Well, well, well, we are all in for something special tomorrow afternoon. When No. 6 Kansas visits No. 3 Oklahoma at 1:30 PM Central this Saturday, fans from all around will gather around to watch this highly anticipated rematch.
The first showdown this season featured No. 1 in the AP Poll vs. No. 1 in the Coach’s Poll and the game featured an all time regular season classic that came down to three overtimes, as Kansas prevailed in Lawrence 109-106.
Both teams are coming off huge wins as the Jayhawks defeated No. 10 West Virginia wire-to-wire 75-65 in Allen Fieldhouse this last Tuesday. The Sooners, on the other hand, took down No. 24 Texas thanks to a last second game-winner from John R. Wooden Award favorite, offensive superstar, and the second top scorer in the nation in Buddy Hield.
Kansas has won four straight and their post presence looks renewed recently, with Landen Lucas coming off the game of his career. This game deals with some of the same X-factors from before as Kansas shoots 42.2% from three, the second best in team history, but Oklahoma leads the Big 12 at 45.1% from the arc, which is the highest in the NCAA since Indiana 1993-94.
If Kansas wants to win this game, it has to find a way to limit Buddy Hield who went off for 46 points last time, even when guarded aggressively. by Frank Mason III. Bill Self could move over Wayne Selden to get a better height advantage on Hield, but with the weapons Oklahoma has, it seems unlikely.
The toughest issue with guarding the Sooners, however, is that they share the ball effectively as well as make their own shots. Too much attention on Hield will allow Isiah Cousins to have a big game yet again, where he was a huge factor back in Lawrence until he fouled out. Jordan Woodard and Ryan Spangler are also deadly weapons as well, who can both hit the three ball just as well, if not better, than anyone else.
For the Jayhawks, Perry Ellis remains consistent as ever as he was recently selected as a Wooden Watch Top 20 Finalist. The senior put up 27 points and 13 rebounds in their last matchup with Oklahoma and is averaging 21.0 points off 76.5% shooting his last three games since his rare struggle against Kentucky. (CBS Sports)
Kansas will need someone else to step up, however, to counter Oklahoma, such as Wayne Selden who has shown he can flourish on the big stage, putting up 33 points in the overtime win over Kentucky. This team will also need better guard play as Frank Mason III has struggled with turnovers lately after starting the season extremely efficient with the ball.
No matter what happens, the winner will need the combined effort of each and every player on their respective team to prevail. It will be hard to replicate the showdown from before, but this will be a high-scoring, fast-paced performance that will be a joy to watch. There will be a lot of isolation ball and a lot of passing the rock around as both teams love to drive and knock it out for the three.
The significance of this game is extremely crucial as Kansas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia all currently sit atop the Big 12 with seven games remaining, and this could be the regular season conference championship that decides it when its all said and done.
Just be ready and don’t expect anything except greatness.
Photos courtesy of Lawrence Journal World