No. 9 Kansas at No. 14 Oklahoma State
Kansas City Star
• WHEN/WHERE: 8 tonight at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.
• TV/RADIO: ESPN2; KCSP (610 AM)
• ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (19-5, 9-3 Big 12): The Cowboys enter this pivotal Big 12 game on a seven-game winning streak, a run that includes a victory against then-No. 2 Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse. … Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart is averaging 20.2 points per game in his last six games. Junior guard Markel Brown is averaging 17.3 points in Big 12 games, second only to KU’s Ben McLemore. Brown had 28 points and seven three-pointers in Oklahoma State’s victory at Kansas. … According to advanced efficiency numbers, the Cowboys are actually stronger on defense. Their defense ranks 16th in the country in defensive efficiency, second only to Kansas in the Big 12. … Freshman guard Phil Forte comes off the bench, but he’s the de facto fifth starter. He played 33 minutes in the first game against KU.
• ABOUT KANSAS (21-4, 9-3 Big 12): It might not be fair to declare this game a must-win for Kansas to win the Big 12 title, but a loss would certainly make it difficult to win the league outright. … The Jayhawks are 5-2 in road games this season, but they’re averaging just 60.8 points per game in six Big 12 road games. … After decisive victories over Kansas State and Texas, the Jayhawks believe they’ve reconnected to their old identity — a defensive team that feeds off that energy. But Kansas will have to carry that energy onto the road. … Senior guard Elijah Johnson emerged from a longstanding funk against Texas, finishing with 12 points on five-of-10 shooting. He was active getting into the lane, and KU coach Bill Self will need Johnson to stand up to Smart. … Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas is 4-4 against Oklahoma State at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
• BOTTOM LINE: Kansas usually wins these types of games. The Jayhawks will be motivated to avenge a loss, and playing when the lights are brightest. But KU usually has the best players on the floor. That means McLemore and Jeff Withey will need to have big nights to escape Stillwater with a win.
| Rustin Dodd, email@example.com