February 20, 2008

Wildcats seek road cure at Nebraska

Good teams win on the road, and championship contenders win there regularly. So if Coach Frank Martin and his Kansas State team are as serious as they say about winning trophies and hanging banners, it's dominance of other schools' home courts needs to get started now. The Wildcats (17-6) are 4-5 away from their home court this season, and that record must improve at Nebraska on Wednesday if they hope to maintain a place at or near the top of the conference standings.

Early losses at Texas Tech and Missouri have by no means doomed Martin's Wildcats. After all, Florida lost two of its first three conference road games in 2006, and everyone is aware of how that season turned out for the Gators. That's not to say K-State is destined to win the national championship in 2008, but a third consecutive road loss to a team ranked in the lower half of the conference would certainly impede its progress in the direction of a Big 12 championship.

"These road games are important," said K-State senior Clent Stewart. "We just need to have some mental focus. We have to understand that the home team is always going to make a run. We have to be focused enough to counteract that. Winning on the road is something we have to do."

That's where this week's game with the Cornhuskers comes in.

The Wildcats already hold a victory over Coach Doc Sadler's Nebraska team this season, a 79-54 blowout in Manhattan just 13 days ago. Still, K-State isn't looking past Wednesday's contest. The Wildcats found out the hard way that winning on the road in this conference is no easy task. And anyone associated with the last year's squad knows all to well that games in Lincoln (Neb.) are no exception.

"I remember going there last year and getting sent home with a loss," said K-State freshman Bill Walker of the 74-63 defeat his team suffered in Lincoln a year ago. "(Nebraska center Aleks Maric) put up 40 points on us there. I feel like we're heading into the same place this year. It's going to be even crazier. We just have to go in there and try to survive. It's going to be a tough environment to play in."

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