Here is everything you need to know about the Kansas State Wildcats and the Kansas Jayhawks in our Kansas State vs. Kansas Big 12 men’s basketball preview.
8 p.m. Central Time, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kansas.
Records: Kansas State: 14-12 (6-8 in Big 12); Kansas: 22-4 (11-2 in Big 12).
Ranking: Kansas State: None; Kansas: No. 5 (Associated Press).
Last game: Kansas State: lost to Oklahoma State, 82-79 (Feb. 19); Kansas: def. West Virginia, 71-58 (Feb. 19).
Previous meeting: Kansas 78, Kansas State 75 (Jan. 22).
Player to Watch
F Mark Smith: The Missouri transfer continues to crank out double-doubles for the Wildcats. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the overtime loss to Oklahoma State. That was Smith’s second straight double-double, his fourth double-double in his last seven games and his eighth of the season. For the season, he’s the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer (12.3 points), leading rebounder (8.6) and its second-best 3-point shooter (34.9 percent) behind guard Nijel Pack. If he has a good game, the Wildcats have a chance to win.
F David McCormack: A few weeks ago, head coach Bill Self told reporters that McCormack wouldn’t be 100 percent healthy the rest of the season. Knowing that, it would seem to illuminate his inconsistency this season. But, since then, it seems McCormack has played with a freedom that he didn’t have before Self’s public declaration. McCormack is coming off a 19-point, 11-rebound game against the Mountaineers. It was his second straight double-double, his third in six games and, perhaps most important, his fifth game with at least 11 points in his last six. If the Jayhawks can squeeze this out of the forward in March, Kansas can make a run.
Head coach Bruce Weber says the Wildcats can “do some damage” in the NCAA Tournament. That’s great, but the Wildcats have to get there first. And, the overtime loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday may end up haunting K-State if they don’t make it. That ended a two-game winning streak, but the Wildcats have won four of their last six Big 12 games and, believe it or not, are in the top half of the Big 12 standings. There is a lot of focus on Pack, but don’t forget about guard Markquis Nowell, the other transfer that has had a great season for K-State. He averages 12.1 points per game and leads the Wildcats with 120 assists.
Kansas is staring at a Big 12 regular-season title. The Jayhawks are two games ahead of the field with five games left, but they have two games against ranked team remaining, so it’s not a done deal. But the fact that the Jayhawks are in control this late in the season usually means the Jayhawks will be the No. 1 seed in Kansas City. Kansas is already seen as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, as the committee released its Top 16 teams on Saturday. Kansas is one of four Big 12 teams in the Top 16. While the Jayhawks have a steady starting five, the contributions of Joseph Yesufu off the bench are becoming more prominent.
Kansas leads the all-time series, 202-94. The last time Kansas State won in Lawrence was in 2006.
Kansas 74, Kansas State 67. The Wildcats will go into Allen Fieldhouse and press the Jayhawks to the wire, but Kansas will pull it out.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.