In the second match-up between The Kansas Jayhawks and The Oklahoma Sooners, the biggest question going in was will Trae Young and The Sooners get out of their current funk? They have lost five games in a row and lost eight of their last 10 games. If they do, it would have to come at a crucial time as a big win in Lawrence would be just what the doctor ordered. History isn’t on Oklahoma’s side though as they have lost their last 16 games in Allen Field house.
As the game started, Oklahoma got off to a nightmare of a start. They missed their first six shots and found themselves down 10-0 early. Kansas came out firing on all cylinders, as they jumped out to the early lead. Devonte Graham started hot, hitting his first three shots and really guarding Young closely. Speaking of Young, he had been really struggling coming into the game and it was obvious that he had hit the Freshman wall. I could see his frustration when I watched him play this past Saturday against Texas. After every miss, Young would drop his head in disgust and his body language was very negative. You have to give Young a lot of credit though, his shot has not been falling but he has continued to create for his teammates even though his play has dropped off considerably. As for Young’s teammates, he desperately needed someone else to help take the slack off of him and provide him with some added scoring punch while he navigates this slump.
Now for Kansas, they have been finding their peak at just the right moment as they have won three of their last four games and two in a row. Coming into the game, they were tied for first place in The Big 12 with Texas Tech. With another meeting upcoming, Kansas looks primed to win another Big 12 regular season title. In the first half against Oklahoma, they got great production from Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk as they combined to knock down five threes. They really lit up the Sooners in the first half shooting 53% from three and 59% from the field. Oklahoma was able to get the deficit down to 11 at the half but after the break, Kansas just took over and grew their lead to 30 plus to seal the game.
A bright spot for Oklahoma was that they got production from someone other than Young. Kameron Mcgusty led the Sooners with 20 points, while Jumani Mcneace added 18. The bad continued for Young though as he was held to 11 points with five turnovers. Not much went right for the Sooners. They look confused on defense as Kansas did whatever they wanted and knocked down three after three. They look like a totally different team from the first meeting and could possibly end up missing the NCAA tournament if they can not turn it around. Though far from his mind at this point, the National Player of the year award could slipping from Young as his production has suffered along with his team dropping from the Top 25 list. The door has been opened for others, like Freshmen big from Duke, Marvin Bagley, who has been nursing a knee injury and Villanova Point Guard, Jalen Brunson.
Notable Player News
The player of the game was Devonte Graham. He led the Jayhawks in scoring with 23 points and dished out seven assists. He locked down Young and controlled the game from the tip. The thing that amazes me the most is Graham’s motor. He never seems to get tired even though he’s initiating the offense for Kansas, while also guarding the opponent’s best perimeter player.
Another player that had a big game was the Freshman big, Silvio De Sousa. De Sousa had his best game as a Jayhawk, scoring 10 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in 13 minutes of action. Front court depth has been a huge weakness for Kansas and getting De Sousa for the Spring semester could be great if he gets up to speed. If De Sousa can provide them with productive minutes, I have no doubt that the Jayhawks will be a Final Four team. With Graham, Newman, and Mykhailiuk, Kansas is arguably the most talented team on the perimeter. Adding some balance inside will make them that much tougher to guard.
Oklahoma has three games left on their schedule. The remaining schedule has two home games (Kansas State and Iowa State) and one more on the road against Baylor. They need all three of these games in my opinion if they want to firmly solidify a spot in the NCAA tournament. No game on the remaining schedule will be easy as The Big 12 has been one of the toughest conferences to play in this season.
For Kansas, they control their fate. They also have three games left including their second game against Texas Tech on the road Saturday. Their other two games includes a home match-up with Texas who just beat Oklahoma on the road and a road game against Oklahoma State who has lost two in a row.