Manhattan, KS – Two of the top teams in the Big 12 Conference meet in Manhattan on Saturday afternoon, as the Oklahoma Sooners tangle with the 16th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats.
Oklahoma has turned in a fine season to this point, logging wins in 12 of its first 15 games, including all three of its conference bouts. The Sooners are in the midst of a five-game win streak, with their most recent triumph coming in an 81-63 final against visiting Texas Tech on Wednesday. OU has won three of its four true road bouts, including a 67-57 decision at West Virginia in the Big 12 opener on Jan. 5. Oklahoma's second-year head coach Lon Kruger is a 1975 graduate of Kansas State, and he is 4-2 all-time against his alma mater.
Kansas State has been slightly better than today's counterpart on the season, going 14-2 while also winning its first three league affairs. The Wildcats are on a seven-game win streak, having recently disposed of TCU on the road, 67-54, this past Wednesday. K-State is undefeated at home (10-0), while Oklahoma is 3-1 in true road games and 6-2 outside of Norman all told.
Oklahoma leads the all-time series with Kansas State, 104-91, but the Wildcats have won four of the last seven meetings. Still, it was the Sooners who had the last laugh, claiming a 63-60 victory over the 'Cats late last January.
Oklahoma isn't an offensive juggernaut, but the team still averages close to 70 ppg in draining 42.4 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 32.5 percent effort from 3-point range. Romero Osby (13.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Steven Pledger (11.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg) are the only two players currently averaging double digits in scoring for the Sooners, who instead rely on a more balanced attack, as seven players average at least 5.9 ppg. Defensively, OU permits just 61.6 ppg, with foes shooting a lackluster 40 percent from the floor, which includes a 29.2 showing from beyond the arc. Osby scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, helping propel the Sooners past Texas Tech earlier this week, thus allowing them to keep pace atop the Big 12 standings. Buddy Hield added 16 points, Andrew Fitzgerald had 12, Pledger chipped in 11 and Cameron Clark finished with 10 for an Oklahoma squad that shot 47.5 percent from the field, but went just 3-of-11 from 3-point land. OU won the game thanks to a 22-8 edge in points from the foul line, coupled with the fact that the Red Raiders missed 17 of their 22 long-range launches.
Kansas State is basically putting up the same offensive numbers as Oklahoma, but the team's defensive effort is what really sets it apart from most as opponents are shooting just 39.2 percent from the field overall, which includes a dismal 27.4 percent showing from 3-points range, and in turns generates only 57.1 ppg, which ranks the Wildcats in the top-20 nationally in average scoring yield. The team boasts just one double-digit scorer in the form of Rodney McGruder (15.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg), and the 6-foot-4 senior is coming off a 21-point performance in the recent win at TCU. No other player reached double digits for KSU in that contest, and no other starter scored more than seven points. Overall, the 'Cats made good on 48.2 percent of their field goal attempts, knocking down 9-of-17 3-point tries along the way. They committed only eight turnovers, and scored 20 points off of 12 TCU miscues. McGruder has scored at least 17 points in four of the last five games.