After a disappointing start to the season the Kansas State Wildcats have rolled into conference play with a 3-1 record.
Much of the recent success can be credited to the play of sophomore guard Marcus Foster. Foster came up big against No. 16 Oklahoma as he displayed some clutch shooting. Foster dropped a floating shot near the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. As overtime came to a close Foster drained a deep ball to give the Cats a three point victory in Norman, Oklahoma.
On Wednesday night the Wildcats struggled to find an offensive rhythm, but managed to take care of business against the Red Raiders of Texas Tech. Next the Cats prepare to welcome the No. 22 Baylor Bears to Bramlage Coliseum. This Saturday’s game is just one of many challenges the Cats will face this season in a very deep Big 12 Conference.
It is vital that K-State carries the momentum from their win at Oklahoma. This came at a key point in the season, as the Cats were heading into the heart of conference play. I believe that this victory will serve as a confidence builder for the team. While many fans weren’t sure, that win was proof that the Wildcats have the potential to compete with the very best of the Big 12.
Currently, the Wildcats have an overall record of 10-7. To keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive the Cats will need to have several impressive wins within the conference. I look for Foster to continue to step up his game as he has shown improvement in recent weeks.
Though the emergence of Foster is promising, the Cats will need to provide him with a supporting cast. Foster leads the team is scoring with only 14 points per game. Players like Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson will need to continue to develop in order for this season to be a success. I also look for guards Jevon Thomas and Justin Edwards to provide much needed spark to the offensive side. The Wildcats offense needs all the help it can get, because they rank last in the Big 12 with 65.7 points per game.
The fate of the Wildcats will be decided in the next few weeks as they will face the top talent of the Big 12. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wildcats upset a few more teams this season, but I doubt it will be enough to receive a tournament bid. The sluggish start to the season will prove to be very costly. Losses to a struggling Long Beach State team, along with Texas Southern certainly will not help the resume.
There is still plenty of basketball to be played, and it is exciting to see the depth of the Big 12 this season. There’s no doubt the Big 12 is, if not the premier conference, then one of the top conferences in the country with seven teams ranked in the top 25. That’s good news for the Wildcats, because despite their rough go of it in the non-conference, the Big 12 will provide ample opportunities to prove that Bruce Weber’s grew has grown and improved exponentially.