Kansas State University

Sunflower Showdown basketball preview: Kansas State at Kansas

Updated: 2014-01-11T00:00:34Z

• WHEN/ WHERE: 1 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence

• TV/RADIO : ESPN; KCSP (610 AM)

• ABOUT KANSAS STATE (12-3, 2-0 Big 12) : The Wildcats haven’t played in a loud road environment all season, so Bruce Weber tried something new this week to prepare K-State players for the environment they will face at Allen Fieldhouse. He blared artificial crowd noise and music during practices. Weber also stayed after practice to work with players as they simulated the feeling of shooting pressure free throws. K-State hopes to be in a situation where late free throws matter on Saturday. The Wildcats have won 10 in a row and are hoping to win in Lawrence for the first time since 2006. Thomas Gipson has averaged close to a double-double in his past two games, falling half a rebound shy. Marcus Foster continues to lead the team in scoring with 14.1 points a game.

•  ABOUT KANSAS (10-4, 1-0 Big 12): After finishing its nonconference schedule with a 4-4 stretch, Kansas picked up some needed confidence in a road victory at Oklahoma in its Big 12 opener. The Jayhawks will now play four ranked teams — K-State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor — in the span of 10 days. “This is a monster start for us,” KU coach Bill Self said. Despite four losses, KU was rated No. 2 in the NCAA’s official RPI statistic, released Friday. If they take care of business in the Big 12, the Jayhawks should still be in position for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. But for now, that’s a long ways away. “You can’t win the league, obviously, in January,” Self said. “But you can certainly put yourself in a position where it would be awful tough to catch up.”

Frontcourt

Kansas ranks eighth in the country in two-point field-goal percentage (55.5 percent), and that’s mostly because the Jayhawks pound the ball inside to freshman center Joel Embiid and sophomore forward Perry Ellis. Nearly 50 percent of KU’s field-goal attempts are dunks and layups, according to Hoop-Math.com. K-State, meanwhile, ranks second in the country in three-point defense but just 100th in two-point defense. The Wildcats must find a way to slow down KU’s efficiency in the paint. EDGE >> Kansas

Backcourt

Marcus Foster vs. Andrew Wiggins will be a matchup of the Big 12’s top performing freshmen. Wiggins entered the season as the nation’s No. 1 recruit. Foster was an unheralded prospect. Their journeys were different, but they will meet Saturday, and they should be entertaining to watch. At the other guard positions, Kansas seems to have an edge. Will Spradling has regressed as a shooter and Shane Southwell has been up and down. Naadir Tharpe and Wayne Selden have been inconsistent as well, but Selden is coming off an encouraging performance against Oklahoma. EDGE >> Kansas

Bench

If Thomas Gipson encounters foul trouble, K-State will have to ask unproven D.J. Johnson to play down low. If Embiid encounters foul trouble, Kansas can turn to senior Tarik Black or Jamari Traylor. The Jayhawks are much deeper up front. In the backcourt, Jevon Thomas could be a factor for K-State. The freshman is a tenacious defender capable of frustrating KU’s point guards. EDGE >> Kansas

Coaching

All the history favors KU and Bill Self. The Jayhawks have won 47 of 50 against K-State, and Self is 21-3 against the Wildcats during his time at KU. K-State coach Bruce Weber, who is 0-4 against KU, has done a masterful job getting the Wildcats back into the top 25. Beating KU at Allen Fieldhouse might require some more magic. EDGE >> Kansas

Bottom line

If Thomas Gipson plays well and guards make three-pointers, K-State’s defense will give it a shot at an upset. If Gipson fouls early and guards miss shots, it will be the same old story for the Wildcats. When the two teams meet at Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 10, the Wildcats could be in position for a rare win over KU. But inside Allen Fieldhouse, KU, despite its youth, still holds the edge.

PNo.Kansas StateHt.Yr.PPG
F42Thomas Gipson6-7Jr.11.9
F25Wesley Iwundu6-7Fr.7.0
G1Shane Southwell6-7Sr.10.8
G2Marcus Foster6-2Fr.14.1
G55Will Spradling6-2Sr.6.9

PNo.KansasHt.Yr.PPG
F34Perry Ellis6-8So.13.8
C21Joel Embiid7-0Fr.10.5
G22Andrew Wiggins6-8Fr.15.3
G1Wayne Selden6-5Fr.9.6
G10Naadir Tharpe5-11Jr.8.3

| Rustin Dodd, rdodd@kcstar.com; and Kellis Robinett, krobinett@kcstar.com

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