January 25, 2008

Iowa State presents problems for Cats

There will be no blood feuds, win guarantees or painted birds when Kansas State hosts Iowa State on Saturday. You'd never know it, but that hoopla is still a few days off. Yes, the hype surrounding the most anticipated Sunflower Showdown in recent memory has dulled the shine of K-State's game at Bramlage Coliseum with the Cyclones, but the opportunity to go to 4-0 in the Big 12 still carries with it at least some degree of luster, no matter who the Wildcats' next opponent is.

"If we lose now, it takes some of the importance away from (the game with Kansas)," said K-State freshman Bill Walker of Saturday's game.

It's that simple, and whether fans believe Walker's statement to be accurate or not, it's hard to argue with the freshman. After all, it's not often that these two bitter rivals cruise into a showdown displaying unblemished conference records.

Standing in the way of the previously described scenario, however, are the almost forgotten Cyclones.

Iowa State's 12-7 record includes wins over Big 12 North foes Missouri and Oklahoma State, and make no mistake about it, the Cyclones couldn't care less about who's next on the Wildcats' schedule.

Iowa State possess great size at the forward position, boasting five players who measure 6-foot-8 or taller, so Walker and fellow forward Michael Beasley will have little time to daydream about the Jayhawks come Saturday. Focus will be especially important for Beasley, who the Cyclones are bent on taking away. K-State's star freshman will likely see a share of box-and-one defensive sets throughout the course of the game, and the freshman knows he will have to work for every look he gets on the offensive end.

"I know they're athletic and they have some tall guys playing awkward positions," Beasley said of Saturday's opponent. "They're big inside."

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