Preview: Kansas vs. Oklahoma (Big XII Tournament)

(Thoughts prior to and following the first meeting between these teams.) UPDATE: Michael Neal expects to play. Darrell Arthur may play limited minutes due to a stomach virus. Ken Pomeroy looks at the effect of playing on consecutive days against a team which is rested.

The effort exerted to get past Iowa State this afternoon will only exacerbate the quick turnaround Oklahoma must complete before facing Kansas. The Sooners only go eight deep (though, if Jeff Capel wants to give Chris Walker some minutes I don't think any Kansas fans will protest) and rely on Nate Carter (31.3 Pts/100) for the bulk of their scoring. If Michael Neal is again unable to play due to illness and with Longar Longar appearing to have fallen out of favor (or at least fallen to the end of the rotation), Tony Crocker would be the Sooners' only realistic second scoring option on the court much of the time.

OKLAHOMA OFFENSE v. KANSAS DEFENSE

(Big 12 games only)

Team eFG% OR% TO% FT Rate FT% PPP
OU off 47.0 35.8 19.5 27.26 74.6 1.05
KU def 43.8 27.8 22.1 35.0 66.0 0.90

Even with all their free throw attempts and a meaningless three at the buzzer, Oklahoma only scored 0.92 points per possession in the first meeting. It seems to me far more plausible that Kansas (0.96 points per possession @Oklahoma) improves their offensive performance in the rematch. Kansas is the only one of Oklahoma's last eight opponents to fail to score at least one point per possession against the Sooners (a stretch that includes two Oklahoma/Iowa State games).

OKLAHOMA DEFENSE v. KANSAS OFFENSE

(Big 12 games only)

Team eFG% OR% TO% FT Rate FT% PPP
OU def 48.4 31.5 20.5 43.6 70.5 1.02
KU off 55.5 37.5 19.9 23.4 65.6 1.14

The danger for Oklahoma is that Kansas could conceivably convince themselves that they have something to prove in this game. The second half of the game in Norman 10 days ago saw the Jayhawks completely befuddled by the Sooners' three-quarter court pressure in the second half en route to giving up every bit of a seventeen-point lead.

Even more than their poor free throw shooting, Kansas's penchant for turning the ball over in bunches worries me as we approach the single elimination portion of the season. Kansas turned the ball over on 23% of their possessions in Norman, on 24% of their possessions @Kansas State, and on 25% of their possessions against Texas A&M. Each of those turnover rates is at least 15% higher than Kansas's season average. (Worse than that, really, as I haven't put in the time to figure the season average without those games as a comparison.)

That being said, Kansas is a lot better than Oklahoma, there are no injury or illness worries for Kansas, and Kansas won't be playing their second game in 24 hours. The Jayhawks should win handily. If the game is even nearly as close as it was in Norman, it will be a credit to the Sooners.

Prediction: Kansas 72 Oklahoma 58

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