The caliber of Kansas State’s upcoming opponent might not be to the level of its last one, but the challenge to win could be just as difficult.
Looking to bounce back from a tough defeat to their archrival, the 10th-ranked Wildcats try to avoid a fourth consecutive road loss to Nebraska on Tuesday night in a Big 12 matchup.
Kansas State (17-4, 4-3) left it all on the floor during an emotional 81-79 overtime home loss to Kansas on Saturday. While the result vaulted the Jayhawks to the top of the AP poll, it left the Wildcats looking to get back on track after losing for the second time in three games.
Jacob Pullen scored 22 points in the physical back-and-forth contest, but Kansas State failed to take advantage of some late Kansas mistakes and stop hobbled Jayhawks star Sherron Collins from hitting a key bucket with 9 seconds left in overtime to help Kansas pull out the win.
“I think it is impossible to play great with how hard Kansas State plays,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after his team shot 50.0 percent from the field, but committed 17 turnovers.
The Wildcats, however, will need to leave that defeat behind and focus on trying to win at Nebraska for the first time since pulling out a 66-64 victory March 1, 2006.
Though Nebraska (13-8, 1-5) is last in the conference and lost 77-72 at Kansas State last Feb. 28, the Cornhuskers are shooting 52.9 percent while winning by an average of 13.4 points during their three-game home winning streak in the series. Nebraska won 73-51 in last season’s meeting in Lincoln.
Nebraska will also be looking to build off its first league victory, 63-46 over Oklahoma at home Saturday.
“It’s going to be a handful for us,” Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. “We have had no success going into that building.
“(Nebraska) is going to fight you for 40 minutes. They play offense at a high pace, an unbelievably efficient rate. Then defensively, they give you nothing easily.”
Martin’s club, however, should be ready for the challenge while trying for a third straight conference road victory. The Wildcats are averaging 77.0 points while going 2-1 on the road in the Big 12.
Pullen has been a big reason for the Wildcats’ success away from home, averaging 23.0 points on 47.3 percent shooting in Kansas State’s four true road games. The junior guard had 18 points and five assists against the Cornhuskers at home last February, but is averaging 10.5 points in two career games at Nebraska.
Brandon Richardson scored 16 points off the bench and Ryan Anderson added 11 against Oklahoma as Nebraska snapped a season-high five-game losing streak.
Nebraska, though, is last in the league in scoring at 66.9 points per game. Anderson is only player averaging double-digit points (10.7) for the Cornhuskers. The senior guard had 19 on 7-of-9 shooting in last season’s loss to Kansas State.
Nebraska, losers of three in a row against Top 25 opponents, begins a daunting stretch versus four ranked teams. After this contest, the Cornhuskers visit No. 1 Kansas on Saturday, host No. 20 Baylor on Feb. 10 and play at ninth-ranked Texas on Feb. 13 before going to Kansas State on Feb. 17.