Kansas finishes the 2017 regular season against maybe the most fun team in the league. Oklahoma State currently has the 2nd best offense in KenPom, although they briefly ascended to number 1 earlier this week. They also rank 1st in the league offensively (obviously) and last in the league defensively. It isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as UCLA or Creighton (or even Kansas at times) but it is nonetheless effective.
Indeed, Oklahoma State has scored fewer than 1 point per possession just once this season, at Baylor. Overall, they are scoring 1.15 points per trip in league play, which is obviously incredible. They go about it in a bit of an odd way, however.
The Cowboys shoot a good but not scorching 50.2 percent on twos, and take fewer than the D1 average amount of threes (though they shoot a very good 41.9 percent on threes). The Cowboys also turn it over on 19.6 percent of possessions, which isn’t great. It looks like a majority of their offense comes from offensive rebounds (35.6 percent of misses), free throw shooting (80.5 percent) and making those threes.
Kansas did a better than usual job against them in Allen Fieldhouse by shutting off their offensive rebounding (OSU rebounded just 25.6 percent of their misses), and limited their free throw attempts. Obviously teams get more free throws at home, but Kansas has done a good job of keeping teams off the line all year (mostly because they aren’t deep enough to afford foul trouble).
Defensively......yikes. The Cowboys allow 1.12 points per possession in Big 12 play, which is last by quite a bit, and could be the worst Big 12 mark since 2014 TCU. The Cowboys have allowed fewer than 1 point per possession a whopping 1 time in Big 12 play (although it is worth noting they have allowed exactly 1 PPP twice). What’s worse is their defense has probably been getting a bit lucky. Oklahoma State allows quite a few open threes (37.9 percent of opponent attempts) but opponents are shooting just 34.5 percent against them during Big 12 play.
Kansas was just 5-20 against them in Allen Fieldhouse and still put up 1.16 points per possession against them. The Cowboys allow teams to shoot 55 percent inside the arc, force turnovers on just 17.4 percent of opponent possessions, and only West Virginia is worse at sending teams to the line.
Players to Watch
Jawun Evans, sophomore guard
Evans has backed up my preseason Big 12 player of the year love, leading the league in assist rate at 46.4 percent with just a 17.6 percent turnover rate to go with it. He also leads the league in usage rate and shots taken. If he shot it a little better in league play (44 percent on twos, 30.4 percent from three) and could play a little better defense, he probably would have a great Big 12 postseason player of the year argument as well.
Jeffrey Carroll, junior forward
Quick, who leads the Big 12 in offensive rating? Well it isn’t Carroll anymore (he’s 2nd) but it was for quite awhile. He’s done it by barely turning it over, shooting 56 percent on twos, 47 percent on threes, and 83 percent from the line. He doesn’t take a ton of shots, but enough to where you can’t say he is just standing there.
Phil Forte, senior guard
Quick, who leads the Big 12 in offensive rating? Hey it’s Phil Forte. Forte is at 49 percent on threes and like Carroll barely turns it over. He doesn’t shoot nearly as much as Carroll, and you could probably say he mostly stands there. He also is a lot easier to take advantage of defensively, but he’s still not someone you want to give up an open look to.
Things to Watch For
- Jump shooting - Saying whichever team wins the jumpshot lottery will win the game is a bit of a cop out that doesn’t require any real analysis, but in this case it might be accurate. Oklahoma State gives up a lot of open jumpers, and they’ll get to take a lot of open ones as well.
- Defensive rebounding - As I said earlier, Kansas really kept OSU off the glass in the first meeting. They’ll need to do so again to make sure on the rare times the Cowboys miss they don’t get a second look.
- Rest - Please don’t play Mason and Lucas (and Jackson and Graham) 40 minutes chasing a meaningless win.