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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Know Your Opponent: Wildcats travel against desperate Jayhawks

Sunflower Showdown 2 brings heavy March implications
Center+Ayoka+Lee+shots+a+layup+in+the+73-64+overtime+win+over+No.+24+West+Virginia.+Lee+scored+34+points+and+grabbed+12+rebounds+in+26+minutes+of+play.
Avery Johnson
Center Ayoka Lee shots a layup in the 73-64 overtime win over No. 24 West Virginia. Lee scored 34 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 26 minutes of play.
No. 10 K-State 23-4 (12-3)

Kansas State’s trend of close battles continues. Six of the past eight games ended within a possession, most recently in the 73-64 overtime win against No. 24 West Virginia. In that game, K-State struggled early, missed late free throws and center Ayoka Lee dominated in her return. These patterns are typical for the Wildcats as they look to remain a projected top 4-seed.

Kansas 15-11 (8-7)

The Jayhawks must battle for everything. According to ESPN’s Bracketology as of Feb. 20, Kansas is in the First Four Out group. Kansas’ 69-61 loss to Baylor was a wasted opportunity to push up in the bracket outlook. With a strong guard duo and a center with presence down low, the Jayhawks could still be a troublesome team. Hosting the Wildcats presents an opportunity to seize victory.

Matchup to Watch: Ayoka Lee vs. Taiyanna Jackson

The anticipated matchup of Jan. 20 seems to have finally come to fruition. The previous Sunflower Showdown was Lee’s first game recovering from her ankle injury and center Taiyanna Jackson left the game midway through.

Lee was in and out of the lineup but returned against West Virginia with a fury. In just 26 minutes, the All-American dropped a 34-point, 12-rebound double-double, carrying the Wildcats to the finish line. With a monstrous performance while not at 100%, Lee makes up for lost time from injuries. With performances similar to what the Mountaineers witnessed, with additional minutes, very few can compete.

One of few Kansas players with a chance is Jackson. Averaging a double-double on nearly 60% shooting and over three blocks per game, the Jayhawk center is no slouch. Jackson pulled off four 20-point double-doubles this season — most notably a 25-22 performance against BYU and star forward Lauren Gustin. Nevertheless, her inconsistency was shown in her rematch against Gustin, as Jackson scored just two points and Gustin recorded a 33-18 double-double. 

For the Wildcats to worry, Lee would need to have a very poor outing while Jackson brings her best to attempt the upset.

Key Players

Wildcats

Center Ayoka Lee

Guard Brylee Glenn

Jayhawks

Center Taiyanna Jackson

Guard S’Mya Nichols

Prediction: K-State 72-58

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About the Contributors
Luke Lazarczyk, sports writer
Sports editor for 2023-24. Previously sports editor for 2022-23 and writer for 2021-22.
Avery Johnson, multimedia editor
Multimedia editor for 2023-24. Previously photographer for spring 2023.
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