KANSAS JAYHAWKS (21-4)
at OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (19-5)
Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, OK
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma State -1, Total: 136.5
No. 14 Oklahoma State looks to extend its long winning streak and complete a season sweep of No. 9 Kansas when the Big 12 powerhouse tangle in Stillwater on Wednesday night.
The Jayhawks were stunned at home by the Cowboys on Feb. 2 by a score of 85-80. This began a three-game losing skid for KU, but the school has gotten back in the win column with back-to-back lopsided victories over Kansas State (by 21 points) and Texas (by 26 points). Oklahoma State won its seventh straight game on Saturday, besting rival Oklahoma in overtime by a score of 84-79. OSU has pumped in an impressive 79.9 PPG during this win streak. This series has been pretty even in Stillwater since 2002 with each team winning three times (SU and ATS) over this stretch, with five of the six games finishing Under the total.
Which Top-15 team will record the crucial victory on Wednesday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts will try to build on a stellar 6-3 ATS (67%) collective mark on Tuesday night. StatFox Scott is 59.3% ATS (16-11) on college hoops Best Bets since Feb. 8, while StatFox Gary is 55% ATS (84-69-3) for Best Bets this season. StatFox Dave went 2-0 ATS on Tuesday and is 52.1% ATS (137-126-5) for the season.
Kansas has a potent offense with 73.4 PPG on 46.9% FG (34th in D-I) and a respectable 35.7% on threes. But the Jayhawks make a bigger mark on the defensive end, leading the nation with 35.6% FG allowed. Much of this has to do with the presence of 7-foot C Jeff Withey (13.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG) whose 4.0 BPG are third-most in the nation, and is a big reason why Kansas ranks third in D-I with 6.9 blocks per game. Withey has nine double-doubles this season, including two straight games where he's tallied 16.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3.5 BPG and 3.0 SPG. Withey got into foul trouble in the loss to Oklahoma State earlier this month and finished with a pedestrian 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Freshman SG Ben McLemore (16.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG) netted 23 points in that setback to the Cowboys, and he's also been hot during the team's modest two-game win streak with 21.5 PPG on 13-of-22 FG (59%) plus 6.5 RPG. McLemore has scored at least nine points in every single game this season. Senior SG Travis Releford (12.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG) is also coming off a great week with 25 points and nine rebounds combined in the two victories. PG Elijah Johnson (9.2 PPG, 4.6 APG) continues his season-long shooting drought with a 37.2% FG clip on the season. This includes his 3-of-14 FG against Oklahoma State earlier this month. Senior PF Kevin Young (7.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG) has come on strong lately, making 13-of-24 FG (54%) in the past three games. Young scored 12 points (3-of-5 FG, 6-of-8 FT) with seven rebounds and four steals in the Feb. 2 home loss to the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State scores 73.0 PPG, but doesn't shoot very well from the floor at 44.0% FG (134th in nation), including 33.3% threes. The Cowboys defense is a bit underrated though, allowing just 61.5 PPG on 39.2% FG, while piling up 7.7 steals per game and 4.8 blocks per contest. Freshman PG Marcus Smart (15.0 PPG, 4.5 APG) has had an outstanding first year on offense (five 20-point games, 78% FT), but it's his 2.92 steals per game (5th in nation) that is his most impressive statistic. Smart was all over the court during the Feb. 2 upset in Lawrence, compiling 25 points (8-of-17 FG, 9-of-11 FT) nine rebounds (eight offensive) and five steals to make up for his five turnovers. SG Markel Brown (15.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG) actually outscored Smart in the win over Kansas with 28 points (7-of-10 threes). Brown has 11+ points in 19 of his past 20 games. Sophomore swingman Le'Bryan Nash (13.3 PPG, 4.3 APG) is looking to redeem himself from the most recent meeting with the Jayhawks when he scored just seven points (2-of-7 FG) before fouling out. However, Nash is coming off a mammoth performance against Oklahoma when he scored 26 points and grabbed five rebounds.