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Kansas State, Nebraska renew rivalry

Kansas State and Nebraska renew acquaintances for the first time in nearly 11 years when the former conference mates square off Sunday in Lincoln, Neb.

The two schools are beginning a three-game series that also calls for games in Manhattan, Kan., next season and in Kansas City in 2023. The series was initially slated to begin last season before being pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Wildcats and Cornhuskers were longtime rivals in the Big 8 and Big 12 before Nebraska left the conference to join the Big Ten. The last meeting was Kansas State’s 61-57 victory in Lincoln on Feb. 23, 2011 — its fifth straight win over Nebraska.

Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said it was important to him to get the Cornhuskers back on the docket.

“It’s a great rivalry in K-State history,” Weber told reporters. “I got here (in 2012) and it was sad that Nebraska is two hours away and Missouri is three hours away and we’re not getting to play those guys. … I think it’s good for (college) basketball and it’s good for us.”

It certainly might not be a bad time for Kansas State (6-3) to face the Cornhuskers (5-6).

Nebraska has lost four straight games, the last two by an average of 33 points. The Cornhuskers were steamrolled 102-67 by Michigan on Dec. 7 and trampled 99-68 by Auburn on Dec. 11.

The results led Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg to do some deep soul-searching.

“It’s urgency. It’s playing harder. It’s effort,” Hoiberg told reporters. “We got our head kicked in for two straight games.”

C.J. Wilcher was a bright spot against Auburn by achieving season highs of 17 points and four 3-pointers.

Bryce McGowens leads Nebraska with a 16.2 scoring average. Alonzo Verge Jr. (16.0) is the only other player in double digits.

Kansas State has won four of its last five games, including an 82-64 home win over Green Bay on Dec. 12.

Markquis Nowell scored a season-best 22 points and is second on the squad with a 13.2 scoring average.

Leading scorer Nijel Pack (14.4) should be ready for full duty. He missed two games with a concussion and then played only 14 minutes against Green Bay as a precaution after an in-game fall.

Mike McGuirl (6.8) also will be back after missing the Green Bay contest due to the flu.

–Field Level Media