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No. 7 Kansas faces tough test Monday at Kansas St.
By: Mark Kern - StatFox
Published: 2/10/2014  at  4:19:00 AM
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KANSAS JAYHAWKS (18-5)

at KANSAS STATE WILDCATS (16-7)

Bramlage Coliseum– Manhattan, KS
Tip-off: Monday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Kansas -3.5, Total: 134.5

No. 7 Kansas looks for the season sweep over in-state rival Kansas State as the two teams square off at Bramlage Coliseum on Monday night.

These two teams played in Lawrence on Jan. 11, as the Jayhawks dominated the game in every facet en route to an 86-60 blowout victory. KU shot 56% from the field (8-for-18 threes) in the game, and had 20 assists on its 32 baskets. K-State on the other hand shot 44% FG (1-of-11 threes) with only six assists compared to 10 turnovers. Jayhawks freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden Jr. were nearly unstoppable on the day, combining for 42 points while each hitting three three-pointers. Although Kansas junior PG Naadir Tharpe did not have a big offensive game versus KSU (4 points on 1-of-7 FG and 0-for-5 threes), he was in complete control of the offense, finishing with nine assists and zero turnovers. The Jayhawks (12-10-1 ATS overall) are coming off an 83-69 victory over West Virginia on Saturday led by 19 points from Wiggins. Kansas is now 9-1 SU (7-2-1 ATS) in Big 12 play, but is just 4-3 (SU and ATS) in true road games this season. While Wiggins played big this weekend, he was not the most impressive freshman in the conference on Saturday. That belonged to K-State guard Marcus Foster, who scored 34 points in the Wildcats dominating victory over No. 15 Texas, the only team to beat Kansas in conference play this season. In that game, Foster was 13-of-16 from the field, including 5-of-8 three-pointers. But he made just 3-of-12 FG in the 26-point loss to the Jayhawks last month, marking the second biggest defeat for the Wildcats this season. Kansas State is 13-7-1 ATS overall and 7-3-1 ATS (6-4 SU) in Big 12 play this season. The team is also 7-3-1 ATS (12-1 SU) at home. Bruce Weber has done a great job during his time as the coach at K-State, going 11-1 ATS at home versus good teams (4+ PPG margin), but the most important thing missing on his resume is a win against KU, who he is 0-4 against. Not only is Kansas 14-5 ATS in the past two seasons versus good teams (4+ PPG margin) after 15+ games, but has won six straight meetings in this series (SU and ATS) with a sizable victory margin of +22.8 PPG. Although the games have been much closer in Manhattan in the past four meetings with Jayhawks scoring margins of +4, +6, minus-18 and +2, they are still 16-2 SU (14-4 ATS) at Bramlage Coliseum since 1996.

Can Kansas State get a huge home victory against in-state rival Kansas on Monday? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 58% ATS (197-141-11) mark. StatFox Brian is at 64% ATS (43-24-2) in Best Bets for the season and 68% ATS (36-17-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 61% ATS (42-27-1) for the season and 68% ATS (25-12) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Scott is a strong 57% ATS (39-29-2) for the season and 59% ATS (29-20-2) since Dec. 2. StatFox Zach is a solid 56% ATS (37-29-4) on Best Bets this season, including 59% ATS (31-22-3) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Gary is 53% ATS (36-32-2) for the season, and 57% ATS (30-23) since Nov. 29.

