Oklahoma Basketball: Next up for Sooners Is Soon-to-Be-No. 1 Kansas

Jan 10, 2017; Norman, OK, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Josh Jackson (11) and Oklahoma Sooners forward Khadeem Lattin (12) fight for a loose ball during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2017; Norman, OK, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Josh Jackson (11) and Oklahoma Sooners forward Khadeem Lattin (12) fight for a loose ball during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /
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The 2016-17 season for men’s Oklahoma basketball got a wee bit more tolerable on Saturday with a highly rare runaway victory over a surprisingly flat Kansas State team with much to play for.

Take ’em any way you can get ’em. No question that the Sooners had some fun – something that has been missing for the better part of two months now – in the dominant 30-point win over Kansas State.

It couldn’t come at a better time. It will help put an extra hop in OU’s step and provide a boost of confidence the Sooners will desperately need as they head to Lawrence, Kan., and arguably their biggest challenge yet in a season in which they have played the most difficult schedule of any team in college basketball, according to ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index.

Oklahoma has played four teams currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, and with Monday’s game at Kansas, the Sooners will have faced three of those four teams twice (West Virginia, Baylor and Kansas).

OU’s record in the six games so far against teams ranked currently is 1-5, the lone win coming on the road against a West Virginia team then ranked seventh in the country.

Kansas is the only team in the Big 12 against whom Oklahoma has a losing record all-time. The Sooners are 66-145 against the Jayhawks and have not won in Lawrence since 1993, and that was by three points. OU has beaten the now 13-time defending Big 12 champions just three times in the last 20 games between the two schools. All three of those wins were in Norman.

In the first game this season between the Sooners and Jayhawks, OU charged out to a surprising 11-point advantage at the half in Norman, closing out the opening 20 minutes on a 22-6 run. But things quickly turned around for the visitors from Kansas at the start of the second half.

The Jayhawks ran off 13 unanswered points to erase Oklahoma’s halftime lead and eventually stretched the lead out to 15 – a 26-point turnaround – on the way to an 81-70 win over the Sooners.

The Jayhawks are led by senior point guard Frank Mason, who leads the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 20.2 points per game. He had 28 in the earlier game with the Sooners, including five made three-pointers. Kansas also gets plenty of offense from No. 1 overall recruit Josh Jackson, who contributes 16 points a game, and Devonte Graham, who along with Mason is deadly with the three ball, adds 13 more.

With both No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Villanova losing this past week, No. 3  Kansas is set to vault into the top spot in the national rankings when the new polls come out on Monday.

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Oklahoma will have it work cut out for it against the mighty Jayhawks, any way you want to cut it, especially with this being KU’s last game at home this season, Senior Night and the last game at Allen Field House for Kansas starters Mason and Landon Lucas.

The last game the Sooners played in Lawrence was the spectacular triple-overtime affair last season, in which Kansas outlasted OU 109-106. It was one of the few times in memory that a visiting player received a standing ovation from the Jayhawk crowd. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield scored 46 points in that game.

Three Things to Know About the Sooners in This Game

  • Oklahoma has played 11 games against top-five opponents in Lon Kruger’s six seasons at OU. The Sooners are 2-9 in those games and 0-3 on the road.
  • Sooner reserves have scored 35 or more points coming off the bench in three of Oklahoma’s past four games. OU is going to need that many points again from the bench players if the Sooners are to have any kind of chance on Monday night at Kansas.
  • Khadeem Lattin is the only Oklahoma starter who played in the game at Kansas a year ago.

Three Things to Know About the Jayhawks in This Game

  • Kansas leads the Big 12 in field-goal percentage (49 percent), three-point field-goal percentage (41 percent) and rebounding (39 per game). The Sooner are last in the Big 12, shooting 42 percent from the field.
  • Frank Mason leads all three-point shooters in the Big 12, hitting 50 percent of his three-point attempts. That is better than Buddy Hield’s three-point accuracy last season.
  • The Jayhawks have won 33 consecutive home finales. Allen Field House will be filled to the brim (16,000-plus), as it always is when Kansas plays at home. This will be the biggest road crowd, by far, the Sooners have played before this season.

Game Prediction

Don’t expect the same kind of performance as the last time Oklahoma played at Kansas. This one could get ugly. I’m just hoping for a respectable showing, and then get out of town.

Kansas 82, Oklahoma 66