Kelly Oubre is one reason that Kansas is tracking toward its 11th straight Big 12 title — even after a 67-62 loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Oubre, a 6-foot-7 wing, is averaging 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in conference play. After being buried on the bench for most of November, he grew into Kansas’ most steady player for most of January. He leads the theft-deficient Jayhawks in steals (15) during conference play. He shot back up draft boards. In short: Bill Self’s usage of Oubre during the season’s opening weeks looked like a genius maneuver.
But another trend has emerged in recent weeks, one that continued with Oubre’s one-point performance at Oklahoma State. Oubre has been one of Kansas’ best players at Allen Fieldhouse, but he’s been borderline unplayable on the road. Let’s take a look at Oubre’s home-road splits, which do not include neutral-site games:
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Historically, teams and individual players shoot better at home. There’s a comfort factor, of course. In college basketball, the brand of basketballs can vary depending on the school, which can be a surprisingly important factor. But even considering this, Oubre’s shooting percentage numbers are quite extreme. He’s made just one three-pointer on the road all season. He’s shooting 23.8 percent from the floor. One would think that Oubre is due for some positive regression in the shooting department. But Kansas coach Bill Self believes Oubre must focus on the right things. Then the offense will come.
“Kelly’s a really good player when he’s playing with energy, and defending, and rebounding and doing those things,” Self said. “(His) offense comes easier. And I didn’t think that anybody really did those things very well (at Oklahoma State).”
Oubre is not the first Kansas freshman wing to perform better on the road. In 2012-13, Ben McLemore averaged 18.9 points at Allen Fieldhouse while scoring 13.9 points per game on the road. Andrew Wiggins also shot the ball better at home last season — though his 41-point night at West Virginia and 19-rebound night at Iowa State perhaps skewed the raw numbers.
In the case of Wiggins and McLemore, though, the home-road splits were about what you would expect. In the case of Oubre, they are a little more baffling.
The player of the game
After Saturday’s loss at Oklahoma State, Self said he didn’t believe anybody on Kansas had played well. But sophomore Brannen Greene continued his production from three-point range. He drilled three three-pointers — all in the first half — and is now shooting a rather blistering 62.1 percent (18 of 29) from three-point range in conference play. For the season, Greene is now shooting 51.6 percent, which would be the highest single-season mark in KU history. The previous mark (50.5 percent) was set by Kirk Hinrich in 2000-01.
The stat of the game
It was a new season-high for Kansas, which had turned the ball over 16 times in a road victory at Georgetown.