The Kansas State Wildcats inserted themselves into the Top 25 in December following wins over then-No. 18 Dayton and then-No. 17 UNLV.
Since then, the Wildcats have been climbing the polls, resulting in the highest ranking in school history. They are now the No. 5 team in the nation.
They have done it all season with impressive balance on offense and defense.
One night, you will see Jacob Pullen or Denis Clemente dominate the backcourt. Another night, you will see Curtis Kelly or Jamar Samuels get it done in the post—or perhaps you will witness them all click on the same night.
This happens to be the continuing trend with the Wildcats.
The No. 1 team in the Big 12 is Kansas. Kansas has a 13-1 record in conference play and is coming off a tough road loss against Oklahoma State.
I remember the last time the Jayhawks were the No. 2 team in the nation and lost to Oklahoma State. That year, they fell to Kansas State as well.
In fact, only one time this decade has Oklahoma State defeated Kansas in the regular season without Kansas State beating them at all.
That's good news for the Wildcats, but every game is not conceived on superstitions.
To beat No. 2 Kansas, the Wildcats are going to need to cut down on their turnovers. On average, the Wildcats have a 21 percent chance of turning over the ball on every possession—not a good habit to possess if you are a top-five team.
However, securing the ball was not a problem in the last game against Kansas until late.
Last time around, the Jayhawks yielded 79 points to the Wildcats. The Wildcats must attack their defense—not only will it score points, but it will keep the Jayhawks in foul trouble and put the Wildcats in a better position to win the game.
The Wildcats frontcourt has to be physical with Cole Aldrich. In the last game, he grabbed too many offensive rebounds—along with one offensive rebound that virtually secured the victory for Kansas. If I am writing the game plan for Aldrich, I would place Wally Judge in the starting lineup rather than Luis Colon.
This is a smart move because Judge possesses the size of Colon but is much quicker. Judge can move his feet against Aldrich without fouling and put a hand in his face or block the shot.
In addition, Judge can put a body on Aldrich and push him elsewhere from the hoop. Not just Judge, but all the frontier players from Kansas State have to take it to the big man Aldrich.
Lastly, comparing the last meeting with the two rivals, Pullen needs to be on Sherron Collins during the whole game. Despite the last play by Collins that put Kansas up by three with less than a minute to go, Pullen played exceptionally well on the All-American.
This should result in an even-handed, reasonable edge over the Jayhawks if the offense performs correctly.
The Wildcats have demonstrated that they are a successful road team with a 8-1 road record. The Wildcats are scoring 81.5 points, 33.7 rebounds, and 7.5 three-pointers on the road each game.
To beat the Jayhawks, Kansas State needs to win the points in the paint battle, capitalize off turnovers, shoot a better percentage, and take their frontier players out of the game.
Tennessee and Oklahoma State did it; now, it’s the Wildcats turn.
The Wildcats certainly have what it takes to overcome that 58-game winning streak and steal one on the road against the Jayhawks.
The game is set to air at 7 p.m. on the Big 12 Network.
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