Kansas State at Nebraska – Wednesday 8 p.m. ESPNU
Kansas State had hoped to begin salvgaing the season with a big home win against KU last week. The Wildcats (18-9, 6-6) took care of business again at home Saturday vs. Oklahoma. Now they have a road game, and face the other team looking for an unlikely NCAA rally – Nebraska, who scored arguably an even bigger upset beating Texas.
KANSAS STATE: Obviously the Wildcats’ season-long problems have extended far beyond the play of guard Jacob Pullen, but his efforts the last two games have shown how much better he makes K-State overall. Even if you didn’t see the Kansas game live, you surely saw highlights of his magnificent, gritty 38 point performance against the Jayhawks.
However, K-State did not cruise against Oklahoma, and the Sooners began to cut into the margin early in the second half. Pullen hit some shots and K-State got more aggressive defensively, and they pulled away for a 77-62 win.
As always, it won’t be easy controlling the pace at Nebraska (18-8, 6-6). It’s only fair to expect a good game from Nebraska, which played very well this past weekend against Texas, establishing a strong low post presence. K-State has not been as strong down low as we expected early in the year, but it will be awfully interesting to see who takes advantage there.
NEBRASKA: The Huskers are 5-2 in conference play when they allow fewer than 70 points in a game. They are 1-4 in the other games. Interestingly, though, one of those two losses was to Kansas State in Manhattan, 69-53.
You would think Nebraska’s style would lead to protecting the ball, and it usually does, but against K-State the Huskers committed 22 turnovers. They had just six assists, and those lost possessions are part of the reason Nebraska ended up with just 17 first half points.
Nebraska would be well served to get the ball to Jorge Brian Diaz inside, as he is a reliable scorer (though it’d be nice if he weren’t such a dreadful free throw shooter at 56 %). Additionally, guard Brandon Richardson looked quite comfortable slashing late in the Texas game, probably partly as a result of adrenaline. Good to see.
The tough thing here is what happens to the loser. It’ll be hard to expect an NCAA bid for a team sitting at 6-7 with three games to go, though there will still be a chance. K-State will host Missouri and Iowa State, with a road date against Texas in between. Nebraska is at Iowa State and at Colorado, hosting Mizzou for Senior Night in between. The winner, already feeling good, gets to extend its rally.
Nebraska 70, Kansas State 66