Riding the hot hand of guard Rodney McGruder, K-State has jumped from #23 to #18 in the AP poll while cracking the Coaches Poll at #23 this week. The ascension follows a 73-67 win over former AP #22 Oklahoma State (#21 in the Coaches) on Saturday in Manhattan. The win was the team’s second straight over another ranked squad after defeating #8 Florida in Kansas City on December 22.
This game was the first time the Wildcats demonstrated its ability to break the 70 point barrier against a formidable foe. While the team has hit 70 multiple times so far, it has largely struggled to score against teams likely to be in the postseason or at least the postseason conversation in March. However, the team enjoyed 28 points from McGruder while hitting on 7 of 21 three point attempts and 71 percent of their free throws – a statistic the team has struggled with all year.
K-State is looking good right now. They’ve opened up Big 12 play with a win and sit at 12-2 on the season. If the team can achieve even a .500 conference record they should easily make the NCAA tournament. However, two questions for the team remain. The first is whether the team can find any sort of consistency – while McGruder was named of the conference player of the week for his game against the Cowboys, the consensus All-Big 12 preseason pick has failed to be a consistent force. Without him turning in 28 point games, the rest team has failed to demonstrate it can step up and fill the scoring void. Additionally, the team must prove it can win on the road. While beating Florida in Kansas City was technically a neutral site victory, few would consider the arena anything close to resembling a neutral setting. The team gets its first chance to prove it can win conference games on the road this Saturday when it travels to West Virginia to take on Bob
THuggins’ Mountaineers squad.