The Jayhawks welcome Oklahoma to Lawrence Saturday with Oklahoma finishing out maybe the toughest opening conference slate of anyone in the country (Texas Tech, West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas). The Sooners have one of the better offenses in the country so far this season, although their performance in Big 12 play makes one wonder if that was due to opponent rather than their own skill.
Notably, Oklahoma is doing quite a good job of taking care of the ball, turning it over on just 16 percent of its possessions, and they also take quite a few threes, right around 40 percent of their shots. They have scored more than a point per possession just once in their last three games, but it’s worth noting they shot almost 50 percent from two against Baylor and they were a normal 3-point game (they were just 4-24) from making that one really interesting.
Defensively the Sooners have held teams to just 43 percent inside the arc, but I think Kansas will like the matchup against them because Oklahoma allows teams to take a ton of open threes. It’s also worth noting that the Sooners don’t send teams to the free throw line often, which is impressive given how well they defend inside the arc. That means it will be up to Kansas to shoot a ton of threes tomorrow, and so one of the keys will be to watch the first couple; this is anecdotal but it appears as though Kansas has a tendency to stop shooting threes after they miss their first couple, so they’ll either need to start making them right away or ignore that tendency tomorrow.
Players to Watch
Austin Reaves, 6-5 senior guard
Reaves hasn’t shot the ball well this year, just 25 percent from three, but he was a lights out shooter in his first two seasons so it’s tough to say what the real number is. He’s been great inside the arc, however, and has an assist rate over 30 percent with a turnover rate under 20 percent, which is always nice.
Brady Manek, 6-9 senior forward
To me it both seems like Manek just got to Norman and like he has been there for 30 years. Once again, he’s shooting lights out (41 percent from three).
Kur Kuath, 6-10 senior center
Thankfully for McCormack, Kuath is a more traditional big man, although he’s not a great rebounder. He is, however, one of the better shot blockers in the Big 12, so Kansas probably shouldn’t challenge him often. He also commits fewer than 2 fouls per 40 minutes, which is really impressive for a shot blocker.
Kansas might run into some trouble if they excessively challenge Oklahoma at the rim, but, the Texas game aside, I think the Jayhawks have embraced their newfound perimeter game, which bodes well for them in this one. It also bodes well for them that McCormack will have a traditional center to match up against, and while I don’t suspect he will put up the same numbers he did against TCU, he can prove to be playable in this one. I don’t see a line yet, so I’ll update the pick when I get one, but I will take Kansas to win 77-67.
2021 record ATS: 9-1.