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Cowboy Gameday: Kansas Jayhawks 2.0

Oklahoma State welcomes the 8th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks into Stillwater for a pivotal Big 12 showdown.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
#8 Kansas Jayhawks (19-3, 8-1) at Oklahoma State Cowboys (15-7, 5-5)

Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, OK.

When: 1:00 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7

TV: ESPN/WatchESPN

Radio: Cowboy Radio Network/TuneIn Radio

Behind Enemy Lines: Rock Chalk Talk

Projected Starting Lineups:

Cowboys Jayhawks
G: Anthony Hickey G: Frank Mason III
G: Phil Forte G: Wayne Selden Jr
G: Jeff Newberry G: Kelly Oubre Jr.
F: Le`Bryan Nash F: Jamari Traylor
F: Michael Cobbins F: Perry Ellis

JAYHAWKS - COWBOYS PREVIEW:

STILLWATER, Okla., February 7, 2015 -- The Oklahoma State Cowboys (15-7)  welcome the Kansas Jayhawks (19-3) into Stillwater for a pivotal Big 12 showdown on Saturday afternoon. The Cowboys are coming off a heart-stopping overtime win against the Texas Longhorns, and will look to build off of that momentum as they face the current leaders of the Big 12.

The last time these two teams met was back on January 13th, with the Jayhawks winning 67-57. That game saw nearly 50 fouls and over 70 free throws.

Kansas is looking to build off of Monday's 13-point win against Iowa State. The Jayhawks have seen increased quality of play from players like Kelly Oubre Jr., and Wayne Selden over the last few games. Oubre had 16 points against Iowa State on Monday.

OSU has two of the Big 12's leading scorers in Phil Forte and Le'Bryan Nash. Both average just over 17 points per game. Much like Kansas, Oklahoma State has also seen high quality play out of role players like Jeff Newberry and Anthony Hickey. Hickey is coming off of what was arguably his best performance against Texas with 15 points and 4 steals. Le'Bryan Nash led all scorers in that game with 17.

Kansas does not pose the deadly threat that they usually do on the glass, but they still rebound very well. The Jayhawks rank 19th in rebounds per game. Perry Ellis has been arguably KU's best player this season. He has the athletic ability to run the ball up the floor, step out and shoot the 3, and rebound with the big bodies inside. Ellis is KU's key to success, as he averages 13 points and 7 rebounds, both of which are team highs.


Keys To The Game:

1. Effective minutes from role players:

Effective minutes out of players like Jeff Newberry, Tavarius Shine, and Anthony Hickey are going to be the key to many games this season for the Cowboys. Forte and Nash are going to get theirs, but after that, it becomes a grey area. Role players have stepped up lately, and they will need to do that again if they want to pull off the upset on Saturday.

2. Minimize Kansas' transition opportunities:

One thing that I have noticed from watching KU this season is that they are particularly effective in the transition offense. Brannen Greene is a deadeye shooter, especially when he is in a catch and shoot opportunity. OSU can not allow him to beat the defense on the fast break, or he can make you pay. The same goes for players like Kelly Oubre Jr., and Wayne Selden. If KU's shooters can not find a rhythm, it may be a long day for the Jayhawks.


3. Be the more physical team:

The last matchup between these two teams was one of the more physical basketball games that the conference has seen this season with 50 fouls and over 70 free throws. The past few matchups has sparked a mini-rivalry between the Jayhawks and Cowboys, and physicality comes with rivalry. Oklahoma State hasn't been afraid of KU in the past, and they will need to be stronger and more aggressive than the Jayhawks to pull off the upset.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 68, Kansas 64

Oklahoma State has won 3 of the last 5 games against KU in Stillwater, and the last six meetings between the two squads have been barn burners. Over those 6 meetings, the total team scores add up to be KU 437, and OSU 429. This game will be no different. Expect a physical, tightly officiated matchup.