The happy period for Oklahoma is long gone and if it doesn’t turn things around quick, may even miss out on the NCAA Tournament. The Sooners have fallen fast and are now 6-9 in Conference play having lost their last six Games. Kansas State remains on the bubble, but another road Game against a quality opponent could prove helpful.
These teams met a little more than a month ago when we still didn’t know Oklahoma wasn’t as good as it appeared. The Wildcats dominated most of the way as Trae Young flopped for maybe the first time in the season with 12 turnovers. Kansas State did whatever it wanted offensively en route to an 87-69 win. Barry Brown and Dean Wade got numerous quality looks and combined for 45 points, while Cartier Diarra and Xavier Sneed added 29 more.
Oklahoma’s defense has been a major flaw on its current losing streak, although has been much better in home Games giving up 77 to Texas and 75 to West Virginia. That’s not great, but it’s much better than the 104 allowed to Kansas on Monday. The Sooners now rank near the bottom of most statistics in the Conference from field-goal percentage allowed to overall defensive efficiency. As a positive, Kansas State isn’t exactly great defensively either and is last in the Big 12 in two-point percentage allowed (53.8).
The Wildcats have been all over the place from beating Oklahoma by 18 and Oklahoma State by 10, to losing by 19 at home to Texas Tech and 38 at West Virginia. When things are going well, they are great, but when K State isn’t playing well, it’s playing really bad.
The obvious key to winning for the Sooners is through Trae Young, who has struggled mightily in the losing streak, going just 11-of-56 from long range. In the first Game between these teams he was just 2-of-10 from distance. There’s still reason to believe he can have success in this Game as Kansas State doesn’t really have much of a presence in the paint and are last in the Conference in block percentage. If Young attacks instead of pulling up from three, he could have plenty of success. The Wildcats will use a number of lengthy guards on him with Diarra and Sneed the most likely to get the call. The Sooners still need help from everyone else and without a true post presence, that’s been a problem all season.
To get back to winning, the defense has to show up. Young was exploited defensively in the loss to Kansas and will probably have issues again against Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes, who didn’t play in the first meeting. If Brown and Stokes continue to make things happen while driving and setting up teammates, Oklahoma could be in trouble.
Oklahoma is at home and favored, but it’s hard to take this team against anyone right now in Conference play. Until Young finds his shot again or someone else steps up, the Sooners will struggle to Scoreconsistently and play good enough defense. Kansas State is hard to predict, but as seen in the previous meeting, has the tools to thwart what Oklahoma does best.
Our Pick – Kansas St +6