Clash of 'similar styles' in Big 12 tournament tilt between Kansas State, TCU

Ryan Black, The Manhattan Mercury, Kan.
·2 min read

Mar. 8—Kansas State and TCU are familiar foes. When the two square off in the first round of the Big 12 tournament at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, it will make the 14th meeting in the past four years. Along with the home-and-home matchups that are part of the conference's round-robin scheduling, the Wildcats and Horned Frogs also have met in the league tournament three years in a row.

Wednesday will be the fourth Big 12 tournament meeting in as many seasons.

One thing that has defined this matchup over the years: close games.

Of those 13 previous meetings, all but two have been decided by nine points or less.

K-State head coach Bruce Weber said he isn't sure exactly why the two teams always seem to play such tight contests.

"You go through the scores recently, and they've all come down to the end," Weber said Monday in a press conference previewing the Big 12 tournament. "Even the game at TCU last year, it was close. It ended up 11 or 10, but going under four, it was a two-possession game. They made some free throws, and we didn't make plays down the stretch."

The two squads are heading in opposite directions entering Wednesday, though.

K-State has won three of its past four outings, including a 62-54 victory over TCU on the road that ended a 13-game losing streak. TCU, on the other hand, closed the regular season with six losses in its last seven games.

Weber hopes Wednesday follows the same script as last season's tournament meeting in Kansas City, Mo., a game the Wildcats won 53-49.

"We jumped on them in the tournament," Weber said. "I think we were up 25-8. They made their run, and we went back and forth. Last year, we had so many games that came down to the last four minutes. It was great for them. Mike (McGuirl) made some big plays. It was great for our guys to finally come through. Ironically then, it was the end of the season. That game was very similar to the game at TCU this year. Back and forth, and then we made the plays at the end. Hopefully we can do that again."

Fresh off a 3-1 finish to the regular season, Weber hopes the team can carry some momentum with it into the conference tournament.

"I hope we have a good focus and mental state going into the game," he said. "We were together (Sunday) for about an hour and a half. (I told them), 'Let's do something special as we continue to finish the season and reward yourself for your hard work. You'll have a lot of time off. It's been a hard season. It's been tough on everyone. Keep coming. Keep battling and hope some special things happen.'"