Campus Corner

Quick scout: Why KU is likely to exploit Oklahoma’s flaws

Oklahoma’s Khadeem Lattin looked toward the bench after a play against Kansas State on Saturday.
Oklahoma’s Khadeem Lattin looked toward the bench after a play against Kansas State on Saturday. The Associated Press

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

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.

3 Strengths

▪ 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.

3 Weaknesses

▪ 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)

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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)

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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)

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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

Prediction

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

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell

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