When it comes to wins against ranked opponents, few Kansas State basketball coaches have more than Bruce Weber. And if the Wildcats beat No. 7 Texas Tech on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum, that statement will change.
With 21 victories over ranked opponents, Weber is one win shy of matching former coach Jack Hartman for the most in school history.
It would be a nice accomplishment for Weber, who is also one win away from tying Tex Winter for most top 10 victories in K-State history, but, for now his focus is on the micro challenge of beating the Big 12’s hottest team.
“I hope (K-State players) remember we got our butts kicked (74-58 last month at Texas Tech),” Weber said. “They were so physical, and we just weren’t ready for it, especially at the start of the game. Now, hopefully we have a good focus. I would love to get off to a good start.”
How has Weber won so many games against ranked opponents since arriving at K-State in 2012?
Start with his pregame message.
“I always try to think of themes and motivations,” Weber said. “We do little videos sometimes.”
Weber loves to hype players before big games. Earlier this season, when K-State hosted then No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 24 TCU in the same week, he had the Wildcats believing in themselves when many doubted them.
They drubbed the Sooners 87-69 and never trailed in a 73-68 win over the Horned Frogs.
K-State was unable to keep those good vibes going against then No. 7 Kansas and No. 15 West Virginia, losing both by ugly scores, but the Wildcats are eager to bounce back and build off a recent win over Texas.
“Our mindset is just a little bit different knowing that they are a ranked team for a reason,” K-State guard Barry Brown said. “They are not just bums coming in here trying to play against us. They are a good team, and if we don’t come ready we can lose. Knowing that, our mindset is really different.”
Weber is 21-40 against ranked teams. Hartman went 22-47. They are both ahead of Frank Martin (19-21) in wins, but trail in winning percentage.
Weber is 9-17 against top 10 teams. Winter went 10-17.
The Wildcats are 2-5 against ranked teams this season, and this may be their final shot to improve that record before March.
K-State’s key to success seems simple.
“It probably comes down to can we stop (them?),” Weber said. “When we stop teams, usually that gives you a chance.”
The Wildcats will be ready.
“It motivates me a lot to see anyone come in here and put on a show for our fans and win the game,” Brown said. “It’s good for our record. A top 10 team in here is going to be a good show.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett