No. 12 Kansas State has hit some bumpy terrain of late and now enters a location where victories are hard to come by.
The Wildcats look to end a string of eight consecutive losses in Lubbock, Texas, when they visit Texas Tech in Big 12 play on Saturday night.
Kansas State (19-5, 7-4 Big 12) hasn’t prevailed in West Texas since posting a 60-56 win over the Red Raiders on Feb. 25, 2014.
The Wildcats, who have split their past eight games after a 15-1 start, are coming off a stellar 82-61 home win over No. 17 TCU on Tuesday.
In addition to the comfortable winning margin, Kansas State saw point guard Markquis Nowell record his 187th assist to break the single-season mark held by school legend Steve Henson (186 in 1987-88).
“It’s a blessing to be mentioned with those guys and passing him, Steve Henson, is a blessing,” Nowell said after having 18 points and seven assists against TCU. “It just shows how unselfish I am, and he was, at K-State.
“When you have a group of guys like we have here it’s easy to get assists and it’s easy to make plays for others. I give credit to my teammates for finishing … and helping me break that record. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Nowell is second on the Wildcats in scoring at 16.9 points per game and leads the squad in assists (7.8 average), three-point baskets (55) and steals (54).
First-year Kansas State coach Jerome Tang is impressed with Nowell’s performance.
“Anytime you (set) an all-time record, like the most in the history, that’s a really big deal,” Tang said. “And Steve Henson is a really big deal around here and the guys that Steve Henson played with were really good players, right?
“And so, it says two things. First of all, ‘Quis was blessed with vision, and he has a willingness to pass the ball. And secondly, he has some really good players around him too, because they’re putting it in the hole. So, it says a lot about him and a lot about our team.”
Nowell recorded 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists when Kansas State produced a 68-58 home win over Texas Tech on Jan. 21.
De’Vion Harmon and Pop Isaacs each scored 13 points for the Red Raiders (12-12, 1-10). Isaacs (ankle) isn’t expected to be available for the rematch. He has missed the past four games.
Big man Fardaws Aimaq (foot) will miss his sixth straight game. The former Utah Valley star has been limited to three games this season due to foot issues.
Texas Tech has lost two consecutive contests and 10 of its past 12 after falling 71-68 at Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
The Red Raiders rallied from a 14-point, second-half deficit to knot the score at 68 before the Cowboys won on a three-point play off a putback by John-Michael Wright with 0.8 seconds to go.
“I was proud of the way our guys played,” Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said. “The last shot is usually not the one that is going to beat you. It’s the rebound. That was our message the entire game. They are a very good rebounding team, especially on the offensive boards. When they get those, they put them back. We have to get better at blocking out and not turning the ball over.”
Kevin Obanor (15.3) leads the Red Raiders in scoring.
Keyontae Johnson leads the Wildcats with averages of 18.0 points and 7.6 rebounds.
–Field Level Media