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College Basketball Pick
It's a couple weeks into the conference season and there's nothing too surprising in the Big 12 with Kansas fighting for sole possession of first with Baylor. The same can't be said for Oklahoma State, who is having a rough go early on. While the Cowboys battled on the road at Texas and Baylor, they didn't have enough to pull off upsets, losing the two by a total of seven points. It's been a bit disappointing for the Pokes after a decent start in non-conference play. Things never really get any easier in this conference, either, with a trip to Allen Fieldhouse this weekend.
It's been a usual start to the season for Kansas after losing to Indiana in the opener. The Jayhawks didn't face much relevant competition for most of non-conference play, but were challenged in their first two Big 12 games at TCU and against Kansas State. Opponents have enough to compete against them, but not enough to beat them and that's where OK State's problem will lie in this game.
When these teams met last year, it was a tale of home-court advantage with the Pokes dominating the first game at home and almost winning by 20, but then the Jayhawks turned that around and won by 27 points in Lawrence. It wouldn't be surprising if the same thing happened here, although as said above, Oklahoma State has remained competitive on the road this season.
The difference for this year's OK State team is that they have elite, experienced talent that can score against any opponent. Both Jeffrey Carroll (16.1 ppg, 7.0 reb) and Jawun Evans (18.9 ppg, 5.1 apg) have one more year of experience and are leading the way for the team. Carroll is only 6-6, but leads in rebounding, while Evans leads in scoring and assists. As a bonus, both have been hitting shots from long range at a more consistent rate. And with three-point specialist Phil Forte back in the fold, they have the shooter that can keep them competitive.
But that's kind of where it ends for the Pokes as they don't have anyone else that averages more than 21.2 minutes or 7.9 points per game. And that's the difference between them and Kansas. The Jayhawks have three studs that lead the way as well, and their trio is a tad better than OK State's with Frank Mason (19.9 ppg, 5.7 apg), Josh Jackson (15.3 ppg, 6.6 reb) and Devonte' Graham (13.0 ppg, 4.6 apg). One of the best backcourts in the nation combined with one of the best freshman in the nation is about all KU has needed in the early going.
Svi Mykhailiuk has played more and even got the game-winning shot against Kansas State last week, while Landen Lucas has played big minutes in the post with Carlton Bragg. Throw in Phog Allen and it's obvious to see why Oklahoma State needs to play a perfect game in order to win. But covering is another story. That aforementioned trio for the Pokes has enough to keep this game close, as long as they are hitting shots. The Jayhawks will probably win, but they haven't been blowing teams out with ease as has been the case in previous seasons.
Our Pick - Kansas by 19
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