Oklahoma basketball: KU’s superiority over OU has gone on too long

Oklahoma basketball completes a Sunflower State home double-dip on Saturday when Kansas, a team that has had the Sooners’ number like no other team on the planet, comes calling to Lloyd Noble Center.

The Sooners tuned up for the No. 9 Jayhawks (10-4, 4-3) with a 76-50 blowout of Kansas State on Tuesday, OU’s second consecutive win by at least 26 points.

If you haven’t checked the Big 12 standings this week, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that Oklahoma is tied with Kansas and Texas Tech, all three with identical 4-3 league records.

Kansas is coming off a 77-69 loss at No. 2 Baylor earlier this week. The Jayhawks are 2-2 on the road in the Big 12 this season.

For the Jayhawks to have lost three conference games this early in the Big 12 season is virtually unheard of.  After all, we’re talking about the team that has won or shared the conference title in 15 of the last 16 seasons Eleven of those 15 conference championships were outright.

Kansas is the only Big 12 team that has a winning record against the Sooners, and actually that is putting it mildly. Kansas has dominated Oklahoma on the hardwood with an all-time record of 151-68 against the Sooners.

Oklahoma has won just four times in the last 25 games with Kansas, and all four of those wins were in Norman. Lon Kruger is 4-15 against Kansas in his nine seasons as the Sooners’ head coach, but OU has won three of the last four times KU has traveled to Norman and is 7-1 at home this season

What fans should know about Saturday’s Oklahoma-Kansas matchup

  • Kansas does not appear to be as strong offensively or defensively as it has been in previous seasons under Bill Self (a native Oklahoman, incidentally). Don’t be fooled by that, though. This is still a very good, if not great, Jayhawk team. They are 10-4 this season, but according to the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), the Jayhawks have played the sixth hardest schedule.
  • Kansas won by four points (63-59) in the earlier game this season with Oklahoma, played in Lawrence, where OU has lost 20 consecutive games. The Sooners played without its second-leading scorer, Brady Manek, and Jalen Hill in that game. Both missed the game because of COVID-19 protocols.
  • The Jayhawks are led in the scoring column by junior Ochai Ogbaji, who averages 14.8 per game, and redshirt-freshman Jalen Wilson at 13.1. Ogbaji is most dangerous when he sets up behind the three-point line. He has connected on 26 three-balls in his last eight games and leads the Big 12 in made threes per game (2.8). He is second in the Big 12 in three-point field-goal percentage (.438)
  • David McCormick is a big part of the KU offense (no pun intended). The 6-foot-10-inch junior forward has averaged 16.8 points and 2.3 blocks in his last four games. He scored 17 points in the earlier game with OU in Lawrence.
  • Kansas is 98-14 under Bill Self following a loss.
  • Sooner starters Austin Reaves, Manek and De’Vion Harmon contribute nearly 40 of OU’s Big 12 second-best 78 points a game. The even better news is that the OU reserves average neatly 28 points a game, which underscores the balance and depth Oklahoma has shown this season.
  • Oklahoma is 24-1 over the last two seasons when it shoots a higher percentage than its opponent.
  • This is OU’s third game this month against a ranked team. The Sooners have won three of their last five games against ranked opponents and are 7-8 at home against teams ranked in the top 10 in the Lon Kruger era.
  • The Sooners are second in the Big 12 in steals and have been very opportunistic this season, capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes. In the earlier game with Kansas, Oklahoma scored 17 points off of 16 KU turnovers.
  • And speaking of turnovers, the Sooners don’t commit many of them. OU leads the Big 12 and ranks 12th among NCAA Division I schools with 10.2 per game.

Prediction

Kansas is a two-point favorite in this game, but I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Oklahoma to pull off the home upset and hand the Jayhawks a second straight home loss.

Oklahoma by four