February 8, 2008

Cowboys offer Wildcats next Big 12 test

Seven games into its Big 12 schedule, Kansas State is the king of the conference. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, sitting atop the standings in early February means absolutely nothing a loss to Oklahoma State Saturday would likely knock K-State freshman Michael Beasley and his teammates off their first-place perch. A win over the Cowboys, on the other hand, would be a welcomed next step toward the ultimate goal of capturing the school's first ever Big 12 Championship.

"I tell (my teammates) all the time that the time is now," said K-State guard Blake Young. "We have to keep going forward right now. We can't take any more steps back."

In order to continue its push forward, K-State must now find a way around the Cowboys, whose 2-6 Big 12 record is better than only last place Colorado's. Coach Sean Sutton's Oklahoma State team ranks among the bottom five of Big 12 teams in a dozen major statistical categories, so logic says first-place K-State should have little trouble picking up its 15th win of the season Saturday.

But logic has failed K-State before.

A blown 15-point lead during a road loss to a short-handed Missouri team just last Saturday reminded K-State that anything is possible, and a close encounter with a repeat performance in the second half of Wednesday's win over 2-5 Nebraska continued to drive the point home. So after being told twice, K-State head coach Frank Martin's team seems to now be getting the message loud and clear.

"We have been faltering early in the second halves of games," said K-State junior Thursday. "Our defense has kind of slid lately. Frank let us know about it though. We worked in practice today. It's unacceptable. We need to get back to doing what we do."

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