Refocused Wildcats set to host hot Horns

By Joel Jellison

After losing three of its last four games, all on the road, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber thought his team needed a week off.

As the Wildcats (15-7, 5-4 Big 12) prepare to play No. 15 Texas (18-4, 7-3) on Saturday in Bramlage Coliseum at 12:30 p.m., Weber is hoping they got what they needed out of the time off.

“It’s kind of like exam week, when you’ve got guys sitting out, guys with injuries, things like that,” Weber said.

“The big thing was to get guys rested, get re-energized, so that we can go into these last weeks of the season and play with great energy, compete and get better.”

Weber said they’ve had two or three players that have set out the whole week, making practice difficulty at times. So while those players rested, they tried to stay hard on the rest of the team when they did practice.

As the date with Texas looms on Saturday, the hope is that the time they did get to get a good bill of health, will result in the Wildcats kicking off the final nine games of the Big 12 schedule with a win.

“You hope to get a win, get re-energized, whatever it may be, but we have to get going,” Weber said. “Every game is important. I’ve said since the beginning of Big 12 that the next game is a big game. This is a huge game for us.

“(Texas’) done a great job of playing hard, playing together, competing, and we’re going to have to match that.”

The last time the Wildcats met the Longhorns, it was a down-to-the-wire game in Austin. K-State tied up the game in the final seconds, only to get dropped on a corner 3-pointer from Jonathan Holmes at the buzzer.

The 67-64 loss spoiled a 24-point, career-high tying performance from Thomas Gipson, who fared well against 6-foot-9 Texas behemoth Cameron Ridley.

“He got Ridley moving and then he went into the post, so he didn’t just sit there,” Weber said. “I told him if it’s going to be a bear fight, even though he’s big, that dude’s bigger, you can’t just get in the middle, you got get him moving.”

K-State got just 13 points from Shane Southwell, who missed a pair of free throws in the final minute that could have put K-State up by two in the final seconds, and Marcus Foster struggled, scoring just eight points.

The Wildcats defeated Texas three times last season, but Weber said that team is far different from the group Longhorns’ coach Rick Barnes has now.

“They’ve got a good group,” Weber said. “They play hard, they guard people and they’ve got some size inside. They just all play.

“Last year they had a different attitude. The words team chemistry, it’s so hard to describe, but when you see a team with good team chemistry, you can feel it, you can see it. You know it’s there.”

The Wildcats schedule doesn’t get any easier after facing the Big 12’s No. 2 team on Saturday, as K-State will host Big 12 leader Kansas on Monday.

K-State to host Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge

K-State head coach Bruce Weber and the men’s basketball team will host the second annual Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge for all K-State students this Sunday from 5-7 p.m. at the Basketball Training Facility.

The event will be the students first chance to pick up their early entry wristband for Monday’s game with Kansas at Bramlage Coliseum. Students will also have the opportunity to play in K-State’s $18 million Basketball Training Facility, while helping Weber, and the team, raise money for Coaches vs. Cancer.

Weber will donate $1 to Coaches vs. Cancer for every student who attends the event, while students will have one chance to make a free throw, a 3-pointer and a half-court shot to benefit the charity.

Weber will donate $10 for each made free throw, $25 for each made 3-pointer and $100 for each made half-court shot. If a student makes all three shots, Weber will donate $1,000 to the charity.

In the first year of the event, K-State students helped Weber and the men’s basketball team raise $9,397 for Coaches vs. Cancer with nearly 500 students participating in the event.

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