Kansas State coach Bruce Weber may have been on the road recruiting Wednesday, but that didn't keep him from checking in with his team.

The message, roughly 24 hours after an emotional victory over rival Kansas, was simple and to the point.

"I texted them (Wednesday) night about 10-something," he said. "I said 24 hours is over, celebration ends, refocus on it."

"It," for the Wildcats, who now suddenly find themselves alone atop the Big 12, is Saturday's visit to Waco, Texas, to face Baylor with first place in the conference once more on the line. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. at the Ferrell Center between two of league's hottest teams.

K-State comes in at 17-5 overall, 7-2 in the Big 12, while Baylor is 15-7 and 6-3.

Given what's on the line, Weber expressed confidence that there won't be any lingering hangover from the 74-67 victory over KU, the first ever for K-State's senior trio of Dean Wade, Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes.

"I got a lot of comments back from the guys, positive," Weber said of his text. "They know what they have to do.

"It's the human nature part that we talked about before Texas A&M. If you're special you come back and play at a high level; if you're normal and average, you're not ready to play."

The only speed bump in the last month for the Wildcats was a double-digit loss two weeks ago at A&M in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Otherwise, they have won seven straight league games after a 0-2 start.

As for pushing reset following the Kansas game, Wade was unconcerned.

"You've got to put it behind you quick," he said. "Especially we're in the middle of Big 12 season and everything's happening so fast.

"We enjoyed it the night of and a little bit (Wednesday), but we've just got start focusing on Baylor right now and really be locked in on the whole scout in the days leading up to it."

Weber said he saw Texas A&M as an obvious trap game, stepping outside the league against a struggling Aggie team.

But Baylor, prior to an 84-72 loss Wednesday at Texas, had won six in a row, five straight in the league.

"It's still a first-place game, because if we lose they're tied with us," he said. "Not only did they beat Texas Tech and win by 30 against TCU and Oklahoma, they also beat Iowa State and they beat Alabama, who's a really good team."

The Bears also had the players' attention.

"They're a hot team right now, doing some good things on both ends (of the court)," said junior forward Xavier Sneed. "I think people just don't appreciate them right now.

"They're one of the best teams in the Big 12 right now, so coming out and staying focused, staying locked in, is key for us right now. The Big 12's a dogfight every game."

Baylor has thrived in league play despite the loss of 6-foot-9 forward Tristan Clark with a season-ending knee injury Jan. 8 against Iowa State. Clark was second on the team in scoring with 14.6 points per game and rebounding with a 6.3 average.

Weber said Baylor coach Scott Drew may well be the biggest reason for the Bears' success.

"You've got to give him a lot of credit," Weber said. "If you voted who was coach of the year halfway, I think you've got to give it to him.

"He's done a great job of kind of a new lineup, pieced some things in, loses 16 (points) and eight (rebounds) a game and doesn't really have a big guy. They're playing very physical, very aggressive."

With no starter taller than 6-7 forward Mario Kegler, the Bears lead the Big 12 in rebounding margin at plus-7.1, well ahead of second-place West Virginia (plus-2.3). Makai Mason, a senior transfer from Yale, has emerged as a star, averaging 16.1 points and 3.0 assists.

 

KANSAS STATE AT BAYLOR

Tipoff: 5 p.m. Saturday, Ferrell Center (10,284), Waco, Texas

Records: Kansas State 17-5 (7-2 Big 12), Baylor 15-7 (6-3)

TV/Radio: ESPN2/WIBW-AM (580)

Next: Kansas State at Texas, 8 p.m. Tuesday at Austin, Texas

PROJECTED STARTERS

KANSAS STATE (17-5, 7-2)

P Player;Ht.;Cl.;Pts.;Reb.

F Makol Mawien;6-9;Jr.;6.3;4.2

F Dean Wade;6-10;Sr.;14.1;6.8

G Kamau Stokes;6-0;Sr.;9.8;3.5*

G Barry Brown;6-3;Sr.;15.5;4.1

G Xavier Sneed;6-5;Jr.;9.8;5.7

BAYLOR (15-7, 6-3)

P Player;Ht.;Cl.;Pts.;Reb.

F Mario Kegler;6-7;So.;9.2;5.8

F Mark Vital;6-5;So.;6.4;7.1

G King McClure;6-3;Sr.;9.9;5.4

G Makai Mason;6-1;Sr.;16.1;3.0*

G Jared Butler;6-3;Fr.;8.4;2.5

* — Assists