The difficulties associated with going on the road for a Big Monday game will be mitigated tonight by Oklahoma State's porous defense. The Cowboys have held only two conference opponents (Baylor, Texas A&M) below their season average of points per possession. In six of the Cowboys' ten conference games, they've allowed at least 1.11 points per possession. The fewest points per possession Oklahoma State has allowed at home in conference play came in their loss to Nebraska. The Cowboys held Nebraska to 1.02 points per possession, right on the league average through Sunday's games. However, 1.02 points per possession marks a 9.5% increase over the Cornhuskers' usual scoring rate. Kansas enters tonight's game with all nine members of the rotation bettering the league average of 1.06 points per weighted shot. The general efficiency of the Kansas players makes it especially difficult for a poor defensive team to find someone on whom to focus. Chalmers, Rush, and Robinson consistently test perimeter defenders and the five-man post rotation is shooting 56.5% from the field collectively in conference play.
Whereas Iowa State (twice unsuccessfully) or Thomas Gardner (successfully) could try to outscore Kansas, Oklahoma State has little reason to feel confident about their offense. JamesOn Curry, though a talented young player, has been one of the least efficient scorers in the conference this year. David Monds, Bryron Eaton, and Jamaal Brown all shoot worse than 49 eFG% from the floor as well.
Mario Boggan and Torre Johnson are the most efficient offensive players for the Cowboys, but both are heavily reliant on the two-point shot (as is the team in general: 74% of their field goal attempts are taken inside the arc). Kansas has held their conference opponents below 40% shooting on their two-point field goal attempts.
Oklahoma State might hope to make up some ground at the free throw line. The Cowboys are uniformly excellent free throw shooters. Only Torre Johnson (67.1%) and Kenny Cooper (68.8%) shoot below 71% from the line. However, Oklahoma State has been allowed their opponents at least two free throw attempts for every five field goal attempts in their last five games. If Kansas can continue to get the bulk of their free throw attempts from Robinson, Chalmers, Jackson, and Rush, they should get the opportunity to outscore the Cowboys from the line as well.
The Cowboys figure to amass a significant turnover deficit. Byron Eaton headlines the conference's worst collection of ball-handlers (turnovers on 26.1% of their possessions). Eaton stands alone among Big 12 players in turning the ball over more than once every 10 possessions he's on the floor. Boggan, Curry, and Terrel Harris all give the ball away at least once every twenty possessions they are each on the floor. This is just another reason Kansas would be well served to play the game at as fast a pace as possible.
Kansas, on the other hand, has taken much better care of the ball recently, turning the ball over on less than 22% of their possessions in each of the last four games. The Jayhawks 21.8 TO% against Iowa State on Saturday was the lowest TO% Iowa State has forced thus far in conference play.
The Jayhawks should also be expected to outrebound Oklahoma State. Kansas sports a better OR% than Oklahoma State, 37.4% to 35.1%, and a better DR%, 68.8% to 63%.
When Kansas next loses, it will be because they run into a good defensive or an outstanding individual offensive effort. Oklahoma State seems unlikely to accomplish either of those things tonight.
Prediction: Kansas 73 Oklahoma State 62