Following a rough 68-52 loss to Gonzaga on Saturday night, the Wildcats return to Bramlage Coliseum tonight to take on Texas Southern at 7:10 pm. The game should provide a boost of confidence to a team that has failed to demonstrate an ability to play with quality opponents or put away mediocre ones so far this year. K-State is currently 7-2, but has lost badly to both ranked teams (Michigan and Gonzaga) it has played this season.
Texas Southern is only 1-9 on the season, but may put up more resistance than expected. Of the seven straight losses the Tigers have experienced, four were by seven points or less – including an overtime loss to Houston and a double-overtime loss at #19 Colorado, 85-80. They were also competitive in a game at #17 San Diego State following the Colorado loss. The Tigers are led by senior guard Omar Strong, who is averaging 15.5 points a game, and Oklahoma State transfer Ray Penn, with 12.9 points and 6.1 assists.
For Kansas State, the Wildcats will look to bounce back from another low offensive performance. Against Gonzaga they shot 33 percent from the field and and committed 18 turnovers. The team is shooting 40.8 percent overall this season, which ranks 266th in the nation, while it is 120th in points per game at 71 (note to readers: these numbers are very related).
Jordan Henriquez and Rodney McGruder will both look to get back on track after the duo expected to anchor this team before the season began were largely held in check all night. Henriquez was particularly silent, failing to record a single point or rebound while missing three shots, turning the ball over twice, and fouling once in ten minutes. The 6’11” forward has been subject to letting prior poor performances impact his play in past years, and coach Bruce Weber will be responsible for getting him a couple of early plays that boost his confidence.
Nine players logged at least ten minutes of playing time as Weber continues his frantic march to settle on a rotation. Starting forward Nino Williams left early in the first half with a shoulder/neck injury and did not return – he is expected to be ready for this Saturday’s contest with Florida. Guard Angel Rodriquez once again led the team in points, providing the only double-digit scoring of the night for the Wildcats (14). The sophomore ball handler has come under increased pressure to create plays this year, though not always to Weber’s liking. “We don’t make the next read,” Weber lamented following the Gonzaga loss, “sometimes the screener is open, sometimes the cutter is open. It could be a set, it could be transition, it could be motion, but we have to get where we make the next play. A couple of times they (Gonzaga defense) fought one way, and we’re wide open, and we have to make that easy pass to get easy shots.”