The Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas State Wildcats take to the hardwood on Saturday evening as Bruce Weber hopes to score a win over KSU Alum, Lon Kruger once again. Bringing the No. 1 ranking to Manhattan, we expect a loud and raucous crowd in all road venues. Bring On The Cats sat down to preview the game with us in Q&A format.
CCM - Two years ago, Marcus Foster and Wesley Iwundu appeared to be the future of Kansas State basketball. Now, Foster has transferred after leading the team in scoring last season. What were the expectations heading into the season and has KSU lived up to those expectations?
BOTC - If only Foster had been the only loss from last season. Among K-State's top 10 contributors last season, seven were lost to dismissal, transfer or graduation. My preseason expectation was that this team may not win 10 games given that basically everyone other than Iwundu and Justin Edwards was a newcomer. They accomplished that in the non-conference, and have been competitive in conference games.
CCM - Iwundu continues to take high percentage shots leading the team in scoring regardless of the volume of shots the forward attempts. Who needs to step up in order for the Wildcats to score an upset against the nation's top ranked team?
BOTC - Justin Edwards is the other upperclassman on this team, and he can be a solid scorer. He's been in a bit of a funk recently, and needs to turn that around if this team is going to finish strongly enough to land an NIT appearance. Even if he has a big game on Saturday, we'll need another player or two to have a good shooting night to have a chance at upsetting Oklahoma.
CCM - The Oklahoma Sooners bring the No. 1 three point shooting team to Manhattan yet K-State remains the leagues best at defending the perimeter. How have the Wildcats found success in defending the 3-point line?
BOTC - K-State's defensive philosophy is predicated on not allowing easy open looks off ball screens. Wildcat guards will go over perimeter ball screens with a hard hedge from the help defender. When they rotate well on the inevitable reversal, this works well at both preventing outside looks off the screen and reversal, as well as penetration. Consistent, coordinated defensive rotation is hard to achieve, though, especially with a bunch of young players. It's one of the reasons K-State is below-average defensively against two-point shots. There's no eraser in the post, and running opponents off the three-point line often leaves lanes for penetrating guards.
CCM - Is Kansas State an NCAA Tournament team in your opinion?
BOTC - No, not even close, unless they miraculously finish the season with wins over Oklahoma, KU, Baylor, Texas and Iowa State. The most realistic goal is to finish above .500 and make an NIT appearance.
CCM - Give us your score prediction.
BOTC - K-State plays well through the first 30 minutes, but Oklahoma pulls away late. Sooners 82, K-State 73.