Lawrence, KS (Sports Network) - The second-ranked Kansas Jayhawks put a few
lengthy win streaks on the line on Saturday, as they welcome the Oklahoma
State Cowboys to the Allen Fieldhouse for a Big 12 affair.
Bill Self's Jayhawks are playing as well as any team in the nation, boasting
of an national-best 18-game win streak. Kansas is 19-1 on the season, with the
lone loss coming back on Nov. 13 against Michigan State (67-64). The team also
boasts of the nation's second-longest homecourt win streak, now sitting at 33
games. KU was last in action on Monday, edging out West Virginia on the road,
61-56. With the win over the Mountaineers, Kansas is a perfect 7-0 in Big 12
play, with its sights set on a ninth straight league crown.
Travis Ford's Cowboys have had a solid campaign to this point, as Oklahoma
State comes in with a 14-5 overall record. Things have been a bit rougher
since Big 12 play began though, with OSU sporting a 4-3 record in league play.
Still, the team has a bit of momentum with wins in two straight and three of
its last four games. The Cowboys outlasted an offensively-talented Iowa State
squad on Wednesday in a 78-76 shootout.
Kansas holds a huge 106-53 advantage in the series with Oklahoma State and has
won four straight and five of the last six meetings overall. The Jayhawks are
58-10 against the Cowboys in Lawrence and have won each of the last 16
meetings at the Allen Fieldhouse dating back to 1990.
Marcus Smart capped off a strong offensive performance with a layup with just
over three seconds remaining, lifting the Cowboys to a narrow win over the
Cyclones this week. Smart led five Cowboys in double figures with a game-high
21 points. Le'Bryan Nash had a big game as well with 18 points, followed by
Phil Forte (17 pts), Markel Brown (12 pts) and Michael Cobbins (10 pts).
Still, it was a nip-and-tuck game that featured nine ties and 15 lead changes.
The offensive output was a little more than the team is used to this season,
with OSU averaging 71.1 ppg. The defensive effort against ISU however, was far
from the team's season average, as Oklahoma State has been much more stingy,
limiting foes to just 59.2 ppg, on .386 shooting. Brown leads four Cowboys
with double-digit scoring averages at 14.8 ppg. Smart is a scorer (13.6 ppg),
deft distributor (4.6 apg) and superb defender (2.8 spg). Nash (13.5 ppg) and
Forte (11.9 ppg) round out the top scoring threats on the roster.
The Jayhawks have benefited from a veteran core that features four seniors in
the starting lineup to go along with a freshman sensation in Ben McLemore. The
6-foot-5 youngster leads the team in scoring at 16.1 ppg, while leading the
Big 12 in free-throw percentage (.867) and ranking second in the league in 3-
point accuracy (.451). Center Jeff Withey has been a perfect complement with
his ability to dominate down low, with averages of 13.1 points, 8.3 rebounds
and 4.3 blocks per game. The rest of the starting five is comprised of Travis
Releford (12.9 ppg), Elijah Johnson (9.4 ppg, 4.8 apg) and Kevin Young (7.3
ppg, 6.7 rpg).
Despite shooting an impressive .541 from the floor against West Virginia, the
Jayhawks needed just about every basket to escape Morgantown with a victory.
Withey and Releford led the way with 15 points apiece. McLemore didn't have
his best game, shooting just 3-of-7 from the floor, but a 6-of-8 effort from
the charity stripe left him with 13 points in the win.
The Sports Network