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Oklahoma Preview

Oklahoma v Kansas State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Kansas attempts to climb to a full two-game lead in the Big 12 with a win over the Sooners, who are reeling from a two-game losing streak in the Big 12.

Offensively, Oklahoma has been, understandably, the Trae Young show. More on that later, but for the team as a whole, if any Jayhawk fan is complaining about the Jayhawks living and dying by the three, they should watch Oklahoma a bit.

The Sooners are 3rd in the league in shots taken behind the arc, and are shooting 41 percent from three, but just 46 percent on twos in league play, which ranks last, and they rank 5th in turnovers and 6th in offensive rebounds. Kansas will give up their fair share of three point attempts, but if the Sooners are a bit off tonight, the Jayhawks should be able to have a decent game defensively.

Of course, the flipside is Kansas is a horrible defensive rebounding team, so if the Sooners can grab a couple extra possessions to get off a couple more threes, the Jayhawks are in for a long night.

Defensively, Oklahoma has struggled a bit. The good news for the Jayhawks is Oklahoma is last in the league at forcing turnovers. The bad news is they also give up the fewest three point attempts in the league. They have quite a bit of size on the wings as well, so Kansas will likely have to attack the rim a bit more than usual in order to score. Of course, Oklahoma gives up the fewest free throws in the league, so Kansas will either have to score over some length, shoot a lot of pull up jumpers, or really get Udoka Azubuike involved.

Players to Watch

Trae Young, 6-2 freshman guard

I am not sure where this thing about Trae Young shooting too much has come from, but I sure hope he listens tonight. Young does lead the nation in usage, and his 2-point percentage has dropped quite a bit in league play, but he’s still shooting around 50 percent for the season, and 40 percent from three. Oh and he also leads the nation in assist rate, so the criticism of him shooting too much is even more unfounded.

Khadeem Lattin, 6-9 senior forward

Lattin has played in right around half of the team’s minutes in league play, and ranks 3rd in the league in block percentage.

Brady Manek, 6-9 freshman forward

Manek doesn’t do a ton other than shoot threes, but he is shooting 45.7 percent from three in Big 12 play.

Keys to the Game

  1. Threes - stop me if you’ve heard that one before. Oklahoma, specifically Trae Young, takes a ton of them, so if the Jayhawks can either limit their attempts a bit or maybe get a bit lucky, they should come away with a win.
  2. Shots at the rim - The Sooners are 302nd in allowing shots at the rim, but teams shoot under 55 percent there. Granted, shooting 55 percent for a game is very good, but the Jayhawks could stand to get a few extra easy ones considering how few threes the Sooners allow.
  3. Trae Young - Let’s be honest, if the Sooners’ star guard is even a little off, Kansas should come away with a win.

The Pick

Kansas matches up fairly well with Oklahoma. The Sooners are also reeling after two losses last week. Lon Kruger is one of the best in the business, however, and I think he will have them ready to play. Kansas is due for a game where they give up a ton of threes, so with no real statistical reasoning behind it I’ll take the Sooners in an 86-83 thriller.