As much of the country prepares for #StormWatch2013 on Wednesday night, Kansas fans will be focused on watching their Jayhawks take the court against Oklahoma State in Stillwater. With a win against the Cowboys tonight, the Jayhawks will have put themselves in the drivers seat to win their 9th straight Big 12 title before looking to turn #9IntoaDime next season.
Kansas leads the overall series with Oklahoma State 106-54, but the Jayhawks will be looking to avenge the home loss to the Cowboys that started their mid season three game skid. Kansas has defeated the Cowboys in 4 of their last 5 meetings and 5 of the last 7 matchups. Since 1997, the start of the Big 12, the series is 4-4 in Stillwater meetings. Also since the inception of the Big 12, KU is 16-7 versus OSU (12-5 in regular-season play and 4-2 in the Big 12 Championship). KU head coach Bill Self is 10-8 all-time against his alma mater, including 9-5 while at KU. OSU’s Travis Ford is 2-5 versus Kansas.
OSU averages 73.0 points has a +11.4 scoring margin, which ranks second to Kansas’ +13.4 in the Big 12. OSU has a +3.2 rebound margin, leads the Big 12 Conference in free throw percentage at 74.2 percent and is second in the league in turnover margin (+2.7). The Cowboys also force 15.0 turnovers per game.
Junior G Markel Brown leads OSU in scoring at 15.8 points per game which ranks third in the Big 12. His 17.3 average in conference games is second to KU’s Ben McLemore in the league. He is second on the team with 41 three-pointers made and at 4.5 rebounds per game is one of six Cowboys who average 4.3 rebounds or better. Freshman G Marcus Smart leads the Big 12 with 2.9 steals per game to complement his 15.0 ppg scoring average. His 108 assists are a team high and his 5.8 rebounds per outing are second best on the OSU squad. Sophomore G/F Le’Bryan Nash is next in scoring at 13.3 points per contest. He averages 4.3 rebounds per game. Redshirt sophomore F Michael Cobbins (6.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and senior C Philip Jurick (3.4 ppg, a team-best 6.7 rpg and 27 blocked shots) round out the OSU starters. Freshman G Phil Forte comes off the bench and has made a team-best 57 three-pointers this season. Forte averages 11.3 points per game, is second on the team with 35 steals and makes 88.3 percent from the free throw line. Other OSU regulars include freshman F Kamari Murphy (4.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg), redshirt sophomore G/F Brian Williams (3.0 ppg) and junior G Kirby Gardner (1.5 ppg).
KU averages 73.4 points per game and is giving up 60.0 for a Big 12-leading +13.4 scoring margin. KU also leads the league in rebound margin at +6.0, field goal percentage at 46.9, field goal percentage defense at 35.6, which leads the nation, and blocked shots at 6.9.
Kansas starts four seniors, including three fifth-year seniors, and one freshman. Named to the Sporting News Mid-Season All-American team Jan. 15, redshirt freshman G Ben McLemore leads the team in scoring at 16.7 points per game, which leads all Big 12 freshmen in scoring and ranks second overall in the conference. McLemore’s 17.8 ppg in conference game is first in the Big 12. The Jan. 14 Big 12 Player of the Week and two-time conference Rookie of the Week, McLemore leads the league in free throw percentage (87.1) and is third in three-point field goal percentage (43.4). McLemore, who is listed on the USBWA Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Year Award Midseason list, has a team-high 49 three-pointers made and is second on the KU squad with 39 steals. All-America candidate senior C Jeff Withey, who on Feb. 18 was named the Big 12 Player of the Week for the second time in 2012-13, leads Kansas in rebounding (8.4 rpg) and has nine double-doubles this season, including two in his last two games. Withey leads the league in blocked shots at 4.0 per game, which ranks third nationally. Withey is Kansas’ and the Big 12′s all-time blocked shots leader with 265. A USBWA Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Midseason and Wooden Award Mid-Season Top 25 honoree along with McLemore, Withey is scoring 13.2 points per outing. Senior G Travis Releford leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 59.9 percent after his 5-for-7 performance against Texas (2/16). The Nov. 26 Big 12 Player of the Week, Releford is scoring 12.0 points per contest. Senior G Elijah Johnson has a team-high 114 assists and is second on the team with 35 three-pointers made to complement his 9.2 scoring average. Senior F Kevin Young rounds out the KU starters; he is scoring 7.6 points per contest and is second on the team with 6.8 rebounds per outing. Young has 971 career points between Loyola-Marymount and Kansas. Other KU regulars include freshman F Perry Ellis (4.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg), sophomore G Naadir Tharpe (5.4 ppg, 2.8 apg) and redshirt freshman F Jamari Traylor (2.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg).