A matchup between Big 12 powerhouses highlights Tuesday’s college basketball schedule as the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks visit the Oklahoma Sooners. On the road, the Jayhawks are six-point favorites with an over/under of 140.5 points.
The Sooners head home after a road loss to Iowa State over the weekend. Oklahoma was down 17 points at halftime and never got back in the game over the final 20 minutes. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak, including wins over Kansas State and Texas in the Sooners’ first two Big 12 games of the season.
Meanwhile, the Jayhawks are also looking to bounce back from a loss over the weekend. Kansas suffered a rare home loss, falling to Baylor 67-55. However, that loss came after the Jayhawks had impressive wins over West Virginia and Iowa State to kick off conference play.
To date, Kansas is 12-3 with losses to Duke, Villanova, and Baylor, who are all top 15 teams at the moment.
The Man in the Middle
While he may not be their leading scorer, the biggest difference-maker for the Jayhawks this year might be center Udoka Azubuike. After an injury limited him to just nine games last season, the 7-foot senior has picked up where he left off.
Azubuike has been a monster on the boards this season, averaging nine rebounds per game while also tallying 2.3 blocks per game. That includes seven blocks in the loss to Baylor and six in the win over West Virginia.
In terms of scoring, Azubuike can be hit and miss, depending on the opponent. However, Kansas has plenty of other players to pick up the slack in that department. Despite being held to just nine points against Baylor, sophomore Devon Dotson is leading the charge with 18 points per game.
Meanwhile, Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett are combining for 20 points per game, while Isaiah Moss provides Kansas with an extra perimeter shooter.
On the Front Line
For the Sooners, it’s the frontcourt that’s leading the way this season. Senior forward Kristian Doolittle is pouring in 17 points per game. Meanwhile, versatile forward Brady Manek and Austin Reaves, a big guard, are combining for 30 points per game.
All three are also strong rebounders, so while Oklahoma doesn’t have one player to match the size and physicality of Azubuike, the Sooners have strength in numbers inside.
However, Oklahoma’s biggest concern is point guard play. Reaves is not a true point guard, while freshman De’Vion Harmon remains a work in progress despite some promising performances recently. No one on Oklahoma’s roster is averaging as many as three assists per game, which can be problematic at times.
Despite some great scorers, the Sooners can look disorganized offensively at times, relying too much on one-on-one play. Turnovers were also an important factor in their loss to Iowa State.
Rock Chalk Road Trip
Oklahoma has had trouble against strong teams this season, and its disappointing effort over the weekend did nothing to change that. The Sooners may not get manhandled by Azuubuike inside, but their shortcomings in the backcourt will be a problem against the Jayhawks. Bet on Kansas to win and cover the six-point spread on the road.