The first time Kansas State and Oklahoma met, it was a battle to see which team could stay in first place in the Big 12.
Just two weeks later, the Wildcats and Sooners will play again. This time though, the two are looking to see which one can stay in second place.
No. 18 K-State (16-4, 5-2) beat the Sooners on Jan. 19, 69-60 in Bramlage Coliseum. As the game shifts to Norman, Okla., senior Rodney McGruder said he expects to get the best out of Oklahoma (14-5, 5-2).
“They’re going to come out with an edge because we beat them already,” he said. “It’s going to be a really hard-fought game.”
The Wildcats broke their two-game losing streak with a win over Texas on Wednesday, but they lost their last road game, 73-67, to Iowa State.
Assistant coach Chester Frazier said it will be a challenge to see how the team can react on the road.
“(It’s about) just having composure and playing on the road,” he said. “We let a close one slip against Iowa State. We probably should have won that one had we been disciplined and used some of the things we practiced, and not come out sluggish.”
The Sooners won a big game on the road on Wednesday, taking down Big 12 No. 2 Baylor. Frazier said after watching film on the Sooners for a second time, it’s easy to see why they’ve been successful.
It starts with seniors Steven Pledger and Romero Osby, and just builds with every player they put on the floor.
“(Pledger) had 20 against Baylor and he’s always dangerous because he can shoot the ball, and they’re really deep,” he said. “As far as scoring goes, they’re really balanced.”
That balance was no more evident than against Baylor, where the Sooners took a big halftime lead and hung on to win.
“I think they did a combination of things,” Frazier said. “Pledger made shots in the first half and gave them a comfortable lead. I think they defended well and (Amath) M’Baye came out smoking and got some things going.
“They made shots, the biggest thing was they made shots.”
Frazier said the key for the Cats will be on the defensive end, looking to stop the Sooners while letting the offense take care of itself.
Sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez said he expects a hostile environment at OU, with a team looking to avenge the loss earlier this season and stay near the top of the Big 12 standings.
Rodriguez said K-State has to look to avoid the traps it fell into at Iowa State when the Wildcats came out with no energy. If they come out like they should, he said the crowd won’t have a big impact on the game.
“I feel like we lost to Iowa State because we wanted to,” he said. “I feel like the crowd wasn’t a factor whatsoever, we just didn’t play hard. As long as we bring it on Saturday, we should be all right.”