Oklahoma-Kansas Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 25, 2013
Kansas is third in the AP poll, and that's good enough for coach Bill Self. He's probably more concerned with extending the longest active winning streak in the nation. The Jayhawks go for a 17th consecutive victory and a 12th straight against Oklahoma at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. Kansas (17-1, 5-0 Big 12) has won 16 games in a row since a 67-64 loss to then-No. 21 Michigan State on Nov. 13. The winning streak has moved the Jayhawks up from 12th in the poll, and Self doesn't seem to care about gaining the top spot. "No, no, no," he said. "We were on the bus, on the plane the other night and you had young kids that said 'why couldn't we be number one?' And you had a fifth-year guy, Travis Releford say, 'hey guys, we're right where we need to be.' So I think that's fine to be where we're at. It would not disappoint me or thrill me either way to be really honest." Kansas, which won 18 in a row to start 2010-11, may end up there if the winning streak continues following Tuesday's gutsy 59-55 victory at No. 11 Kansas State. The Jayhawks are 42-7 all-time against Oklahoma (13-4, 4-1) at Allen Fieldhouse, winning the last 11 there after cruising to an 84-62 victory on Feb. 1. Overall, Kansas has won nine in a row versus the Sooners, holding them to 38.2 percent from the floor. The strong defensive play has been evident all season - the Jayhawks yield the lowest shooting percentage in the Big 12 at 34.8, but Oklahoma is hitting 45.4 from the floor in winning six of seven. The Sooners are also limiting opponents to 38.1 percent shooting over the past five games, and Self noted their improvement after they went 5-13 in conference play last season. "They're more athletic. They're deeper. They're young and they've got energy and they really, really guard," Self said. "They're very sound defensively." Oklahoma may have some motivation to end another long slide to a conference foe after beating Texas 73-67 on Monday, halting a six-game losing streak in that series. Romero Osby had a career-high 29 points, while adding eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks. The senior forward leads the Sooners with 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, but he's second in Big 12 play with an average of 19.2 points while shooting 57.9 percent. Osby had 19 points in the latest meeting with Kansas. "We've just got to come out and play as hard as we can possibly play, take care of the ball, rebound the ball and just get some things to go in our favor," Osby said. The Jayhawks may need a better performance from Ben McLemore, who had 11 points while going 4 of 7 from the field Tuesday. The freshman guard is right behind Osby, averaging 17.4 points in the league. He's done that while making 59.2 percent of his field goals - 11 of 19 from beyond the arc - so perhaps being more selfish would be more beneficial to Kansas. "Ben could be more aggressive driving the ball but we're splitting hairs here," Self said. "He's doing fine. I'd like for him to average 25 a game but that's not who he is. And so we can't expect that." Releford is averaging 12.9 points, but he totaled 40 in the two wins over Oklahoma last season.
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