With monkey off it back, Cats moving on

That monkey -- or gorilla -- that was a 21-game Big 12 road losing streak has officially been vanguished. Now, the Wildcats step back into Bramlage Coliseum, where they have been almost impenetrable.

They'll try to ratchet-up their second-consecutive win when the Wildcats host Colorado at 6 p.m. Saturday. The game will air throughout Kansas on WIBW and Metro Sports.

Kansas State, aside from shaking that dastardly road losing streak, will also have revenge on its minds. It was just two weeks ago when the Buffaloes used a last-second tip-in to beat the Wildcats after a fervent comeback effort.

But that loss may have set off a fire under the Wildcats, who have won two of their last three -- including that road win at Nebraska and a thumping of Big 12-bubble team Iowa State at Bramlage Coliseum. In fact, Kansas State is 12-2 in its last 14 games inside Bramlage. That includes an 11-2 mark this seaosn.

Even if you say Kansas State has rolled since that buzzer-beating loss to Colorado in Boulder, you would have to say the Buffaloes have been just as good. Their last outting was a 10-point win over Texas Tech, which kept alive the Buffaloes razor-thin chances of an NCAA Tournament appearance.

In that game, mammoth center David Harrison scored 24 points and dazzeled even Tech coach Bobby Knight with his inside game, leaving Knight to say, "He hurt us. This was as good as I've seen him play."

It was also as good as Colorado coach Ricardo Patton had seen his entire team play. The Buffs scored 48-first half points and dominated Tech's top scorers, including playing lock-down defense on guard Andre Emmet.

"It was a great team win," Patton said. "I thought our kids came out and played focused basketball. I thought we came unraveled at some points, played carelessly, and maybe lost our temper, but that is what happens in the heat of the battle. I think that shows how much our guys wanted to win."

Colorado (14-8, 6-5) also got 12 points from Wildcat-killer Blair Wilson, who torched Kansas State for 26 points on seven 3-pointers in the Feb. 7 contest.

But Kansas State has gotten tougher since then, an attitude Coach Jim Wooldridge has finally begun to see in his club. Despite foul troubles with Marques Hayden and Drammane Diarra, despite sketchy post play and turnovers, the Wildcats finally got a road win.

That road win may be what the Wildcats need to upset Colorado at home.

The Kansas State women, meanwhile, fresh off a death-scare at College Station, Texas, where over-matched A&M led the Cats in the second half before Laurie Koehn caught fire, will be on the road for the second-straight game. The Cats tip at the Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo. against the Tigers at 1 p.m. Metro Sports will televise the game live.

Koehn had 22 points in resurrecting the Wildcats last Wednesday night, but the story of that game was Kansas State's bench play. After guards Twiggy McIntyre and Claire Coggins dazzled in logging double-digit minutes at home against Nebraska, no Kansas State player scored from off the bench against Texas A&M. Starters combined for all 59 of the Wildcats' points, and in fact, only five shots were even taken by Coggins and McIntyre -- all misses.

Balanced scoring has become a marquee at Kansas State, where late-season meltdowns have become common the past two years due to insufficient depth. That Kansas State had to rely on its Big 3 (Ohlde 12, Koehn 22, Wecker 17) to bail them out had Deb Patterson a little uneasy.

Fortunately, after a disappointing game there isn't much better of a team in the Big 12 North to get back on track against. Kansas State thumped Missouri 95-59 in the first meeting, and the Tigers are 13-10, 4-8 in the Big 12, but have struggled against Top 10 teams. Kansas State is ranked No. 8 in the latest Associated Press poll.

That's not to say the Tigers don't present problems. Six-foot-1 senior Evan Unrau averages more than 17 points per game and three other players chip in more than 9 points per game.

Whether Kansas State is also looking ahead could play a large factor. After a mid-week clash with Iowa State, the Cats are off to the longest home-winning streak in the Big 12 when they play at Texas. That is followed two days later with a game at home against Texas Tech to finish the season.

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