Game 31 – Kansas at Oklahoma State: Preview and Prediction

The No. 1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks (27-3, 15-2 Big 12) will wrap up the regular season on Saturday when they head to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State (20-10, 9-8 Big 12). The Jayhawks are coming off a 73-63 victory on senior night over Oklahoma. KU trailed by as many as 12 in the second half, but as they have done for most of the season they stormed back ending the game on a 31-9 run. Senior guard Frank Mason scored a game high 23 points and dished out six assists.

Oklahoma State fell at Iowa State on Tuesday night, 86-83. It was just the second loss in 12 games for the Cowboys. They have been one of the most improved teams in the country, especially in the conference season. The always play well against Kansas at Gallagher-Iba Arena, so we should be in for a good game on Saturday evening.

Game Notes

  • Kansas leads the all-time series 112-57
  • Kansas is 35-34 all-time in Stillwater, but OSU holds a 34-33 advantage at Gallagher-Iba Arena
  • KU has won 10 of the last 14 meetings
  • OSU is 7-5 vs. KU at Gallagher-Iba since the inception of the Big 12
  • Kansas has not won in Stillwater since the 2012-13 season
  • Bill Self is 16-11 all-time vs. his alma mater Oklahoma State, including a 15-8 mark while at Kansas
  • OSU head coach Brad Underwood is 0-1 all-time vs. Kansas
  • Underwood was on the Kansas State staff from 2006-2012
  • OSU is ranked 19th on KenPom.com, Kansas is 9th
  • OSU is second in adjusted offensive efficiency, and 111th in adjusted defensive efficiency
  • KU won the previous meeting this season at Allen Fieldhouse 87-80
  • In that matchup KU had three players with 20+ points, Mason 22, Devonte’ Graham 21, Josh Jackson 20
  • Mason and Jackson were recently named semifinalists for the Naismith Player of the Year award
  • Mason is averaging 20.3 points per game, 4.9 assists per game, 4.0 rebounds per game and is shooting 50% from three-point land
  • Mason could be the first player in Big 12 history to averaging 20+ PPG and 5.0+ APG
  • Jackson is averaging 16.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.0 APG and is shooting 50% from the field
  • Jackson has notched 11 double-doubles this season, including seven in his last 10 games. His 11 double-doubles is a Kansas freshman record
  • The Jayhawks are shooting 72% from the charity stripe over their last five games. They are shooting 70% in Big 12 play. Quite an improvement over the 58% they shot in non-conference games
  • Senior Landen Lucas is second in Big 12 play, and fourth overall, in rebounding.
  • Lucas leads the Jayhawks in FG% at 63.8%
  • Junior Devonte’ Graham has made multiple three-pointers in 11 of his last 12 games. He’s shooting 38% from beyond the arc this season — 11th in the Big 12
  • Graham is 11 points away from becoming the 59th player in KU history with 1,000 points
  • VegasInsider.com has the point spread as Oklahoma State -1.

When: Saturday, March 4, 2017, 5:00pm CT

Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, OK

How to Watch: ESPN or WatchESPN

How to Listen: Jayhawk Radio Network

Oklahoma State Cowboys (20-10, 9-8 Big 12)

After starting 0-6 in Big 12 play, things looked pretty bleak for Brad Underwood’s team. The Cowboys could always score, but their problem was that they couldn’t guard — teams were averaging 85.6 PPG on them. Credit the Pokes though, they have turned their defense around and have won 10 of their last 12. They are now are pretty much a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Right now ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Cowboys as a seven seed.

Sophomore guard Jawun Evans is one of the best point guards in the nation. KU did a pretty good job of neutralizing of Evans in the first matchup as he was 6-22 from the field. Evans did have a field day against the Jayhawks last season in Stillwater, as he went off for 22 points and 8 assists on 7-11 shooting. The matchup between Evans and Mason will be one of the best we see all season.

Strengths/Weaknesses

Strength – Three-point Shooting: Oklahoma State is just one spot ahead of Kansas in three-point shooting. OSU ranks seventh nationally in three-point percentage at 40.9%, Kansas is eighth at 40.8%. The Cowboys are sinking 8.9 threes per game, which ranks 41st nationally.

Strength – Scoring Offense: Another category where they rank similar to the Jayhawks. Oklahoma State is averaging 85.1 PPG this season, thats tops in the Big 12 and eighth in the country.

Strength – Free Throw Shooting: Oklahoma State is the best free throw shooting team in the Big 12 and the seventh best in the country, as they shoot 74% from the line. Senior guard Phil Forte is shooting 95% from the line — best in the nation.

Strength – Transition Offense: The Pokes like to get out and run. 26% of their attempts this season have come in transition and they’re converting on 60% of them. That ranks OSU 29th and 49th nationally in each respective department.

