Big Monday – Oklahoma State at Kansas – 8 p.m. ESPN
For the third week in a row the Jayhawks prepare to play on Monday night. They were excellent at home against Missouri in a 103-86 win. They struggled in Manhattan last week losing 84-68 to Kansas State.
OKLAHOMA STATE: Oh, how different things would be had Saturday gone a little better. The Cowboys lost 67-66 to Texas A&M, far more competitive than in their 23-point shellacking back in January, but not quite good enough to get a desperately needed conference win. That means Oklahoma State (16-10, 4-8) will enter Allen Fieldhouse on a three-game losing streak, and conventional wisdom suggests Lawrence is about the worst place to get back on the winning track.
Fortunately, Oklahoma State has three winnable games to close the year:
Texas Tech, Baylor, @ Oklahoma
If they were to win all those, and we assume a Monday loss, they would enter the Big 12 Tournament at 19-11 with a lot of work to do. Then again, even with four straight wins, they’ll almost surely need some success in the conference tournament.The keys Monday night: Marshall Moses needs to rebound effectively and also make the Morris twins work on defense. They were frustrated (particularly Markieff) with their offensive struggles against Kansas State, further limiting their contributions against the Wildcats. I would rather force Kansas to shoot 3s than bang inside.
(It’s worth noting I advocated this for Missouri as well, the Tigers did it and then got beat by double digits anyway. But it was still better than giving up the interior.)
KANSAS: KU spent most of the Colorado game in cruise control, getting ahead early and never letting CU charge back. Kansas is as good as anyone at spreading everybody out in the halfcourt and finding open shooters. It won’t be easy for Oklahoma State to defend this, but if the Morris twins approach or get double-doubles, this game will be over much faster.
Kansas, with a win, moves closer toward securing a No. 1 seed. It would be their fourth in five years, which demonstrates amazing consistency. Don’t be misled by people who say there are “no great teams” or this is a “down year” for college basketball. There are plenty of other worthy No. 1 seeds if Kansas doesn’t continue winning.
We’ll learn more about Kansas the next time they face adversity – whether that’s at home against Texas A&M, in Columbia to close the regular season, or in the conference tournament. The Jayhawks must be more prepared to fight back after trailing than they showed against Kansas State. The topic shouldn’t come up Monday night.
Kansas 85, Oklahoma State 64