MANHATTAN — In five games this season against Kansas, Texas Tech and West Virginia — the three teams currently stationed at or near the top of the Big 12 standings — Kansas State is 0-5.

Three of the losses were by double figures, including the 89-51 beatdown WVU administered just last Saturday.

Well, welcome to Game No. 6. K-State (17-7, 6-5) will try to reverse its sagging fortunes against the league's best at 7 p.m. Saturday when the Wildcats play host to Tech, which comes to Bramlage Coliseum sporting the nation's No. 7 ranking and records of 20-4 overall and 8-3 in the league.

"Hopefully our guys understand how tough it’s going to be," K-State coach Bruce Weber said. "They’re very physical, play great defense. They have one of the best players, not only in the Big 12, but in the country in Keenan Evans. They have the inside presence with the big guys, the athleticism.

"It’s a handful to go against them."

The Wildcats should understand just how full their hands will be after suffering a 74-58 loss to the Red Raiders on Jan. 6 in Lubbock, Texas. The Wildcats spotted the Raiders a 40-22 lead by halftime, shooting only 40 percent during the first 20 minutes.

Evans, a 6-foot-3 junior standout who is second in the Big 12 scoring race with an 18.4-point average, tormented K-State with 27 points and four assists in 31 minutes. He did much of his damage from the free-throw line, going 13 for 14 from the stripe.

As good as Evans is, though, the Raiders' defense is what has led them to a share of the league lead with KU. The Raiders top the conference in scoring defense (62.7 points), field goal percentage defense (.393) and 3-point percentage defense (.314).

While the Raiders hit a minor lull in January, losing three of four games, they enter Saturday's clash on a roll, winners of five straight.

"Now it seems like they're full go, kicking butt," Weber said. "We're going to have to play well."

The Wildcats should take confidence from their second-half showing against the Raiders earlier this season. After giving Tech the 18-point halftime cushion, K-State outscored the Raiders 36-34 in the final period behind 54.5 percent shooting.

Barry Brown finished with 24 points and Dean Wade added 14.

"The second half I thought we attacked them, got the ball to the paint, got the ball to Dean and played off of Dean," Weber said. "Those are all going to be important, and then you have to make some shots against them.

"I think they're the leading charge team in the country, or one of the best, so they protect that paint. When you drive, you've got to kick it out, and if you make shots it gives you a chance."

K-State has some history on its side, as well. The Wildcats have won eight straight home games against Tech, with their last loss to the Red Raiders in Bramlage coming under current West Virginia coach Bob Huggins in Jan. 8, 2007 — there were two years during that stretch when the teams didn't meet at all in Manhattan. At the time, Tech's coach was Hall-of-Famer Bobby Knight — a former mentor of current Tech coach Chris Beard.

The Wildcats also should take heart from Wednesday's 67-64 win at Texas. With all five starters chipping in double-figure scoring efforts and the Wildcats shooting 54 percent from the field, the victory helped K-State right the ship after back-to-back double-digit losses to KU and WVU.

The outing certainly caught the eye of Beard, especially after the K-State eyesore that occurred four days earlier in Morgantown, W.Va.

"It shows you everything about Kansas State basketball, how tough they are," Beard said. "They have a disappointing game at West Virginia and bounce back a couple days later and win a tough road game at Texas. I think that's a direct reflection of their toughness, their coaching, their players.

"Kansas State has our full attention. I think it's a game we're going to have to play awfully well in to have a chance."