Strength – Forcing Turnovers: OK State is third in the Big 12 behind West Virginia and Kansas State in opponents turnovers per game. The Pokes are forcing 15.2 TOs per game — 33rd nationally. We saw Kansas get sloppy with the ball on Monday night vs. OU, as they turned it over an uncharacteristic 16 times.

Strength – Offensive Rebounding: The Cowboys rank eighth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. Kansas has trouble at times blocking out defensively with their smaller lineup.


Weakness – Transition Defense: OSU ranks 223rd nationally in opponents field goal percentage in transition. They’re even worse in allowing transition opportunities, as they rank 305th in that department. We all know Kansas is lethal in the open floor, so we could be in for a high scoring affair.

Weakness – Ball Security: You’d think with guys like Evans and Forte OSU would be great at taking care of the ball, but thats not really the case. The Pokes turn it over an average of 13.8 times per game, that ranks 243rd nationally.

Weakness – Defensive Rebounding: OSU ranks 263rd in defensive rebounding percentage. There should be some offensive rebounds to be had for the Jayhawks on Saturday.

Weakness – Scoring Defense: Oklahoma State is giving up an average of 76 points per game, which ranks 267th nationally and last in the Big 12. Kansas is one of the best scoring teams in the country at 82.5 PPG.

Cowboys to Watch

Jawun Evans – 6’1″, Guard, Sophomore

Evans has been on a tear over his last five games as he’s averaging 21.6 PPG, 8.4 APG and is shooting 45% from the floor. For the season he’s second in the league behind Mason in scoring at 18.6 PPG, second in assists behind Monte Morris of Iowa State at 6.0 APG, fourth in steals at 1.9 per game and is fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio. He was really kind of a non-factor in first meeting at Allen Fieldhouse as he was 6-22 with 15 points and six assists. Expect a much different performance from Evans in this one.

Phil Forte – 5’11”, Guard, Senior

People always made jokes about Perry Ellis being around forever, but the same could be said for Forte. Forte has always been a thorn in KU’s side, which makes his performance vs. KU earlier in the year kind of surprise. In nine career games against KU, Forte is averaging 11.3 PPG and is shooting 40% from beyond the arc. Forte is second on the team in three-point percentage at 42%, just behind Jeffery Carroll. 65% of his shots have been threes this season, so it will be imperative for KU to stick with him out on the perimeter. This will be his last scheduled game against the Jayhawks (they could meet in the postseason) and his final home game of his career, watch for Forte to go out with a bang.

Jeffery Carroll – 6’6″, Guard, Junior

Carroll has been one of the most improved players in the Big 12 this season. Last year he averaged just a touch over 8.0 PPG. This year he’s all the way up to 17.0 PPG. He leads the team in three-point shooting at 43%, 10 percentage points higher than last year. In the previous matchup in Lawrence, Carroll had 25 points on 9-14 shooting and 3-3 from long range. He’s arguably OSU’s most dynamic scorer as he can score from anywhere. Carroll gets 47% of his shots at the rim and converts on 67% of them. Kansas will need to do a better job of defending him this time around because he can be as or even more dangerous than Forte or Evans.

Keys to Victory

  • Defend, Defend, Defend: KU’s defense has ramped up over the last five games. I believe they have held three (TCU, Texas, OU) of their last five opponents under a point per possesion, and the other two (WVU and Baylor) averaged barely over a PPP. OSU has one of the most dangerous offenses in the Big 12, if not the country. If this game becomes a shootout, I like KU’s defense to make stops more than I do OK State’s.
  • Slow it Down: This may sound weird because KU is so good in transition, but so is OK State. I think KU is better at playing a little out of their comfort zone than OSU. Kansas has beaten Baylor twice, which is a team that plays a grind-it-out type of game.
  • Hit Outside Shots: I’ve put this as a key for every game so far, and for good reason. If Kansas isn’t hitting from the outside, a W might be hard to come by.

BONUS KEY

  • Find a Purpose: The Big 12 is wrapped up, so this game seems virtually meaningless. Frank Mason has never won in Stillwater, that should be enough motivation to play hard.

Prediction

Oklahoma State 84 – Kansas 79

I’ve gone back and forth here on this pick, but my initial thought was that KU would fall here, so I’m going to stick to my gut.

The Jayhawks never seem to play well in Stillwater, it’s been the kryptonite of Bill Self. Also not that KU isn’t, but the Cowboys are playing really well. They’re one of my sleeper teams for the NCAA Tournament.

It’ll also be Forte’s last game in Stillwater, and potentially Juwan Evans’ as well, I don’t see them letting the opportunity of beating the No. 1 team in the land getting away from them. They need a win like this for seeding purposes in the NCAA Tournament. I think this will be a very good ball game, but the sold-out crowd at Gallagher-Iba will be the difference.

All stats from: TeamRankings.com, HoopMath.com, KenPom.com, ESPN.com, KUAthletics.com, Big12Sports.com

Bobby Norell is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. View his archive, or follow him on Twitter.

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I’m from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I’m a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They’ll always come No.1.