Oklahoma City — Third time's a charm. Or another punch in the stomach.
Kansas State's 66-45 basketball victory over Texas Tech on Friday in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals set up another Sunflower Showdown. Part three, at the Ford Center at 1 p.m. today.
Kansas University won the first two - by 27 in Lawrence and nine in Manhattan - but it hasn't made the Wildcats any less hungry for another crack at them.
"We want to play them again," KSU guard Lance Harris said. "We want a chance to play them again, so we can try to get a win over them. It is always big to play against Kansas, but it is also playing for the Big 12, trying to get that Big 12 championship also."
K-State is seeded fourth in the Big 12 tournament, but it certainly looked capable of cutting down the nets with Friday's play.
With KU assistants Joe Dooley and Tim Jankovich scouting the game from press row following the Jayhawks' 64-47 victory over Oklahoma earlier Friday, the Wildcats put on a fabulous defensive show and complemented it with long-range shooting that proved a lethal combination.
Harris had 20 points and hit four three-pointers. Cartier Martin had 17 and four threes of his own. Fifth-seeded Texas Tech kept it close in the first half thanks to 17 of Jarrius Jackson's 28 points, but the second half was dominated by K-State, now 22-10 overall.
"They're the perfect team, at least from my perspective," Texas Tech coach Bob Knight said. "They have got guys that can play in the post, but they can go outside. They're a tough team.
"We're not a team that can play back-to-back games one day after another. We need a day's rest, and Kansas State is just too tough for us to play like that."
Friday's game potentially had huge implications for the NCAA Tournament, with pundits saying both K-State and Texas Tech are on the bubble. K-State's cheerleaders chanted "N-C-double-A!" at the end of the game and held up a sign shaped like a ticket with "Big Dance" and "Admit One" on it.
Whether that ticket is punched or not won't be known until Sunday. But both Knight and KSU coach Bob Huggins, against what many in the media proclaim, said Friday's game didn't mean much and both teams deserve an invitation regardless.
"The whole deal about whether we are in or not, it's ludicrous," Huggins said. "When you think about it, we've got two teams (Kansas and Texas A&M) that are both playing for a one seed. And Texas has got to be, what, a three or a four?
"So then you are going to tell me from one through three and then the next best team in the league, which has been us, that we're not in the best 65 in the country, as good as this league is?"
Knight agreed, saying "Everybody is an expert, but it was very difficult for me to imagine a tournament that could put 65 teams together that were better than Kansas State."
There's only a slight doubt now, and that would surely be wiped away emphatically if the Wildcats can beat the Jayhawks (28-4) this afternoon.
"As crazy as it may sound, we came down here to win this," Huggins said. "I said to (the team), 'You know, we are not going to do things to play for second or third.' We had the plan to come down and play on Sunday and win on Sunday."