Defense has been the calling card for Kansas State, but it will be another game or two before the man at the center of it all is back to make the Wildcats whole.
Dean Wade went through mild practice Thursday but is not ready to return when Kansas State visits No. 20 Iowa State on Saturday in Ames.
Without Wade, the Wildcats are 4-2. With him, they expect to be Big 12 contenders.
A proving ground of sorts is ahead Saturday against the Cyclones, who bring a frenzied pace and high-scoring offense putting up 81.8 points per game during a 12-3 start.
Iowa State is looking for more from freshman Talen Horton-Tucker, who was quiet against Baylor this week but had a five-minute stretch that displayed his scoring potential.
"The thing about Talen is he can really impact our game and not score," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. "Just because he's such a facilitator. He's at the top (of the key), the ball is in his hands a lot. We just need to get him to move it quicker and be more efficient with it."
Another underclassman, sophomore Cameron Lard, hasn't regained his freshman form due to an ankle injury. Prohm said Thursday Lard might be prescribed some rest, even though X-rays were clear.
Iowa State ran more tests to "double-check some things so we can get confirmation in whether it's going to be a week thing, or it could be longer. Optimistic it's going to be a couple of days or a day-to-day injury. But we need to get some finality with it."
Horton-Tucker has only eight field goals in Iowa State's past four games. Prohm has plenty of other options, and the advantage of a system that spreads the wealth while operating at a breakneck pace.
Even at their frenetic pace the Cyclones take care of the ball -- 10.7 turnovers per game -- and shoot nearly 50 percent from the floor. Almost one third (32 percent) of Iowa State's points so far this season are from 3-point shots.
That shrinks the margin for error for the visitors, but the Wildcats are riding some momentum.
Kansas State had only six turnovers -- and forced 17 -- to knock off West Virginia, 71-69, earlier this week and get to 11-4 on the season. K-State rallied from a 21-point deficit.
But keeping pace with the Cyclones will be a significant challenge minus Wade, the team's only all-league pick last season and the team's second-leading scorer (13.6 points per game) in 2018-19.
Weber expects Wade to be evaluated with a chance to return as soon as next week.
"He's done workouts, he's done running, he's done walking, he's done jumping in the water," Weber said of Wade's recovery from a torn ligament in his foot Dec. 15. "So now get him on the court and practice a little bit. I don't want to say yes or no, but we're moving forward, so hopefully, if there's no major setback, I would say in the next week or 10 days, we hope to have him back."
--Field Level Media