Texas-Kansas St. Preview
It's been a little more than two weeks since Texas played an unranked team and even longer since it has gotten to face one on the road.
After a difficult stretch against the Big 12's leaders, the No. 24 Longhorns try to get back on course by taking advantage of Monday night's trip to Kansas State.
Texas (17-10, 8-6) went 1-3 in four consecutive games against ranked teams, earning the win against West Virginia on Tuesday. The Longhorns fell well short Saturday against No. 25 Baylor, trailing by as much as 27 points in the second half in a 78-64 defeat.
“They got the best of us,” said guard Isaiah Taylor, who was held to 10 points after scoring 23 against the Mountaineers. “We didn't respond well at all. We've got to come out with more fight, more sense of urgency, more sense of focus as a team.”
Texas still has a shot at one of the top two seeds in the Big 12 tournament as it trails the three second-place teams by one game. The Longhorns are tied with Iowa State and one game ahead of Texas Tech in a crowded field behind first-place Kansas.
They'll host the No. 2 Jayhawks and No. 3 Oklahoma to close this month, meaning a win over Kansas State (15-12, 4-10) is paramount.
Texas edged the Wildcats 60-57 on Jan. 5 for its third straight win in the series. A 61-57 victory last February ended a four-game losing streak in Manhattan.
The Longhorns are facing an unranked team on the road for the first time since a 58-57 loss to TCU on Jan. 9. They went 2-3 in five consecutive visits to top 15 opponents.
Texas is 12-5 against unranked teams and has won the last four matchups.
Kansas State is 1-3 since an 80-69 upset of then-No. 1 Oklahoma at home Feb. 6, shooting 38.1 percent in the last four. The Wildcats connected at 37.7 percent in a 72-63 loss to Kansas on Saturday, nearly rallying from a 17-point deficit in the second half.
“We are a fighting team. We are going to keep doing what we have to do, listening to (coach Bruce Weber), working hard in practice. We just have to finish the game out,” forward Stephen Hurt said. “We need to cut out the other team's runs and just execute better.”
Kansas State is 12-4 at home with all of those losses against ranked teams. The Wildcats are 1-9 overall against Top 25 opponents.
Kamau Stokes' right knee injury hasn't helped, as the starting guard has missed all six games this month.
“Obviously, and I am not making excuses, it would be nice to have Kamau,” Weber said.
Taylor, averaging a team-best 15.3 points, had 23 at Kansas State last season and scored 14 of his team-high 17 points in the second half of last month's meeting.
The Longhorns have never won four in a row over the Wildcats.