Oklahoma (12-0, 1-0) at Kansas (12-1, 1-0)
When: Monday, January 4th 2016
Where: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The undefeated Oklahoma Sooners travel to Lawrence to take on the Kansas Jayhawks in a matchup of the top two teams in the country. The Sooners are off to their best start since Blake Griffin led them to a 12-0 start in 2008-09. Oklahoma started conference play on Saturday with a hard-fought 87-83 home win over Baylor. Reigning national player of the week Buddy Hield scored 20 points, but shot only 8-of-23 from the field. The nation’s fourth-leading scorer had averaged 29.8 points on 58.8% shooting over his last five games. Prior to Saturday’s poor shooting effort, Hield was the only player in the country to shoot at least 50% from the field, 50% beyond the arc, 90 percent from the foul line, and average more than 20 points. Ryan Spangler, who averages 11.1 points and 10.2 rebounds a game, helped the Sooners overcome Hield’s poor shooting performance with 20 points and 12 rebounds while Isaiah Cousins scored all 15 of his points in the second half. Second-leading scorer Jordan Woodard (13.9 points) went 2-for-3 beyond the arc to raise his team-best 3-point shooting percentage to 53.1%. He shot only 25.4% from downtown last year. The Sooners are third in the country in three-point shooting percentage at 45.3%. Oklahoma will be looking for their first win in Allen Fieldhouse since 1993.
The Jayhawks first Big 12 game was a lot easier than the Sooners. They handled 21st-ranked Baylor 102-74 at home for their 31st consecutive victory at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas shot 53.7% from the field and 11-of-19 from three-point range while only turning the ball over seven times. The smothering defense limited Baylor to just 39.0% shooting including 3-of-11 from beyond the arc. Wayne Selden Jr. (15.5 points) took over the team scoring lead with a 24-point outburst against the Bears mostly on the strength of 5-of-6 shooting beyond the arc. Guard Devonte’ Graham chipped in 15 points and has 21 assists, 11 steals and only three turnovers over his last six games. The Jayhawks’ only loss this season came before Thanksgiving in the first round of the Maui Invitational to former number one Michigan State. Kansas ranks second in the nation shooting 46% from three-point land. They’re also 3rd in overall scoring at 88.3 a game. The Jayhawks lead the all-time series over Oklahoma 142-66, including a 73-16 mark in Lawrence. Kansas is 9-2 against the spread this season and covered both meetings with the Sooners last year and three of the past four.
This should be a great game with two teams who are legitimate Final Four contenders. I’ve been pretty impressed with Oklahoma this season and the poor defensive effort on Saturday against a good Iowa State team can be ignored. They will be up for this game. They might not win, but I think they keep it close.
Pick: Oklahoma +6