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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 and Longhorns play third time in Big 12 semifinal

Women’s basketball follows up intense quarterfinal with high implications
Center+Ayoka+Lee+throws+up+a+shot+against+Texas+forward+Taylor+Jones+in+the+teams+first+matchup+of+the+season.+In+Bramlage+Coliseum+on+Jan.+10%2C+the+No.+11+Wildcats+emerged+victorious+over+the+No.+10+Longhorns+61-58.
Carter Schaffer
Center Ayoka Lee throws up a shot against Texas forward Taylor Jones in the teams’ first matchup of the season. In Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 10, the No. 11 Wildcats emerged victorious over the No. 10 Longhorns 61-58.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas State women’s basketball follows up a back-and-forth 65-62 over West Virginia in a clash of styles. The Wildcats now lock horns with Texas at 4 p.m. Monday for a chance to play in the Big 12 Championship and grab the program’s first Big 12 tournament title. 

K-State and Texas played twice in the regular season, splitting the series 1-1. The Wildcats won the first battle 61-58 after Texas led for much of the game before the fourth quarter. The Longhorns snatched revenge back in Austin while the Wildcats were without center Ayoka Lee. The two top teams now have a chance to settle the score on a neutral court if Texas fans can match the energy of the Wildcat faithful Saturday night.

K-State 25-6 (13-5)

The Wildcats seemed like their old selves against West Virginia. After falling early, a constant focus of feeding Lee down low led to a quick grasp on the game. The Mountaineers clawed back, even taking the lead, but K-State rallied with big moments from guards Serena Sundell, Gabby Gregory and Zyanna Walker to secure the win. With a healthier Lee and timely guard play, the Wildcats could return to the peak of their powers. Their peak this season came on Jan. 10 in a Top 10 victory over no one but the Texas Longhorns. Another win against the No. 6 team in the country could be all they need to grab a top 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and to host the first two rounds back in Bramlage Coliseum.

Guard Zyanna Walker in the Wildcats’ first game of the Big 12 tournament against West Virginia. Walker helped rally K-State in the fourth quarter to a win, and she will be a key player to look for in the tournament semifinals.
Texas 28-4 (14-4)

The Longhorns have only fallen twice since the defeat in Bramlage, both to Oklahoma. Forward Madison Booker led the way with 16.6 points per game and nearly both five rebounds and assists per game. The regular season success carried into the Big 12 quarterfinals, defeating Kansas 75-60 with a strong fourth quarter performance. The Longhorns sit as a No. 1 seed in the latest ESPN bracketology with the chance to hold on. A loss against K-State could be enough to push a current No. 2 seed into the Longhorns’ position.

Matchup to Watch: Lee vs. Taylor Jones

Texas forward Taylor Jones’ performance has been a determining factor in each of the games K-State and Texas have played. In the first, Lee dominated inside with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks while Jones scored just two minutes off the bench. In the Longhorn victory, Jones became a problem early scoring 13 points and grabbing eight rebounds in just 17 minutes. Good or bad, Jones is monumental to this game. Lee is probably even more so.

Lee holds all the cards for the Wildcats. Her dominance inside dictates the flow of everything offensively and defensively. Jones struggled once already as the Wildcats grabbed what was thought to be an upset in January. Standing at 6-foot-6, Lee possesses a two-inch height difference as well a considerable amount of more minutes per game.

For K-State, anything short of Lee dominating Jones will put the chances of a Big 12 Championship game appearance in jeopardy. Jones coming close to anything around canceling out Lee’s performance with her own places the Longhorns in a comfortable position to advance.

Key Players

K-State

Center Ayoka Lee

Guard Zyanna Walker

Texas

Forward Taylor Jones

Forward Madison Booker

Prediction: K-State 63-59

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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.
Carter Schaffer, editor-in-chief
EIC for 2023-24. Previously EIC for 2022-23 and writer and photographer for spring 2022.
Avery Johnson, multimedia editor
Multimedia editor for 2023-24. Previously photographer for spring 2023.
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