Kansas at Oklahoma
Kansas holds a one-game lead in its quest for a 14th consecutive Big 12 championship and has won 10 straight road games dating back to last season, the school’s second-longest road winning streak since 1950. The fifth-ranked Jayhawks can equal their best road win streak during that 58-year span on Tuesday night, but it won’t be easy as they must get past Trae Young-led No. 11 Oklahoma.
The Sooners come in off back-to-back losses at Kansas State (87-69) and at Bedlam rival Oklahoma State (83-81) but have won 12 in a row at the Lloyd Noble Center dating back to a 61-50 loss to 13th-ranked West Virginia on Feb. 8, 2017. The 6-2 Young, who picked the hometown Sooners over the Jayhawks, comes in off a Big 12 record-tying 48-point effort in the loss at Oklahoma State and leads the nation in both scoring (30.5) and assists (9.7). Kansas coach Bill Self, who guided the Jayhawks to 11 straight road wins from Jan. 24, 2007 to Jan. 30, 2008, was asked Monday what would be the hardest part about defending Young, who is averaging 33.3 points in Big 12 play. “I don’t know how you could put that in simple terms,” Self told the Kansas City Star. “He is unbelievable with the ball, great acceleration. He has unbelievable vision. You could take away his shot and they still can come away with two or three points very easily. … He’s as good as we’ve had to defend because of the focus he has with that team.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT KANSAS (16-3, 6-1 Big 12): The Jayhawks also have some pretty good guards on their roster in senior Devonte’ Graham, who ranks second to Young in the Big 12 in scoring (18.1) and is third in the conference in assists (7.3), and redshirt sophomore Malik Newman (11.3 ppg), a transfer from Mississippi State regarded by some scouting services as the nation’s top shooting guard his senior year while garnering McDonald’s All-American honors. Newman comes in off a game-high 24-points, including 12 of the Jayhawks’ final 14 points, to help rally Kansas to a 70-67 home win over Baylor on Saturday. Senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (16.1), who is shooting 47.4 percent from 3-point range, 7-foot sophomore center Udoka Azubuike (14.5) and junior guard Lagerald Vick (14.1) also are averaging in double figures for the Jayhawks.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA (14-4, 4-3): Young surpassed the 500 career point mark in just his 17th game, the quickest to score 500 points in Oklahoma history and the fastest in Division I history in at least 20 years. But as Self pointed out, he’s hardly one dimensional despite coming in off a game he fired up 39 shots, including 8-of-20 3-pointers — both Big 12 records for attempts — as evidenced by his NCAA-leading assists average and the fact he also tied the NCAA record for assists in a game with 22 against Northwestern State on Dec. 10. Junior guard Christian James (11.9) and freshman forward Brady Manek (11.1) also are averaging in double digits for the Sooners, who rank second nationally in scoring (91.6).
1. Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in 3-pointers made per game (11.1) while Kansas is second (10.6).
2. Azubuike leads the NCAA in field-goal percentage at 77.3 percent and is 28-for-33 (84.8 percent) over his last five games.
3. The Sooners are 11-1 at home under Lon Kruger when both teams playing are ranked with the lone loss coming to Kansas, 76-72, on Feb. 13, 2016.