Game 7: Omaha at No. 5 Kansas – Preview and Prediction

The No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks get back in action on Friday evening when they continue their five-game homestand against the Omaha Mavericks. KU is coming off a skin-of-their teeth victory over No. 8 Creighton on Tuesday, its biggest victory to date. Omaha, who lost to that same Creighton team by nearly 30 points, enters with a 2-4 record on the year. The Jayhawks and Mavericks met once before back in 2017, with KU winning by a score of 109-64.

  • Friday, December 11, 2020, 6 PM CDT
  • Allen Fieldhouse –  Lawrence, Kan. 
  • ESPN2
  • Kansas is coming off a 73-72 win against #8/7 Creighton on Dec. 8 inAllen Fieldhouse. The victory improved Kansas to 15-3 against Associated Press top-10 teams at home in the Bill Self era. 
  • Through six games, Kansas has had four different players lead the team in scoring and five in steals. This includes ties for the team high. 
  • Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 223 Associated Press polls dating back to 2008-09. The 223-consecutive weeks in the AP poll is an all-time record, surpassing UCLA’s 221 from 1966-80. KU holds the same streak in the coaches’ poll at 230.
  • Kansas has been ranked in the top 10 in each of the last 22 polls dating back the first poll of the 2019-20 season. 
  • Kansas’ last six losses have been to ranked foes, with three of those in the top five. 
  • Redshirt-freshman Jalen Wilson has led KU in scoring three of the last four games posting 23 points against two ranked foes – #20 Kentucky and #8 Creighton

Mavericks to Watch

Matt Pile – 6’8”, senior, forward

The Wichita native is second on the team in scoring at 10.8 PPG, and is also nearly averaging a double-double with 9.5 RPG. He’s coming off one of his best performances of the year as he poured in 13 points and 10 rebounds in Omaha’s win over SIU-Edwardsville last Saturday. 76% of Pile’s shots are coming at the rim this season. He is not much of a threat away from the basket.

Ayo Akinwole – 6’0”, senior, guard

With leading scorer Marlon Ruffin’s status up in the air with an ankle, Akinwole will need to step up for the Mavericks. Last time out against SIUE, Akinwole stepped his game up by scoring 16 points to go along with five boards and two assists. He’s also Omaha’s top three-point shooter — knocking down 44.4 percent of his threes this season. 

Jayhawk Pick to Click

David McCormack – 6’10”, junior, forward

I could go with the easy pick with Jalen Wilson, who has been spectacular so far and if he keeps this up probably won’t be in Lawrence next year, but I’m going with McCormack as my pick to click. For the second game in a row, I believe he has a great matchup. Omaha has one player over 6’9, and he only averages 4.1 minutes. McCormack is coming off one of his best performances of the year, as he scored 13 points with seven boards. I like him to follow that up with another solid performance. 

Prediction

Simply, this is a tune-up before Big 12 play starts next week. Kansas is the more talented team and that will show through. Aside from McCormack, I like Marcus Garrett to get back on track. Since scoring 22 points on 7-9 from the field in the opener against Gonzaga, Garrett has been in a shooting funk, as he is just 38 percent from the field on the year. KU will need more production out of him as the year goes on and his shots will start to fall sooner or later, so why not Friday night? 

Omaha has played just one ranked team this year, and that was a 27-point loss to Omaha. They don’t shoot threes well (under 28% as a team), and their defense hasn’t shown it can stop three-point shooters. Considering how well the Jayhawks have shot threes this year, I like Kansas’ chances of covering this large spread. Ochai Agbaji put up a goose egg in the scoring column against Creighton. Expect that to change against the Mavericks, as I look for him to bounce back as well. Also, give me Chris Teahan to get a three in a Jayhawk rout. 

Kansas 94, Omaha 62

KU -24.5

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK

Season Record: 5-1 (4-2 ATS)

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.