Getting to know: Kansas State basketball
Returning to Allen Fieldhouse for the first time since Svi Mykhailiuk’s controversial buzzer-beater, Kansas State is still looking for its first signature win of the season when the Wildcats face Kansas at 11 a.m. Saturday (TV: ESPN).
The Wildcats (12-4, 2-2 in Big 12) will be without Kamau Stokes, who is sidelined indefinitely with a foot injury. Stokes is their third-leading scorer and has 25 more assists than any other player on the team.
Despite playing without Stokes, K-State earned an overtime home victory against Oklahoma State on Wednesday. Earlier in Big 12 play, K-State beat Iowa State on the road and lost at home to West Virginia and at Texas Tech.
As KUsports.com’s Benton Smith wrote earlier this week in his Big 12 Power Rankings, the Wildcats don’t have a win against a top-50 team in the KenPom rankings. Their best win, according to the rankings, was on the road against Vanderbilt. K-State is 48th in the latest KenPom rankings.
Fun fact: K-State has held all but two opponents below its scoring average this season. The exceptions are Vanderbilt and Oklahoma State.
Series history: Kansas leads 193-93 after winning the last five meetings. The Jayhawks own a 47-18 record against their in-state rivals inside of Allen Fieldhouse.
BREAKING DOWN KANSAS STATE
No. 32 — F Dean Wade | 6-10, 228, jr.
More comfortable playing inside of the paint, Wade is averaging 14.6 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds. He’s taking 40 percent of his shots at the rim, according to hoop-math.com. That’s helped him shoot a career-best 59.9 percent from the floor.
Wade has scored in double figures in 12 of the team’s 16 games this year, connecting on 14 of his 33 3-point attempts. He’s added 27 steals and 10 blocks, recording at least one steal in eight straight contests.
From St. John, Kan., Wade is the son of two athletes. His dad was a defensive back at Western Illinois (plus one season at K-State) and his mom played volleyball at Florida Southern.
- “I’m not letting little things bother me like I did my freshman and sophomore years,” Wade told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “It’s helped me be more consistent. Last year I had crazy ups and downs and my confidence was in the trash.”
No. 5 — G Barry Brown Jr. | 6-3, 195, jr.
Scoring 20-plus points in four of his last five games, Brown erupted for a career-high 38 points in Wednesday’s victory against Oklahoma State. Brown is averaging a team-high 16.9 points on 46.5 percent shooting. He’s made 31.4 percent of his attempts from behind the 3-point arc.
Known as a tough defender, Brown ranks third in the Big 12 with 34 steals (2.1 per game). His dad, Barry Sr., played college basketball at Jacksonville.
No. 20 — F Xavier Sneed | 6-5, 212, so.
In a shooting slump over his last two games, Sneed is averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds this season. Against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, the St. Louis native was 3 of 17 from the field, 0 of 7 from the 3-point line.
Taking more than half of his shots this season from behind the 3-point arc, Sneed has made 34.6 percent of his 3s. He is the Wildcats’ best free throw shooter (85.4 percent) and has snagged 25 steals this year.
ONE THING KANSAS STATE DOES WELL
The Wildcats are one of the nation’s best teams at avoiding turnovers. Kansas State is averaging 11 turnovers per game, although that number has climbed to nearly 13 per game in conference play after facing West Virginia and Texas Tech.
ONE AREA KANSAS STATE STRUGGLES
Similar to Kansas, the Wildcats have struggled to rebound on both ends of the floor. In Big 12 play, they rank ninth with a negative-7.2 rebounding margin. That includes a Big 12-worst 18.8 defensive rebounds per game, nearly five boards behind any other team in the conference.
MEET THE COACH
In his sixth season as head coach of the Wildcats, Bruce Weber has reached the NCAA Tournament three times. He’s the fifth K-State coach in school history to surpass 100 wins in the program. His contract at the school was extended through the 2020-21 season in Aug. 2017.
Prior to his time in Manhattan, Weber succeeded Bill Self at Illinois and coached there for nine years, which includes an NCAA title game loss to North Carolina in 2005.
Kansas by 12. This matchup probably lost some of its luster when KSU point guard Kamau Stokes suffered an injury. It’s tough for any team to play without its primary ball handler and even tougher to do it against your rival at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks had trouble separating themselves from Iowa State but KU should live up to its role as a heavy favorite.
My prediction: Kansas 81, Kansas State 68. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 8-7.