Preview: Wildcats take win streak to Lawrence

K-State defeated then-No. 22 Texas 73-72 Saturday, but the Longhorns don't have anywhere nearly as talented as the No. 9-ranked Kansas Jayhawks. The Wildcats (17-6, 6-2 Big 12 Conference) will be putting their seven-game win streak on the line tonight when they travel to Lawrence, Kan., to take on the intrastate rival Jayhawks (19-4, 6-2) in Allen Fieldhouse.

The matchup between the Wildcats and Jayhawks is and always will be a bitter rivalry, but lately there has been nothing more than pride on the line for K-State.

That's all changed this year with the addition of coach Bob Huggins.

He has added a new level of intensity that K-State hasn't seen in a long time, and he currently has his team in position to make a run at the Big 12 regular season championship.

The winner of tonight's game will move into sole position of second place in the conference at 7-2, right behind the league-leading No. 6-ranked Texas A&M Aggies who currently sit in first place at 20-3 overall and 8-1 in the conference.

The players on K-State have never been in a position like this before this late into the season, but coach Bob Huggins said he thinks most of his guys understand what they are playing for tonight.

"They know where we are right now. We're just going to try to score more than they do," Huggins said. "It's pretty evident that when they get into transition, they're pretty good.

We've got to at least try to limit their transition opportunities. Other than that, we just have to do what we do. We have to try to guard, which will be hard, because they are good."

Kansas has no seniors on its roster, but the team has plenty of talented players to make up for the lack of experience.

Sophomore Brandon Rush leads the team in scoring with 14.1 points per game, and he has made a team-best 43 3-point field goals. He also averages six rebounds a game.

Senior Akeem Wright is K-State's best defender and its leading rebounder at 6.1 boards a game, and he went up against Texas freshman Kevin Durant. He did an admirable job against Durant, contesting every single one of his shots. He will again be given a tough assignment, as he will be guarding Rush to start the game.

Sophomore Mario Chalmers averages 11.6 points per game and 2.7 steals, while sophomore Julian Wright is right behind him with 11.3 and a team-best 7.8 rebounds. Kansas also has a couple talented freshmen who give the team added depth. Darrell Arthur provides 10.7 points and 4.8 rebounds off the bench.

Huggins said Kansas is loaded with playmakers, but he especially likes the recent play of freshman Sherron Collins.

"I think lately when you're watching Collins he has played terrific," he said. "He's got the ability to create off the dribble. He really gets the ball in the lane. You can name just about eight of them that are really good – eight of them that properly might have a chance to play at the next level. There aren't many teams that have that."

K-State will counter Kansas' attack with the likes of senior Cartier Martin and junior David Hoskins.

Martin scored 27 points on a career-high seven 3's against Texas, and he has scored in double figures in seven straight games, the same number as the winning streak. He has averaged 18.7 points per game during the streak and has scored 20 or more in three of the last four games.

He is second in the Big 12 in free throw percentage during conference play with a 94.3 percent from the line.

Hoskins has scored in double figures in 16 consecutive games, and he is averaging 16.7 points per game during the win streak. These two players were big in last year's game between these two teams in Lawrence, when K-State defeated the Jayhawks 59-55 to end a 31-game losing streak.

"That was one of the most exciting games in my career," Martin said. "Going in there at their place and breaking the streak was a big deal."

The Wildcats haven't won back-to-back games at Allen Fieldhouse since 1988-89, making it an even tougher test for them. K-State showed a lot of poise in coming from behind to beat Texas. The Wildcats committed six turnovers in the entire game, including zero in the second half, while playing sound fundamental basketball.

Tonight they will need to continue playing smart and the key players will have to step up and put some points on the board against this tough Jayhawk squad. The game will tipoff at 8:05 and will be televised by ESPN Plus.


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