Friday, March 7, 2014
• WHEN/ WHERE: 8 p.m. Monday at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.
• TV/RADI O: ESPN; KCSP (610 AM) for KU radio, WHB (810 AM) for K-State radio
• ABOUT KANSAS (18-5, 9-1 Big 12) : You know the history: The Jayhawks have won 48 of 51 against K-State, including the last six in the series. After Saturday’s victory over West Virginia, KU now ranks first in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage (50.3) and fourth in points per game (79.3). But really, the Jayhawks have won their last two games on the defensive end. A week ago, KU was ranked 39th nationally in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. But after holding both Baylor and West Virginia under 40 percent from the field, Kansas has climbed back to No. 22 in defensive efficiency. Will the defense travel? The Jayhawks limited K-State’s Marcus Foster to seven points on three-of-12 shooting in an 86-60 victory at Allen Fieldhouse. Expect KU freshman Andrew Wiggins to see plenty of Foster on Monday night.
• ABOUT KANSAS STATE (16-7, 6-4 Big 12): The Wildcats are coming off one of their finest games, a 74-57 victory over No. 15 Texas. K-State jumped out to big lead and never looked back behind 34 points from Marcus Foster, a freshman who had 23 points against West Virginia. Will Spradling has also played well lately. He has scored at least eight points in five straight games. Thomas Gipson and Shane Southwell have been sporadic, though. Gipson scored three points against Texas and Southwell had two points. Southwell hasn’t played a strong game since mid January. Bruce Weber is 28-2 at home at Kansas State. The Jayhawks are the only Big 12 team he hasn’t defeated.
The Jayhawks also pose matchup problems for the Wildcats, and their frontcourt is the main reason why. Joel Embiid is a threat to block almost every shot, Perry Ellis is averaging 13 points and they both have trusted backups. K-State has Thomas Gipson. He has played well enough to match bigger and deeper frontcourts, but Kansas is always his biggest challenge. EDGE >> KANSAS
Kansas State has closed the gap in this area, with Marcus Foster and Will Spradling playing the way they have in the past month. Foster is coming off a career-high 34 points against Texas. Spradling has been a consistent three-point threat for the past five games. But Kansas has numbers. Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden Jr. and Naadir Tharpe give the Jayhawks a stronger defensive presence on the perimeter, and more scoring options. EDGE >> KANSAS
The Jayhawks’ depth has turned into a real weapon in conference play, with senior forward Tarik Black settling in after being in constant foul trouble during November and December. Sophomore Jamari Traylor provides energy and rebounds, and Frank Mason’s playmaking ability plays well off the bench. The Wildcats, meanwhile, can get productive minutes from Nino Williams and D.J. Johnson, who combined for 16 points against Texas on Saturday. EDGE >> KANSAS
Of all the people in Bramlage Coliseum on Monday night, K-State coach Bruce Weber probably has the most to gain. In the last 30 years, only one K-State coach (Frank Martin) has defeated KU in Manhattan. Weber’s Wildcats won a share of a Big 12 title with Kansas in his first season, but he has yet to beat KU. To be beloved in Aggieville, Weber needs to find a way to beat Bill Self, who is 22-3 against K-State since arriving at KU. EDGE >> KANSAS
For Kansas, this is more than just a rivalry game. It’s an opportunity to take another step toward a 10th straight title. On paper, KU’s size can be a tough matchup for K-State. But will KU’s young players handle Bramlage Coliseum, one of the nation’s most insane atmospheres when the Jayhawks are in town?
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