KU ready for Top 15 matchup, plus a unique message from Jerome Tang

Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang signals to his team during the second half of an NCAA...
Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang signals to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma State in Manhattan, Kan., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)(Reed Hoffmann | AP)
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 11:16 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - A Top 15 matchup for the first time since 2013, the Sunflower Showdown will be sold out at Bramlage Coliseum.

The sixth-oldest rivalry may have a little more meaning this time around, but head coach Jerome Tang isn’t buying into the hype.

”It doesn’t win us the National Championship. It doesn’t win us the Big 12 Championship, it doesn’t guarantee us an NCAA tournament,” Tang said. “Nobody is getting drafted after this game. If you win this game and lose the next four, what good is it? So, it’s just our next game on the schedule.”

With this game being played on ESPN, Tang has talked about his team being in the national spotlight and how to handle it but it’s a day-by-day process.

“The team on the other side, they’ve been through that, they’re everybody’s Super Bowl. They’ve gotten everybody’s best game and they’re used to that so... and if you want to make that turn, you have to go through these things and how you respond to them, it’s a growing process,” Tang said.”

However, Tang says he believes it hasn’t been a rivalry, but rather more hate towards KU and he has a message.

”I don’t want them to show up to the game and yell and scream and I don’t want our fans to show up to the game because they hate the other team,” Tang said. “I want them to show up because they love Kansas State. Every guy on our roster, they didn’t pick this school because they hated somebody else, they picked this school because they love us as a staff, they love this community, and love this university.”

“I would love to see how we can change this thing around if we’re motivated by love rather than by hate. I feel like we, the Kansas State community and family allows them to live rent-free in our heads way too much... if we lose, we get one loss, if we win, we get one win, that’s it,” Tang added.

Kansas leads the overall series with Kansas State, 203-94, including a 29-5 record at Bramlage Coliseum. KU has won the last seven meetings with K-State. KU’s 203 wins versus KSU are the most against one foe all time in the NCAA.

”I feel like this year, they know they can beat teams, they know they can play with a lot of different people and that’s been kind of the difference so far I’ve seen as far as how they carry themselves and how they’re playing,” Kansas Forward Jalen Wilson said. “They’re playing with great confidence and going to Austin (Texas) and playing like that, they’re a good team this year.”

Kansas has won the last seven games and head coach Bill Self is 39-6 all-time vs. K-State, including 15-5 on the road.

”I mean it actually adds to the excitement of the game knowing the excitement and anticipation of it knowing you have two really good teams playing and for us to win, we’re going to have to do a lot of things, really really well,” Self said.

Self applauded Tang for how fast he and his staff have been able to turn things around and mentioned before the Iowa State game that Tang is in the conversation for Coach of the Year.

He also said he believes Markquis Nowell is in the conversation for Player of the Year and Nae’Qwan Tomlin is an NBA prospect. Self is ready for a great atmosphere and a much improved Wildcat team.

“Their offensive firepower has doubled. They lost (Nigel) Pack obviously but they replaced him with some guys that can really score the ball and Nowell is having a Player of the Year type year, (Keyontae) Johnson is having an unbelievable year and a great story and they’ve also recruited unbelievably well.

That atmosphere is something that Wilson is also looking forward to.

”The fans are there I think even before we get there and as soon as we walk in, they start all of their boos and chants but it’s a great atmosphere, especially because this will probably be the best one I’ve seen yet because of how great the season is going and I’m looking forward to it.” Wilson said.