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No. 11 Kansas State rolls into visit with No. 17 TCU

Jan 7, 2023; Waco, Texas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats guard Markquis Nowell (1) calls a play against the Baylor Bears during the first half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State is amid its longest winning streak in nine years.

Meanwhile, TCU is trying to avoid losing three in a row for the first time this season.

The No. 11 Wildcats will aim for a 10th consecutive victory when they visit the No. 17 Horned Frogs in a Big 12 contest Saturday at Fort Worth, Texas.

Off to the program’s best start since winning 25 of its first 26 games in 1958-59, Kansas State (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) already has surpassed its 14-win total from last season. The program most recently won 10 straight during the 2013-14 campaign.

It was 2007-08 when the Wildcats last started 5-0 in the league. In getting to 4-0 this season, three of the victories have been decided by eight or fewer points and two have come in overtime.

After allowing 198 combined points in wild road wins over then-No. 6 Texas and then-No. 19 Baylor, Kansas State flexed its defensive muscles with Tuesday’s 65-57 home victory over Oklahoma State. The Wildcats overcame their own season-low 35.6 percent shooting effort by holding the Cowboys to 33.3 percent and 25 second-half points.

“When you have good offensive teams, it doesn’t mean that you’re bad defensively,” Kansas State coach Jerome Tang said. “But just because we didn’t score much (Tuesday) doesn’t mean that we’re bad offensively.”

Kansas State averages 78.8 points and boasts two of the Big 12’s top scorers in Keyontae Johnson (18.4 points per game) and Markquis Nowell (17.2). While Johnson scored 12 points against Oklahoma State, Nowell had 20 and is averaging 27.8 in the last four contests, while shooting 50.8 percent and dishing out 10.2 assists over a five-game stretch.

“We have some dudes,” Tang said. “I shake my head quite a bit, and smile, and clap.”

TCU (13-3, 2-2) has a good one in Mike Miles Jr., who averages 19.5 points. However, he’s been held to slightly below that average while scoring 18 and 16, respectively, during the Horned Frogs’ consecutive losses to then-No. 25 Iowa State and 10th-ranked Texas — by a combined six points.

Jamie Dixon’s group had won 11 straight prior to those two defeats and should feel a sense of frustration after it squandered an 18-point first-half lead and allowing 50 second-half points at Texas on Wednesday. The Horned Frogs are shooting 49.1 percent while going 1-2 in 2023, while their opponents have made 48.6 percent and averaged 78.3 points.

“We’re being presented with a challenge right in front of us,” said TCU forward Emanuel Miller, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Miller matched a career high with 21 points Wednesday.

“We did a great job responding earlier in the year when we lost, now we have back-to-back losses for the first time,” Miller said. “So I think this is a great challenge for our program.”

Kansas State has won two straight and seven of the last 10 meetings at TCU. Nowell had 14 points during the Wildcats’ 75-63 win there in February 2022. Damion Baugh (12.3 points per game this season) scored 17 and Miller (14.1) added 13 for the Horned Frogs in that contest.

Miles did not play in that matchup but scored 19 during TCU’s 60-57 win at Kansas State in January 2022.

–Field Level Media