Cats and Buffs to battle this weekend

There are plenty of reasons for both teams to win this weekend against Colorado, but perhaps no better opponent for the Cats to start the rest of their respective seasons against.

After all, the men have lost 19 consecutive Big 12 road games, with their last win coming -- you guessed it -- against Colorado on March 3, 2001. The Cats will try to snap that streak, which has players and coaches alike pondering it, when the teams tip-off at 3 p.m. in the Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colo. The game will be televised regionally by ESPN+.

"The atmosphere, breathing-wise, it's tougher with the altitude," guard Tim Ellis said. "But other than that, it's just a regular basketball game. That's what we're talking about. We must get a road win -- do whatever you have to do to win. We're starting our season over. We have nine games left and we want to make the best of it."

But while Kansas State (10-8, 2-5) is coming off a throttling of Nebraska at home, the Buffaloes (12-7, 4-4) rumble into Manhattan as one of the surprise teams in the Big 12, with wins over Oregon State and Missouri -- two teams that have already beaten Kansas State.

Colorado is led by the inside-outside duo of Michel Morandais (15.8 ppg, 3.2 apg), who Kansas State fans are still having nightmares about for last season's Big 12 Tournament, and David Harrison, a mammoth center who averages 16.6 points and 8.4 boards per game.

At 7-foot, Harrison presents matchup problems for Coach Jim Wooldridge's Cats, particularly if guard Dez Willingham starts and Kansas State goes with a three-guard, two-forward lineup, as is expected.

But the Wildcats did play arguably their best game of the season against Nebraska, shooting a blistering 63-percent from the field and more than 70-percent in the second half, which saw a 17-2 run essentially ice what was a hotly contested game. Ellis hit six-straight shots at one point, Jeremiah Massey had a career-high 24 points and Kansas State simply lobbed shots over top of the Husker zone defense, which had been the best defense in the Big 12.

"This week Coach was talking about us being accountable for ourselves," guard Jarrett Hart said. "We were telling ourselves we need to pick it up in the huddle. "That's what he wants these days. He was sitting there showing us the plays, but it's guys stepping up on the court and showing what they could do."

The women, meanwhile, welcome the Buffs to Bramlage Coliseum for a 3 p.m. tip Sunday. The Cats will have a weekend monopoly on the ESPN airwaves across the midwest, with the women televised to a national audience on ESPN2.

The Wildcats beat Colorado in the teams' first meeting, a 76-69 win in Boulder on Jan. 10, but since then the Buffaloes (18-2, 7-1) have rattled off eight consecutive wins and sit deadlocked atop the Big 12 North -- and the Big 12 -- with Kansas State (16-3, 7-1). Additionally, the No. 11 Buffaloes and No. 10 Wildcats feature arguably the top two centers in the nation.

Colorado is led by senior center Tera Bjorklund, a 6-foot-5 scoring machine who is second in the Big 12 in points per game with 19.9. She also pulls down 7.6 rebounds per game. Ohlde, meanwhile, leads the league in scoring with 21.5 ppg, and is just three rebounds shy of becoming the Wildcats' all-time leading rebounder.

Colroado is coming off a 78-63 dismantling of a Nebraska team that handed the Wildcats their only conference loss. Bjorklund scored 32 points in the win.

The Wildcats are also on a winnning streak of their own, though. The Cats beat Iowa State 61-47 in Ames, where Coach Deb Patterson had been just 1-6 in her career.

PROBABLE MEN'S LINEUPS

Colorado (12-7, 4-4)
G 30 Michel Morandais Sr. 15.8 ppg, 3.2 apg
G 5 Jayson Obazuaye So. 6.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg
G 43 Blair Wilson Sr. 11.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg
F 44 Lamar Harris Sr. 8.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg
C 13 David Harrison Jr. 16.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg

Kansas State (10-8, 2-5)
G 10 Dez Willingham Fr. 5.0 ppg, 3.2 apg
G 11 Tim Ellis Sr. 12.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg
G 30 Jarrett Hart Sr. 10.9 ppg, 3.5 apg
F 15 Jeremiah Massey Jr. 13.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg
F 23 Marquis Hayden So. 9.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg

PROBABLE WOMEN'S LINEUPS

Colorado (18-2, 7-1)
G 1 Kate Fagan Sr. 14.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg
G 10 Maria Billingsley Sr. 2.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg
F 5 V. Johns-Richardson Jr. 8.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg
F 54 Randie Wirt Sr. 9.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg
C 50 Tera Bjorklund Sr. 19.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg

Kansas State (16-3, 7-1)
G 10 Laurie Koehn Jr. 14.1 ppg, 3.6 3pg
G 34 Megan Mahoney Jr. 8.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg
F 45 Amy Dutmer Sr. 2.0 ppg, 1.1 rpg
F 53 Kendra Wecker Jr. 15.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg
C 3 Nicole Ohlde Sr. 17.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg


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