PREVIEW: Men’s basketball looks for revenge at TCU after blowing late lead in first match-up

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K-State players watch Oklahoma State's Rondel Walker shoot free throws after a Mark Smith intentional foul on Feb. 2, 2022. (Kendall Spencer | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State men’s basketball (11-10, 3-6) looks for payback on Saturday, Feb.5, as the team travels to TCU in a rematch of the Jan. 12 home game where the Wildcats blew a five-point lead in the final 1:11.

In the first game of the home/away conference series, the Horned Frogs ended the game on an 8-0 run after being down by five with just over a minute to play.

“We hung together and we had a chance — obviously, we had the game in hand,” head coach Bruce Weber said after the Jan. 12 loss. “You just gotta make one play down the stretch, whether it’s a free throw or good decision or a defensive stop, a rebound. I don’t know.”

TCU sophomore guard Mike Miles took over during important stretches of the game, providing 19 points for the Horned Frogs. Junior Damion Baugh hit the dagger three-pointer for TCU as part of his 12 points on 3-4 three-point shooting on the night.

The game was a spark for K-State junior Markquis Nowell, who had his third-most points of the season with 18 on 4-7 shooting from deep. However, it was a shooting struggle for sophomore Nijel Pack, who finished with 10 points on 4-14 shooting.

Heading into this weekend’s game, the Wildcats have an opportunity to break into sole possession of sixth place in the conference if other games end up in their favor. Unfortunately, if K-State loses, the Wildcats are put in a huge setback, as they could end up tied for last-place.

Look for Nijel Pack to continue his all-conference caliber play in the rematch against the Horned Frogs. The sophomore guard is averaging 18.6 points per game in Big 12 play, and the bad game/late loss from the last go-around with TCU should fuel his flame.

Watch for bigger minutes for sophomore big-man Davion Bradford. Bradford started the season with pneumonia and health concerns but has slowly conditioned himself back into the starting lineup. Bradford might be due for a big game soon.

As for TCU, the ball will go through Miles’ hands on every series, whether that’s for shooting or passing. TCU puts all of its trust in the young guard who represented the United States’ U19 basketball over the summer.

Look for a downfall in Damion Baugh’s game. Baugh went 75 percent from behind the arc against the Wildcats but has shot just 16.7 percent from three at home this season. Outside of Miles, TCU’s players aren’t anything that the Wildcats haven’t seen this season.

This game is also a big test for Wildcat head coach Bruce Weber, who has been under fire after the past few seasons went poorly. If Weber can get the win on the road and stay in the mix for a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament, some heat will get off his back.

Catch the Wildcats take on the Horned Frogs on the road at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5. The game will air on ESPNU with a recap on the Collegian afterward.

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