Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Sunflower Showdown

Author: Nathan Mize

 Ben McLemore                              VS.                   Rodney McGruder

The 2013 Sunflower Showdown is finally here! On Tuesday, January 22nd, the 4th ranked Jayhawks will take on the 17th ranked Wildcats in Manhattan. I never trust the Hawks away from home, let alone in Manhattan. Nevertheless, I expect a excellent game to take place on Tuesday. In this debate, I will showcase my opinion on the hopeful KU victory as Riley will respond with a potential upset alert.

 The game on Tuesday will be the last matchup in Manhattan for seniors Elijah Johnson , Jeff Withey, Travis Releford, and Kevin Young. Also, as much as all of us don't want to think about it, this could be the last game in the Little Apple for freshman sensation Ben McLemore. With all that said, this game holds a lot of significance for the Jayhawks. A 4-0 Big 12 record, a 16-1 overall record, and bragging rights all is at stake on Tuesday.

The Jayhawks have certainly surprised me when playing on the road this year. The huge win against Ohio State in late December, and the 2 road victories in Big 12 play so far shows that KU can hold their own away from Allen Fieldhouse (for the most part). As we all know, the name "Allen Fieldhouse West" doesn't really apply anymore. KU has had some trouble playing in Bramlage over the past few years, and this year will not be any different.

Basing this rivalry game strictly on stats, this game will be one of the best Sunflower Showdowns the citizens of Kansas has seen in a while. The Hawks are averaging 76 points a game while the Cats are averaging a decent 69. Total field goal % for KU is .481, while KSU's is .431. (KU's FG % success had a lot to do with Mr. 23.) 15-2 (4-0) and 16-1 (4-0), both teams fighting for the top of the Big 12.

For the Hawks to win this game, it all comes down to rebounding. In the past couple of games, our rebounding has been horrific, especially on the offensive side. We are not playing in Allen Fieldhouse, with 16,300 people jumping out of their seats. On Tuesday, the decible reading won't get to numbers like 115 or 120. However, the show must go on. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!

Nathan's Final Score Prediction: KU- 71 KSU-65.

Author: Riley Gates

As the final seconds ticked off the clock in Bramlage Coliseum on March 4th, 2006, I wanted to cry.  I was only nine years old, attending my first ever Sunflower Showdown.  Back on January 14th of that same year, K-State had knocked off KU, IN LAWRENCE, 59-55.  I felt that we had a great shot to win that game, and the fact that it was my first ever Sunflower Showdown, made it special.  K-State lost that game, 66-52.  Then came the Bob Huggins Sunflower Showdown.  I was there to, and just like the first one, K-State lost my second Sunflower Showdown, 71-62.  Then finally, the glorious first time.  Michael Beasley, Bill Walker, and Frank Martin, led K-State to an upset of unbeaten, #1 Kansas, 84-75.  I was in the stands with my dad.  We hugged, we cried, and we stormed the court.  In four more meetings, we've only won, one time.  I've been in attendance at each and every one, ever since that first one in 2006, and I intend on being in attendance on Tuesday, looking to knock off KU.

I'm not going to sugar coat this.  It's no secret.  I don't like KU.  I never have, I never will, and I want to beat them.  Every year, I want to beat KU.  I don't like having to hear "Allen Fieldhouse West" every time we lose to KU.  But it's no secret to anyone out there who pays attention to college basketball.  KU has dominated at Bramlage.  In defense to my Cats, it's not like we've been putting up a fight every year.  Really, it seems that we've really only challenged them since 2006.  But regardless of skill of either team, KU has won the games.  K-State needs to win this one.

This game is big for many reasons.  First off, it's another step in the direction of slowly evening out the record between the two, in Bramlage.  Another reason, is to get Bruce Weber some more respect.  Believe it or not, there's still people who think that this team isn't for real.  #16 in the nation (depending what day you read this,) 15-2 overall, with a 4-0 record in the Big 12, isn't good enough for people still.  And I'm not just talking about ignorant fans who are still bitter about the departure of Frank Martin.  This even comes from sports reporters.  For example, ESPN's college basketball specialist, Joe Lunardi.  He was recently asked on Twitter about his low seeding in his bracketology, with K-State.  He simply replied with "Poll frauds."  Another Twitter user said "@ESPNLunardi says K-State is a poll fraud, but praises Florida.  Both 2 losses and KSU handled FL."  Lunardi replied to that and said "Head-to-head largely irrelevant."  So apparently it doesn't matter if you are knocking off top ranked teams, but a win over KU, I think that may help out a little bit.

It's going to be near impossible to contain Ben McLemore.  The freshmen sensation has been averaging 16.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.3 SPG, and .9 BPG.  Those are crazy numbers for someone who hasn't seen a D-1 basketball floor before this season.  Along with Jeff Withey who averages 13.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 4.6 BPG, and Elijah Johnson who contributes 9.7 PPG and 5 APG, KU is deadly and scary.  They've suffered one loss early, and haven't looked back from there.  But, don't think this is anywhere near a guaranteed win for the Hawks.  K-State senior guard, Rodney McGruder, is averaging 15.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 2.1 APG, along with sophomore guard, Angel Rodriguez, with 9.2 PPG and 4.6 APG, and senior forward, Jordan Henriquez, who is a 7 foot threat for Jeff Withey, averages 5.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.9 BPG, all present a threat for KU.  But, someone who needs to have a big game for the Cats to be successful?  Junior guard, Shane Southwell.  Shane isn't a big numbers player yet, but he's finally coming out of his shell, that many would say Frank Martin kept him in.  He was big in the West Virginia game, making clutch free throws to get KSU the lead, and then blocking the last second layup attempt.  Then yesterday against Oklahoma, the 6-6 guard from Harlem, NY contributed 12 points and 7 rebounds.  If Shane gets going, the Hawks will have to guard him, opening up more chances for McGruder and Rodriguez.

Riley's Final Score Prediction: No. 16 K-State: 73 No. 4 KU: 65...EMAW!

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