Kansas State isn’t the first to leave Las Vegas wondering what went wrong.
For the Wildcats, the holiday tournament in Sin City was one of mixed emotions.
The K-State women’s basketball team won its first two games of the three-game trip — including a significant victory over Northwestern. But the tournament quickly soured in the final game when the Wildcats lost 44-38 to UNLV in a game they probably should have won.
Since, however, K-State has been on a tear, winning three straight games — at Marist, followed by last week’s 71-69 overtime win at home against No. 8 Texas A&M and then a 63-57 victory at Kansas on Saturday,
“I don’t think there was a big change or anything — we just have to show up to each game,” senior forward Jalana Childs said Monday afternoon. “Against Marist, we just came out focused. It was the same thing with Texas A&M and KU.”
The Wildcats (11-3, 2-0 Big 12) will put their winning streak on the line Wednesday night when they host Missouri in Bramlage Coliseum, tipping off at 7 on FSN (Ch. 34).
Junior guard Brittany Chambers hopes the lessons learned from Las Vegas continue to carry over into the Big 12.
So far, so good.
“We found out real quick that anyone can beat you on any given day,” said Chambers, who was named Big 12 Player of the Week on Monday. “We don’t have seven McDonald’s All-Americans or anything like that. For us to come out and win, we have to be prepared at all times. We have to come out with our heads. We don’t win unless we have all our factors there together as a team and doing what our coaches ask of us.”
Chambers, who leads the Wildcats with 16.5 points per game, said though she’d prefer to have defeated UNLV, the game has acted as a wake-up call for K-State — at just the right time for the Wildcats, who have three straight tough games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Baylor following their date with Missouri.
The focus last week for K-State, following its win over the Aggies, was to not letdown against Kansas on the road. A loss against the Jayhawks, though a rivalry game, would have lessened the significance of the victory against A&M a few days earlier.
“We focused on that all week,” Chambers said. “We had that great win against Northwestern and then we came back and lost to UNLV. Those are the highs and lows and we were pushing all week about keeping our heads because sometimes after a big win, you do have a letdown.”
K-State coach Deb Patterson said last week was especially draining for her team coming off the holiday break with a pair of emotional games to open conference play.
“I was extremely pleased that we did handle the success of the A&M game well going to Lawrence,” she said. “We had no off day from January 1 on. We had really stretched them physically and emotionally, especially after that A&M win. I can’t even tell you about the emotions going into KU on the road.
“If they were half as fried as I was, then I don’t even know what to say. When that KU game was over, the weight of the world fell off our shoulders.
But now it’s back to work for the Wildcats against a Missouri team that enters Wednesday’s game with a 10-3 overall record and still searching for its first victory in the Big 12 at 0-2. It’ll also be the final trip for the Tigers to Manhattan as members of the Big 12, as the longtime rival is set to join the Southeastern Conference next season.
“I’m proud of what we achieved because I think we showed that we could be gritty,” Patterson said. “But we have to keep getting better. In this league, it’s all about the next game. If you’re thinking too much about the last two or feeling comfortable, you’ll get your lunch handed to you and nobody would like to do that more than Missouri.”
Chambers earns Big 12 honor
Following a pair of 20-point games to open Big 12 action last week, Chambers was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Monday afternoon in an announcement by the league office.
This was the 25th time that a Wildcat has earned the weekly Big 12 honor and the third time Chambers has earned the distinction.
In K-State’s 71-69 overtime win over then-No. 9/8 ranked Texas A&M on Jan. 4, Chambers recorded a game-high 21 points, on 9-of-18 shooting from the field, while playing all 45 minutes. Chambers tallied 19 of her 21 points in the second half and overtime.
At Kansas on Saturday, Chambers carded 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. She also added eight rebounds, four assists and a steal in 40 minutes of action.
The effort by the junior from Jordan, Minn., moved her into 24th in school history for career points with 1,133. Her eight boards improves her career total to 454 and ranks 30th in school history. Chambers is now the 23rd player in school history, and the sixth guard, to score 1,000 points and pull in 450 career rebounds.
In K-State’s last five games, Chambers is averaging 19.3 points per game and has played every minute in four of those games.