Maintaining a first place tie with the University of Kansas will be on the line with the K-State Wildcats visit the Texas Longhorns on Saturday night. Standing at #13 in the nation with a 21-5 record, the Wildcats held on to beat a feisty West Virginia team on Monday to keep pace with the #9 Jayhawks, who downed Oklahoma State in double overtime on Wednesday. While K-State has enjoyed better-than-expected success this season, Texas has gone the opposite direction. The Longhorns sit at eighth in the conference at 4-9, with two of those wins coming against lowly TCU. In fact, the last time these teams played, K-State took a 38-19 lead into halftime and providing playing time to 14 players while coasting to a 28 point victory.
Texas will hope to put up a better fight in Austin, but that may be easier said than done. Aside from a brutal hiccup in Lawrence, Bruce Weber’s squad has been solidly clicking the past two months and looks to continue that dominance tonight at 7 p.m. Eyes will be on Will Spradling, who left the last game against Texas with his face covered in blood due to a broken nose. The junior guard has responded admirably since, and recorded a career-high 19 points on Monday against West Virginia.
Although Texas is not a good team this year, they’ve been tough to beat at home. The Longhorns are 10-3 this year when defending their own turf, where they have recorded wins against Fresno State, North Carolina, and Iowa State. That may be why the Vegas line only favors the Wildcats by 2.5, although their respective performances suggest these teams are not that close. Texas will start a tall(er) but inexperienced three forward line up, with 6-7 Jonathan Holmes (7.1 points, 6.7 rebounds), 6-9 Connor Lammert (4.6, 4.0), and 6-8 Ioannis Papatrou (8.5, 4.5). While Holmes is a sophomore, Lammert and Paptrou are freshmen. The Longhorns backcourt doesn’t get much older, with freshman guard Demarcus Holland and sophomore guard Myck Kabongo rounding out the starting five. Kabongo was expected to rejuvinatize Texas after returning from a 23-game suspension, but the team has so far yet to respond. And with the level the defense K-State has been playing at, this doesn’t look like the night to expect a Texas renaissance.