A Battle For State Supremacy: No. 7 Kansas State vs. No. 8 Kansas

Story posted January 31, 2023 in

No. 8 Kansas welcomes No. 7 Kansas State into its building as the Jayhawks seek revenge against their in state rival. The defending national champs were handed one of their four losses on Jan. 17 against the Wildcats. A program defining victory for Kansas State.

The Sunflower Showdown brings out the best in both of these teams. However, this rivalry for the most part has been dominated by the Jayhawks. Kansas leads the all time series with a 203-95 record.

However, first year head coach, Jerome Tang, has slowly changed the perception of basketball in the state of Kansas. Kansas State has never really been looked at like a basketball school, but the program is having one of their best seasons in school history.

The Wildcats find themselves inside the top 10 in the national rankings and fighting for the top spot in the Big 12.

Kansas State already has had multiple marquee wins this season, including wins over then No. 6 Texas, No. 19 Baylor and No. 24 West Virginia. Tuesday night’s matchup against Kansas provides another opportunity to make a strong statement in Tang’s first season as head coach.

The Big 12 has been the toughest conference in college basketball this year. The conference has six of its 10 teams ranked inside the top 25.  Not only is a chance to sweep the season series on the line for Kansas State, but this game also has huge seeding implications.

However, no team has dominated a conference over the last two decades, like how Bill Self and Kansas have dominated the Big 12. Self’s Jayhawks have won at least a share of a Big 12 title twenty times dating back to the 1996-1997 season.

In their first matchup this season, Keyontae Johnson was the difference maker in the 83-82 overtime thriller.  Recently, Johnson and teammate Markquis Nowell were named to the Wooden late-season watch list.

Kansas has its own star player that was also named to the late-season watch list, Jalen Wilson, who has been instrumental in every Jayhawks victory this year. On Tuesday, for Kansas to come out victorious they will need someone else besides Wilson to step up to take some of the scoring load.

The Wildcats won the previous matchup because they tightened up their perimeter defense in overtime and took away Wilson. Wilson had a miraculous 38 in the losing affair. Jayhawk Dajuan Harris Jr. lost the ball driving the baseline on the final possession of the game, leading to the Wildcat fans storming the court.

These two teams share a state and sit right next to each other atop of the national rankings. The last time these squads squared off, there wasn’t much separating the two and the same thing rings true this time around. Expect a high scoring affair that will come down to the last possession.

Aidan Torok is a third-year majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email ajt6051@psu.edu.

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Aidan Torok

Sophmore / Broadcast Journalism

Aidan Torok is a sophmore from West Caldwell, New Jersey majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. He produces content and does play-by-play announcing and beat writing for the CommRadio sports department. If you’d like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).