The No. 11 Kansas Jayhawks open up postseason play on Thursday afternoon, as they take on the Oklahoma Sooners in quarterfinal action of the Big 12 Tournament. The Jayhawks come in riding high, winners of seven of their last eight games. The Sooners, who were once ranked in the top 10, really limped into postseason action, as they lost their last four regular season games (one vs. K-State) and squeaked by winless Iowa State in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. The Jayhawks will be without the services of David McCormack for the duration of the tournament due to COVID protocols.
- Thursday, March 11, 2021, 5:30 PM CDT
- T-Mobile Center – Kansas City, Mo.
- Kansas is the No. 2 seed for the Big 12 Championship for the fifth time with the others being in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2008. KU won the 2006 and 2008 Big 12 Championships and lost in the semifinals of the 2001 and 2005 events. KU is 8-2 as the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 Championship.
- Kansas has won 15 postseason conference tourney titles and 11 in the Big 12 era. KU (11), ISU (5), OU (3) and OSU (2) are active league members with Big 12 tournament titles.
- Since the Big 12’s inception in 1996-97, Kansas is 46-12 in the league tournament. KU is 1-0 in opening round games, 20-3 in the quarterfinals, 14-6 in semifinals and 11-3 in finals
- Kansas is No. 14 in NET nationally in strength of schedule among the 357 teams listed. Kansas’ NET is No. 14, which is second in the conference.
- After its 71-58 win against No. 2 Baylor on Feb. 27, KU is 7-6 versus ranked opponents this season and its 13 games are the most in NCAA DI this season. KU’s seven wins are tied for second most in NCAA Division I with Baylor and Oklahoma State.
- KU has won 12 league games for the 21st consecutive season. Kansas has won 11 league games for the last 27 seasons and the current 27-year streak with 10-plus league wins is the longest active streak in the nation. Kansas has won 10 or more conference games 58 times overall.
- Kansas leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (40.4%) and three-point field goal percentage defense (32.1%).
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 17.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.8 assists, and his ability to explode for huge games (Eight 20+ point games vs. Big 12 opponents) is documented. He was also the star last night, as he hit several big-time jumpers down the stretch to thwart Iowa State’s comeback bid. He is excellent at getting to the basket, but three-point shooting is his weakness, as he’s shooting just 29.3 percent 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. His 10.5 points per game and 35.5% three-point rate are good enough for third on the team. Manek has been a non-factor in many games this year, but he still has shown the ability to blow up for some huge games, for example his 20 point, nine rebound performance vs. Oklahoma State on March 1.
Jayhawk Pick to Click
Marcus Garrett – 6’5”, junior, guard
It’s March. This is where you need your senior guards and leaders to step up and play their best, so I’ll roll with Garrett here. He was snubbed of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, so I think that will be a little extra motivation for him throughout this tournament. I bet he would love an extra crack at shutting down Baylor’s Jared Butler again, but before that can happen KU needs a win here. Garrett was huge last time against OU, as he went for 21 points and 12 rebounds, albeit in a losing effort. Garrett has been strong down the stretch, finishing in double figures in four of the last five games.
Having no David McCormack is a huge blow. It might hurt Kansas later in the tournament, but I think they still have enough to get by Oklahoma here. Kansas has been playing some of their best basketball down the stretch, while OU simply has not. Bill Self might finally have to deploy a five-guard lineup, and with Brady Manek playing the five for OU, a five-guard look might actually be a good look for the Jayhawks.
KU didn’t shoot the ball well against Oklahoma in either matchup this year, but the Sooners have been very vulnerable all year at surrendering open three-point looks. When teams finally started knocking down some of these shots, like Oklahoma State, it led to a four-game losing streak. Iowa State last night had tons of open looks, they just couldn’t hit any. KU is long overdue to shoot the ball well, so I’m going to trust they get enough shooting from Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji to finally take advantage of OU’s big liability.
I’ll go with KU for a win and a slight cover behind a home-court advantage and some fresh three-point shooting here. Aside from Garrett, give me Jalen Wilson to step up big in the absence of McCormack. Oh, and root for Texas Tech to beat Texas tonight, as the Red Raiders would be a significantly better matchup for a McCormack-less KU team tomorrow.
Kansas 75, Oklahoma 70
Season Record: 19-7 (15-11 ATS)