Kansas Jayhawks Seek 10th Title With Win Over Oklahoma Sooners


Kansas Jayhawks forward Tarik Black (25) Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas Jayhawks (21-6, 12-2) can secure at least a part of the 2014 Big 12 regular season championship on ESPN’s Big Monday against the Oklahoma Sooners (20-7, 9-5). It would be the 10th league title in a row for the Crimson and Blue.

The Sooners, with their big win over Kansas State over the weekend, forged a three-way tie with Texas and Iowa State for second place, three games back of Kansas.

Kansas played maybe their best all around game as a unit against the Longhorns on Saturday, and Head Coach Bill Self has to be hoping they can duplicate the effort and performance, especially on the defensive end.

When these two teams met earlier in the season, on January 8th, the Jayhawks pulled out a 90-83 victory in Norman. They won despite having no answer for the Sooners talented guard, Cameron Clark, who dropped 32 points on the Jayhawks that night.

There was very little defense in that game, as the score would indicate, and there were 46 fouls called on the two teams. They combined to shoot 66 free throws on the night.

Kansas was a very poor defensive team at that point in the season, and while they still aren’t good night in and night out, we have witnessed some decent defensive performances. The Texas game on Saturday was probably the most intense effort Kansas has shown on that end of the court all season long. It lead to 26 fast break points, while Texas didn’t score a single fast break point.

Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Wiggins leads the Jayhawks in scoring with 16.4. Perry Ellis, despite wild inconsistencies in scoring the basketball, is still second on the team with 13.4 points an outing. Joel Embiid adds 11.1, and Wayne Selden, Jr. nets 10.1 a game.

Embiid tops the team in rebounds with 7.7, and blocked shots, with 68, a new freshman record at Kansas. Naadir Tharpe, who hasn’t played well recently, leads the Jayhawks in assists with 5.2 an outing.

The Sooners have 5 players that average in double figures, including Buddy Hield with 16.7, Clark with 15.2, Jordan Woodard with 11.0, and Isaiah Cousins with 10.5. Ryan Spangler almost averages a double-double with 10.3 points and 9.6 rebounds.

All of these players average over 29 minutes a game, and no one else scores more than 7 a contest on average, or plays more than 18 minutes.

Kansas must guard the perimeter tonight, and try to contain those three guards for the Sooners. This means Naadir Tharpe is going to have to guard someone eventually. He cannot rely on help all night long because his teammates may be busy keeping track of their own assignments.

Kansas has shown improvement in both curtailing turnovers and on defense. Even so, don’t look for this to be a game in the sixties. Both teams like to get up and down the floor, and neither is an accomplished squad defending the goal.

As simplistic as this sounds, Oklahoma can win this game if they can get hot, and Kansas has an off night shooting.

The Sooners have to stay out of foul trouble because their bench just is not as deep and talented as Kansas’. The Jayhawks just have more bodies to throw out there, and more fouls to give. They can be more aggressive, in theory.

The Kansas Jayhawks would love to win this game and secure that 10th consecutive championship at home, in front of the faithful. It would be an amazing feat, in this day and age, in a BCS conference.

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