(6) Kansas Jayhawks at (3) Oklahoma Sooners
With so much tumult and turnover at the top of the polls, the winner of this weekend’s heavyweight tilt between the no. 6 Kansas Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3 Big 12) and no. 3 Oklahoma Sooners (20-3, 8-3 Big 12) could easily find themselves on the top line come Monday. Bill Self’s squad will travel to the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman tomorrow (2:30 PM Eastern) looking to upset Buddy Hield and the Sooners.
Since losing to Iowa State on January 25, the Jayhawks have won four in a row. They’ve done so in dominant fashion, as well, downing Kansas State, TCU, and West Virginia by an average of 15.6 PPG.
Kansas is led by senior forward Perry Ellis (16.9 points per game on 53-percent shooting). Ellis, along with juniors Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden Jr., is the major reason the program is top-20 in the nation in scoring (83.0 points per game).
Ellis and company may have to be more focused on their defense tonight, though. The Sooners are scoring at an even higher clip than the Jayhawks (84.1 PPG, 11th in the nation), led by Wooden Award-candidate Buddy Hield (25.7 PPG).
The squad was ranked no. 1 in the polls a few weeks ago, but losses to Iowa State and Kansas State bumped them down.
The Sooners bounced back from the 80-69 upset loss at K-State with a 63-60 win over Texas. The Sooners trailed Texas by nine at the half, but Hield played the savior, scoring 27 points on the night and hitting a three from the corner with just over a second left on the clock to clinch the win.
He was also phenomenal in the first matchup against the Jayhawks this season, a game that will soon become Big 12 legend: Hield led his squad into Lawrence and went toe-to-toe with Kansas’ big-three for 40 minutes … and then another 15 as the game went to three OT periods. The senior guard wound up with 47 points on 13 of 23 shooting, but Kansas emerged with a 109-106 win.
“It’s been in the conversation a lot, media-wise,” OU coach Lon Kruger said to the Norman Transcript about that duel. “[We] battled the first time and have a lot of respect for each other. It’s going to be another tough match Saturday.”
Both teams are 8-3 in the conference on the year, tied with West Virginia atop the Big 12 standings. Kansas has dominated recent head-to-head, though, winning eight of the last ten straight-up and covering the spread in six. The Sooners haven’t had a lot of success, betting-wise, no matter who they play lately, going 2-9 ATS in their last 11 as the favorite and 2-6 ATS in their last eight home games.
Take the veteran-laden Jayhawks and the points.
(Photo credit: Andrew Goidell (Received from author.) [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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