Game 12: Oklahoma at No. 6 Kansas – Preview and Prediction

Fresh off an impressive victory in Ft. Worth, No. 6 Kansas returns to Allen Fieldhouse, looking to get back in the win column at home. In comes Oklahoma, which has played fewer games in the Big 12. The Sooners haven’t won at Allen Fieldhouse since 2003, which was before Bill Self got to Kansas.

  • Saturday, January 9, 2021, 3:30 PM CDT
  • Allen Fieldhouse – Lawrence, Kansas
  • CBS
  • Oklahoma is one of three Big 12 teams that has never defeated Bill Self at Allen Fieldhouse. The other two are TCU and West Virginia.
  • The Jayhawks have never lost back-to-back home games under Bill Self. They’ll need a win on Saturday to avoid doing that for the first time, following last Saturday’s blowout loss to Texas.
  • Through 11 games, Kansas has had six different players lead the team in scoring and eight in steals. This includes ties for the team high. 
  • Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 226 Associated Press polls dating back to 2008-09. The 226-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 233.

Sooners to Watch

Austin Reaves- 6’5″ senior point guard

In a rare case of a player that leads his team in points, rebounds, and assists, Reaves is the jack of all tirades for Oklahoma at the point guard position. He averages 16 points, five rebounds, and five assists, and his ability to explode for huge games (32 points and nine assists vs. TCU in the conference opener) is documented. He is excellent at getting to the basket, but three-point shooting is his weakness, as he’s shooting just 25% on four attempts per game this year.

Brady Manek – 6’9″ senior forward

Manek has terrorized Kansas in past years with consistent and accurate three-point shooting, but he hasn’t turned into the all-conference player many anticipated he would as a senior. His volume is down overall, though his 13 points per game and 41% three-point rate are still second on the team. He’s an excellent all-around player that figures to take on a bigger role than usual against Kansas this weekend.

Jayhawk Pick to Click

David McCormack – 6’10” junior forward

McCormack has had two excellent games and one abomination of a performance in his last three games, but I think this matchup sets him up for another plus. Oklahoma’s frontcourt is one of the Big 12’s weakest units. Kur Kuath starts at power forward, and despite his 6’10”, 220 lbs. size, he’s averaging less than five rebounds per game. He doesn’t do much on offense besides easy shots at the rim. I think McCormack’s athleticism could create a similar problem for Kuath that it did for TCU’s Kevin Samuel. If McCormack is slowed down and in control like he was against TCU, he could be in for another big statistical day, as OU doesn’t have the horses to keep any decent rebounders off the glass.

Prediction

Having played just nine total games, Oklahoma is still one of the Big 12’s bigger question marks. Let’s start with their strengths. The Sooners are among the best teams in the country at avoiding fouls and shooting free throws. They’ve been good at defending two-pointers, they play at a fast enough pace, and they’re decent enough shooting and rebounding. But they’re also among the nation’s leaders at turning the ball over, which is surprising considering their two primary ball handlers are both seniors. They also struggle immensely defending three-point shots: opponents are shooting 39% from deep against them, and Baylor just went over 40% the other day in Waco.

David McCormack is far from a safe bet to be productive, but I don’t know how Oklahoma will truly contain him unless he’s wild and erratic. I also like KU’s chances to make a healthy number of threes considering OU’s struggles defending the three-point shot. Marcus Garrett figures to return from his head injury, and I think he and Dajuan Harris Jr. will both play plenty of minutes at the point guard position. The Sooners will need to make threes to keep up with Kansas, and it’s hard to envision Manek and Reeves not shooting better than their season averages in this game, as they typically do against KU.

Kansas/Oklahoma games at Allen Fieldhouse are normally pretty forgettable. KU is 14-0 against the Sooners at home in the Bill Self era, and with the exception of the 3OT thriller in 2016, can you remember one interesting thing about any of them? I think Saturday will be more of the same, with KU just being a step above Oklahoma on both ends of the floor propelling them to a comfortable win and a narrow cover.

Kansas 79, Oklahoma 67

KU -7

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK

Season Record: 9-2 (8-3 ATS)

Ryan Landreth

I’m a recent graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University. In addition to writing for Rock Chalk Blog, I host the Inside the Paint podcast that covers KU basketball, and I write for Royals Review in the summer. My grandma has had season tickets to Jayhawk basketball for 30 years, and I have the privilege of going to most games with her.