Kansas State vs. Houston Prediction, Odds and Key Players for Saturday, Jan. 27 (Cougars' Defense Will Dominate)

College basketball betting preview, prediction and best bets for Kansas State-Houston.

Jan 20, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson reacts after a play
Jan 20, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson reacts after a play / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston’s rough start to life in the Big 12 included back-to-back conference losses on the road (Iowa State and TCU) earlier this month, but the Cougars have since figured it out.

Kelvin Sampson’s club is back to No. 4 in the AP Top 25 after three straight league wins by an average of 15 points per game, which includes two wins over Top 25 programs in Texas Tech and BYU. Houston has decimated teams at home this season, but does that trend continue as a large favorite Saturday at Fertitta Center? 

Kansas State has struggled on the road, losing its last two games (Texas Tech and Iowa State) but can they hang within the big number against the nation’s top defense? 

Here’s a betting preview for Saturday’s conference clash with a best bet. 

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Kansas State vs. Houston odds, spread and total

Kansas State vs. Houston betting trends

  • Kansas State is 10-9 ATS this season
  • Houston is 10-8-1 ATS this season
  • Kansas State is 4-3 ATS as an underdog this season
  • Houston is 10-8-1 ATS as a favorite this season
  • The OVER is 9-10 in Kansas State games this season
  • The OVER is 6-13 in Houston games this season 

Kansas State vs. Houston how to watch

  • Date: Saturday, Jan. 27
  • Game time: 12 p.m. EST
  • Venue: Fertitta Center
  • How to watch (TV): ESPN
  • Kansas State record: 14-5 (4-2 Big 10)
  • Houston record: 17-2 (4-2 Big 10)

Kansas State vs. Houston key players to watch

Kansas State

Arthur Kaluma: The 6-foot-7 junior gets the spotlight in this matchup against a Houston defense that is great around the rim. Kaluma is averaging 15.2 points per game and is tied with teammate David N’Guessan for the team lead in rebounds at 7.6 per night. Kaluma is a threat from both inside and beyond the arc, knocking down three or more 3-pointers in four of the last five games. He had a double-double in Kansas State’s 68-64 overtime win over Baylor and had 23 points in last Saturday’s win over Oklahoma State. 


L.J. Cryer: Houston’s offense packs a punch but it's Cryer who offers elite scoring ability and experience after spending his first three seasons at Baylor and winning a national title. Cryer is averaging double-digit points for the third consecutive season in the Big 12, putting up a career-high 15.6 points per game. After scoring just 18 points on 7-of-31 shooting over Houston’s 1-2 stretch, Cryer has scored 39 points and knocked down nine 3-pointers over the last two games. 

Kansas State vs. Houston prediction and pick

Kansas State’s offense is ranked No. 128 in efficiency, according to KenPom, and ranks just No. 174 in effective field goal percentage. As is the case for most offenses facing Houston, this is a nightmare matchup. 

Specifically from a ball security standpoint, Kansas State ranks No. 340 in the nation in turnover percentage (21.2%) and they’ll face a Houston defense that swarms to the ball and creates takeaways as the third-best rate (25.9%) in the country. On top of that, Houston owns KenPom’s No. 1 overall defense and ranks top-5 in every major metric including effective field goal percentage (No. 1), defending 2-point shots (No. 1), defending 3-point shots (No. 5), block percentage (No. 1) and steal percentage (No. 2). 

Houston’s elite defense reaches another level at Fertitta Center, too, holding its three home conference opponents to 50.3 points per game.

The Cougars have not allowed more than 55 points at home all season. Houston’s offense has been hot-and-cold in conference play and Kansas State’s defense is still No. 24 in the nation in efficiency and ranks No. 25 in effective field goal percentage, so stay away from an inflated Houston spread. Take the Cougars’ defense to suffocate another opponent on their home court and bet Kansas State to go under its team total on anything north of 53.5 points. 

PICK: Kansas State Team Total UNDER 53.5

Game odds update periodically and are subject to change.