Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Game Day breakdown: No. 13 Kansas basketball vs. Kansas State

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) fades back for a shot over Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver (23) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) fades back for a shot over Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver (23) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.


No. 13 Kansas Jayhawks (17-5 overall, 6-3 Big 12) vs. Kansas State Wildcats (16-5 overall, 6-2 Big 12)

Time: 8 p.m. | Location: Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan

TV: ESPN | Radio: IMG Jayhawk Radio Network

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Keys for Kansas

1. Defense wins

Kansas coach Bill Self said this before the Jayhawks’ win over Texas Tech last weekend, and it ultimately proved to be plenty true.

“Sometimes, the best way not to put too much pressure on your offense to score against a really good defense is to make sure they don’t score,” Self said. “So we need to do a great job on that end.”

The same idea applies against K-State, which, like Tech, is led by its stellar defense, which ranks 5th in the nation in efficiency according to

With Kansas locking down the Red Raiders on the defensive end, the Jayhawks’ offense came easy, with KU outscoring Tech, 14-5, in fastbreak points.

Beyond their ability to turn defense into quick offense, the biggest thing that stood out about the Jayhawks during last Saturday’s win over Texas Tech was how they forced TTU star Jarrett Culver into a rough night. Culver shot 5-of-17 from the floor and also turned it over 5 times. The Jayhawks swiped 6 steals and forced the Red Raiders into 34.4 percent shooting from the floor, too.

Clearly, Kansas is a team that has shown an ability to defend at a high level, but Self said Monday that he did not consider his team to be anywhere close as polished as K-State or Texas Tech when it comes to defense.

“I think we’re still a ways away from being at that level,” Self said. “There’s no question we’re much better defensively than what we were in December. No question. But I still think there’s a big step we can take in that regard.”

There’s no better time than against the other elite defensive team in the Big 12 to take that step.

2. Pretend it’s still Saturday

Energy was a Red Raider killer last Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse, where the Jayhawks turned things up on both ends of the floor and overwhelmed Texas Tech in one of KU’s most complete games of the season.

The challenge now is for Kansas to give that same effort the next time out, and that figures to be at least a little harder with the Jayhawks being away from home.

“It’s definitely easier here,” KU guard Charlie Moore said of playing with electric energy at Allen Fieldhouse. “We’ve got the fans behind us. But we know energy makes us a much better team, coming out with energy. Everyone’s active, our defense is better and our offense is better, as well. So energy has been big for us the past couple of days.”

As for how his team can bottle that energy up and take it on the road, Self said one of the biggest keys was not to tap into the supply too soon.

“I want my guys to be poised and calm,” Self explained. “This isn’t going to be a game where their players have to be told anything to get up for it. It shouldn’t be a game where our players have to be told anything to get up for it. These are the easy games to play. So I think that we’ll be energized. But I would say, don’t burn any energy early in the day. Let’s be as even-keeled as we possibly can, because it’s not going to be hard to get excited once the game starts.”

3. Second-chance points

One of the things that makes K-State’s defense so effective is its ability to control the glass.

The Wildcats lead the conference in defensive rebound percentage, allowing opponents to get just 22.2 percent of offensive rebounding chances (a number that ranks 3rd nationally), and that, combined with their sound half-court defense, make it awfully tough for their opponents to get cheap baskets.

Kansas, which ranks 181st nationally in offensive rebounds, at 10 per game, would do well to try to emphasize the offensive glass for that very reason.

Beyond that, though, the Jayhawks should feel free to fly to the glass when shots go up because the Wildcats are not a team that looks to run.

Kansas State’s tempo rating of 64.4 ranks 337th out of 353 Division I teams and the Wildcats’ 61.7 tempo rating ranks last in the Big 12 during conference games. KU, meanwhile, leads the conference in tempo, with a rating of 69.9 since Big 12 play began and 70.8 (77th nationally) for the season.

Marquee Matchup

KU freshman Ochai Agbaji vs. Kansas State senior Dean Wade

Under normal circumstances, the matchup everyone would have their eyes on in this game would be KU’s best defensive player, Marcus Garrett, against K-State’s most dangerous offensive player, Dean Wade.

But with Garrett expected to miss a second game because of an ankle sprain, the focus shifts to freshman Ochai Agbaji, who owns a similar build and takes similar pride in playing defense as Garrett.

