The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Know Your Opponent: The battle of cats

Wildcats faceoff against struggling Bearcats in battle on the bubble
Forward+Will+McNair+Jr.+goes+for+a+rebound+against+West+Virginia.+The+Wildcats+beat+the+Mountaineers+in+overtime+94-90+after+blowing+a+25-point+lead.
Macy Franko
Forward Will McNair Jr. goes for a rebound against West Virginia. The Wildcats beat the Mountaineers in overtime 94-90 after blowing a 25-point lead.
Kansas State 17-11 (7-8) 

Last time out, the Wildcats secured a 94-point overtime win against West Virginia — their seventh OT win this season. Early on it looked far from an overtime game, with a 25-point Kansas State lead. Guard Tylor Perry led with 29 points, following forward Arthur Kaluma’s 28-point performance against BYU. If K-State’s key scorers show up as they have and do not blow opportunities, a crucial win may be inevitable against its fellow bubble team in Cincinnati. 

Cincinnati 16-12 (5-10) 

The Bearcats have lost three games in a row, most recently against No. 1 Houston. Cincinnati showed promise far too late against Houston — the Bearcats brought it within eight points with about two minutes remaining. Houston’s shooting sealed the game, which Cincinnati struggled to contain in the second half. If the defense breaks K-State’s shooting rhythm, Cincinnati has a chance to snap its losing streak and fight for a March dance. 

Matchup to Watch: Cincinnati’s second-chance points vs. K-State’s triple-threat offense

K-State’s big three shined against West Virginia. Perry scored a season-high 29 points while tying his season-high of six 3-pointers. Fellow guard Cam Carter had 19 points with inconsistent shooting, but was lethal from the foul line going 9-10. Forward Arthur Kaluma finished with 13 points after early foul trouble. Around two-thirds of the scoring came from the Wildcats’ three musketeers, similar to the season average. If shooting becomes more consistent, the Bearcats will have trouble on their hands. 

One thing K-State often struggles with is offensive rebounding. The Bearcats have two players ranked top 15 in the Big 12 for rebounding: guard Dan Skillings Jr., who averages 6.4 boards per game, and forward Viktor Lakhin, who averages 6.3 rebounds per game. The duo lead the way for the top rebounding team in the Big 12 with 40.5 per game.

The Bearcats’ rebounding shows out against everyone, including in the loss to No.1 Houston. Houston’s defense dominated Cincinnati, but if the Bearcats don’t struggle offensively against K-State and rebound like they did, the Bearcats may earn themselves a win. 

The battle of scoring versus rebounding transcends one game. The winner of this matchup may knock the other out of range to make the NCAA tournament.

Key Players 

K-State 

Guard Tylor Perry 

Forward Arthur Kaluma 

Cincinnati 

Guard Dan Skillings Jr. 

Forward Viktor Lakhin 

Prediction: K-State 78-71

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