With one final match-up before the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, the Kansas State women’s basketball team (18-11, 8-9 Big 12) has an opportunity to get back to .500 in conference play against TCU (6-20, 2-15 Big 12).
K-State has lost three straight, ensuring that the Wildcats will not finish better than sixth in the Big 12 after their Wednesday night loss to West Virginia in double overtime. Despite having the tiebreaker with Kansas, they officially cannot reach them in the standings. They also will not be reached by West Virginia because of the record-against-the-top-seed tiebreaker.
The Wildcats’ early-season win over first-place Baylor gives them the tiebreaker over any team they split the season series with — which is most of the league.
The Horned Frogs have lost 12-straight and have not won since a Jan. 19 home game against Texas Tech. Each of their Big 12 wins has come by one point.
This past time out against TCU, K-State was paced by 21 points from junior center Ayoka Lee, 12 from freshman guard Brylee Glenn and 11 from her twin sister Jaelyn Glenn.
K-State has more-or-less collapsed since then, however, winning just two of its eight games and falling from a promising 6-3 start to Big 12 play to 8-9 and battling to finish above-.500 in Big 12 play.
The Horned Frogs are led by guard Lauren Heard’s 14.9 points per game. She also leads the team in rebounds, assists and steals per game. The 5 foot 9 inch senior is one of the league’s top players.
It will be interesting to see how TCU chooses to guard Lee. The 6 foot 6 inch center has been drawing double and even triple-teams all season, but some teams have been able to limit her early with just one player in deny defense.
TCU has the size and length to guard her, but the players with that size do not average many minutes and are not the Horned Frogs’ best offensive lineup.
The Horned Frogs will likely front Lee with a center and have help over the top should K-State try to lob it over the denying defender. K-State can score against that defensive strategy, but it has limited Lee without allowing the rest of the Wildcat offense too much leeway.
K-State has struggled when it cannot get the ball to Lee and get her early shots. It seems to impact the confidence of the rest of the team and their ability to score, and it shows in outcomes.
The best way for K-State to alleviate the pressure on Lee: make three-point shots. K-State’s late-season collapse has tracked with its late-season shooting struggles from the three-point line.
While the seeding is set in stone for both teams in this match-up, the same cannot be said for the rest of the league. As things stand, K-State would play Oklahoma in the first round’s 6/3 game, but OU is tied with Texas at 12-5 in league play with one game to go. Iowa State is also in play for a third-place finish if it were to lose and both Texas and OU win.
OU plays a home game against Kansas, Texas hosts Oklahoma State and Iowa State travels to West Virginia. If OU and Texas tie, OU holds the tiebreaker since the Sooners swept first-place Baylor.
In the far-more-interesting scenario where there is a three-way tie for second if OU and Texas win and Iowa State is upset by WVU, the order would be No. 2 Texas, No. 3 ISU and No. 4 OU. The tiebreaker is a mini-round robin where Texas is 3-1, ISU is 2-2 and OU is 1-3.
K-State’s final regular-season game will tip-off at 1 p.m. on Saturday from Fort Worth, Texas. Fans can tune in on ESPN+.