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A Brief Oklahoma Preview

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Jayhawks attempt to rebound from their first Big 12 loss of the season when they face, by one measure at least, the second best team in the league. It's not a great way to have to rebound from a loss, but that's life in the Big 12 this year.

Oklahoma comes into the game ranked fourth in the Big 12 offensively, scoring 1.02 points per possession in conference play, and second defensively, allowing .95 points per possession in conference play. Kansas leads the league in both categories, scoring 1.07 points per possession and allowing .93, although that obviously features a home game against the worst team in the league.

The Sooners have been stout defensively all season, allowing opponents to shoot just 41.2 percent on twos, 11th best in the country, and they rank 10th in opponent field goal percentage at the rim. There is reason to believe that their defense is due for a bit of regression, however: Oklahoma allows opponents to shoot roughly an average number of threes, but opponents are shooting just 28.4 percent behind the arc. It will be up to the Jayhawks to actually shoot those shots obviously, but there should be some threes available so assuming the Jayhawks shoot anywhere near their average, scoring shouldn't be a problem.

Offensively, I think the Sooners are due for some regression as well; I just hope it's not in this game. With how good they were on that side of the ball last season, and the fact they've only added talent, I have to think they're going to get better (although there is something to be said for the fact that perhaps it won't given how much that offense is built around jump shooting).

Two point jumpers aside, the Sooners have a few things in common with Iowa State: like the Cyclones, Oklahoma struggles on the offensive glass, and like Iowa State Oklahoma rarely sends opponents to the free throw line. At home I would expect the Jayhawks to draw more fouls than they did at Ames, but it is likely to be another game where Kansas is under its average.

Individually, if the Big 12 season were to end today, Buddy Hield would be in contention for player of the year. Hield is carrying the Sooners offense, shooting almost 30 percent of the team's shots while he's playing, and is shooting 49.5 percent on twos and 40.8 percent on threes. It's fair to note he doesn't do much else offensively, but Kansas will have to spend the same number of resources guarding him as they did Phil Forte against Oklahoma State.

TaShawn Thomas, a transfer from Houston, has done kind of the opposite of what I expected. I thought Thomas's shooting would drop a bit, but he's shooting 57 percent on twos after shooting 60 percent last year. Likewise, I thought his rebounding would hold steady, but his offensive rebounding has dropped from around 10 percent to around 6 percent (likely due to a shift in philosophy) and his defensive rebounding rate has dropped roughly four percent as well.

Likewise, Ryan Spangler went from a 12.1 percent offensive rebounding rate to just 7.3 percent, though his defensive rebounding rate has held steady. I admit to not watching the Sooners much this year, so I am guessing the drop in offensive rebounding is mostly due to not pursuing the offensive glass as hard, but I wonder if simply doing so would be a fix for the Oklahoma offense. It's also worth noting that Spangler has added a bit of range this season, shooting 34 percent from three.

I am fascinated by Oklahoma's ability to be so good defensively despite ranking just 144th in effective height, and featuring a pair of 6'8" post players across their front line, but nonetheless they are. One thing I think the Jayhawks will be able to take advantage of is the fact that Oklahoma gives under a fourth of its minutes to its bench, and its bench players are pretty bad. A quicker pace, both to beat the rim protection down the floor and to tire out the Sooners starters, looks like the recipe to victory here.

I had my first push of the season in the game against Iowa State, running my record to 11-5-1 ATS. Kansas is favored by 5.5 in this one and because of the advantage in depth and Allen Fieldhouse will propel the Jayhawks to a cover and a 73-65 win.