Brad Underwood knows Manhattan, Kansas like the back of his hand. After all, he played on legendary Kansas State coach Jack Hartman’s final teams from 1984 to 1986, and appeared in 39 games with eight starts for the Wildcats.
But Wednesday night will be a first for the McPherson, Kansas native. Underwood is returning to his alma mater, Kansas State, for the first time as an opposing head coach when his Oklahoma State Cowboys face the Wildcats at Bramlage Coliseum. Tip is 8 p.m. (Central time).
The Cowboys have been on a hot streak since losing to the Wildcats 96-88 on Jan. 18 inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. That loss was the sixth in a row to open Big 12 play for Underwood’s team but since then the Cowboys have won eight of nine games and climbed all the way to fifth place in the conference.
Underwood knows it won’t be easy for the Cowboys (18-9 overall, 7-7 in the Big 12) to escape from Manhattan with a win over the Wildcats (17-10, 6-8). K-State has won the last five games against OSU in Bramlage. The last Cowboys win over the Wildcats was more than seven years ago as an unranked OSU team upset No. 10 Kansas State, 73-69.
The Cowboys are led by point guard Jawun Evans, who was named Monday for the third time this season as the Big 12 Conference's Player of the Week. In the final eight minutes of the last two games (a 96-62 victory over Oklahoma and a 71-68 win over TCU), Evans scored a combined 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting (78.6 percent). Evans ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring (18.2 points) and assists (5.8) and is fourth in steals (2.0). He is just one of four power conference players nationwide averaging more than 16 points and 6 assists in conference play.
Jeffrey Carroll (has been outstanding for the Cowboys this season. While playing only 3.4 minutes more this season, he is averaging 9.5 more points per game. The fourth-year junior is the only Big 12 player averaging more than 17 points (17.7) and 6.6 rebounds (6.6), and is shooting 49.1 percent from 3-point range in conference play, which ranks second.