- Poor shot selection has hurt Kansas State in losses.
- The Cowboys were kept off the foul line in the lopsided loss at Gonzaga.
- Can Oklahoma State take a rebounding advantage with Curtis Kelly unavailable for KSU?
Conference play starts Saturday for ten of the Big 12. (Texas hosts UConn on Saturday, and Kansas is at Michigan on Sunday.)
KSU-OSU: I expect this will be the most interesting conference game of the day. It’s not ideal for No. 17 Kansas State, missing forward Curtis Kelly due to suspension, to have to face the considerably talented Cowboys on the road right away.
Last year, the Wildcats lost their first conference road game in a foulfest against Missouri, 74-68. Coming into this year, the league coaches picked K-State to win the league, which was probably a leap of faith even though it’s still of course a reasonable guess. A win against Oklahoma State (12-2) would help ease the tension in Manhattan from those worried that the Wildcats are “disappointing.”Kansas State is still a good rebounding team, and they would be better off winning that battle against Marshall Moses, the strongest interior player for Oklahoma State. In a blowout loss to Gonzaga, OSU shot only 16 of 44 from inside the arc. Part of that might have been caused by being on the road, but Kansas State will need a strong team defensive effort near the basket.
Oklahoma State shot far fewer free throws in that game than Gonzaga did – not that anyone would necessarily notice at Kansas State, the worst free throw shooting team in the conference. Sometimes, missed free throws are overemphasized because they are obvious and simple to fans, but if you shoot a poor percentage on the road in league play, you’ll usually lose.
Once again, Will Spradling and Jacob Pullen will be key in setting the pace for Kansas State. Especially on the road, quick empty trips with challenged shots must be avoided. A win against one of the good North teams would be nice for Oklahoma State, though the gap between the North and South teams probably isn’t as wide as originally expected.
No. 17 Kansas State at Oklahoma State (Noon, ESPN2)
No. 9 Missouri at Colorado (12:30)
Baylor at Texas Tech (1, ESPNU)
No. 8 Connecticut at No. 12 Texas (2:30, ESPN)
No. 16 Texas A&M at Oklahoma (3:00)
Iowa State at Nebraska (7:00)
No. 3 Kansas at Michigan (3:30, CBS)