Kansas State’s overtime victory at Oklahoma was a welcome result for a team trying to move past a disappointing start.
It also gave the Wildcats a jolt of confidence as they try to achieve one of their preseason goals.
“Coming into the Big 12, we knew we had to step it up to get a NCAA Tournament bid,” junior forward Stephen Hurt said. “So it was big for us.”
That’s right, K-State, 9-7 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12, has not given up hope on an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. It’s a lofty aspiration for a team sporting a RPI of 124 and one top-50 victory, but the Wildcats think it remains attainable.
Who knows? Maybe beating the nation’s 16th-ranked team on the road can serve as a starting point.
There’s no telling how many more victories (perhaps eight or nine?) it will take to get K-State on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but with 15 conference games remaining against mostly strong competition it will get the opportunity to prove itself.
Not that K-State coach Bruce Weber is thinking that far ahead.
“We grew up a little,” Weber said. “The first thing I said to them was to congratulate them, but the maturity of this team has not been the best. Now we see if we have the maturity to come back and keep moving forward.”
Weber would prefer his players keep a narrower focus, with an emphasis on the next game — Wednesday against Texas Tech at Bramlage Coliseum — and the next game only.
That’s how they bounced back from a three-game losing streak, which included a shocking home defeat to Texas Southern and Weber telling his players that they were heading to Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday to “get a win” and to make “SportsCenter.”
But he also doesn’t want to deprive K-State of working toward a long-term goal.
At the least, publicly talking about postseason aspirations shows the Wildcats are passionate about responding to success the same way they moved past failure.
“It goes back to maturity and taking it another step,” Weber said. “The radio guys said they (Oklahoma) were picked third and you (K-State) were picked fourth (in the preseason league projections) and you battled them like you should be there. It took us a while to get to this point. Now, where are we going to go?”