SE: Sunflower Showdown Awaits K-State Men’s Basketball

There’s never an easy game in the Big 12, and this week’s Wildcat men’s basketball schedule is proof of just that.

Tonight, the Wildcats (13-8, 2-6 Big 12) head to Lawrence, Kansas, to take on the No. 7/6 Kansas Jayhawks (17-4, 5-3 Big 12) at 8 p.m., in Allen Fieldhouse before returning home to Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday to take on No. 1/2 Oklahoma (19-2, 7-2 Big 12).

The schedule is daunting, to say the least, but K-State isn’t looking at it that way. The K-State men’s basketball team is spending this week – especially tonight’s road game – focusing solely on itself and simply playing its game.

“I told out guys, we just have to play hard and compete and good things will happen,” said K-State head coach Bruce Weber about tonight’s game in Lawrence. “We have to try and not do too much, play simple basketball and play strong, and if we can play strong, compete, do the things we do and defend, then we’ll compete with them.”

Tonight’s game marks the first of this year’s two-game Dillon’s Sunflower Showdown series, and, though in the last four meeting K-State and Kansas are 2-2, the Wildcats haven’t won in Allen Fieldhouse since a 59-55 victory on Jan. 14, 2006.

“We have to go out and play hard. We need to play for ourselves, play for our team and play for our fans. We have to make this a good game and see if we can come out with a win,” said junior forward Wesley Iwundu. “We have nothing to lose and (that makes us) very dangerous. There is no pressure going out there; we’re going to just go out and play our game.”

Kansas is undefeated on its home court during the 2015-16 campaign. Top 25 teams such as Oklahoma and Kentucky may have come close to winning in Allen Fieldhouse as both teams took the Jayhawks into overtime during their respective visits, but neither were able to come out on top.

“There haven’t been many teams that have been successful there except for Kansas,” said Weber. “Kansas plays at a high level, and, obviously, they have a great crowd there; it’s loud. I think they feed off of being there – everyone plays better at home but it seems like they take it to another level. The beginning will be important; we can’t turn it over in the beginning of the game and can’t let them get easy baskets. We have to make them earn some things and survive their runs.”

While the Wildcat upperclassmen have all played in Lawrence before, there are numerous new faces on this year’s squad who have never been to a game at Kansas. Iwundu said he’s spent time talking with his teammates on what to expect.

“I tell them there’s a lot of rowdiness,” he said. “People in the state of Kansas take this game very serious; it’s a big time rivalry. It’s going to be a loud environment, so you just have to do what you’re good at and don’t let the crowd get to your head. It’s one of the toughest places to play in America and it will be a good challenge for us.”

While Iwundu has talked to numerous teammates, he doesn’t have to explain the atmosphere at Kansas to freshman Dean Wade. Growing up in St. John, Kansas, Wade has been to Allen Fieldhouse a time or two and is excited to play there for the first time.

“It’s an in-state rivalry, so I’ve always thought about (this game),” said Wade. “I’ve been (to Allen Fieldhouse) a few times. My high school team used to go up there for preseason games as a team, so I’ve been there. I’m just going to approach it like any other game, go in there and do what I have to do for my team.”

Tonight’s game will be aired on ESPN2 with Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Fran Fraschilla (analyst) and Jon Barry (analyst) calling the action, while fans can also hear the game on the K-State Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) on the call.

“Just like the fans feel the rivalry, we all do too,” said Iwundu. “I’ve been here for three years now, so I have a feel for what to expect and I’m going to go out there, help the guys out and try and lead us to victory.”

For game notes and more on tonight’s game, please click here.

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Radio broadcasts of K-State athletics events will return to their roots next fall as 580 WIBW will be the Topeka home of Wildcat broadcasts for the next five years, officials of K-State Athletics, Learfield Sports’ K-State Sports Properties and Alpha Media announced today. “From the moment I arrived at K-State in 2009, I heard repeatedly from K-Staters in the Topeka area and across the state how the important the relationship with WIBW was to our fans,” Athletics Director John Currie said. “I appreciate K-State Sports Properties GM Ben Boyle working diligently for many years to re-establish this historic partnership with K-State Athletics and WIBW, which not only dates back half a century, but also provides our teams a tremendous platform on Topeka’s top sports station and AM 580’s powerful signal.”

WIBW first originated K-State football and basketball broadcasts in the 1950s and launched the original Wildcat Sports Network from 1980-2002.

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Suzie Fritz, K-State volleyball’s winningest coach and leader of the program for the last decade-and-a-half, has signed a four-year contract extension, K-State Athletics Director John Currie has announced.

Fritz agreed to the extension through the 2020 season, which was approved by the K-State Athletics, Inc., Board of Directors and President Kirk Schulz. Fritz had one year remaining on her current five-year contract signed in 2012. Under the new deal, she will receive a base salary of $161,500 in 2016; $166,500 in 2017; $171,500 in 2018; $174,500 in 2019; and $177,500 in 2020.

“First, I would like to thank President Kirk Schulz and Athletics Director John Currie for their continued support of me, my staff and our program,” Fritz said. “Under their leadership, we have seen tremendous things happen at Kansas State University, and I am extremely proud to have the opportunity to be a part of their team. We place tremendous value on being part of the K-State Family and are very blessed to work at such an exceptional University within the wonderful community of Manhattan.”

To continue reading about Fritz, please click here.