Game 13: No. 23 Oklahoma at No. 5 Kansas – Preview and Prediction

Coming off a victory over Eastern Michigan in the 2018 finale, Kansas tips off 2019 with a Big 12 matchup against Oklahoma. The Sooners will enter Allen Fieldhouse with a record of 11-1, but they are without a win against a ranked team. This will be an interesting matchup to watch.

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK (go to 69:20 mark of podcast)

Game Info and Notes:

  • Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019 at 8:00 PM CDT
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan.
  • ESPN2
  • This will be the 149th meeting between Kansas and Oklahoma, with KU leading the all-time series 105-43. Last season the teams split their two matchups.
  • Kansas has won 27 straight Big 12 openers dating all the way back to the 1991-92 season. 10 of those wins were in Allen Fieldhouse. The last time KU lost a conference opener was against Oklahoma on Jan. 8 1991.
About the Sooners

Oklahoma is 11-1 coming into this game, with a lot of wins against major conference teams. However, they’ve only played one game against a top 25 team, which they lost by 20 to No. 25 Wisconsin in November.

The Sooners are led by senior guard Christian James, who averages 17.9 points a game along with 7.2 rebounds. Oklahoma shoots 37% from behind the arc and 46% from the field. Defensively, they give up 32% from three and 38% from the field. Those are good numbers, but again, OU hasn’t played anyone of Kansas’ caliber.

Sooners to Watch

Christian James – Senior, Guard, 6’4″
James is having his best season as a Sooner. He’s averaging nearly 18 points and shooting 37% from three. James has always been heralded as the next Buddy Hield, but he never really came close to hitting that mark until this season. He’s finally playing up to his potential. James is second on the team in rebounding with 7.2 rebounds per contest. He is averaging 13.5 shots per game and has taken 53 more shots on the season than anyone else on the team. In other words, the Sooners needs him to be their best player.

Brady Manek – Sophomore, Forward, 6’9″
Brady Manek looks nearly identical to a young Larry Bird. Google him. He has the blonde mustache and everything. Manek is a small-ball four who can kill you from three, even if he’s only shooting 33% from behind the arc this season. Manek leads the Sooners in rebounding with 7.5 boards per game. He is the kind of player that could give the Jayhawks a lot of problems on defensive switches.

Prediction

Kansas 77 – Oklahoma 68

I think the Sooners will take advantage of Kansas’ penchant to start slow and keep this one close for awhile. However, Kansas is rapidly improving on defense, and with Udoka Azubuike back in the line-up, I think KU is just too much for Oklahoma.

I suspect Dedric Lawson will return to form, as will Lagerald Vick. It would be fantastic to see Quentin Grimes get off to a hot start in conference play, but only time will tell. Kansas probably isn’t going to hit many threes in this game, but I doubt it will matter with Azubuike and Lawson tag-teaming it up down low. OU keeps the final score respectable, but this one won’t be in doubt for the final 10 or 15 minutes as Kansas starts 2019 off with a Big 12 win.

Landen Fields

I’m a junior in high school. I’m also homeschooled, which gives me the ability to watch ESPN all day. I love the Jayhawks, and I love to write about them. I’m also a huge fan of Star Wars, Marvel, and action/sci-fi movies. I hope to have a career in sports media one day, and I am grateful for this first step into a larger world.