What to Watch for: Oklahoma

It does not get easier for the Jayhawks after their home loss to San Diego State. The young squad kicks of the “second season” on the road against Oklahoma in the first game of a tough five game stretch that includes another tough road game at Iowa State and three important home games against in-state rival Kansas State, Baylor and the other Big 12 power this season in Oklahoma State (who actually dropped their opener to KSU).

Oklahoma is first up, and this is a tough road task. The Sooners are really every bit KU’s match and they will have the home court advantage to boot. If we see another putrid offensive perfornace, it will be curtains for KU and an 0-1 start to Big 12 play. Here are some things to watch for tonight in Norman:

1. Can the offense rebound? You would like to have another home game after the last outing to get the offense right, but the Jayhawks will have to make amends on the road instead. The defense we see won’t look at stout on the interior as it was against SDSU. The Sooners are giving up over 78 points per game and 43 percent from the field this season. They also give up some size to the Jayhawks inside and that should play to KU’s strengths.

2. Can the defense rebound? Speaking of size inside, let’s hope the Jayhawks use it to box somebody out Wednesday night. As you know, Self’s squad got doninated on the boards in their last outing. I hate watching a team get out-muscled and out-toughed like that, but do you want to know who hates it even more? William Self does not put up with getting out-toughed. I expect that was a major focus during practice this week, OU is a good rebounding team averaging the same number of defensive rebounds and two more offensive rebounds than KU so far this season. Let’s see if KU can own the glass once more.

3. Does KU cover the spread? It was a long and hard non-conference schedule. KU ended with four losses to some very good teams. They also picked up nine wins, but somewhat under-performed compared with expectations. The team has only covered the spread twice in the last nine outings. What KU needs right now is a feel-good victory. A nice comfortable win in Norman, where the Jayhawks fell last season, may be just what the doctor ordered.