The No. 14 Texas Longhorns (11-2, 1-0) will play their first conference road game on Tuesday in Manhattan against the shorthanded Kansas State Wildcats (8-4, 0-1).
The Wildcats are only expected to have seven players available with Davion Bradford and Markquis Nowell out due to COVID-19 protocols.
The K-State basketball team will only have seven healthy players tonight against Texas because of COVID issues within its roster.— Kellis Robinett (@KellisRobinett) January 4, 2022
Confirmed through a source the game is still on, but the Wildcats are flirting with the Big 12 minimum threshold of six players and one coach.
This is the second straight game Texas has gotten fortunate with depleted rosters, defeating a West Virginia team that was missing three players to open up conference play. With the Omicron variant spreading rapidly, be prepared to hear the word “short-handed” about a thousand times until this wave subsides.
Kansas State opened Big 12 play against Oklahoma, who was also short-handed, but lost thanks to a last-second shot from Elijah Harkless.
Sophomore guard Nijel Pack leads KSU with 15.1 points per game and is shooting a team-high 42% from deep. The Wildcats boast a top-50 defense thanks to opponents struggling mightily to make threes — there’s likely some luck involved there for Bruce Weber’s team — and do a strong job on the defensive glass. Offensively, Kansas State shoots free throws well, but is otherwise average across the board except for poor offensive rebounding.
KenPom ranks Kansas State 63rd in the nation, last in the Big 12 even with a full roster. Meanwhile, the Longhorns are coming off a decisive 74-59 victory over the Mountaineers in new head coach Chris Beard’s conference debut with Texas as team is seemingly finding a higher level of rhythm offensively.
With a large number of teams being hit hard by COVID-19 protocols, Texas can take advantage of its health and its recent elevation in play, but it might be just a matter of time before the Horns have to deal with Omicron.
[5:52 p.m. Central update]:
Texas G Andrew Jones is not in Manhattan today due to Covid protocols. K-State appears to be down to six scholarship players and a walk-on. League rules require 6 healthy players.— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) January 4, 2022
How to Watch:
TV: Big 12 Now | ESPN+
Time: 6:00 p.m. Central
Radio: Texassports.com affiliates
Odds: The Longhorns are eight-point favorites over the Wildcats, according to DraftKings.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.