Oklahoma at Kansas
Oklahoma and Kansas face off for the second time this year, with Oklahoma taking the first meeting 85-80, in Norman, Oklahoma.
With four conference games left in the season, Kansas finds themselves tied at the top of the Big 12 regular season race with Texas Tech. With the ability to win the Big 12 outright, Kansas will look to take care of business against Oklahoma on Monday evening in Allen Fieldhouse, a place that has been anything but a for sure win for the Jayhawks like it’s been in the past. A win here will help Kansas stay on track of winning their 14th consecutive Big 12 title.
It seems like just yesterday all of the talk was about Trae Young being the next Stephen Curry. After losing 5 in a row, and 8 of its last 10, Oklahoma finds itself desperate to get back into the win column. After being on the four line when the committee released their first rankings, they’ve now fallen to 16-10. Oklahoma’s struggles are directly linked to the play of Trae Young, who is shooting 35% from the floor and just under 20% from 3 during their 5-game losing streak.
Keys to the game
Kansas – Start fast, and give Trae Young hell. One of the problems with this years Kansas teams is that they seem to start slow in games, and find themselves trying to come back late. If they want to have a chance at getting revenge against Oklahoma tonight, it starts right away with the guard trio of Lagerald Vick, Malik Newmann, and Devonte’ Graham. If they pressure Trae Young early and take advantage of the struggling freshman in one of the toughest environments in America, it will be an early night for Oklahoma. The formula for Kansas is simple: limit Trae Young, win the game, or at least make someone else beat you. Vick and Graham will have to carry their load this time around as they only combined for 15 points the last time these teams met. Keeping Azubuike out of foul trouble will also be key for Kansas as they have a very thin frontcourt this year.
OU – To get back on track, OU will need to get Trae Young comfortable, and have him work the offense without forcing much. As teams are starting to realize that when you pressure the hell out of Young, the chances that your team wins are strong. After last week’s loss, Trae Young complained that he’s being guarded like nobody else. Well, for someone who shoots the ball 19.8 times a game, he shouldn’t expect anything less. Oklahoma won the first time these teams met, and Trae Young shot 0 threes in the first half, and spread the wealth, only shooting the ball nine times, and making 7 of those attempts. If he can utilize his teammates and play a consistent 40 minutes, who knows what’s in store for this OU team. With 14 points and nine rebounds the last time these teams met, forward Brady Manek was the x-factor that exploited Kansas’ 4 guard, one center team. If Manek can abuse Kansas’ weakness of not having a true 4, and Trae Young plays like the Wooden finalist he is, Oklahoma might get the season sweep over Kansas.
Look for Devonte’ Graham to have a big night as his time playing at Kansas winds down. He shot 4-19 the last time these two teams met, and won’t be outplayed by Trae Young for the second time this year.
Make it Kansas 83, Oklahoma 72