There is one area where K-State has a distinct advantage over Kentucky: depth. K-State uses a 10-man rotation in most games. Kentucky uses seven players on a consistent basis.
The hope is that coach Bruce Weber can use his depth to his advantage, especially on defense, and wear Kentucky down in the second half.
“That’s when we are at out best,” K-State associate coach Chris Lowery said.
• Kentucky 7-foot sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein, who grew up in Spearville, Kan., and graduated from Olathe Northwest, loved watching Kansas State-Kansas games growing up. And he pulled for the Wildcats.
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“I grew up watching Mike Beasley, Jacob Pullen, Denis Clemente. I loved watching K-State,” Cauley-Stein said. “The biggest thing growing up was when KU and K-State played.”
• Nigel Johnson is hot at the moment. The seldom-used freshman guard came off the bench to score a career-high 17 points on nine shots in the Big 12 tournament loss to Iowa State.
Does he have an encore ready for Friday?
“That game definitely helped me,” he said. “It taught me how to be more aggressive on offense. I’m going to try and stay aggressive and do what I can to help us win.”
• K-State guard Will Spradling likes the K-State offense against the young Kentucky defense.
“They haven’t really seen a style of offense like ours,” Spradling said. “They don’t have many teams that run motion in the SEC. If we run it right, we can create problems for them.”
• A pair of Kansas State players will be playing in front of family and friends on Friday. D.J. Johnson and Nino Williams are both from St. Louis and said they were excited about being in their hometown.
“It’s a good feeling,” Johnson said. “It’s a blessing to be home and playing in front of my family, just to show them how hard I have been working.”
For Williams, it is his first game in St. Louis since he left for K-State.
“I’m a family type of guy. I have just enjoyed being around them,” Williams said. “Playing in St. Louis should be fun.”
| Kellis Robinett, firstname.lastname@example.org