Sunflower State showdown pits Jayhawks against Wildcats

Manhattan, KS ( - Intrastate foes will clash in Big 12 Conference action on Monday night, as the Kansas State Wildcats play host to the Kansas Jayhawks at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas has been as advertised this season as one of the nation's best, as it sports an 18-5 overall record, and at 9-1 in the Big 12, it sits in first place in the conference standings two games up on second place. The Jayhawks most recently took care of business at home versus West Virginia on Saturday, 83-69, but now they head back out on the road where they're just a modest 4-3.

Kansas State had lost three of its previous four games prior to taking down nationally-ranked Texas at home on Saturday by a convincing 74-57 margin. The Wildcats are 16-7 this season, including 6-4 in conference play, and they have been especially sharp on their home floor (12-1).

In the first meeting between the squads this season on Jan. 11, the Jayhawks downed the Wildcats in Lawrence, 86-60. Kansas has now won 48 of the past 51 meetings with its Sunflower State rival and now leads the all-time series, 187-91.

The Jayhawks opened up a seven-point lead at the half of their most recent game and never looked back from there en route to the easy 14-point home victory, as they shot 54.9 percent from the field, while holding WVU to less than 40 percent shooting from the floor. Andrew Wiggins was the spark plug in the triumph with 19 points on 6-of-14 from the field and 7-of-10 at the foul line. Wayne Selden Jr. poured in 17 points, while Joel Embiid and Tarik Black netted 11 points apiece. Embiid added to his performance by hauling in 11 rebounds and blocking three shots.

Kansas has been one of the nation's most well-rounded teams all season long, as it shoots 50.3 percent from the field (fourth-best in the nation) for 79.3 ppg while allowing 69.5 ppg on only 40.4 percent shooting. It also owns a +7.2 rebounding margin and knocks down 19 free throws per game as just shy of 70 percent efficiency. Wiggins is the team's leading scorer with 16.0 ppg, while adding 6.0 rpg. He has however, perhaps fallen short of his immense preseason hype, as he's shooting a modest 43.9 percent from the floor. Fellow first-year player Embiid has emerged as one of top centers in the country, tallying 10.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 2.6 bpg. Rounding out an outstanding starting five are Perry Ellis (13.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Selden (10.5 ppg) and Naadir Tharpe (9.3 ppg, 5.1 apg).

The Wildcats took advantage of their raucous home crowd over the weekend to capture an impressive victory over Texas, building a 21-point halftime lead and cruising from there. They shot a lofty 52.8 percent from the field on the afternoon and were paced by the efforts of Marcus Foster, who poured in a career-best 34 points on an outstanding 13-of-16 shooting from the field, which included a 5-of-8 showing from beyond the arc. Wesley Iwundu tallied eight points and eight assists in the triumph, while Thomas Gipson brought down 11 rebounds.

Kansas State has made a name for itself this season by playing excellent defense, as it holds opponents to a mere 61.8 ppg, which ranks 21st in the nation. Because of the pressure it puts on opposing teams, it can oftentimes get by with simply a modest offensive attack, as it shoots 43.5 percent from the field for 68.5 ppg. Foster's shooting clinic on Saturday allowed him to improve his scoring average to 14.7 ppg and he has drained 50 3-pointers at a 37.3 percent clip. Gipson mans the paint with 11.7 ppg and 6.5 rpg, while Shane Southwell rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.7 ppg.