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Cats open big week with Tech

By Joel Jellison

The way things have gone in the last week, it seems Kansas State needs its trip home for a game with Texas Tech on Tuesday.

Not that the Red Raiders will present an easy challenge for the Wildcats, but it can’t be much tougher than the two games K-State played in the last week.

Last Tuesday, the Wildcats failed to put Texas away and lost on a buzzer beating 3-pointer. Then on Saturday, K-State came back from 12 and 11-point deficits at Iowa State, just to see its offense lose momentum at the end and lose again.

Without a doubt, K-State (14-6, 4-3 Big 12) will be looking to turn their fortune around playing at home, where they’ve lost just one Big 12 game under coach Bruce Weber.

The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip on the Big 12 Network.

Weber said as his team goes into this week, which includes a road game at West Virginia on Saturday, it’s already become a make-or-break period for the Big 12 race.

“It’s a gut-check week for our guys,” he said. “We get to go home. Texas Tech has already really battled, they went and beat Baylor and they have some big strong guys inside. And then you go back to West Virginia. We’re going to have to maintain at home and get a road win, and then you’ve got a bye week.”

Weber said that bye week will come at a crucial time for his team, and exactly at the midpoint of the Big 12 schedule, a luxury not all league teams share. After that break, the Wildcats will come out with a Saturday home game against Texas and a Monday home game with Kansas — two teams they’ve already lost to.

“I think the guys will appreciate that (break),” Weber said. “We’ve had a hard grind since the Tulane game — it’s been Tuesday-Saturday. Just haven’t given them much of a break to get fresh. We’re going to have to be smart during that week, but we have to get better.”

Texas Tech (10-10, 2-5) has experienced an up-and-down season under new coach Tubby Smith, but scored a major home win with an 82-72 win over Baylor.

The Red Raiders are led by senior forward Jaye Crockett’s 14.6 points per game, while junior forward Jordan Tolbert is scoring 12 points per contest.

K-State is coming off a game against Iowa State that saw its leading scorer Marcus Foster put together his second-biggest scoring output of the season with 20 points.

But Weber was disappointed with the way his offense played, getting away from the ball movement that has made it so successful.

Too often Weber said his team came down the court and tried to create one-on-one shots. And that seemed to spill over to the defensive side, where the Wildcats became lax in spots when they struggled offensively.

“Quick shots, one-on-one shots, we were just a little impatient,” he said. “We’re too young. A year from now maybe we play a little quicker, but right now we’re a little young to put up those quick shots.”

Despite the two-game losing streak on the road, Weber said he has told the team they are a good team. But going forward, he said they will prove how good.

“We’re a good team,” he said. “I told them before the (Iowa State) game, we’re a good team. Do you want to be a really good team? That’s the question.

“That will be determined by our leadership, staying focused, and then our young guys learning the game and getting better and better.”

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