The Jayhawks travel to Manhattan for their second to last road game of the year, facing a K-State team that badly needs a win as they’re currently on an 8-game losing streak. They have just two Big 12 wins on the year, but have beaten both West Virginia and Oklahoma, so anything is possible.
The Wildcats have really struggled on offense, scoring just .92 points per possession in Big 12 play. It’s been a bad year all around on offense: K State ranks 7th or worse in the league in effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage, offensive rebound percentage, 3-point percentage, and free throw percentage. They do rank 2nd in the league at getting to the free throw line, so perhaps their plan of attack is to drive it inside relentlessly and try to get Azubuike into some foul trouble, but even that probably won’t be enough. The Wildcats do take a fair number of threes (roughly 38 percent of attempts in Big 12 play) so a hot day from deep plus some foul trouble is probably the best recipe.
Defensively they have been pretty rough as well. Teams are scoring right around 1.04 points per trip against them, which is third-worst in the league. They also rank 9th or 10th in the Big 12 in eFG allowed, free throw rate allowed, 3-point percentage allowed, 2-point percentage allowed, and giving up 3-point attempts. Not hard to see why they are giving up a lot of points. They do a good job of forcing turnovers, with three guys with a steal rate over 3 percent, but their big men don’t put a ton of pressure on the ball, which is more of the issue for Kansas in terms of turning the ball over.
Players to Watch
Cartier Diarra, 6-4 junior guard
Cartier Diarra leads the Big 12 in instagram death threats issued after a game, and also leads the Wildcats in steal rate. He hasn’t been much of an efficient scorer this year, but is one of the better passers in the Big 12.
Mike McGuirl, 6-2 junior guard
McGuirl is the team’s best outside shooter, making 45 percent of his attempts this season (although he has taken only 73 of them). He doesn’t do much else offensively, but the Jayhawks will obviously have to keep an eye on him.
Xavier Sneed, 6-5 senior wing
Sneed has probably been Kansas State’s best overall offensive player, which is not a great sign considering his offensive rating is barely over 100 and his usage rate isn’t even at 25 percent. He has scored 15 points in three of the team’s last four games, however.
Frankly, the only way Kansas was going to be in much danger would be if they took Kansas State lightly. After what happened in Allen Fieldhouse, I don’t see that happening. It’s certainly true that Kansas has laid some eggs in Manhattan recently, but even a C- game from the Jayhawks should be enough to get the win. I’ll say Kansas wins somewhat comfortably, 73-57, and we are pleasantly surprised by the lack of extracurricular activity during and after the game.