The Kansas offense has been rolling all season with 79.3 PPG (29th in Div. I) on 50.3% FG (4th in nation) and a strong 36.8% threes. These numbers have been even more impressive in conference play with the team scoring 81.5 PPG on 51.7% FG. The team also shares the ball well (16.0 APG, 24th in Div. I), attacks the glass with ferocity (38.5 RPG, 37th in nation) and protects the rim with 6.0 BPG (16th in Div. I). The defense is just average though, allowing 69.5 PPG (160th in nation) on 40.4% FG and 33.8% threes. The freshmen have gotten a lot of the talk for the Jayhawks this season, but the argument can be made that this team is going to go as far as junior PG Naadir Tharpe (9.3 PPG, 45% threes, 5.1 APG) takes them. In the five KU losses this season, Tharpe has averaged only 4.6 PPG. Freshmen have a tendency to hit a wall, and it appears 7-foot C Joel Embiid (10.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.6 BPG) is hitting that wall as of late on the offensive end. In his past three games, Embiid is averaging just 8.0 PPG on 7-of-19 FG (37%). However, he has not let that affect him on the glass, as the freshman has reached double-figure rebounds in three of his past four games. The Jayhawks do not need Embiid to have big games scoring to win, but when he is getting points down low, it opens up things for SF Andrew Wiggins (16.0 PPG, 37% threes, 6.0 RPG) and SG Wayne Selden Jr. (10.5 PPG, 38% threes, 2.6 APG). Both of these guys can hit from the outside, but are nearly impossible to stop when they are in the open court and getting to the rim. PF Perry Ellis (13.0 PPG, 54% FG, 6.7 RPG) gives Kansas a post player that can score in many different ways, but is terrific when he is on the low block. Ellis had 12 points and five rebounds in last month's win over KSU, and has averaged 13.2 PPG and 7.0 RPG in his past six contests. PG Frank Mason (6.3 PPG, 2.5 APG), PF Tarik Black (4.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG) and SF Jamari Traylor (4.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG) all made big plays off the bench in Saturday's game against the Mountaineers, combining for 23 points (8-of-10 FG), eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks, and will need to play at that same level again when the Jayhawks go into a very difficult environment in Manhattan.

Kansas State's offense is not nearly as explosive as its in-state rival, averaging 68.5 PPG (253rd in Div. I) on 43.5% FG (226th in nation), 32.1% threes and 64.7% FT. The Wildcats share the ball effectively (15.2 APG, 42nd in Div. I), but aren't a great rebounding team (36.5 RPG, 112th in nation). However, this team rarely takes a possession off on the defensive end, allowing only 61.8 PPG (21st in Div. I) on 39.8% FG (34th in nation) and 29.2% threes (17th in Div. I). These numbers improve greatly in home games to 58.5 PPG allowed (26th in nation) on 37.4% FG (24th in Div. I) and 25.6% threes (12th in nation). Freshman SG Marcus Foster (14.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.1 APG) has emerged as the Wildcats go-to scorer, but has had times this season where he struggles to score the ball. In the first game against the Jayhawks, he was just 3-of-12 from the field, finishing that game with seven points. Kansas coach Bill Self elected to put the longer and more athletic Andrew Wiggins on Foster, and it worked out. The freshman had made just 11-of-38 FG (29%) over a three-game stretch before catching fire in his past two contests with 28.5 PPG on 72% FG. With that matchup likely to happen again, the Wildcats are going to have to get a big performance from other players such as junior SF Thomas Gipson (11.7 PPG, 58% FG, 6.5 RPG) or senior SG Shane Southwell (10.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.1 APG). Gipson had only three points on Saturday, but his 11 rebounds played a big role in not allowing the much bigger Longhorns to dominate the paint. Southwell had a pedestrian nine points in Lawrence last month, but in the meeting last season between these two teams in Manhattan, Southwell scored 19 points (5-of-11 threes) with seven rebounds. He creates a mismatch, as coach Weber will put him at the four spot on a lot of possessions, forcing guys like Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor to potentially have to guard on the perimeter. If Southwell is able to get going from the outside, that will help open up the lane for guys like Foster and Gipson. Senior guard Will Spradling (7.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.6 APG) is shooting the ball as well from deep as he ever has in his career, making 10-of-16 threes in his past four games. However, he has really struggled against the Jayhawks in his career, averaging just 5.5 PPG in eight career meetings. The K-State crowd can get as loud as any arena in the country, and in the matchup against the Longhorns, they did exactly that. The first five minutes will play a pivotal role in this game. If the Jayhawks are able to come out and quiet the crowd early, KU could roll to the victory. However, if the Wildcats are able to get off to a similar start to the one on Saturday, then they have a great chance of pulling off the upset.

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