Bruce Weber had a parting message for Kansas State basketball players as they exited Bramlage Coliseum following a 72-63 loss to Kansas on Saturday.
“Get to bed,” he told them, “and get ready for Monday.”
Conserving energy is a priority for the Wildcats as they prepare for a 6 p.m. home game against No. 24 Texas on Monday. Unlike previous seasons, ESPN didn’t select any of their games for “Big Monday.” So they lack experience with quick turnarounds between conference games. The process of putting a Saturday loss behind them and immediately focusing on another game may feel like second nature to some Big 12 teams, but it is new to K-State.
Weber will forgo the team’s usual practice schedule, and stress mental preparation in hopes of keeping legs fresh for the game.
“It helps to play at home on Mondays,” Weber said. “We have to take advantage of being at home. (Texas) had a tough loss. I am sure they are going to come in with a little bit of anger. We have to play determined.
“Hopefully we can have a little bit better energy and effort, continue what we did this second half and find a way to get a big win against another top 25 team.”
There is no telling how K-State players will handle their second game in three days.
The last time the Wildcats played games separated by less than three days was at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in November. K-State thumped Missouri 66-42 in the semifinals and lost to North Carolina 80-70 the following day. K-State played with energy and passion in both games, but wore down late against North Carolina.
“I am just focusing on Texas,” K-State senior guard Justin Edwards said. “That is our next game and our next task at hand. I am just focused on them, getting back in the gym and preparing for them.”
Motivation shouldn’t be an issue. K-State (15-12, 4-10 Big 12) needs a quality victory to boost its postseason hopes, and time is running out. Weber and players think a NCAA Tournament berth remains within reach, but it will be difficult to cling to that belief without a win over the Longhorns.
For now, confidence isn’t an issue.
“We still have a lot of time left in the season,” senior forward Stephen Hurt said. “We can still do what we want to do in the end, which is reach the NCAA Tournament. We have four games left, plus the Big 12 Tournament. We can go on a run, we just have to have tunnel vision and win games.”
A victory over No. 2 Kansas would have helped the cause, but K-State can’t worry about that with another difficult game looming around the corner.
“It is a tough schedule,” Edwards said. “Every single team in the Big 12 is good. There are no easy teams, so it has just been up and down. We just have to be consistent and play hard and good things will happen.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett
No. 24 Texas at Kansas State
- When: 6 p.m. Monday
- Where: Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan
- Records: UT 17-10, 8-6 Big 12, KSU 15-12, 4-10
- Radio: KFH, 1240-AM, 98.7-FM; KQAM, 1480-AM; KWLS, 107.9-FM
- TV: ESPNU
Texas: The Longhorns are coming off one of their worst games of the season, a 78-64 home loss to Baylor. The Bears jumped all over Texas in the first half and cruised to victory. Shaka Smart’s team will be out for redemption against K-State on Monday. Texas has played well on the road this season, defeating Baylor and West Virginia away from home. Ibeh may dictate the way K-State runs its offense. He is one of the top shot-blockers in the conference.
Kansas State: Bruce Weber insists K-State is still pushing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but without a win over Texas the Wildcats might have trouble reaching the NIT. A difficult schedule that includes trips to Iowa State and Texas Tech looms ahead. K-State needs to take advantage of its remaining home games to boost its postseason chances. Texas won the first meeting 60-57, taking advantage of a poor shooting day from K-State. The Wildcats are hoping for a better effort in the rematch. Perhaps Stephen Hurt will help. He appeared to get back on track against Kansas, scoring 13 points.
RPIs as of Sunday: Texas 29, K-State 64.