After a rough start to his career against the Jayhawks during his first couple of seasons, Wade, a native of St. John who Self said Monday he wished he “would’ve tried a lot harder” to recruit, has been really good against the Jayhawks of late, creating a problematic mismatch with his size, athleticism and shooting touch.

“If you put a small guy on him, he can shoot right over him and he’s done that with us many times,” Self said. “And if you put a smaller guy on him, he can take him down low and post him. And he’s a good athlete. He’s obviously playing at a high level without question.”

Wade was 9-for-9 for 24 points in last Saturday’s win over Oklahoma State and the Wildcats are 5-1 since his return from injury on Jan. 12.

Similarly, the Jayhawks have made a bit of a surge since Agbaji joined the rotation, and the freshman’s athleticism, fundamentals, strength and determination make him as good a matchup for Wade as the Jayhawks have with Garrett in street clothes.

Jayhawk Pulse

The Jayhawks are 26-4 all-time in Bramlage Coliseum and, yes, their dominance in the building that many KU fans call Allen Fieldhouse West has been well-documented.

But traveling to Manhattan is far from the easy win it once was, and even this young team of Jayhawks is aware of that.

“We’ve heard it’s going to probably be the toughest environment we’ve played in all year,” freshman guard Quentin Grimes said Monday. “They don’t like us, we don’t like them, so it’s definitely going to probably be the craziest atmosphere that we’ve played in this season.”

Adding juice to the matchup is the fact that the Wildcats actually sit a game up on the Jayhawks in the loss column halfway through the Big 12 schedule. That, according to Self, should make things as intense as ever in the building the locals call The Octagon of Doom.

“The thing that makes it as tough as possible is that the stakes are high,” Self said.

Tonight’s meeting is the 290th all time in the Sunflower Showdown and KU leads the series with K-State, 196-93, including a 78-47 all-time mark in games played in Manhattan.

K-State opened as a 1-point favorite in Las Vegas.

Probable Starters

No. 13 Kansas

G – Devon Dotson, 6-2, 185, Fr.

G – Ochai Agbaji, 6-5, 210, Fr.

G – Lagerald Vick, 6-5, 190, Sr.

G – Quentin Grimes, 6-5, 210, Fr.

F – Dedric Lawson, 6-9, 235, Jr.

Kansas State

G – Kamau Stokes, 6-0, 170, Sr.

F – Barry Brown, Jr., 6-3, 195, Sr.

F – Xavier Sneed, 6-5, 220, Jr.

F – Dean Wade, 6-10, 228, Sr.

F – Makol Mawien, 6-9, 245, Jr.


Bryce Landon 1 year, 7 months ago

The Octagon of Doom is still the Octagon of Damn-We-Lost-To-KU-Again, and always will be. Whether we win or lose tonight, the Wildcats would still need to beat us something like 20 years in a row just to draw even with us in games played there.



Jay Scott 1 year, 7 months ago

How big is the Jayhawk winning % in Allen West?

If the purple pussies win their next HUNDRED games there they wouldn't have as high a winning % as KU currently enjoys....

Bryce Landon 1 year, 7 months ago

Great question. According to the Wikipedia article on Bramlage Coliseum, which hasn't been updated since February 2016, the Wildcats' win percentage there was 75.8%. Kansas has won 86.7% of its games in Bramlage.

Bryce Landon 1 year, 7 months ago

The article on K-State's website shows an updated record of 75.9%.

Eric TheCapn 1 year, 7 months ago

The article you just (maybe) read, the one we're commenting on, says, "The Jayhawks are 26-4 all-time in Bramlage Coliseum." So 86.7%.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 7 months ago

I wish Garrett was able to guard Wade. That has me concerned.

Joe Joseph 1 year, 7 months ago

From a KU perspective, this is one of the most important regular season contests against K-State in a long while.

Robert Brock 1 year, 7 months ago

I hope the Jayhawks can avoid a beatdown.

Jason Venable 1 year, 7 months ago

Interesting. KU plays 4 guards and a forward. KSU plays 4 forwards and a guard.

Edward Daub 1 year, 7 months ago

Typical Bruce Weber! Squeaky is always trying to confuse KU.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 7 months ago

Just letters next to their names. Their actually a pretty typical 3/2, except for the lack of offensive ability.

Chad Smith 1 year, 7 months ago

Wade's a matchup nightmare. McCormack needs more run in this game. He's athletic enough and big enough to guard wade inside and out. I don't think that's what we'll see. I love agbaji on D, but he is just too small to guard Wade one on one. Self better have some sort of scheme for him. Otherwise could be a long night. If we bring the same energy and willingness to shoot, I think we will be ok.


