Wildcats face test with Baylor

By Joel Jellison

It might be easy for Kansas State to dwell on its loss at Kansas on Monday, but coach Bruce Weber said they don’t have the time.

Weber said the No. 10-ranked Wildcats had to refocus immediately after the game this week, and train their sights on the Baylor team that’s coming into Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday at 6 p.m.

“It’s done with,” Weber said of the KU game. “We got our butts kicked in a lot of ways. Now, you’ve got to come back, you’re still in first place, and this is huge. This weekend is huge for us. You’ve got a home game against a good team.”

The Wildcats (19-5, 8-3 Big 12) will be facing a Baylor team that has faced ups and downs this season, but is athletic enough to be a threat to any team on any night.

The Bears (16-8, 7-3) are led by point guard Pierre Jackson, who averages 18.9 points per game. Weber said he’s a player that can impact a game at any time.

“It’s just his speed and his ability to change the game so quickly,” Weber said of the skills that impress him from Jackson. “We’re just watching clips of him, it’s like the Roadrunner in the old cartoon, beep, beep and everyone’s turning their head and he’s gone.”

Past Jackson, the Bears feature a talented freshman in 7-foot-1 center Isaiah Austin. The freshman has averaged 13.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest, and is a dynamic player that can score from anywhere on the court.

Weber said the Bears are athletic enough to control the pace, which has hurt K-State in its losses this season.

“You can’t let them get going,” he said. “What’s hurt us when we’ve lost? Whether it’s Iowa State or Kansas, or Michigan when they made their run, they got transition on us. We have to slow them down. That doesn’t mean we can’t push the basketball. You’ve got to attack, but you’ve got to attack smart.”

The Bears are in second place in the Big 12, behind the three-way tie for first between K-State, Kansas and Oklahoma State.

Weber said the Bears are made dangerous by their status for the NCAA tournament, which could have them improving their stock or dropping out with a single win or loss. That’s why he expects a motivated Bears team in Manhattan this weekend.

“They’re fighting for their lives too,” he said. “I’m sure they would love to have a top 10 win on their resume, so we have to be ready to play.”

Weber said he spoke to his team on Thursday about not overlooking any opportunity from here on out. The Wildcats are still very much in the Big 12 race, but Weber said they can’t afford to lose games they should win, or games at home.

“We have to have a big heart this weekend,” he said. “A big heart is the thing that makes the difference. It’s the play-chart, it’s rebounds, loose balls, all those little things that make and break you in games like this.”

Robertson to be honored

The oldest living Kansas State basketball letterman, Joe Robertson will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s game.

Saturday is Robertson’s birthday, and he will be turning 95.

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