MANHATTAN — If two losses last week at the Fort Myers Tip-Off raised some red flags for the Kansas State Wildcats, Mike McGuirl wasn't overly concerned.

He's certainly not ready to wave a white flag in response.

Just a year ago, the Wildcats rebounded from two nonconference setbacks to win the Big 12 and advance to the NCAA Tournament, and McGuirl sees no reason to think that can't happen again.

"Although it's not a good thing, it's not the end of the world," he said. "It doesn't mean our season's over, doesn't mean we're not going to the NCAA Tournament or anything like that.

"It just means we've got to fix things up and really learn from it and grow from it."

The Wildcats (5-2) took a step back in the right direction Monday with a comfortable 76-58 victory over winless Florida A&M but have a much bigger opportunity at 8 p.m. Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum, when they play host to Marquette as part of the Big 12/Big East Alliance series.

Marquette handed K-State the first of two consecutive December losses a year ago in Milwaukee — the other came at Tulsa — so it's the chance for some payback as well as to pick up a signature victory. The Golden Eagles (6-2) also feature one of the nation's top players in senior guard Markus Howard, though his status for the game is uncertain.

K-State coach Bruce Weber was one of the top proponents of the series with the Big East, which combined with a similar SEC challenge, gives the Wildcats a pair of nonconference matchups against Power 5 opponents.

"I know everyone says bring games here, but it's tough to get teams to come to our place, so it's a good December game for us," Weber said. "They're a good team, beat us last year, an NCAA team, and (they've) got one of the best players in the country.

"So it's a nice challenge to see where we're at."

Howard, who scored 45 points in Marquette's 83-71 victory over K-State last year in Milwaukee, is averaging 26 points a game and had a 51-point performance against Southern California last week. But he missed Wednesday's 75-56 win against Jacksonville with a concussion, and is listed as questionable Saturday.

"I think we've got to be prepared for him to play," Weber said. "If he doesn't play, they still won and scored in the 70s (against Jacksonville) and they've got some talented guys that can make some plays."

Last year, top defenders Barry Brown and Xavier Sneed both got in early foul trouble trying to contain Howard. Weber said he expects Sneed and McGuirl will get first shot at him this time.

"Xavier, because of his length and athleticism, we hope that can be a factor," Weber said. "But I've also got to keep those guys on the court, so we've got to be very, very careful on fouls.

"We can't get too hyped up and we've got to rely on everybody else."

Sneed leads the Wildcats in scoring at 15 points per game and McGuirl had his best outing of the season against Florida A&M with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Marquette has two other double-figure scorers in senior wing Sacar Anim at 11.8 points and junior guard Koby McEwen at 10.6.

McGuirl said it all starts with defense for the Wildcats, who rank 17th nationally in scoring defense.

"That's sort of been our identity," McGuirl said. "It has been in previous year and it will continue to be.

"Our defense is still pretty good. We've just got to get things clicking even better on the offensive end and improve on defense still, too, because we're still not as good as we could be there."

The Wildcats also have a secret weapon for Saturday's game, when they'll roll out new all-white throwback uniforms with Wildcats written in purple script across the chest. It's part of a white-out promotion at Bramlage for the contest.

"Those are sweet. Those are cool," McGuirl said of the uniforms. "The throwbacks, those are awesome uniforms and I'm grateful to be part of this program and the rich history that it has. And to be able to wear those throwback jerseys is an honor."