No. 18 Kansas State and resurgent Texas both will have something to prove when they square off on Tuesday in a key Big 12 Conference dustup in Austin, Texas.
Kansas State (18-5, 8-2 Big 12) are riding an eight-game league winning streak and have captured eight of nine overall. They want to show that a 20-point home loss to the Longhorns on Jan. 2 was an anomaly.
The Longhorns (14-10, 6-5) look to continue a winning trend that seen them capture three of their past four games and improve upon their uncanny knack of beating ranked teams at home.
The Wildcats were without the injured Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes in the loss to Texas at Manhattan, Kan., but they've both returned, and Kansas State has surged.
However, K-State has now lost guard Cartier Diarra, who did not make the trip to Austin and will need surgery on his injured shooting hand. The sophomore, who is one of the team's top perimeter defenders, is out indefinitely.
The Wildcats' eight-game conference winning streak is their longest in the Big 12 era and their longest since they captured 11 consecutive conference games from Jan. 14-Feb. 26, 1974, in the old Big Eight.
Kansas State heads to Austin on the heels of a 70-63 road win over Baylor on Saturday. Stokes poured in a game-high 20 points, Barry Brown Jr. added 13, and Wade and Diarra hit for 12 and 10 points, respectively, in the victory. The Wildcats are 8-1 this season when four or more players score in double figures.
"There is a long way to go, eight games," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "We just have to keep plugging away one game at a time."
Brown has seen action in 128 consecutive games, including 106 straight starts. With his Saturday appearance, he broke the school record he shared with Steve Henson (1987-90).
The Wildcats returned to the national rankings on Monday after falling out of the polls in December. Kansas State opened the season ranked No. 12 and stayed there when they won their first seven games, but then fell out of the Top 25 following back-to-back losses to Marquette and Tulsa.
Weber emphasized to his team how dangerous the Longhorns are.
"You've got to understand your opponent," he said. "Texas was desperate the other night when they played Baylor (last Wednesday), and they played at a high level. They're fighting for their lives, too, to stay up in the top (half of the Big 12) and get into the (NCAA) Tournament."
Texas' most recent win came on Saturday, a decisive 75-53 road rout of West Virginia.
Freshman Courtney Ramey tied a career high with 19 points to lead the Longhorns while Kerwin Roach II registered 14 points and Dylan Osetkowski grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.
Ramey hit 5 of 6 shots from 3-point range and had four assists without a turnover in 30 minutes. He tied his career highs in field goals made (seven) and 3-point field goals made.
The 22-point win marked the Longhorns' largest margin of victory in a Big 12 Conference contest under head coach Shaka Smart, supplanting the 67-47 win at Kansas State last month that opened league play.
The Jan. 2 result allowed the Longhorns to snap a four-game losing streak in the series with the Wildcats.
"I want them to really understand why we won and why we won convincingly," Smart said, according to the Austin American-Statesman, after the win over West Virginia. "The hardest thing is putting it in a bottle and bringing it back out when the next game comes. But we have to keep getting better.
"But I want them to feel good about winning. Losing certainly sucks."
Texas' five Big 12 defeats have come by a combined total of 20 points.
--Field Level Media