Kansas State (20-9) at Oklahoma State (19-10)
GAME NOTES: After both teams took down nationally-ranked foes over the weekend, the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Kansas State Wildcats will attempt to keep their momentum going on Monday night in a Big 12 Conference showdown at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Kansas State hosted Iowa State on Saturday and came away with an impressive 80-73 victory, giving it wins in three of its last four games to improve to 20-9 overall and 8-6 in league action. While the Wildcats have been excellent at home this season (15-1), their performance on the road has been a different story (2-6).
Oklahoma State hit a tailspin earlier this month with a season-long seven- game losing streak which appeared to have crippled its NCAA Tournament hopes, but it has since rebounded with three straight victories to move to 19-10 and 7-9 in the Big 12. The Cowboys registered arguably their most impressive victory of the season on Saturday night when they downed No. 5 Kansas at home, 72-65, to improve to 12-3 in Stillwater.
The sides met up in the Big 12 opener back on Jan. 4, with Oklahoma State losing at Bramlage Coliseum, 74-71. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 74-50, but the Cowboys are 28-12 since 1990.
The Wildcats beat Iowa State at its own game over the weekend, as it outlasted the Big 12's top-scoring team by shooting 42.4 percent from the field and 23- of-29 from the free-throw line while holding the Cyclones to less than 35 percent shooting, and they used an 8-1 run late in the game to pull away. Pacing five players in double figures was Shane Southwell, who knocked down 4- of-6 from 3-point range on his way to 13 points. Thomas Gipson and D.J. Johnson both netted 12 points, while Marcus Foster and Wesley Iwundu scored 11 points apiece.
On the season, Kansas State's offensive output has been rather modest, shooting 43.6 percent from the field for 69.3 ppg, but the main reason it has been one of the Big 12's best teams is due to its stout defense, which yields only 64.1 ppg on 40 percent shooting. Foster is the team's top scoring threat with 15.1 ppg, and the freshman has stepped up his game down the stretch, averaging 19.6 ppg over the past eight contests. Gipson has been solid in the frontcourt with 11.7 ppg (on 55.7 percent field-goal shooting) and 6.3 rpg, while Southwell brings 9.9 ppg to the table.
The Cowboys appeared to be down for the count midway through the second half against Kansas trailing by 10, but they stormed back by ending the game on a 30-13 run, with Kamari Murphy's layup with 1:37 left proving to be the game- winner. They shot just 42.6 percent from the field, but they held the Jayhawks to only 40.4 percent shooting, outscored them at the free-throw line, 27-14, and forced 22 turnovers. Marcus Smart and Markel Brown scored 21 points apiece, with the latter knocking down all 10 of his foul shots. Le'Bryan Nash was also integral with 16 points and four blocks.
Even with their slide a few weeks back, Oklahoma State is one of the nation's most well-rounded teams this season, as it outshoots its opponents from the field, 46.9 percent to 40.4 percent, and its scoring margin (+12.0) is 12th- best in the country. It also boasts an outstanding +3.5 turnover margin and has made 72.1 percent of its free-throw tries. Smart stuffs the stat sheet on a consistent basis with 17.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.7 apg and 2.6 spg, although he's been off the mark from 3-point range at just 29.3 percent. Brown is an excellent second option with 16.9 ppg, while Nash (14.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Phil Forte (12.9 ppg) also add regular contributions.
As good as Kansas State has been this season, it is simply not the same team on the road as it is as home, and with Oklahoma State returning to its early- season form of late, the Cowboys should be in line to continue their surge.
GAME NOTES: After both teams took down nationally-ranked foes over the
weekend, the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Kansas State Wildcats will attempt
to keep their momentum going on Monday night in a Big 12 Conference showdown
at Gallagher-Iba Arena.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gallagher-Iba Arena (13,611) -- Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Television: ESPN. Home Record: K-State 15-1, OSU 12-3. Away Record: K-State
2-6, OSU 3-6. Neutral Record: K-State 3-2, OSU 4-1. Conference Record: K-State
8-6, OSU 7-9. Series Record: Kansas State leads, 74-50.Game Date and Time
Monday, March 3, 9 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Oklahoma State 72, Kansas State 68