Jay Scott 1 year, 7 months ago

You think that Mac can guard Dean Wade?

News flash. He can't. There's no way that Mac gets one minute on DW.

Edward Daub 1 year, 7 months ago

Our best match up versus Dean Wade is Mitch "Jumping Jack" Lightfoot! However, hindsight is 20/20, Wade is a better player than Mitch. Sad but true.

Jay Scott 1 year, 7 months ago

I agree that Mitch would have success guarding Wade. Given how fouls called on bigs are 99% reputation, Mitch would foul out in 20 mins and might not offer much offensively but I like his odds of slowing Wade. Or KJ... Truth is that KSU plays 20-25 mins with Wade as their only big. D Lawson will see a bunch of Wade too. I like that matchup.

David McNickle 1 year, 7 months ago

Maybe KJ? McCormack couldn't hold Wade outside the paint.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 7 months ago

KJ & Dedric. McCormack is better on Mawien if he's in the game.

Marius Rowlanski 1 year, 7 months ago

McCormack so far has been another lame McDonalds All-American flop. Maybe Grimes is even more of a disappointment. Maybe Grimes caught the Markelle Fultz syndrome right disease or simply overrated

Gone next year; Dedric, Udoka (another year at KU might end any hope of an NBA career), Vick (finally-not anywhere near his freshman promise). I don't see any transfers so with two sub 100 guards already committed that leaves TWO spots open.

Joe Joseph 1 year, 7 months ago

What do some of you see in McCormack that I’m missing? I love his energy but he has not proven himself competent at all. I have full faith he’ll get there in a year or two, but man... it’s not been good this season.

Jim Keen 1 year, 7 months ago

Agree.. He seems clumsy and at times frenetic. Can't see to hold on o the ball. Reminds me of Thomas Robinson when he was a freshman. And, we all know how he eventually turned out.

Jay Scott 1 year, 7 months ago

Mawien plays 20 mins on average. Lawson will toast him, shortening his game to 10-15 mins either through fouls or inability to defend, or both..

In the end, this will be Dedric vs Wade.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 7 months ago

It will be interesting to see if either coach defends the best opponent with their best player. It would probably be nice for Dedric to not have to work as hard by defending Mawein. Bruce has a bigger challenge IMO because he has to decide what he's going to do with his other big? In a man setting, we can run either of them off the floor. Maybe we'll face more zone. It could negate part of the advantage we had attacking TT on Saturday, and still keep both their bigs in the game.

Dan Philipps 1 year, 7 months ago

@Joe Joseph - I agree. A great kid who will continue to improve and will hopefully be another dominant KU big man, but his current game always looks a little out of sorts to me.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 7 months ago

Random Thoughts:

1] I'm sure the K-State administration has all the video cameras set up and the tee shirt printing presses primed for their usual once as decade memorial home victory against Kansas.

2] Wade may score 30, but if the Hawks can hit their threes it won't make any difference.

3] Bruce Webber is a slimy little toad prince Bill Self wannabe!!

4] Can you imagine the odds you would have gotten in Vegas if you had bet the Kansas lineup last summer that Vick and Agbaji would be starting on Feb. 4, 2019 and Dok wouldn't be!!

5] Now that Ochai Agbaji has started three games, I've finally learned to spell his name!

6] What the hell is going on...whenever I type in Jayhawk, spell check comes up. Was this blog's program conceived in Missouri???!!!

Bryce Landon 1 year, 7 months ago

Regarding #3, Weber saved Self's life during that violent court-storming in 2015, so he's not as slimy as you think.

Jim Keen 1 year, 7 months ago

Crisp passes, aggressive on the boards, high energy, smothering defense, open looks, dead-eye threes, steely eyed focus and determination... And having fun! I predict KU by 12. ROCK CHALK!

Brad Watson 1 year, 7 months ago

K-State is more experienced....a lot hungrier and they are playing at home....Weber is a good coach....not elite....we have more elite coach and a better program....if we can match their energy...we will have enough to get the W...if we just show will be guess is...Coach will have our guys fired up and ready for the challenge....My prediction is a big win tonight!

Bj Cassady 1 year, 7 months ago

I would be playing "The Thunderbirds" Tough Enough all day. This will be a war and this is not your daddy's Wildcats. Either KU by 2 or State by 15.l

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