Before every KU men’s basketball game, The Star’s Jesse Newell previews the Jayhawks’ upcoming opponent with a scouting report and prediction.
Monday’s game: Oklahoma at No. 1 Kansas, 8 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse (ESPN)
Opponent’s record: 10-18
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 64
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Point spread: Kansas by 14 1/2 .
All statistics from KenPom.com, Hoop-Math.com and Synergy Sports Technology. KenPom stats also only include Division I competition.
▪ Rim protection: Oklahoma ranks second in Big 12 play in both two-point percentage defense and block rate. Also, for the season, the Sooners’ defense ranks 43rd in opponent field-goal percentage at the rim.
▪ Offensive rebounding: Led by Khadeem Lattin and Christian Doolittle, Oklahoma is an above-average offensive rebounding team that has improved this aspect in Big 12 play.
▪ Depth: Coach Lon Kruger isn’t afraid to play his reserves, as the Sooners rank 18th nationally in percentage of bench minutes. Kansas, to compare, is 329th in the same stat.
▪ Inside shooting ... yikes: Oklahoma is the worst two-point shooting team in Big 12 play (46 percent) yet fires up the highest percentage of inside shots in the conference.
▪ Three-point defense: The Sooners allow a high percentage of three-pointers, and opponents have shot better than NCAA average on those attempts. KU made 12 of 27 threes in the teams’ first matchup.
▪ Transition defense: Oklahoma hovers around average when it comes to allowing shots in transition and opponents’ shooting percentage on those opportunities.
3 Players to Watch
Six-foot-9 forward Khadeem Lattin (No. 31)
Plus: Elite shot-blocker
Plus: Strong offensive rebounder
Plus: Has impressive steal rate for a forward
Plus: Good finisher at the rim
Minus: Not a go-to guy offensively
Minus: Only an average shooter in midrange
6-foot-6 guard Rashard Odomes (No. 1)
Plus: Best skill is creating contact and getting to line
Plus: Terrific scorer in transition
Plus: Has improved most offensive numbers in Big 12 play
Minus: Doesn’t attempt many threes (1 for 8)
Minus: Poor free throw shooter
Minus: Struggles in half-court settings when he’s not fouled
6-foot-5 guard Kameron McGusty (No. 20)
Plus: Takes on large offensive role for Oklahoma
Plus: About an NCAA average three-point shooter
Minus: Doesn’t draw fouls often
Minus: Below-average shooter at the rim
Vegas continues to be a shade pessimistic on KU, with the line sitting a half-point below KenPom’s projection (Jayhawks by 15).
I like KU in this matchup for a couple reasons. The team’s two greatest strengths offensively are transition and three-point shooting, which aligns well with Oklahoma’s weaknesses. The betting line also isn’t tacking on extra points for Allen Fieldhouse, which often happens.
Here is the concern about KU: The quick turnaround should be more detrimental to the Jayhawks because of their lack of depth, and keep in mind three players (Josh Jackson, Devonté Graham, Frank Mason) all logged 37 or more minutes Saturday against Texas.
There’s also a Senior Night factor that needs to be weighed. Tyler Self will be starting in place of Svi Mykhailiuk, and he also could be subbed in earlier at the end if KU has a commanding lead.
In the end, I like KU to run and shoot its way to a blowout.
Kansas 90, Oklahoma 68
Jesse’s pick to cover spread: Kansas
Hawk to Rock
Frank Mason had 28 points in the first Oklahoma game, and the potential is there for another big night if the Sooners continue to leave him open on the perimeter.
Last game prediction: Kansas 75, Texas 62 (Actual: KU 77-67)
2016-17 record vs. spread: 13-13-1
Last three seasons’ record vs. spread: 54-40-3