Kansas plays its second home game of the conference season tonight against an Oklahoma State team that has surpassed expectations already (mine at least). The Cowboys have a big win over Texas so far, and have the two top leading scorers in the conference. But do they have enough to knock off the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse for the second time in three seasons?
Although the Cowboys don't have a ton of height on their side, 6'8" Michael Cobbins is one of the better rim protectors in the country, and the Cowboys are only allowing opponents to shoot 42 percent from two (via hoop-math) and just 48 percent at the rim. They also allow opponents to take a lot of their shots at the rim (37.5 percent) so it will be interesting to see if Kansas is able to finish the looks they are likely to get.
The most troubling part about this game is Oklahoma State's ability from three. The Cowboys are 39th in threes attempted this year, and though they shoot just 34.1 percent from three, they are led by Phil Forte, who is shooting 40 percent on the year and although the numbers don't completely support being terrified of him (40 percent is really good, don't get me wrong, but it's not like he's shooting 60 percent), he shot 42.3 percent from deep against Kansas last year, including 7-10 in Allen Fieldhouse.
Call me too confident in this newfound defense we have, but I don't think Forte is necessarily the guy to be worried about. I think Frank Mason and Devonte Graham will be able to follow him around well enough to keep him from taking too many threes, and if all else fails Bill Self could flirt with putting Kelly Oubre on him much like Andrew Wiggins guarded Brady Heslip last season.
LeBryan Nash has taken the reins as the Cowboys go to scorer and done a good job of handling those duties. The Senior is shooting 49 percent from two, and drawing a ton of fouls. He is shooting 57.7 percent at the rim and 44 percent on two point jumpers, and has taken more jumpers than shots at the rim, so he's going to be a tough ask for Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor, Cliff Alexander, or whomever the Jayhawks throw at him.
One bit of good news for the Jayhawks is that Oklahoma State doesn't go after the offensive glass with much zeal, rebounding just 26.9 percent of its misses. Given that that has been the worst part of KU's defense lately, they should hold the Cowboys to a roughly low point total.
Lastly, while the Cowboys have excelled defensively at forcing steals, they haven't done so much in conference play, and I think Frank Mason will be able to take care of the ball enough to hold Oklahoma State's perimeter defense in check. A lot of Kansas's strengths line up with Oklahoma State's strengths, and weaknesses vs. weaknesses, which I think will favor the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse.
I currently sit at 10-5 ATS, and with Kansas favored by 7.5, I am going to take the Jayhawks to cover to try to improve my record, and I'll pick the Jayhawks to win by a score of 71-61.