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Oregon State Preview

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Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

At 6-1, Oregon State has been a bit of a surprise this season. The Beavers haven't really played anybody, though they have a win over Iona, who should be a tournament sleeper, and a close loss to Valpo, who is another tournament sleeper.

Oregon State, like Kansas, is shooting the lights out from three this season. The Beavers are making 41.1 percent of their threes, though like Kansas they aren't shooting them often, taking just 32.3 percent of their shots from deep. It will be somewhat poetic if both teams shoot 45 percent on about 10 threes while shooting 40 percent on about 50 harebrained drives into traffic.

Oregon State has gotten incredibly lucky defensively. The Beavers are allowing opponents to shoot 41 percent of their shots from three, but teams are shooting just 28 percent from three against them. Obviously if Kansas is allowed that many open looks, it likely will go much differently on Saturday. That fact alone gives Kansas a huge edge, and given how the Jayhawks have shot this season, almost makes the rest of the preview irrelevant.

But still we press on. Oregon State is a pretty poor defensive rebounding team as well, though the Jayhawks have not been great at offensive rebounding so that likely is a wash. Where Kansas has excelled so far happens to line up with an OSU weakness: turnovers. The Jayhawks turn it over on just 16.1 percent of their possessions, and Oregon State forces turnovers on just 18 percent of opponent possessions. Oregon State seems content to not force turnovers and let Kansas take jumpers, which seems like a recipe for disaster. Although, it could also lead to a lot of charges into a crowded paint area.

Players to Watch

Oregon State's best player is Gary Payton II. The son of former Seattle Super Sonic (remember them?) Gary Payton, Payton ranks 6th nationally in steal rate, has a 29 percent assist rate, and is shooting 57.7 percent. There won't be many games where there will be even a question as to whether Kansas has the best guard on the floor, but this is one of them. Payton vs Mason should be a great matchup.

Malcolm Duvivier is shooting an even 50 percent on threes this season, and also over 52 percent on twos. Because he doesn't have a ton of attempts, however, his eFG is still worse than Wayne Selden's.

Tres Tinkle, son of coach Wayne Tinkle, isn't great yet, but should be a good one. Tinkle is already drawing 7 fouls per 40 minutes as a freshman, has a very good 4.1 percent steal rate, and barely turns it over. Once he learns how to shoot, he could be an all Pac 12 player.

Stephen Thompson, another freshman, plays just under 20 minutes per game, but is shooting 46 percent on threes and 57 percent on twos. He's a big part of the offense when he's in, shooting it 32 percent of the time. Thompson stands 6-4, so Selden will likely draw the task of hounding Thompson when he's in. We'll see if he's up for playing both ways.

The pick

Kansas shouldn't have much trouble, although OSU is better than you'd think and this Kansas City game has been a weird one the last few years. Maybe Kansas struggles shooting a bit away from Allen Fieldhouse, so maybe it's closer than we'd expect. I'll say Kansas 71-66.