Midwest Shootout: #9 Kansas State Vs. #13 Oklahoma State
- CoachingIn his first year in Manhattan, Bruce Weber has the Wildcats quietly in the top 10. Winners of six straight, this will be their toughest test since their loss at Kansas a month ago.The Cowboys had their three-game win streak snapped at Iowa State on Wednesday. Travis Ford has a very talented team; they’ll want to get back on track heading into the Big 12 Tournament.
- OffenseSenior Rodney McGruder leads the team in scoring; he hit the game-winner at the buzzer against Baylor last Saturday. K-State really attacks the offensive glass, a big part of their success offensively.The usual suspects, Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, were the big scorers in the first match-up between these two teams. The Cowboys sometimes struggle to make jump shots consistently.
- DefenseIn Big 12 play the Wildcats are tops in the conference in forcing turnovers and keeping opponents off the foul line. They allow about one point per possession in league play, fifth best.Oklahoma State has several physical, athletic, versatile defenders. But on Wednesday they let Iowa State shoot 51 percent and get to the free throw line 35 times.
- Bench DepthWill Spradling sat out Tuesday’s game with a bruised sternum. That left the Wildcats pretty thin. Forward Thomas Gibson averages eight points and five rebounds off the bench.Phil Forte provides a long-range threat off the bench. He is often in the game in crunch time. Ford is not afraid to turn to his reserves.
Kansas State won the first match-up, 73-67, on Jan. 5. Oklahoma State, despite its recent setback, is playing well and has the edge at home. -Andrew Kahn, College Basketball Contributor