MANHATTAN, Kan. — Although he often jokes that he’s getting old enough to not remember what he had for breakfast on a given day, Tad Boyle has a crystal clear memory about what happened the last time the Buffaloes took on Kansas State on the Wildcats’ home floor.
Unbeknownst to the Buffs, CU was on its way out of the Big 12 Conference when the Buffs and Wildcats collided in Manhattan, Kan., for the final time on Jan. 11, 2011 (though they met again two months later in the league tournament). On that night at KSU, former Buffs guard Levi Knutson went wild on the Wildcats, going 6-for-8 on 3-pointers with 20 points as part of a season that saw Knutson set a single-season CU record for 3-point percentage (.474) that still stands.
The Buffs and Wildcats renew their old league rivalry on Friday night, as CU hopes to make it two-for-two at Kansas State’s Little Apple Classic following Wednesday night’s opening win against South Dakota.
“I wish we had Levi Knutson in uniform like the last time we were in this building,” Boyle said. “K-State had a tough loss (Wednesday) to a good Drake team. They’re well-coached. K-State was in the Elite 8 two years ago. This is a storied program. They’ve got a lot of pride. They’ve got a coach who I think is one of the most underrated coaches in America in Bruce Weber. They’ve got a bunch of new guys and they played like it (Wednesday). They’ll be better on Friday than they were (against Drake). We’ve got to be ready for whatever they throw at us.
“They’re going to have bigger, longer athletic guys than South Dakota did. So it’s going to be a challenge.”
Knutson obviously won’t be there to save the Buffs, and there is a chance senior wing D’Shawn Schwartz won’t be there either. Schwartz returned to Boulder on Wednesday after a daily COVID-19 test revealed what Boyle termed “a possible exposure” to the coronavirus. Schwartz was expected to go through another round of testing on Thursday, but his status is unlikely to be clarified until Friday. Following Wednesday’s 84-61 win against South Dakota, Boyle didn’t rule out having Schwartz back in uniform Friday night.
The Buffs didn’t miss a beat without one of their senior leaders. Maddox Daniels replaced Schwartz in the starting lineup and turned in a solid all-around performance, going 2-for-4 on 3-pointers while matching career-highs in rebounds (six) and assists (three) in 28 minutes.
The Buffs’ defense was solid throughout the opening win, holding South Dakota to an overall field goal percentage of .333 and harassing the Coyotes into a 3-for-20 showing from 3-point range. CU shook off a slow start shooting-wise to post an efficient opening performance on offense, finishing 10-for-25 on 3-pointers and 14-for-15 at the free throw line. The Buffs also committed just two turnovers in the first half and finished with eight. CU posted eight or fewer turnovers just three times in 32 games last season.
“I thought defensively we were really good,” Boyle said. “If you look at the field goal percentage it was 33%, with 15% from three. We’ll take those numbers every single night. I thought where we were not very good — and I kind of knew this coming in — is we have to shore up our defensive rebounding. We let (South Dakota) get 14 offensive rebounds. That can’t happen.”
CU Buffs men’s basketball at Kansas State
TIPOFF: Friday, 6:30 p.m. MT, Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kan.
BROADCAST: TV — ESPNU; Radio — 850 AM and 94.1 FM
RECORDS (2019-20): Kansas State 11-21; Colorado 21-11.
COACHES: Colorado — Tad Boyle, 11th season (211-134, 267-200 overall). Kansas State — Bruce Weber, 9th season (161-11, 474-266 overall).
KEY PLAYERS (Top returnees with 2019-20 statistics): Colorado — G McKinley Wright, Sr., 14.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.0 apg; G/F D’Shawn Schwartz, Sr., 9.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg; F Evan Battey, R-Jr., 8.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, .526 field goal percentage. Kansas State — G Mike McGuirl, Sr., 7.4 ppg, .398 3-point percentage; G DaJuan Gordon, So., 6.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg; F Montavious Murphy, So., 5.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg.
WHAT TO WATCH: The Buffs will need a better effort on the glass than what they produced against South Dakota. CU only outrebounded the much smaller Coyotes 45-42, and South Dakota grabbed 14 offensive rebounds.
NOTES: Kansas State suffered an 80-70 loss against Drake in its opener on Wednesday. McGuirl scored 22 points and Gordon added 15 to pace the Wildcats’ offense…Drake shot nearly 50 percent (29-for-60) from the floor while KSU was just 12-for-20 at the free throw line…With two steals against South Dakota, Wright now has 108 in his career and needs just two more to match Toney Ellis for 17th place all-time at CU. Wright needs three steals to match former CU guard and current director of player development Nate Tomlinson for 16th place…Since the start of the 2017-18 season, the Buffs are 17-1 in November games…This will be the teams’ first matchup since CU left the Big 12 Conference after the 2010-11 season. CU swept three games from the Wildcats that season, though KSU leads the all-time series 97-47…CU begins Pac-12 Conference play on Wednesday at Arizona.