Kansas State seems to play its best against Top 25 opponents, but a trip to the Ferrell Center may not be so easy a place to bounce back from an embarrassing loss in a trap game.
The No. 11 Wildcats look to remain perfect against ranked teams as they visit No. 24 Baylor on Tuesday, trying to end the Bears’ school-record 11-game home winning streak.
Kansas State (16-3, 3-2 Big 12) plays its next two games against opponents that are also in the poll, returning home to face archrival No. 2 Kansas on Saturday, but the Wildcats have demonstrated they aren’t intimidated by facing such tough competition. They are 3-0 against the Top 25, including a home victory over then-No. 1 Texas last Monday. Two of those three games also came away from home.
Kansas State was unable to sustain its big momentum from the nine-point win over the Longhorns, however, shooting a season-worst 35.6 percent in a 73-69 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday.
“We missed 47 open shots. We didn’t get any offensive rebounds,” said coach Frank Martin. “We just missed shot after shot after shot. Didn’t make free throws, didn’t make lay-ups. Couldn’t catch the ball. I obviously didn’t do my job very well preparing this team to play.”
The Wildcats are averaging 81.7 points, but they were held below 70 points for the second time. Leading scorer Jacob Pullen was held to 11 points, shooting 2 of 15 for a second straight game.
“I don’t know what the problem is,” said Pullen, who is averaging 18.8 points and shooting 40.7 percent. “I am shooting the ball the same way. I am getting open looks, but they just have to go in.”
Although he finished with 12 points in the win over Texas, Pullen scored a combined 54 points in the other two victories over ranked opponents.
For Pullen and the Wildcats, a visit to Baylor (15-3, 2-2) won’t be easy. The Bears began their current home win streak with a win over Georgetown in last year’s NIT, and Kansas State has lost its last two visits to Waco, Texas.
The Bears lost their only game against a ranked opponent, falling 81-75 to Kansas last Wednesday. They bounced back with a non-conference win over Massachusetts on Saturday, routing the Minutemen 71-45.
Ekpe Udoh and Tweety Carter each scored 23 points as Baylor jumped out to a 14-point halftime lead and limited Massachusetts to 24.2 percent shooting. The Bears weren’t pleased with the total effort, however, after being outrebounded for the first time this season, 42-33.
“That’s something we have to get right,” Udoh said. “Come out slow against that Frank Martin team, you could be looking at a 15-point deficit early. You’ve got to come out strong.”
Baylor visits the sixth-ranked Longhorns on Saturday as it closes out a tough stretch against ranked conference opponents. The Bears’ last win at home over a top 25 foe was its 92-86 victory over Kansas State on Feb. 23, 2008—the last time the two teams faced each other in Waco.
Baylor beat the Wildcats on the road, 83-65 last January for the only meeting between the two last season. LaceDarius Dunn scored 33 points in that win. Dunn has averaged 23.6 points in his last five games and scored 15 against Massachusetts.
The series between Kansas State and Baylor is tied at 10 games a piece. This is the first time the teams are both ranked coming into the game.