Fresh off one of the most impressive wins of the years, the Kansas State men’s basketball team will face one of the stiffer tests of the nonconference season on Thursday when Ole Miss comes to visit Manhattan on Thursday. The Wildcats, at 4-3 on the season, will take on the 6-0 Runnin’ Rebels at 9 ET/8 CT as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, and the game will be featured on ESPN2.
K-State is coming off an 87-54 win over Central Arkansas on Sunday in probably the most complete game the squad has played this year. One key to success this season – seeing Shane Southwell become a dominant offensive scorer – was realized as the senior netted 19 points to go along with six rebounds and two assists on the night. The 87 points scored by K-State were 16 than the team had scored in any other game this season. Bruce Weber’s squad is currently 302th nationally in scoring per game at 66.1 points.
Ole Miss had a strong 2012-13 season that culminated in an NCAA tournament run, but also saw a lot of turnover from that squad due to graduation. The new class has been impressive this season and averages 82 points per game. The team has found success against major programs as well – the past two victories have come against Georgia Tech and Penn State while taking home the Barclays Center Classic championship. Ole Miss faces a tough four-game stretch, with Georgia Tech and Penn State preceding Thursday’s game, and the team then takes on #13 Oregon three days later.
Bringing a smaller line up to the court, K-State must be careful not to carelessly lop up shots in the lane. Ole Miss is averaging 8.3 blocks per game, and ranks fourth nationally in the category. While Southwell will need a big game, expect another solid contribution from freshman Marcus Foster. He currently leads the team in averaging 13.9 points per game. Sophomore D.J. Johnson leads the Wildcats with 5.6 rebounds per game.
A major part of the problem for Kansas State in being limited to 63 or fewer points in four games this season has been three-point shooting. The team has hit just 26.6 percent of shots from behind the arc – a category the team has traditionally performed much better in. The two programs have played three times in their history, all in the 2000s decade. Ole Miss is 3-0 in the series, with the most recent meeting in Puerto Rico as part of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Ole Miss 86-74 in that game. The only match in Manhattan was a 67-65 loss in 2001.