It's happened only 16 previous times in the 2,500-plus games of Kansas State University's basketball history. That's the Wildcats playing a No. 1 ranked team in the nation.
It will happen for the third time in the last two seasons tonight when 4-6, 16-9 K-State plays host to No. 1 ranked Kansas in Bramlage Coliseum in an 8 p.m. "Big Monday" tipoff on ESPN.
To that, KU coach Bill Self said, "Someone has to be No. 1, but I'm not sure that we deserve it. The team that will be No. 2 (Texas) kicked our butt in this building (Allen Fieldhouse.) I believe the last time a No. 1 team went to Bramlage they got beat, which was Texas."
Self was right-on with his facts as last Jan. 19, K-State thumped the No. 1 Longhorns, 71-62. It was only the third win over a top-ranked team in Wildcat history.
That K-State team, however, was 15-2 and ranked among the top 10 in the nation, while this year the Wildcats will limp into the game after a devastating loss at Colorado Saturday, 58-56.
"It's a quick turn-around; you can't let a game like this get under your skin. We have to focus back in on Kansas. We have to find a way to protect our home court."
On the last 100th-of-a-second loss to CU, coach Frank Martin was honest as could be: "If you don't play well enough then you don't deserve to win, and we didn't play well enough. When you are on the road, you are not going to be winning if you shoot 30 percent from the field and miss 13 free throws."
Martin, however, promises that his Wildcats will be ready.
"We're playing back-to-back games (CU and KU) against two teams that beat us the first time around," said Martin. "We take pride in playing teams that beat us. Because they beat us the first time doesn't mean we went home and cried. You just have to work harder to prepare to win." It was after that 24-point loss to the Jayhawks in Lawrence that Martin said, "We play them again. Let that be known. We play them again."
KEYS TO A WILDCAT WIN:
1) In just two of K-State's 10 Big 12 games have they been able to score more than 69 points; in the last six KU games, the Jayhawks have scored between 82 and 103 points. Somehow, the Wildcats need to find their way into the mid-70s on offense and keep the Jayhawks well below their season average.
From the first game on offense, Martin says K-State needs to be better with "… shooting layups and hitting open 3s," and on defense, "We need to guard better so the guy doesn't shoot a layup every time. And, we need to rebound better so Marcus Morris doesn't grab every rebound to give them an extra possession."
2) Making free throws will be a key. In the last two Big 12 games K-State has been at 50 and 58 percent. The Wildcats will need to shoot above 70 percent from the line, and, have plenty of opportunities.
3) Martin has made it clear that the seniors – Pullen and Curtis Kelly – must produce.
"The grown men on the team to play like grown men all the time. If they do, we have a chance. But he added, "If just one plays like a grown man and the other doesn't, then we need what happened at Iowa State with a plethora of guys contributing."
On improving from that first game at Kansas, Martin said, "That game was so bad. There are some games you can't wait to watch on tape, but we didn't pay any attention to that one. Some games you just want to erase from your mind and move on.
"We need to go through the scouting report because whatever we did last time, it didn't work," said Martin. "We need a fresh start." No one knows more than Self that the task of duplicating that first win in Bramlage Coliseum will be much tougher in Bramlage Coliseum.
"Kansas State is a place that is always tough and they are going to want to put a little something back on us for that game here," said Self, whose Jayhawks are a perfect 8-0 in games outside of Allen Fieldhouse this year. "They are good team. Being No. 1 will add to the interest of the game and we have to be ready to play. We know we will get a great effort from them and it will be a great rivalry game for us."
To the No. 1 ranking, Marcus Morris, a candidate for the Wooden Award, said, "I want to be ranked No. 1. I want to have that chip on our shoulder every time we go out. I want to get everybody's best shot because I think we can take it."
KANSAS STATE'S ALL-TIME GAMES AGAINST NO. 1 TEAMS
3 VICTORIES; 13 LOSSES
2009-10 Kansas Loss, 72-64 Kansas City
2009-10 Texas Win, 61-62 Manhattan
2001-02 Kansas Loss, 103-68 Lawrence
1996-97 Kansas Loss, 78-58 Lawrence
1996-97 Kansas Loss, 62-59 Manhattan
1993-94 Kansas Win, 68-64 Lawrence
1992-93 Kansas Loss, 71-65 Manhattan
1989-90 Missouri Win, 65-58 Manhattan
1988-89 Oklahoma Loss, 86-82 Norman
1988-89 Oklahoma Loss, 90-82 Manhattan
1986-87 UNLV Loss, 80-61 NCAA – Salt Lake City, Utah
1981-82 Missouri Loss, 59-58 Manhattan
1963-64 UCLA Loss, 90-82 Final Four – Kansas City, Mo.
1962-63 Cincinnati Loss, 75-61 Manhattan
1956-57 Kansas Loss, 51-45 Lawrence
1950-51 Kentucky Loss, 68-58 NCAA Title Game – Minneapolis, Minn.
THE PROJECTED KSU-KU STARTERS
KS – Curtis Kelly, 6-8, Sr, 9.9, 4.9
KU – Markieff Morris, 6-10, Jr, 13.7, 8.0
KS – Jamar Samuels, 6-7, Jr, 9.6, 5.6
KU – Marcus Morris, 6-9, Jr, 18.3, 8.3
KS – Rodney McGruder, 6-5, Soph, 11.0, 6.5
KU – Brady Morningstar, 6-4, Sr, 8.3, 2.5
KS – Shane Southwell, 6-6, Fr, 1.4, 1.7
KU – Tyrel Reed, 6-3, Sr, 10.0, 3.4
KS – Jacob Pullen, 6-0, Sr, 18.2, 3.3
KU – Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3, Jr, 7.4, 2.3