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KU Hoops Preview: Oklahoma State

Round 2 vs OSU

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Oklahoma State William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s game is, at least on paper, the easiest contest of KU’s entire Big 12 slate. Oklahoma is KenPom’s 2nd-worst team in the conference, sitting at 119th overall, and they sit at 1-6 in league play, with their lone win coming in Saturday’s game over the worst Big 12 team, in a home game against West Virginia. OSU already played Kansas in Stillwater and the Jayhawks thoroughly dominated, winning 90-66. Mike Boynton is likely coaching out the rest of his final year at Oklahoma State, and at 9-11, it’s hard to see how this team has much more than pride to play for anymore.

Still, though it’s been in road games, Kansas has shown themselves susceptible to losing to bad teams, already dropping games to UCF and, worse, West Virginia. An upset tonight is unlikely, but this KU squad has been remarkably inconsistent of late. Oklahoma State is coming off a win and may look at this as an opportunity to turn their season around, even if that only means competing for an NIT spot. Their win over West Virginia over the weekend was an up and down affair, with OSU consistently leading in the early minutes until a 13-0 run put West Virginia back in the game. West Virginia’s win expectancy (if you’re into that kind of thing) reached 82.2% when they had a 61-54 lead with 5 minutes remaining, but OSU would win on a 16-7 run to end the game. It turns out you can still beat West Virginia even if they’re lights out from three (they hit 45.5% in this one).

Fans will want to know how former Jayhawk Bryce Thompson is playing after he dropped 20 in OSU’s loss to Kansas two weeks ago. The answer is he hasn’t reached double digits again in the three games since then, and is 3-14 from outside. So, you can probably expect him to hit some threes and score 20 again. C’est la vie.

I won’t go into a deep profile of the team since we just saw them earlier this month, but in league play KenPom lists them as the league’s worst defensive team and 2nd worst offensive team. They’re hitting 31% from three while taking nearly half (47%) of their shots from behind the arc. Fortunately, they haven’t been producing turnovers and they’ve been dreadful on the offensive glass. The do rebound well on the defensive end, and have succeeded in both frequently getting to the line, and not allowing opponents to do the same. As long as KU doesn’t come out tight and struggle, points should come easily, and it would be fair to expect OSU to pin their hopes to the three and hope enough of them go in.

Prediction

As West Virginia reminded us all in their win over KU, hot three point shooting can change an entire game. With Oklahoma State settling into an offensive philosophy of “let it fly,” that will probably be their primary chance of pulling off a major upset (KU is currently favored by 16.5). But unless they’re really scorching the nets on high volume, it’s tough to see how they go on the road, in Allen Fieldhouse, and beat a team that just handed them what is tied for the biggest blowout loss of their season at a 24 point margin. Kansas is, uh, going through some things right now, so expecting another 20+ point blowout might be asking a bit much, but at the same time, if they come out ready to take out their frustrations on a weaker opponent and killer instinct kicks in, this one could still be a route from start to finish. It’s just so hard to guess what Kansas will look like on any given night right now. I think this will serve as a “get right game,” but one where OSU makes it at least a little tougher on the Jayhawks than they did last time.

Kansas 78, Oklahoma State 61