While Bruce Weber was on the road recruiting earlier this week, he spent a great deal of time thinking about what to emphasize to his Kansas State players when they began practicing for a rematch with Oklahoma State.
Eventually, he decided to stress the importance of winning at home.
“That is the biggest thing right now,” Weber said. “We had a chance the other night to sneak what would have been a major upset (against No. 9 Iowa State). You know we didn’t get it done, but now we have to make sure we don’t slip up at home.”
K-State hosts Oklahoma State at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
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A victory against the Cowboys would give the Wildcats a quality RPI victory that will help the Wildcats’ postseason chances and keep them in the upper tier of the Big 12 standings, but it would also cap an anticipated day for the program.
A festive day starts with K-State naming the road next to its basketball training facility “Tex Winter Drive,” after its former coach, who is famous for teaching the triangle offense. Then as many 50 former players will be honored during a halftime ceremony. And with spring-semester classes underway, a more vocal student crowd is expected.
On top of all that, K-State is asking fans to stripe Bramlage Coliseum by wearing purple and white in alternating sections.
Nobody wants to send that type of crowd home unhappy.
“You get a little hype there,” Weber said. “I know it is early in the morning, but you get a little energy going and I hope it leads to a great environment.”
One the Wildcats need to use to their advantage.
“Homecourt advantage is very important,” K-State guard Marcus Foster said. “You look back to last year, even though we weren’t winning on the road, we were winning all our home games. That is why we were able to stay in the (race for) the Big 12. We definitely need to win all our home games.”
And K-State is trying to fight its way back into the conversation for the NCAA Tournament. Its final six home games are against teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the Associated Press Top 25. Winning all, or most, of those games would boost its profile. Homecourt losses make road wins more necessary.
K-State is 8-2 at home. It has also won six straight home games against ranked opponents. So the K-State players presumably understand the importance of winning home games. Weber simply wants to reiterate that point given what is at stake.
“It all starts with Saturday, Weber said. “We can’t look too far ahead. That was part of our problem early, before the season even started. We were worried about the end and not worried about the journey. Right now, we have to worry about Saturday against Oklahoma State.”