Southern Illinois at Wichita State: The big question here, all seven feet of it, is whether or not Garrett Stutz can-or should- play. The senior is battling back pain which has limited his mobility. The injury is not thought to be a long-term problem, but it isn’t good in the short-term as SIU has some size to deal with. The potential absence of Stutz takes about nine rebounds out of the game. After outrebounding their first seventeen opponents, the Shockers have failed to out-board the last two.
A year ago, Southern Illinois came into Koch Arena as a conference bottom feeder and a huge underdog. Injuries had left Saluki coach Chris Lowery with only eight healthy players, yet SIU beat the Shockers- prompting a two week stretch when they went just 4-4. Looking back, it’s a loss that cost the Shockers a share of the Missouri Valley title and went a long way in keeping them out of the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas State at Oklahoma State: There’s never an easy way in Manhattan, where earlier this week head coach Frank Martin suspended Junior forward Jordan Enriquez-Roberts for ‘detrimental conduct’. How that affects the Cats going forward is anyone’s guess. They did get a nice win at home on Wednesday over Texas, getting 33 points from Rodney McGruder, but this team has yet to prove itself on the road. The Wildcats were ripped at Allen Fieldhouse and weren’t really a factor at Oklahoma last weekend.
Oklahoma State has never been an easy place for the ‘Cats to play. They’ve dropped eleven straight and 15 of the last 16 games with the Cowboys in Stillwater. When you consider that KSU is 2-3 in the conference, today’s game becomes a big one. Figuring that you need to get to 9-9 to be safe on Selection Sunday—you know you’ve still got road games at an improved Iowa State, Baylor, Missouri and Texas. Even at home, they’ll be underdogs against Kansas. The point is that if they go 7-2 at home, remember they already have a loss against Baylor, they have to find two road wins. Today at Oklahoma State and Wednesday at Texas Tech are both good candidates.
Kansas at Texas: The Jayhawks seem to be finding their stride and, interestingly, it’s Tyshawn Taylor who seems to be providing the inspiration. The oft-questioned point guard is coming off back to back 28 point efforts and is playing as completely as he ever has at KU. KU has won eight straight and is off to a 5-0 start to lead the Big 12, which they’re trying to win , incredibly, for the eighth straight season. Texas is young and relatively small, so the ‘Hawks create big matchup problems for them, but Longhorns Head Coach Rick Barnes is 4-2 all-time against KU in Austin.
Enjoy the hoops.