The Kansas State team the Coyote men will play tonight is coming off its biggest win of the season, defeating previously unbeaten Ole Miss 61-58 at home. Freshman guard Marcus Foster, the team’s leading scorer, had 15 points, as did Thomas Gipson, a 6-7 junior.

Just glancing at the Wildcats’ starting lineup, it would appear USD’s biggest challenge in this one will be matching up with a trio of 6-7 players across the front line. Wesley Iwundu, Shane Southwell and Gipson are all averaging more than five rebounds a game. With both starting guards 6-2, USD can expect to be challenged on the boards and in finding open shots. In six of the last seven games, the Wildcats have held opponents to season-lows in points.

“We learned a lot in November,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “It’s a new team with a lot of young guys playing and older guys who have switched their roles. We had to learn about ourselves, and our young guys had to learn what college basketball is about. We went through those early games in Puerto Rico and some struggles, and now you come back and go to practice and see what you need to improve and how you have to take your game to another level.

“We talked about coming into December and making it a month when we take a big step. We got the win against Central Arkansas pretty easy and a hard-fought win against Mississippi was a confidence-builder. This is a big stretch for us and a chance to make some progress as a team.”

USD (3-5) is coming off a tough trip west with a loss at Air Force that included a spectacular number of second-half foul shots for the opponent followed by an overtime loss in Rapid City to Wyoming. The Coyotes got home from Rapid City early Sunday morning and left on a six-hour ride to Manhattan, Kan., Monday night.

Things to look for would be seeing how well the Coyotes can keep up on the boards against a team in which all five starters are solid rebounders. USD is a 16-point dog in this contest, so a win would be the sort of upset you’d expect when a Summit team beats a Big 12 operation. Beyond that, though, being able to find decent shots against a strong defensive team – whether the shots go in or not – would be an indication that the Coyotes making progress on the offensive end.

Historically, KSU has not had much trouble against the Summit League. Check that, the Wildcats have had no trouble with the Summit. They’re 19-0 and 18-0 at home in these battles.

Some other interesting stuff:

-       KSU is 8-0 against USD with an average points margin of 23.6 with USD losing on New Year’s Eve of 2012 by a score of 70-50. The squads have played three times since USD went Division I.

-            The Wildcats are 62-3 record at home in non-conference play dating back to 2006-07, including a 60-2 (.968) mark during the regular season. The squad has won 51 of its last 52 non-conference home games. The three losses have come to DePaul (2007), Oregon (2007) and Northern Colorado this season.

-       The closest USD has ever come to beating Kansas State was a 17-point loss in 1977.