Horns to be challenged in “The Octagon”


The Associated Press

Kansas center Jeff Withey (5) gets past Kansas State guard Shane Southwell to put up a shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 22 in Manhattan, Kan.

David Leffler

Fresh off their first conference victory, the Longhorns head to Manhattan, Kansas to face the Kansas State Wildcats. Although Kansas State is ranked No. 18 in the latest Associated Press college basketball polls, the Longhorns seem to be catching them at the perfect time, as the Wildcats have lost two straight Big 12 games after winning their first four. However, K-State’s Fred Bramlage Coliseum, also known as “The Octagon of Doom,” is always a tough place for visiting teams. The Wildcats are returning to “The Octagon” for the first time since suffering their only home loss of the season, a 55-59 loss to Kansas, and will be looking to end their current losing streak and defend home court. Without a doubt, the big question in this matchup is how will this young Texas team, in search of its second straight Big 12 victory, handle the pressures of playing in a hostile environment? Here are some statistics that should paint a clear picture of what the Longhorns will be up against Wednesday night:

72: Points per game the Wildcats have scored on average in games played at home this season. This could spell trouble for the Longhorns, who are averaging just over 61 points per game in games played away from the Erwin Center. If Texas wants a chance to upset the Wildcats on their home court, it will need to hold them well below this scoring average.

64: The national rank in team rebounds per game for Kansas State, which averages just a shade under 38 a game. Texas has fared slightly better, ranking 30th in the nation with 39 per game. Although this appears to be an area of advantage for Texas, the Longhorns will be without their leading rebounder, sophomore forward Jonathan Holmes. Holmes, who is averaging 7.1 rebounds per game, is out for the next several weeks with a broken hand injury.

14.8: The number of home victories the Wildcats have averaged per year over the past five seasons, including a 71-62 win in 2010 over a Texas team ranked No. 1 at the time. Since head coach Frank Martin took over during the 2006 season, the Wildcats have won at least 15 homes games in all but two seasons.  

11: Home victories for the Wildcats this season. Kansas State has lost only one game at the Bramlage Coliseum so far this year, a four-point defeat to No. 2 Kansas. However, only one of those victories came against a ranked opponent, when the Wildcats defeated the No. 22 Oklahoma State Cowboys 73-67 earlier this month.

7: Total games Texas has played in “The Octagon” under head coach Rick Barnes. The Longhorns have performed fairly well in the coliseum’s hostile conditions, holding a respectable 3-4 record in those games. However, they have not won in Manhattan since 2008.

6: The number of road games left on the Longhorns’ schedule, including Wednesday’s game. Over the past five years, Texas has averaged just over seven victories a year away from the Erwin Center during the regular season. If they want to match that total, they will need to win the rest of their road games, starting Wednesday in “The Octagon.”