Kansas State faces its first true road test of the season on Saturday when the Wildcats take on Saint Louis at Chaifetz Arena, but the trip will feel like a homecoming for two of the team’s players.
Senior forward D.J. Johnson and freshman wing Xavier both grew up in St. Louis and will get to play in front of family and friends.
“It’s cool to go home and I know Xavier and I will be able to enjoy it,” Johnson said. “He will get to go home and play a game in front of his home crowd. It will be nice and it will be a good game for both of us.”
It’s something both players have looked forward to since the game was added to the schedule, but they are downplaying the occasion as tip-off approaches.
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“It will be very nice to see family and friends, of course, but we still have to go in there and play hard,” Sneed said. “It will be our first official away game, so we have got to be prepared.”
K-State coach Bruce Weber likes to hear those words.
Saint Louis, 2-4, under former Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford and coming off a home loss to Samford, doesn’t host many Big 12 teams.
“The big thing is D.J. and Xavier need to forget about their own agendas and worry about K-State and the whole team,” Weber said. “The best thing they can do is help us win the game. And then we go home happy about a road win.
“We have got to come ready to play. They are going to play at a high level.”
Johnson and Sneed have both attended games at Chaifetz Arena and can vouch for its atmosphere.
Saint Louis is expecting a large crowd and is trying to add to the environment by giving away prizes to students, including a drone, a GoPro camera, expensive headphones and wireless speakers.
The road crowd should be louder than what K-State encountered at neutral-court games at the Barclays Center, including a narrow loss to Maryland in which they were playing in front of mostly enemy fans.
Johnson and Sneed know they will need to play well to enjoy their tip home.
“I expect it to be very hype for them, because we are a Big 12 team coming in,” Sneed said. “The game will probably be sold out. We have to go in there with great energy for ourselves and play hard.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett