It's strange to see this game on the Big Monday docket given Oklahoma State's status in the league, but perhaps the big stage will help keep Kansas' competitive juices flowing following their huge win over Oklahoma on Saturday. Although, perhaps the players would come out ready for this one regardless of this circumstances, given the 19 point beatdown they received at the hands of the Cowboys in Stillwater on January 19th.
Oklahoma State (12-13 overall, 3-9 in the Big12) will tip off against Kansas (21-4, 9-3) at 8:00 PM Jayhawk Time tonight on ESPN. Despite OSU's 11-21 (52%) three point shooting performance a few weeks ago, this is not a good shooting team, coming in hitting just 33.2% of their threes and 48.5% of their twos this season overall. In conference, they've even been slightly worse at 32.2% and 48.3%. Given Kansas' recent defensive improvement, it would take a lot for Oklahoma State to find many points tonight. Exhibit A is probably their last game, a 58-55 overtime win over Kansas State. That's right, 58 points in a game that went to overtime. That was just .89 points per possession (though they average 1.05 in conference play overall).
Defensively, Oklahoma State has one thing they can hang their hat on: they don't allow opponents to shoot a high percentage. They're 4th in the conference allowing just a 48.4% opposing eFG%, so while an offensive explosion for OSU is unlikely, you may not see one out of Kansas, either. One reason for those defensive numbers is senior transfer Chris Olivier, who boasts a 7.6% block rate this year. You also need to watch for senior guard Jeff Newberry, a pickpocket in the top 100 nationally in steal rate.
Fortunately for Kansas, one player they likely won't have to keep an eye on is star freshman point guard Jawun Evans. Evans racked up 22 points and 8 assists in his first career matchup with Kansas, but will likely have to wait to see his second, as he's been sidelined in three straight games with a shoulder injury, and is not expected back tonight.
With Kansas seemingly over its recent swoon, and with Oklahoma State limping into the game despite their OT victory over the Wildcats, I don't expect this to be particularly close. Given KU's follow up performance after their last big win over Oklahoma, a lack of energy wouldn't be shocking tonight, and Oklahoma State can play a little defense, so I don't expect a blowout. That said, a comfortable win should be a safe bet. Kansas comes in as a 15 point favorite, but I'll be a bit more conservative and pick Kansas by a score of 75-66.