Manhattan, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of Big 12 Conference foes trending in opposite directions square off at Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, as the 15th-ranked Texas Longhorns pay a visit to the Kansas State Wildcats.
Texas has been red-hot of late, ripping off seven consecutive victories to climb up the national ranks in recent weeks. The Longhorns most recently downed TCU on the road on Tuesday night, 59-54, to improve to 18-4 overall and 7-2 in Big 12 action. They have also been outstanding away from Austin, winning five of six on the road.
Kansas State, once among the likes of the nationally ranked, has fallen from grace recently with losses in three of its last four to dip to 15-7 overall and 5-4 in the league. The Wildcats lost at West Virginia last Saturday, 81-71, but the silver lining for this matchup is that they have been outstanding at Bramlage Coliseum (11-1).
The Longhorns bested the Wildcats in Austin back on Jan. 21, 67-64. Kansas State has still claimed seven of the past 12 meetings and owns a 16-11 advantage all-time over Texas.
With their most recent game tied at 52 with under three minutes remaining, the Longhorns took the lead on a Jonathan Holmes' 3-pointer and held on for the low-scoring victory. It was a dreadful shooting night for the Horns, who made good on only 31 percent of their tries from the floor (including just 5-of-18 from beyond the arc), but they held TCU to just 32.7 percent shooting and dominated the rebounding battle, 56-25. Holmes set the tone in the frontcourt with 20 points and 16 rebounds while stretching the floor with a 2-of-4 showing from 3-point range. Cameron Ridley and Isaiah Taylor finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively, with Taylor adding seven assists to his performance.
Texas is typically a much better offensive club than it showed the last time out, as it pours in 76.9 ppg on 43.9 percent field goal shooting, which is more than enough to support its effort on the defensive end of the floor (.394, 69.7 ppg). It also regularly earns an advantage on the glass with a +7.9 rebounding margin, although it's not without its weaknesses, as it owns lackluster percentages from 3-point range (.325) and the foul line (.655). Holmes posts 13.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 1.3 bpg all while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor. Taylor (12.1 ppg, 3.6 apg) and Javan Felix (12.0 ppg, 3.0 apg) are both solid in the backcourt, while Ridley brings 11.1 ppg and 8.0 rpg to the table.
The Wildcats fell behind WVU by eight at the half of their most recent game and could never recover on their way to a 10-point setback. They shot an impressive 50.8 percent from the field, but only 3-of-13 came from 3-point range, and they were a dreadful 8-of-19 from the free-throw line (compared to 29-of-37 for WVU). Marcus Foster did his best to keep the team afloat, shooting 10-of-16 from the field for 23 points. Thomas Gipson was also stellar, making 8-of-11 from the field for 19 points to go with eight rebounds.
Kansas State has found success this season behind its excellent defense, which holds opponents to a mere 40.1 percent shooting and 62.0 ppg. Offensively, it has been modest at best, making good on only 43.1 percent of its field goal tries for 68.2 ppg while sporting poor percentages from beyond the arc (.314) and the free-throw line (.644). Foster shoots just 40.1 percent from the floor this season but generates enough volume to lead the team in scoring with 13.9 ppg. Gipson is a mainstay in the frontcourt, scoring 12.2 ppg (on 59.1 percent shooting) and corralling 6.3 rpg. Shane Southwell rounds out the double-digit scorers with 11.0 ppg.