Two years ago, Kansas State was riding high following a win over the eventual national champions. The Wildcats collapsed following that game, but they have an opportunity to use that experience to their advantage.
After toppling a No. 1 team for the third time in their history, the 10th-ranked Wildcats look to avoid some of the mistakes that hurt them in the past as they host Oklahoma State in a Big 12 matchup Saturday.
Kansas State (16-2, 3-1) used a smothering defense and the energy of a raucous home crowd to defeat Texas 71-62 on Monday night, knocking the Longhorns from the unbeaten ranks.
It was reminiscent of the Wildcats’ 84-75 victory Jan. 30, 2008, over then-No. 2 Kansas, which went on to win the national title. They couldn’t build on that momentum, though, losing eight of their next 14 following a 15-4 start.
This time, Kansas State seems to be taking its big victory in stride.
“So many teams beat a No. 1 team and lose their focus and lose the next game,” said star guard Jacob Pullen, a freshman on the team that beat Kansas in ’08. “We can’t let anything sidetrack us; new rankings, new interviews, whatever the case may be. We have to stay the course and keep the focus.”
The Wildcats overcame an off night by Pullen and Denis Clemente against Texas. The starting guards combined to shoot 4 for 24 and finish with 17 points.
Pullen is the Big 12’s third-leading scorer, averaging 19.3 points, and Clemente adds 14.3 per game.
Kansas State’s frontcourt made up for the guards’ struggles. Sophomore forward Jamar Samuels had 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, and junior big man Curtis Kelly added 17 points and eight boards.
Kansas State could use a bounceback game from Pullen, shooting 28.3 percent and averaging 4.0 turnovers over his last four contests, as it faces the conference’s No. 1 scorer.
Guard James Anderson is averaging 21.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals. He scored 26 as the Cowboys beat Colorado 90-78 on Wednesday night.
Oklahoma State (14-4, 2-2) had dropped two straight, including an 83-70 loss to then-No. 22 Baylor last Saturday that drew the ire of coach Travis Ford, who called his team out for playing soft. The Cowboys seemed to take that criticism to heart, outrebounding the Buffaloes 38-23.
“We just have to make sure our team is getting better,” Ford said.
Marshall Moses had 20 points and matched his career high with 18 rebounds Wednesday. The junior forward is averaging 11.5 points and 9.9 boards.
Moses was one of five Cowboys who reached double digits in scoring in the last matchup with the Wildcats, posting 10 points and adding 10 rebounds in a 77-71 victory March 3. Kansas State has lost 11 of 13 against Oklahoma State but leads the series 69-46.