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No. 18 K-State hits road to challenge Big 12 rival Oklahoma

The 18th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats will try to put a tough loss behind them, as they hit the road for today's Big 12 Conference clash with the Oklahoma Sooners.

Frank Martin's Kansas State club faced one of its stiffest challenges of the season on Tuesday night at home against No. 4 Baylor, and despite their best effort the Wildcats came out on the short end of a 75-73 final. It was K- State's second loss in the last three games, but was its first at home in nine games. This is only the third true road test of the season for the Wildcats (1-1), but their seventh outside of Manhattan when you factor in four neutral- site bouts (3-1).

Lon Kruger is Oklahoma's head coach, but the Silver Lake, Kansas native played his college ball at K-State and also coached the Wildcats from 1986-90. His Sooners are 10-5 this season, but they have yet to taste victory in conference, going 0-3 thus far. The last three games have all resulted in defeat, as have four of the last five. OU fell at bitter rival Oklahoma State on Monday, 72-65, but there is reason to be optimistic today as the team is 7-1 at home this season.

This game marks the 194th meeting between these two long-time rivals, and Oklahoma owns a 102-91 advantage. The Sooners are 59-25 against the 'Cats in Norman, but KSU has won the last two there (2008, 2010). Kruger is 2-1 all- time against his alma mater.

Rodney McGruder scored a career-high 30 points, but that effort went for naught as Kansas State dropped a two-point decision at home to Baylor earlier this week. Both teams were rather careless with the basketball, with Baylor committing 18 turnovers and K-State 20. The Wildcats knocked down half of their field goal attempts on the night and claimed an 18-11 edge in points from the foul line, but the Bears knocked down 53.7 percent of their total shots and scored 18 points on the break compared to just seven by the 'Cats. Despite the recent setback, KSU has played well at both ends of the court this season, as it is averaging 74.9 ppg on 45.0 percent field goal accuracy, while giving up a mere 62.8 ppg. The Wildcats goad the opposition into almost 17 turnovers per outing. Rodney McGruder (14.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg), Will Spradling (11.1 ppg, 2.9 apg), Jamar Samuels (11.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Thomas Gipson (9.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg) are KSU's top performers.

Oklahoma is a relatively young team, but still the Sooners are averaging 73.3 ppg in hitting 43.2 percent of their field goal attempts and 38.7 percent of their three-pointers. They are +7.8 in rebounding margin, coming up with more than 40 caroms per contest. Romero Osby (10.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg) heads the unit's effort on the glass, while Steven Pledger (17.2 ppg) sits atop its scoring chart. Andrew Fitzgerald adds 12.5 points and 5.7 boards per game to the mix, and he came within a rebound of logging a double-double in Oklahoma's recent loss to Oklahoma State, finishing with 12 points and nine boards. The Sooners did have a pair of guys log double-doubles as both Carl Blair (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Osby (18 points, 10 boards) put their best foot forward in an attempt to get OU its first Big 12 victory of the season. Unfortunately, the team shot just 32.4 percent from the floor and suffered a 23-13 deficit in points from the charity stripe.