Kansas State, this is when it had to happen.
The Wildcats are in the Top 10, they’re heading to play a team that has lost their last three games, one of which was TCU, and had zero confidence in themselves. In the biggest rivalry game of the season for both teams.
You are going into a place that is, in fairness, nearly impossible to win in. I’ll give you that. But if there ever was a time to beat Kansas, a team that K-State has lost to seven of the last eight times, Monday night was it. Instead, it was an 83-62 throttling that restored all confidence necessary for the rest of the season in Lawrence.
The primer was perfect. Four straight wins over marginal-to-good talent in Texas, Texas Tech, Iowa State and Oklahoma and the confidence that you took the Jayhawks to the brink at home, losing by four on Jan. 22.
Apparently, that wasn’t enough. Not the winning streak, not the confidence that comes with a no. 10 ranking, not the mentality that the Jayhawks are in a vulnerable state that is completely foreign to everyone on that roster.
And maybe that’s the reason. Maybe the Wildcats didn’t know what to do having the upper hand. It hasn’t been that way lately.
But they also had no answer for the Birthday Boy, Ben McLemore, who poured in 30 points, including six threes. They didn’t know what to do with Jeff Withey and his double-double talents and his five blocks.
Don’t mind the stat line for Kansas State. Rodney McGruder had 20, but a majority of that came after the issue was put to bed. He was 3-for-11 with eight points at the 11-minute mark in the second half, trailing by 20-plus. They got no bench support, either, with four points coming from the reserves.
After the 10-minute mark in the first half, it wasn’t really a game. A 47-29 halftime deficit showed that.
Bruce Weber is a great coach. He’ll win plenty of games in Manhattan, Kan. But I’m not sure that he’ll get a better shot to beat Kansas, let alone beat them in Allen Fieldhouse.