The Texas Longhorns are on a roll, winners of seven straight games. The Kansas State Wildcats are not, having lost three of their last four. None of this matters this afternoon in Manhattan, KS.
Kansas State's recent slide has more to do with playing tough teams on the road than it does with a drop-off in performance. Coach Bruce Weber's team has lost at Texas, Iowa State, and West Virginia. In these road losses, the Wildcats took a total of 49 free throw attempts, compared with 85 attempted by their opponents. And while the Wildcats are a bit foul prone, that discrepancy is largely due to what college basketball fans usually refer to as the "home court advantage."
At this point, we know pretty clearly who the Wildcats are: they are a team that is offensively challenged, but defends about as well as any team in the country. They are in Texas' peer group when it comes to defense.
Weber's men put tremendous pressure on the ball handler and work to deny perimeter passes. You don't get the chance to run much offense against Kansas State, as Texas found out a few weeks ago. The way that the Wildcats pressure passes on the perimeter makes running set offense difficult. One of the more insightful comments around this that I remember seeing came from former Texas coach Tom Penders. He was referring to playing against Duke, but I think that the same principle applies against K-State as well.
To beat Duke you have to take them off the dribble. They play your plays well. They jam your plays well but they have trouble off the bounce— Tom Penders (@TomPenders) March 30, 2013
Kansas State has potential to be beaten off the dribble, much as Duke does. There just aren't as many layers of helping defenders in this style of defense as there are when you play a team like Arizona. The lack of a serious rim defender and a tendency to foul seems like the only weak spots in a very good Wildcat D. This is a great game for Isaiah Taylor to attack the basket.
When Kansas State is on offense, the Wildcats have a limited number of options. But one good one is Thomas Gibson, one of the few players in the league who is physically strong enough to battle Cameron Ridley inside. Last time these two met Gibson got the better of Ridley. I imagine Cameron is looking forward to the rematch.
This is your game thread.