8:00 PM ET, January 30, 2008
Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kansas
It's been a long time since there's been a basketball game this big in Manhattan. Kansas, that is.When No. 2 Kansas and No. 22 Kansas State meet as ranked teams for the first time in nearly 50 years on Wednesday, at stake will be the Jayhawks' undefeated record, first place in the Big 12 and the validity of some strong words from the league's best player.Kansas State center Michael Beasley all but guaranteed a season sweep of Kansas before he had ever played a college basketball game, and Wildcats coach Frank Martin this week backed his freshman phenom."We're going to beat Kansas at home. We're going to beat them in their house. We're going to beat them in Africa," Beasley said before the season. "Wherever we play, we're going to beat them."Martin likes the confidence Beasley is showing."Mike said what he felt in his heart," Martin said Monday. "It's what he believes. He didn't come here to lose to Kansas."Beasley, the Big 12's leader in scoring (25.3 points per game) and rebounding (12.7), made his statement before knowing that the Jayhawks would be unbeaten in the last week of January. But he must have been aware that Kansas (20-0, 5-0) had beaten the Wildcats in 35 of their last 36 meetings, as well as 24 straight times in Manhattan.Kansas State (14-4, 4-0) last beat Kansas at home during the 1983-84 season, just one sign of how lopsided the rivalry has been. While Kansas has been ranked almost perennially, the teams haven't met while both were ranked since the No. 10 Jayhawks upset No. 1 Kansas State in Manhattan in March 1958.They're also the only two remaining unbeatens in Big 12 play."This will certainly be the toughest test we've had to date, without question," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "It could be as hard a test as we have this year. Hopefully, we'll be prepared. We'll find out a lot more about ourselves from a poise standpoint."If their first five conference games were tests, the Jayhawks did more than pass. They won all five by an average of 23.2 points, including an 84-49 home blowout of Nebraska on Saturday. That was Kansas' 28th straight regular-season win dating to last season.The Jayhawks led the Cornhuskers 44-15 at the half, Brandon Rush shot 5-of-7 from 3-point range, Darrell Arthur scored 18 points and Darnell Jackson had 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists.Kansas hasn't opened a season with 21 consecutive wins since its 22-0 start in 1996-97, but the Jayhawks claim they aren't thinking about the streak."I won't think about that until we have zero games left," Jackson said. "Before that, you don't even think about running the table. When it's over, we'll be satisfied."The Wildcats will be just the second ranked team Kansas has faced this season. The Jayhawks won 59-55 at Southern California -- which had also been No. 22 -- on Dec. 2.Kansas State, winner of five in a row and nine of its last 10, re-entered the poll this week for the first time since Nov. 26. The Wildcats beat Iowa State 82-57 on Saturday, winning their seventh straight at home and starting their Big 12 schedule with four consecutive wins for the first time since 1988.Beasley, a candidate for national player of the year, had 33 points and 15 rebounds on Saturday, his 16th double-double in 18 games this season. His 12.7 rebounds per game lead the nation and his 25.3 points a contest rank him fourth in the country.The Wildcats are outscoring opponents by 32.0 points per game during their home winning streak, including a 75-54 victory over then-No. 10 Texas A&M on Jan. 19. But they haven't beaten a team ranked as high as No. 2 since the 1993-94 season, when they won at then-No. 1 Kansas 68-64."Either you are going to rise to the occasion or you're going to fall," Kansas State forward Bill Walker said. "We plan on rising."
|Avg Points Allowed||61.6||68.9|
|Conference||Big 12||Big 12|