Limiting turnovers figures to be a major theme for both Kansas State and Oklahoma heading into their Tuesday meeting in Norman, Okla.
Both the No. 12 Wildcats and the Sooners are coming off their worst turnover games of the season in losses Saturday.
Kansas State gave the ball away 23 times in a 71-63 upset loss at Texas Tech, while Oklahoma gave up the ball 24 times in a 78-55 loss to then-No. 9 Kansas.
“I have to be better,” Kansas State guard Markquis Nowell said. “This team is not a team that could turn the ball over and get stops in transition and make up for mistakes. So I probably had about 20 or 30 turnovers now in the last four to five games. I’m really gonna work on that.”
Nowell has 29 turnovers over the Wildcats’ last five games.
Wildcats coach Jerome Tang said the issue with turnovers recently has challenged his team’s toughness.
“It’s just about being mentally and physically tough and delivering passes with two people on you,” Tang said.
After starting 6-1 in Big 12 play, Kansas State has dropped four of its past six.
The Wildcats (19-6, 7-5) are averaging 15.5 turnovers per game in that stretch.
“Your defense has to travel,” Tang said. “That’s how you win road games, by being a really good defensive team. … But there is no defense for live-ball turnovers.”
Kansas State is led by Keyontae Johnson, who is averaging 17.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Nowell is averaging 16.9 points, 7.6 assists, and 2.3 steals.
While the Wildcats have struggled lately after a hot start in conference play, the Sooners have struggled throughout.
Oklahoma (12-13, 2-10) has dropped four consecutive games and seven consecutive Big 12 games. The Sooners’ only win in that stretch was 93-69 over then-No. 2 Alabama on Jan. 28.
Oklahoma’s recent struggles have led to plenty of adjustments from Sooners coach Porter Moser, who moved freshman Otega Oweh into the starting lineup two games ago and elevated Joe Bamisile back into the rotation after Bamisile played sparingly early in conference play.
“I’m constantly trying to tinker to find things,” Moser said. “With playing Joe and Otega, you’re going to live with some things. … I’m constantly trying to find ways to win right now.”
Oweh has averaged 10.5 points in an average of 22 minutes since moving into the starting lineup. He had scored 10 points in a game just once this season before making his first career start last Wednesday at Baylor.
Bamisile was scoreless against Kansas but added plenty of energy off the bench in the loss.
Grant Sherfield leads the Sooners with 16.5 points per game. Jalen Hill is the only other player averaging in double figures, with 10.2 points per game.
Tuesday’s meeting is the first of two this season between the teams.
The Sooners swept the series last season and have beaten the Wildcats three consecutive seasons in Norman.
–Field Level Media