Bill Self's Jayhawks had a 10-game win streak halted this past weekend, with a 72-64 setback at Iowa State. Still, the team is 7-1 in league play and holds a half game lead over Missouri (7-2) in the conference standings. The Jayhawks will get an opportunity for breathing room in the conference this weekend, when Kansas takes on Missouri in Columbia.
Lon Kruger's first season in Norman has had its ups and downs. The Sooners are certainly a competitive squad, sitting six games over .500 at 13-7. The league slate (3-5) has been a bit more challenging, although Oklahoma can certainly take some positives from the 63-60 road win at Kansas State this past weekend.
Kansas holds a 137-64 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1920. The Jayhawks have dominated the Sooners of late, winning each of the last eight meetings overall and the last 10 matchups at the Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas is seeking the regular-season sweep after posting a 72-61 victory in Norman on January 7th.
The Sooners almost let one slip away in Manhattan this past weekend, giving up a 10-point second-half lead to trail with just under six minutes to play. Oklahoma rallied however, with a 14-9 run down the stretch to earn the victory over Kansas State. Oklahoma shot a mere 40 percent from the floor but made up for that by forcing 20 turnovers, scoring 22 points off those miscues. Star guard Steven Pledger led the way, hitting 11-of-17 from the floor to finish with 30 points. Cameron Clark was a distant second in the scoring column with 11 points. Putting up gaudy offensive numbers is certainly not the norm for Oklahoma, which comes into this contest averaging a modest 72.4 ppg on .439 shooting. Pledger has no problem filling up the basket, ranking second in the conference at 17.8 ppg. Forwards Andrew Fitzgerald (12.8 ppg) and Romero Osby (12.0 ppg, team-high 8.0 rpg) provide frontcourt balance. Clark (8.5 ppg) and Sam Grooms (6.4 ppg, team-high 5.6 apg) round out the starting five.
While Oklahoma relies on the scoring exploits of Pledger, Kansas has the advantage of two of the conference's top scorers in Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. Robinson has emerged as one of the nation's premier low post players, ranking third in the Big 12 in scoring (17.5 ppg) and first in rebounding (11.8 rpg). Taylor is the perfect complement with his long-range acumen and ball-handling. Taylor is hitting 45.2 percent from beyond the arc and netting 16.5 ppg (fifth in the league), while doling out 5.2 apg (fifth in the league). Guards Travis Releford (9.7 ppg) and Elijah Johnson (9.2 ppg) give the team perimeter depth. Kansas shot a solid 48 percent from the floor in Ames this past weekend, but was outrebounded 36-23 and outscored at the free-throw line 25-10. All five starters were heard from, led by Taylor's double-double of 16 points and 10 assists. It was Taylor's first double-double of the season and second in his career. Robinson added 13 points and seven boards to the cause, while Releford, Johnson and Jeff Withey all chipped in with 10 points.