It’s Baylor and everyone else, again, this season in the Big 12. With everyone seemingly playing for second behind the top-ranked Bears, Kansas State still has a chance to make up ground in the final five weeks of the regular season.
If the Wildcats are going to do that, though, getting past No. 23 Oklahoma on Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum would clearly be a good move in the right direction. But of late, K-State has been headed in the wrong direction.
Losers of two straight — by 19 at Texas on Jan. 26, and then an 89-80 double-overtime loss to Kansas this past Saturday — the Wildcats are looking to find the same magic they had when they last played a team from Oklahoma.
Two weeks ago, K-State upset No. 12 Oklahoma State in Manhattan. But like the Wildcats, the Sooners (16-5, 6-3) know all too well what can happen any given night, as they’re coming off a 19-point loss at West Virginia on Saturday.
OU enters Wednesday’s game just three games ahead of the Wildcats (12-9, 3-6). Some seasons that could seem like a lot, but not this year. The Sooners are second in the Big 12 with only those three games separating them from the Wildcats, who are seventh.
One thing is clear though — if K-State is going to make up ground in the standings, it’ll have to improve from it’s showing on Saturday against the Jayhawks, who completed the season sweep of the Wildcats. K-State shot just 33 percent from the field, allowed KU to shoot 48 percent, and let numerous chances to win the game slip away. Leading scorer Brittany Chambers was also corralled some — held to 14 points, including 0 for 7 from behind the arc and 5 of 22 overall.
“To stay on the floor with a top-20 team, we dang well better be better,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “We better make open shots when we get them, better make shots when the game is on the line, and we better defend shots when all you have to do is defend for 20 seconds of a possession, or you don’t win.”
Doing that against the Sooners is a tall order. After all, Oklahoma has won 10 straight in the series and 17 of the last 21 meetings.
“OU, in my mind, is usually the most aggressive, confident team in terms of flow and style of anybody you’re going to play in the league,” Patterson said. “We better be ready to match it and (Saturday) we weren’t.
Senior point guard Mariah White said the Wildcats lost on Saturday because of mental mistakes.
“Like Coach Patterson said, the game is won between the ears,” said White, who had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds Saturday. “We just have to be mentally tough… that’s what we have to do — come back physically and mentally, but mostly mentally.”