Two teams battling with Kansas State for the top spot in the Big 12 are set to square off tonight for their second meeting, as No. 9 Kansas heads to Stillwater to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Both the Cowboys and the Jayhawks are a half game behind the Wildcats for that top spot in the conference and one team will be tied with Kansas State and the end of the night and one team will be a game behind both teams.
This is obviously a huge game for the Big 12 standings, but it is also a huge game for both of these teams, as they are looking to get the best possible seed in the NCAA tournament.
In the first meeting between these two teams, Oklahoma State came in un-ranked and a huge underdog, especially since Kansas was home and red-hot at the time. The Cowboys shocked the college basketball nation by upsetting Kansas and ending their lengthy home winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse.
Tonight, Kansas is going to want a little bit of revenge. They know this Oklahoma State team can play, especially Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, who had monster games in the first meeting.
Shutting down those two guys will be key for the Jayhawks, and they will need to play the same smothering defense they played against Texas when they held them to 20% shooting. Defense will be the key for Kansas, even though their offense has struggled at times.
Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey are going to be major factors in tonight’s meeting on both offense and defense. McLemore is the best freshman in the nation and needs to be knocking down shots, but also use his athleticism to get steals and blocked shots on the other end.
Withey needs to control the boards and limit the amount of easy shots the Cowboys get in the paint. He is a human eraser, and not many people want to up for a contested shot with Withey. He needs to also use his size to get offensive rebounds and easy baskets to help out the Jayhawks offensive production.
McLemore and Withey will be the key players for Kansas, and Smart and Brown are the key for Oklahoma State in this prime-time Big 12 showdown.