‘That game is going to be even harder’: Kansas Jayhawks seek second road win of week
Kansas’ men’s basketball team is halfway to its goal of sweeping a pair of Big 12 Conference road games this week.
“We know that game is going to be even harder,” KU sophomore forward Jalen Wilson, one of the difference makers in Tuesday’s 67-64 victory at Oklahoma, said of Saturday’s upcoming game at Kansas State.
Tipoff for the latest edition of the Sunflower Showdown is 3 p.m. at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.
“It’s a rivalry game. No matter what’s going on, they always are going to give us their best game. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and we’ve got to be ready for them,” added Wilson. He scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Sooners.
A 51.9% percent free thrower this season, Wilson connected on two free throws with 1:28 left Tuesday to break a 58-58 tie and help move No. 7-ranked KU’s record to 15-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big 12.
Kansas State, which has defeated a pair of ranked teams in Texas Tech and Texas in its last two games, is 10-7 overall and 2-4 in conference play.
The Jayhawks should have Ochai Agbaji and Remy Martin available for the game.
“He’s doing fine. (He’s) obviously sore,” KU assistant coach Norm Roberts said Friday of senior guard Agbaji, who sprained his left wrist after running into the scorer’s table in the first half of Tuesday’s game at OU.
Of Martin, who has been suffering from a bone bruise in his left knee but played 15 minutes at OU, Roberts said: “He’s full go.”
Meanwhile, Zach Clemence (toe injury) “is coming along a little slower. You don’t want to rush those things when talking about the foot. He did get out there and do some things yesterday. I don’t know if you’ll see him,” Roberts said.
KU will enter the game 2-0 in league home games and 2-1 in road contests.
The Wildcats on Tuesday tripped No. 23 Texas, 66-65, in Austin, which followed a 62-51 home win over No. 18 Texas Tech on Jan. 15. Tech defeated KU, 75-67, on Jan. 8 in Lubbock, Texas.
“They’re a good team. They’ve played everybody close,” said KU junior guard Christian Braun. His three pointer with 10.9 seconds left busted a 62-62 tie, while his two free throws with 4 seconds remaining increased a one-point lead to 67-64 against OU.
“It’s important. In this conference, every team is good. Every night you are going to have a challenge. It’s tough to get a win. We have to keep pushing forward,” Braun added.
KU coach Bill Self after Tuesday’s game said: “K-State has been the unluckiest team in our league by far.”
The Wildcats lost by just three points (60-57) on Jan. 12 against TCU in Manhattan and three points (71-68) on Jan. 8 at West Virginia as well as two points Jan. 1 at Oklahoma.
“The kid that they got from Arkansas-Little Rock (5-foot-8 Markquis Nowell, 12.0 ppg, 80 assists to 39 turnovers), gosh he’s fast and good. He just totally changed the personality of that team from an aggressiveness standpoint,” Self said.
“(Nigel) Pack (15.5 ppg) has been good,” Self added. “You know you got (Mike) McGuirl (6.9 ppg) back there. That’s three fast little guards and everybody else is so improved.
“They beat Texas Tech in a game in which they kind of controlled the whole time. You saw what Texas Tech did to us. K-State they guard, they’re good.
“Bruce has done a good job with that team. They are getting better. It’ll be a hard game. Obviously we have to be better than we were (in win at OU),” Self added.
Assistant coach Roberts noted that, “A lot stands out (about K-State). They are playing as well as as anybody in the league. Games they lost were close. They’ve been in every single ballgame. They play aggressive defensively, take you out of what you want to do and pressure you.
“Their guards are playing lights out. Noel at the point has allowed them to play faster and allow Pack to play off the ball,” he noted.
KU will meet Texas Tech at 8 p.m. Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.