OKLAHOMA SOONERS (20-7)
at KANSAS JAYHAWKS (21-6)
Allen Fieldhouse - Lawrence, KS
Tip-off: Monday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Kansas -11
No. 5 Kansas looks to clinch at least a share of a 10th consecutive Big 12 championship on Monday night as it hosts Oklahoma.
The Jayhawks are 12-2 SU (9-4-1 ATS) in conference play this season, outscoring these Big 12 foes by an impressive 11.6 PPG. They have won three straight games (2-1 ATS) to improve to 14-12-1 ATS on the season and Saturday's 85-54 blowout of Texas puts them 12-1 SU (8-4-1 ATS) at home. Kansas ranks second in the nation in shooting percentage (50.3% FG), and the Sooners will have to play their best defense to get the win. Oklahoma comes into the game ranked 317th in the nation in scoring defense (76.8 PPG), but has gone 3-1 (SU and ATS) in its past four games to improve to 9-5 (SU and ATS) in the conference this season. The Sooners are now 15-10 ATS overall, including an outstanding 9-3 ATS mark away from home, and 5-2 ATS record in true road games. These two teams played in Norman on Jan. 8, with the Jayhawks prevailing 90-83 thanks to their 55% FG (8-of-16 threes) and 80% FT (24-of-30). Rebounding was a huge difference in the first game between those two teams, as Kansas outrebounded Oklahoma 36-22. That gives the Jayhawks a dominating 11-1 SU advantage (7-5 ATS) in this series since 2006. They have also beaten the Sooners 12 straight times SU at home. Although double-digit underdogs revenging a loss where the opponent scored 85+ points, with two more starters returning from last season than the opponent, are 29-8 ATS (78%) over the past five seasons, Kansas is 31-10 ATS (76%) as a home favorite of 6.5 to 12 points under head coach Bill Self.
Can Kansas keep rolling and cover the double-digit spread on Monday night? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 60% ATS (227-152-13) mark, including a hefty 62% ATS (195-118-7) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 68% ATS (52-24-3) in Best Bets for the season, 87% ATS (20-3-2) since Jan. 17 and 73% ATS (45-17-2) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 61% ATS (47-30-1) for the season and 67% ATS (30-15) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Zach is 55% ATS (41-33-4) on Best Bets this season, including 57% ATS (35-26-3) since Nov. 22. StatFox Scott is 58% ATS (44-32-3) for the season and 60% ATS (34-23-3) since Dec. 2, while StatFox Gary is 57% ATS (43-33-2) for the season, and 61% ATS (37-24) since Nov. 29.
The Sooners bring one of the most explosive offenses in the nation to Lawrence on Monday night, ranking 12th in the country in scoring (82.8 PPG). While they do not shoot the ball very well (45.2% FG, 123rd in Div. I), their fast-paced style of offense allows for a lot of easy baskets. Oklahoma also shoots 37.5% from the three-point line, and rebounds well with 38.1 RPG (42nd in nation) and a +2.1 RPG margin. Although the defense surrenders the 35th-most points in Div. I, it holds opponents to 43.4% FG and 34.3% threes. Sophomore SG Buddy Hield (16.7 PPG, 39% threes, 4.3 RPG, 39% threes) has more than doubled his scoring average from last season (7.8 PPG), while improving his shooting significantly from 39% FG and 24% threes last season to his current rates of 45% FG and 39% threes. Hield has 20.0 PPG on 48% FG (8-of-19 threes) in his past two games, and produced 18 points and eight rebounds before fouling out of the Jan. 8 loss to Kansas. Senior SF Cameron Clark (15.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 47 % from threes) was the big star in last month's meeting by dropping 32 points (10-of-18 FG, 12-of-16 FT) on the Jayhawks. He is a very difficult matchup, as he sees a lot of time at the four spot, but is too athletic for opposing big men to guard. Freshman PG Jordan Woodard (11.0 PPG, 4.7 APG) has emerged as the star of the future, posting a solid 2.0 Ast/TO ratio and knocking down 38% of his threes. But he played poorly in last month's home loss to KU, missing all five of his field-goal attempts and finishing with two assists and two turnovers in his 33 minutes. SG Isaiah Cousins (10.5 PPG, 36% threes, 4.1 RPG) and PF Ryan Spangler (10.3 PPG, 60% FG, 9.6 RPG) give the Sooners as much balanced scoring as any team in the Big 12. Spangler plays a huge role on this team, as he is the only Sooners player that can dominate in the paint, but he was saddled with foul trouble in the first meeting with Kansas, finishing with only four points and three rebounds in 23 minutes. He did have more than half (four) of his team's seven assists that night though. While the Sooners have the scoring firepower to hang with the Jayhawks, they have to play terrific defense, because the Jayhawks are clicking on all cylinders as an offense.
Kansas shoots such a high percentage from the floor because of a willingness to share the basketball (15.8 APG, 22nd in nation), quality long-range shooting (35.1% threes) and a ferocity on the offensive glass (10.4 offensive RPG), which leads to 79.7 PPG (26th in Div. I). At home, these numbers improve to 83.8 PPG on 53.8% FG and 37.0% threes. Although the Jayhawks allow 69.1 PPG (146th in nation), they hold opponents to a mere 40.9% FG despite giving up 35.1% threes. Freshman SG Andrew Wiggins (16.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG) scored 21 points (7-of-12 FG) in Saturday's win against Texas, including 15 points in the first 12 minutes. Wiggins is averaging 19.0 PPG on 59% FG during his team's three-game win streak, but he did not play well in Norman last month when he made just 2-of-9 shots and finished with nine points and six rebounds in 29 minutes. When he is aggressive and attacks the rim consistently, it opens up easy scoring opportunities for freshman C Joel Embiid (11.1 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.6 BPG) and sophomore PF Perry Ellis (13.4 PPG, 54% FG, 6.5 RPG). Ellis is a polished offensive player, with the ability to score on the block, as well as off the bounce, and he destroyed the Sooners in the first meeting this season with 22 points (6-of-8 FG) and 11 rebounds. Since missing the TCU game on Feb. 15 because of ankle and back injuries two games ago, Embiid has averaged 15.5 PPG on 77% FG (10-of-13 FG) with 7.5 RPG and 3.5 BPG in the past two contests. Freshman SG Wayne Selden Jr. (10.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.7 APG) is another guy that can get rolling on offense, scoring in many different ways. He had a huge game for the Jayhawks in last month's win over Oklahoma, scoring a career-high 24 points on 9-of-17 FG (5-of-10 threes). While the underclassmen get all the talk for the Jayhawks, this team will only go as far as junior PG Naadir Tharpe (8.7 PPG, 39% threes, 5.2 APG) can take them. Tharpe has not shot the ball well as of late (2-for-19 FG in past three games), but continues to be the emotional leader on the team with a strong 2.6 Ast/TO ratio. He scored an efficient 17 points (5-of-7 FG, 2-of-3 threes, 5-of-6 FT) in last month's win over Oklahoma with three assists and just one turnover in 26 minutes of action. With bench players like SG Frank Mason (6.1 PPG this season, 14 points against Texas), Jamari Traylor (4.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG) and PF Tarik Black (4.5 PPG this season, nine points and five rebounds on Saturday), KU has bench players that can come in and get things going if the starters are struggling. The Jayhawks have as much depth as any team in the country, and once again, a Bill Self team is playing its best basketball as we near March.