a size advantage, but time will tell if they take advantage of the scenario. Matt Pile, a 6-foot-8 forward from Wichita, will likely get the start down low for the Mavericks. Pile limits opponents to 38 percent shooting when he’s the primary defender. However, he’s average on the interior with players shooting 40 percent in the post.

K-State as a team this season is shooting just 30 percent in post-up opportunities.

On offense, junior Marlon Ruffin leads Omaha, averaging 11.4 points per game. Junior Wanjang Tut is tallying 10.2 points, while Pile is scoring 10.1 points per contest.

Tip-off for Tuesday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum. It will be broadcasted on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Radio coverage is through the K-State Sports Network.

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