By virtue of Baylor’s dominance over the rest of the conference, Kansas State finds itself tied for second in the Big 12 with three other teams. The Wildcats’ 5-3 conference record is shared by Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Head coach Deb Patterson has done another great job utilizing the talent she has and her team’s 14-6 overall record is indicative of how tough the Wildcats’ have played thus far.
The Wildcats are an interesting case in that they are neither spectacular at home or on the road, just perfectly consistent. Their 7-2 home record shows they protect home court, but their 5-2 road record could classify them as road warriors. This season has seen the Wildcats travel to South Dakota, New York, Mexico and Nevada so the trip to Austin shouldn’t faze this team.
Leading the Wildcats in scoring is Brittany Chambers at 16 points per game. The junior guard is also the team’s leading rebounder at six boards per game. She’s actually a perfect embodiment of the Wildcats’ offensive and defensive philosophies as well. As a team the Wildcats don’t shoot particularly well from anywhere on the court. Even their team free-throw percentage is quite low at 67 percent. However, players like Chambers and fellow guard Tasha Dickey do an excellent job of controlling a game’s tempo, taking care of the ball and forcing turnovers. Chambers is also the only real threat to catch fire from behind the 3-point line, shooting 34 percent on the season from distance.
Another Wildcat guard, junior Mariah White, leads the team in assists at five per contest. Between White and Dickey, the two guards average nearly five steals a game, which really helps jump-start the Wildcat offense. Utilizing this guard-oriented style of play the Wildcats have gone 6-4 against teams with an RPI of 1-50.
In contrast, Texas has gone just 3-7 against the top 50. The Longhorns have alternated wins and losses since their 70-51 loss Jan. 7 at Oklahoma State. Once again Texas will have to rely on scoring from its guards as well. Chassidy Fussell and Yvonne Anderson have averaged a combined 27.9 points in conference games, more than 40 percent of the team’s average of 66 points a game. On the other hand, the Longhorn posts Cokie Reed, Nneka Enemkpali, Anne Marie Hartung and Ashley Gayle only average 20.9 combined points per game. Sophomore guard Chelsea Bass has really come out of her shell in conference games, averaging 7.8 points per contest. Bass is starting to become a reliable scoring option off the bench and will likely earn a starting spot on next year’s squad.
The Longhorns have lost some close games this year and there’s no reason to believe this won’t be another nail-biter. The Wildcats are a very well-coached team (Patterson was the Big 12’s Coach of the Year back in 2008) as well as very experienced (only three freshman on roster). The Longhorns have the ability to keep up with, if not blow out the Wildcats but they must take care of the ball and get their four-headed monster at post some good looks at the basket. Rebounding and post-play are going to define how much success the Longhorns have the rest of this season. This is another must-win scenario at home for the Longhorns.
Printed on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 as: Kansas State will provide challenge for Longhorns