Gonzaga-Kansas St. Preview
While Kansas State and Gonzaga both entered 2010-11 with gaudy rankings, it's not clear if either is truly deserving of those accolades to this point.
The fourth-ranked Wildcats were sloppy in their last game as they get ready to face a No. 22 Bulldogs team coming off its first loss, as these schools meet Monday night in the CBE Classic semifinals at Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas State (3-0) earned an impressive 73-57 victory over then-No. 22 Virginia Tech last Tuesday, but looked much worse two nights later. The Wildcats survived for a 76-67 win over Presbyterian after leading by four with 2:30 left.
"We are very young, and we have no leadership," coach Frank Martin said. "The young guys think that because we beat Virginia Tech two days ago life is easy."
The Wildcats limited their first two opponents to 40.8 percent shooting. Yet they struggled against the Blue Hose, who made half of their shots and 9 of 15 3-pointers.
In addition, Kansas State's woes from the free throw line continued with a 9-of-19 effort to drop to a Big 12-worst 50.6 percent.
"I told the guys after the game I hope they have a good social life," Martin said. "Because I'm getting ready to ruin it."
Like Kansas State, Gonzaga (2-1) played its first three games at home and turned in its worst performance in the last one. The Bulldogs fell 79-76 to then-No. 25 San Diego State on Tuesday, giving up 18 offensive rebounds to the Aztecs.
"The putback numbers were huge," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "They crushed us."
The loss came despite Steven Gray's career-high 35 points. The senior never averaged more than 13.6 points before his current 25.7 mark.
"Steven was superhuman tonight," Few said.
Starting power forward Elias Harris suffered a foot injury against the Aztecs, but an MRI revealed no tear of his right Achilles tendon. Harris is expected to play Monday.
Gray is the lone senior in Gonzaga's starting lineup while All-American point guard Jacob Pullen is the lone one for Kansas State. Pullen realizes that much of the leadership falls on his shoulders after the Wildcats lost starters who filled that role last season in Denis Clemente and Luis Colon.
"Now I guess we really have to check our mailbox before we step on the floor for practice and before every game because we realize that every team is going to come in and give us their best shot," Pullen said.
The only previous meeting between these teams was a 66-64 victory by the Wildcats in the second round of the NIT on March 22, 1994.
Kansas State is 6-3 all-time against teams from the West Coast Conference, although it hasn't played any since an 83-60 win over St. Mary's on Nov. 13, 1998.
The winner will face top-ranked Duke or Marquette in Tuesday's title game.