LAWRENCE — Kansas State's bucket list is shrinking.

Shrinking to the point where seniors Dean Wade, Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes, who created the list, rarely give it much thought anymore.

Their perspective from the top of the Big 12 standings is decidedly more big-picture now. Which is why the Wildcats view the 8 p.m. Big Monday edition of the Sunflower Showdown against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse more as a stepping stone than an endgame.

"It's a bucket-list game, but we don't really dwell or talk about it too often," Wade said of K-State's quest for its first victory in Lawrence in 13 years. "We really, honestly, just look for the next game, and this just so happens to be the next game.

"It's a huge game for us, it's on the road — we know we've been playing great on the road — so we've just got to stay locked in to the schemes our coaches give us and don't do anything we haven't done before."

One thing the current Wildcats have not done before is win at Allen Fieldhouse. K-State's last victory there was a 59-55 decision on Jan. 14, 2006, the last season of the Jim Wooldrige coaching era.

But the three seniors did check one off the bucket list 20 days ago when they beat KU for the first time in their four seasons, prevailing 74-67 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Though they didn't know it when they left Bramlage on Saturday following an 85-46 rout of Oklahoma State, the Wildcats now have a two-game conference lead over KU. K-State is 21-6 overall, 11-3 in the Big 12, while the Jayhawks slipped to 20-7, 9-5 and into a tie for third with Baylor after a 91-62 blowout loss at Texas Tech later that night.

Even with that two-game gap, Texas Tech lurks one game back at 10-4. And the chance to all but knock Kansas out of the race trumps sweeping the regular-season series against the Jayhawks for the first time since 1983.

"It's a big game because they're up in the standings with us and obviously it's your rivalry," K-State coach Bruce Weber said. "You get a win against them, that puts them another game behind you. That's what it is."

The key, Wade said, is for the Wildcats to stay true to themselves.

"We know Monday is going to be a huge game for us, but we've just got to come out and play the same basketball we've been playing," Wade said. "Playing great defense is what we've got to hang our hats on. I know everybody's excited to be in the position we're in, but we just can't let it drop or fall down."

And just because they beat KU at Bramlage doesn't mean they can get complacent.

"Our mindset's going to be the same," Brown said. "We came out and played our basketball and won a game before against them, so it's just going to be trying to be a little more precise — it's going to be a lot of Xs and Os we've got to clean up.

"Being a (double) round-robin, this league is a league of adjustments, and so they're not going to come out and just let us do the same things we did to get points and win the game. They're going to adjust (and) we have to adjust and do things a little bit differently to stop them."

The short turnaround from Saturday could be a challenge for the Wildcats, especially with Wade and Stokes battling foot injuries and Xavier Sneed a stomach virus that nearly kept him out of Saturday's game. But the beauty of the blowout victory over OSU was the opportunity for Weber to substitute liberally throughout.

Brown at 26 and Makol Mawien at 23 were the only starters to log more than 20 minutes against the Cowboys.

"We couldn't ask for a better scenario," Weber said after limiting Wade to 11 minutes, Stokes to 18 and Sneed to 19.

With the exception of a disastrous nonconference road game at Texas A&M on Jan. 26 as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, the Wildcats have avoided looking past lesser opponents and kept their eye on the prize. Brown attributed that to the leadership and experience of a lineup that starts all juniors and seniors.

"It doesn't really matter the atmosphere," he said of facing KU at Allen Fieldhouse, where the Wildcats lost the last two years by a combined three points. "It's going to be a little bit more excitement, just the rivalry and whatnot, but we're a good team on the road.

"Just being locked in, being that older, mature team and understanding the environment and the ups and downs and the flow before the game. We're going to go in there and just play K-State basketball."