LAWRENCE — Cartier Diarra would love for the Kansas State Wildcats to duplicate last Saturday's performance against West Virginia when they take on No. 3-ranked Kansas in the first 2020 version of the Sunflower Showdown.
That includes his own 26-point, four-assist effort in the 84-68 blowout of the No. 12 Mountaineers. On the other hand, a repeat of his seven turnovers — in front of a friendly Bramlage Coliseum crowd, no less — could prove disastrous Tuesday in the 6 p.m. meeting with KU at Allen Fieldhouse.
"KU, everybody knows that they're a really good team and great at capitalizing on second-chance points, and we can't allow that to happen, and I can't allow that to happen for my team and put us down like that," said Diarra, whose miscues were especially costly during a second-half 15-0 run that momentarily got West Virginia back in that game. "Going into a hostile environment, we've got to be ready, and ready to do something that hasn't been done in a lot of years."
Fourteen years, to be exact. The last K-State victory in Allen Fieldhouse came in 2006, the last year of the Jim Wooldridge coaching era. KU also has won nine of the last 10 overall meetings.
With its victory over West Virginia, K-State improved to 8-9 and finally broke through in the Big 12 at 1-4. KU is 14-3 and second in the conference with a 4-1 mark.
Diarra, a junior, has only played once at Allen Fieldhouse, as a redshirt freshman in 2018. He missed last year's game in Lawrence with an injury.
"I've been there, only played one game, missed out on two," he said. "But I've definitely seen my first year and my first time playing, it was a really close game — came down to the last second — so we definitely are capable to beat them, I believe so, but it's tough.
"Their crowd is different. You probably can't hear plays, so my young guys and everybody needs to understand that. There's going to be a lot of signs, and we've got to be able to read that and execute and still finish the games."
Diarra scored 18 points with four rebounds and two steals in the 2018 game, a controversial 73-72 KU victory.
The Wildcats have been without starting guard Mike McGuirl (concussion) for the past two games, but junior David Sloan filled in admirably in the West Virginia game, scoring nine points with five assists and four steals. And freshman DaJuan Gordon had a breakout performance with 15 points, three rebounds and four steals.
Gordon, who has shown flashes all season, is looking for even more.
"I think as long as I come and play with some energy and be willing to play defense, that can make a big impact, and the offense will come," he said. "If it's not my night (on offense), it's not my night. As long as we win, that's all that matters."
His thoughts on playing at Allen Fieldhouse for the first time?
"Just be ready to fight," he said.
K-State coach Bruce Weber said after the West Virginia game that this could be a watershed moment for the Wildcats.
"It's huge. It keeps their head above water, hopefully a little confidence-builder for them," he said.
He also referenced a fall session in which former Wildcat football standout Jordy Nelson addressed the team.
"He talked about, 'When is your moment, when you get that opportunity are you going to take your team to another level?' he recalled. "And we also showed a video of Drew Brees talking to the Purdue team about a month or so ago, and he always talked about there's one point in the season where you can go one way or another.
"Now, is this the point? I don't know. Obviously it feels a lot better than (a Jan. 14 loss to Texas Tech), so we'll see what we do. It doesn't get any easier."