Game Preview: Wildcats vs Texas
Kansas State and Texas met just two weeks ago, and the Longhorns pulled away in Manhattan for a 70-57 win.
Each team was missing key contributors. Second-leading scorer Andrew Jones was out for Texas, while second-leading scorer Markquis Nowell and big men Davion Bradford and Kaosi Ezeagu did not play for the Wildcats.
K-State led at the half 35-29, but it fell apart quickly in the second half.
Texas came out of the break with an 18-2 run and built a 10-point lead with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game. Kansas State fought back to make it a six-point contest with just under three minutes left, but the Longhorns scored the final seven points to secure the victory.
Keys for Texas were establishing the paint and making 11 of 18 on two-point baskets (61.1 percent) in the final 20 minutes, compared to 6 of 18 (33.3 percent) for K-State. The Wildcats also failed to connect from deep in the second half (0 of 9) after making 4 of 9 (44.4 percent) in the first frame.
The Longhorns also won the battle of the boards, 40-28, including a 33.3 percent to 21.1 percent advantage in offensive rebounding rate.
Kansas State did a good job of taking care of the ball. They committed just six turnovers (9.9 percent turnover rate) against the Big 12's best pressure defense.
The addition of the missing players will provide some intrigue in Austin.
While the Wildcats valued the basketball, having Nowell on the court pits K-State's best distributor against a tough defense. The Wildcats only had seven assists in the last matchup with Texas, while Nowell had nine assists himself in the upset win over Texas Tech.
Meanwhile, Andrew Jones is scoring 16.0 points per game in Big 12 games to lead the Longhorns with the league's third-best offensive rating. That is something that Kansas State didn't have to contend with in Manhattan.
Having Bradford and Ezeagu available should help against the deep Texas frontcourt. And Nowell's return helps to ramp up the K-State defensive pressure. They've forced turnover rates of 23.8 percent and 27.3 percent in the last two games.
Even though Texas only had a turnover rate of 9.9 percent in the first meeting in Manhattan, they have averaged a 23.2 percent turnover rate in their last three contests.
Kansas State also handled a great offensive rebounding team in Texas Tech. They held them to an offensive rebounding rate of only 20 percent and out-scored them 13-0 in second chance points.
Another item to watch for are K-State's ability to finish two-point buckets, though they are coming off a game where were 50 percent from inside the three-point line. That was their best number for the Big 12 season.
The Wildcats' turnover rate in Big 12 games is just 17.2 percent, which is the best number in the conference. That will be critical against Chris Beard's pressure defense.
And once again, three-point shooting will be an important factor. Kansas State's 22.2 percent performance from deep against the Longhorns a couple weeks ago was their worst of the season.
K-State will have its hands full when defending Texas' trio of guards. Marcus Carr, Courtney Ramey and Jones combine to average over 40 points per game in Big 12 games and are 66 of 176 (37.5 percent) from distance in league games.
Ramey and Carr combined to score 33 against Kansas State in the first game, while making 6 of 17 (35.3 percent) from beyond the arc. Timmy Allen was a problem for the Wildcats in Manhattan and scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Dylan Disu scored 10 points and had five rebounds.
SUMMARY AND PREDICTION
HOW TO WATCH: Longhorn Network
TIP TIME: 7:30 P.M. CST
FAN: K-State probably won't be dealt a super tough environment in Austin, though Texas is averaging nearly 11,000 fans per home game this season. The Longhorns are coming off a rough outing against Iowa State in Ames. It was a game they trailed by double-digits for much of the second half. And Kansas State is on the heels of one of their best defensive games this season. K-State will compete, but they won't have quite enough to knock of the Longhorns on the road. The Wildcats fall, 66-60.
DY: My gut instinct is that it will be a one-possession game, and Kansas State will have the ball in their hands and an opportunity to win the contest but ultimately come up short on the road against Texas. It's probably not going to be a raucous environment, and while Texas' potential is pretty robust, they aren't such a machine or consistent enough to just show up and smack the Wildcats around either. K-State carries momentum from the win over Texas Tech into Austin, and they probably even lead at halftime, but just have it slip away from them in the final minute. Texas escapes, 61-59.
FLANDO: At full strength, Kansas State has a decent shot at pulling off the upset in Austin. The Longhorns have impressed plenty of times, but they have also proven to be vulnerable, including during the first half in Manhattan earlier this month. They don't score a lot of points, but they score it better than K-State. However, Bruce Weber's defense just held Texas Tech to 51 points, and the offense is showing positive signs. My sense is that Texas will be eager to bounce back with a win. And Kansas State will have a sense of urgency to avoid a 1-5 start. Putting a frown on Matthew McConaughey's face in the process, Kansas State sneaks past Texas, 65-64.