Here’s one you won’t want to turn off early, no matter how lopsided the score is. When these in-state rivals met at Kansas on Jan. 21, the Jayhawks cruised to a relatively easy 81-60 victory. But the final seconds brought a brawl that resulted in four suspensions, including a 12-game punishment for Kansas big man Silvio De Sousa.
Now comes the rematch at Kansas State in a game that would otherwise be a snoozer if not for the lingering tension from what transpired the first time around. The No. 1 Jayhawks (25-3, 14-1) have won 13 straight while the Wildcats have dropped their last eight. But all that matters Saturday is that it’s Kansas and Kansas State in another Sunflower Showdown.
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Kansas: Udoka Azubuike finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds in the first meeting. It was by no means a shabby effort from the hulking Kansas senior. But the 7-footer has upped his play since then and entered the conversation for the Citizen Naismith Trophy, presented annually to the most outstanding player in college basketball. He is averaging 16.1 points on 71% shooting and 13.3 rebounds over Kansas’ last seven games. If there’s a concern for Kansas, it’s depth. The Jayhawks used just two players off the bench in last Saturday’s win at Baylor.
Kansas State: Things have snowballed so dramatically in Manhattan that Bruce Weber’s job security is a topic of discussion even after three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. The Wildcats will match a school-record for losses if they don’t pull the upset on Saturday, and they need to win one of their last four games to avoid setting a new school record for longest in-season losing streak. But, hey, at least the Wildcats are keeping things competitive some of the time. Seven of their 13 conference losses have been single-digit games.
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Game prediction, pick
Latest odds via SportsLine: Kansas -11.5
Kansas State’s six home losses in Big 12 play have come by an average of 7.6 points. With the Wildcats buoyed by the emotion of hosting their in-state rival, they should be able to cover. Plus, they proved in the last meeting that they will play until the final buzzer. Pick: Kansas State + 11.5
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