Two players that didn’t see the floor two weeks ago will likely be factors of some kind on Tuesday night.
For K-State, David N’Guessan returned for 19 minutes of action against Florida over the weekend. With the return, N’Guessan provided a burst of scoring with nine first half points and helped K-State’s defense recover near the rim. K-State held Florida to 60% on shots around the rim, a stark contrast to Tuesday’s loss to Iowa State without N’Guessan, when the Cyclones shot 94% around the rim.
After the game, Jerome Tang spoke on what N’Guessan brings to the table for the Wildcats. “Energy great, running the floor. His speed at his position. Not a lot of guys can play as fast at the positions he plays. Defensively he can cover up for a lot of mistakes.”
The Jayhawks will likely use Ernest Udeh Jr. on Tuesday, who didn’t play in Kansas’ 83-82 overtime loss in Manhattan. Udeh had his wisdom teeth taken out the week prior to the first game with K-State, and had not seen more than ten minutes of action in a game since Kansas’ blowout win over Seton Hall on December 1st.
That changed on Saturday night in Lexington when Udeh logged 13 minutes in the win over Kentucky and Bill Self confirmed on Monday that Zuby Ejifor will be out for an extended period of time and Udeh will be the first big off the bench on Tuesday.
JUST ANOTHER GAME
An element that I think helped the Wildcats in matchup number one was the number of players that were transfers. Players that entered the game without the heavy pressure and knowledge of the rivalry. It led to a team that came out with a lack of fear of Kansas and instead, forced the Jayhawks to be the team that looked shell-shocked.
Now a new challenge awaits, Allen Fieldhouse. Luckily for the Wildcats, their team features a list of players that know what to expect in raucous, historic environments. Nowell and Ish Massoud have both played in Allen Fieldhouse before, while David N’Guessan comes from Virginia Tech where he played in Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke and the “Dean Dome” at North Carolina. Keyontae Johnson has experienced Rupp Arena and facing Kentucky.
So the Wildcats are experienced in hostile environments individually, but Jerome Tang said on Saturday, after the win over Florida, that the Wildcats know how to communicate in loud venues because of what the home crowd at Bramlage Coliseum has provided this season.
Treating the game in Allen Fieldhouse like it is just another game, would bode well for the Wildcats and will be a key to making sure this game is in striking distance late in the second half.
GAME ONE OUTLIERS
The first time K-State and Kansas matched up, a few statistical outliers occurred for both teams. Top players Markquis Nowell and Gradey Dick had unique games. Nowell only scored four points in the game for K-State and failed to hit a single shot from deep, including a potential game-winner.
Dick had a horrendous night shooting the ball, going 1/8 from three and that paced the Jayhawks who shot just 21% from three as a team in the game. The talented freshman from Wichita shoots 43% from three on the season and seems unlikely to toss up that many misses a second time against the Wildcats.
Another anomaly was Desi Sills’ eruption of 24 points that tied him with Keyontae Johnson for the Wildcat-high in scoring. That was Sills’ second-highest scoring game of his career (25 versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Arkansas State), and his only 20-point game at K-State.
I would wager a pretty good amount that those three things don’t happen again on Tuesday.
ANSWERING THE CALL
Although Sills might not drop 24 again, K-State will need another player to step up and assist the key cogs of Nowell and Johnson. Fortunately for K-State, Ish Massoud, David N’Guessan and Cam Carter all have shown signs of being capable of giving the extra burst the Wildcats need.
Nae’Qwan Tomlin gave K-State 15 and 10 in the first matchup, his performance being at a high level is a must for a Wildcat victory if no one else can step up.