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Kansas vs. Oklahoma: Tipoff Vitals
What has happened to the Jayhawks? I'm not disappointed so much confused about the Jayhawks play in the Big 12. KU has entered Bizarro World where they lose to teams they are heavily favored over and scoring has become almost impossible. I thought, along with many others, that KU would bounce back from their loss against Oklahoma State, but are instead at risk of dropping 3 games in a row for the first time since the 04-05 season, and not to jinx us or anything, our 3rd loss of that season was at Oklahoma. The Sooners look to boost their NCAA Tournament resume with a revenge win over the Jayhawks and to do so they will need to get a big night out of leading scorer Romero Osby. Could Kansas repeat an infamous part of their recent history? With the way KU has been playing lately, quite possibly, yes.
When: Saturday, February 9, 4:00 PM ET
Where: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Oklahoma
No injuries to report.
The Oklahoma offense is diverse in that it is equal parts front and back court, although the presence of F Romero Osby (13.8 PPG-6.5 RPG) is what makes the frontcourt the most lethal part of the OU offense. F Amath M'Baye (10.5 PPG-5.7 RPG) has averaged 11.75 PPG and 6.5 rebounds since his game against Kansas. In Oklahoma's last 2 games with KU and KSU, F Andrew Fitzgerald (5.9 PPG-3.3 RPG), Osby and M'Baye have hit 44% in the paint.
Weakness: Interior Defense
Like many middle of the line teams, The Sooners have a common weakness defending the paint that no other Big 12 team can do well, except for maybe KU. Since the Sooners' game with KU, Oklahoma has allowed teams to hit 51% inside the lane. This is good news for Kansas, who has been struggling in the paint recently, hitting only 47.6% in the paint in Big 12 play. The bad news is that the confidence in the Kansas interior game is dwindling as the season marches on.
No Injuries to Report
At this point, the defense is the only positive thing about KU, and that hasn't been enough to help us win. When KU limits TCU to only 22 points in the half, you'd have thought we would be up by 10, but we were infact down by 9. When our offense isn't doing anything, the defense is almost meaningless, we saw that fact against TCU. Kansas has limited Big 12 teams to just 37% from the field and 61.6 PPG.
Weakness: Point Guard Position
Of the many obvious weaknesses that Kansas has been showing lately, the point guard position has undergone the most scrutiny. G Elijah Johnson (9.2 PPG-4.7 APG) must be doing something pretty special in practice to make Bill Self instill his trust in him, because their should be no reason for Johnson to even be touching a ball at this point. Johnson has averaged 8.1 PPG, 3.7 turnover per game and only 28% from three point range during Big 12 play so far. The only good thing Johnson is doing is dishing out 3.8 APG. G Naadir Tharpe (5.5 PPG-2.5 APG) hasn't been that much better, averaging just 6 PPG and 1.8 APG, although his numbers are somewhat impressive considering he is averaging less than 13 MPG Johnson's 32.4 MPG in Big 12 play.
Trending Up: Nothing
I can say that there is absolutely nothing appealing about how KU has played during league play that makes KU a favorite to cut down the nets in April. I thought that Kansas' loss to Oklahoma State would be a learning experience for the Jayhawks, but as we all saw against TCU, KU has learned nothing and still went into the TCU game with the attitude that they should win. Kansas must come into the game against Oklahoma with the greatest intensity KU has mustered up all season, because Oklahoma is more than capable of taking down KU. The improvement of the point guard position will make all the difference for the Crimson and Blue going forward.
Trending Down: Offense
Saying that the Kansas offense has been “trending down” barley begins to scratch the surface of the Jayhawks scoring futility. Kansas is breaking all of their records and seem to be getting worse and worse. KU scored only 13 points in the first half against TCU, a number that hasn't been “reached” since the 1988-89 season and scored only 2 points in the first 13.94 minutes of play. G Travis Releford (12.1 PPG-3.5 RGP) registered only 1 point in the game against TCU. Just terrible. Aside from the TCU game the Jayhawks offense hasn't looked pretty all season, averaging only 67 PPG and 42% accuracy from the field in Big 12 play, the lowest in the Bill Self Era.
Kansas cannot overlook Oklahoma, as they are always a Big 12 threat in Norman. Self's criticisms have led us to believe that KU is learning from their mistakes ,but he must not be telling us everything. How he didn't have his team prepared for TCU is a huge question mark. Losing to such a poor team would make anyone believe that their team is bad, but not in this case. KU is still 19-3 and can get to 20-3 by the end of Saturday. If they show up and take the game seriously, Kansas is still in the running for a top seed, Big 12 championship and many other accolades. As long as KU can get back to playing the type of basketball they played in December, they can start making believers out of the Kansas fanbase again. Getting the W against Oklahoma is a huge first step. We know they are capable of playing at a high level, we saw it in December, now they have to find it again.