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Monday, January 9, 2017

Gameday Breakdown: No. 2 KU basketball at Oklahoma

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) swoops around Texas Tech forward Matthew Temple (34) to pass during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) swoops around Texas Tech forward Matthew Temple (34) to pass during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks (14-1 overall, 3-0 Big 12) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (6-8 overall, 0-3 Big 12)

Time: 8 p.m. | Location: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Oklahoma

TV: ESPN2 | Radio: IMG Jayhawk Radio Network

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @TomKeeganLJW @bentonasmith & @nightengalejr

Keys for Kansas

1. Dominate at point guard

With OU point guard and leading scorer Jordan Woodard expected to be sidelined for a fifth consecutive game, the Jayhawks are in great position to dominate at point guard, which would not be anywhere near a given if Woodard were able to play.

KU point guard Frank Mason leads the Big 12 in scoring at 19.9 points per game and has led the Jayhawks in offensive attack during 12 of KU’s 15 games this season. With Woodard out and OU relying on junior college transfer Darrion Strong-Moore to run the show, Mason should be able to continue his scoring streak while also creating problems for Strong-Moore in ways that only a point guard playing his fourth Big 12 schedule can.

Mason also leads the Big 12 in three-point percentage (.523) and minutes played (34.8 per game), is second in assists per game (5.7) and resides in the Top 10 in field goal percentage (.530), free throw percentage (.753), steals (19) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4-1).

In the event that Mason finds foul trouble or for some reason struggles, Strong-Moore would be “rewarded” with the opportunity to do battle with the similarly experienced and productive Devonte’ Graham.

2. Match OU’s energy

It’s been a rough season for Lon Kruger’s young Oklahoma squad, but the veterans on that team and their head coach are a proud group and know it’s a long season.

Getting a shot at the No. 2 team in the country, in their own building, could be just the thing the Sooners need to get their season back on track and Kansas coach Bill Self on Monday cautioned against taking OU lightly especially in the energy department.

“There’s so much pride there,” Self said of OU. “With all the success they’ve had in recent memory and, of course, going to the Final Four last year, those kids aren’t happy right now, just like ours wouldn’t be (and) they’re close to having a breakout game.”

3. Bother Christian James

He’s no Buddy Hield and nobody expected him to be, but there were a great deal of hopes and expectations pinned to the sophomore from Houston entering the season.

Although he has not disappointed — particularly from three-point range, where he enters shooting .481 for the season — James has struggled at times to be the go-to scorer the Sooners need with Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler now gone and Woodard out with injury.

In the Sooners’ first three Big 12 games alone, James has shot just 6-of-19 from the floor for 17 combined points.

The 6-foot-4, 218-pound sophomore guard is averaging 10.9 points per game overall but could find difficulty snapping out of his recent slump with KU freshman Josh Jackson stalking him in this one.

Mega Matchup

Landen Lucas vs. Khadeem Lattin

Having found his groove in the three main aspects he stands to have the greatest chance to impact — offense, defense and rebounding — KU senior Landen Lucas will face a new challenge in the form of an old friend in Norman, Oklahoma. OU center Khadeem Lattin, a 6-foot-9, 212-pound junior forward who has filled an important role during each of the past two seasons for the Sooners, will pit athleticism, energy and a new-look offensive game against Lucas’ solid and steady approach when the two do battle in the paint Tuesday night. “To me, he’s still a defensive presence, first and foremost,,” said KU coach Bill Self of Lattin, who enters the game averaging 8.4 points and 5.6 rebounds, with 27 blocks. “But I think he’s more offensive-minded and looking to face up and shoot the ball more.”

Jayhawk Pulse

After a solid defensive effort at home against Texas Tech put to rest — at least temporarily — any major concerns about the Jayhawks’ ability to guard, Kansas heads to Oklahoma looking to pick up a second straight strong defensive performance.

Playing the struggling Sooners, who have lacked offensive punch and identity at times this season, seems like an ideal situation for the Jayhawks, who moved up to No. 2 in both polls on Monday and will be looking for a 15th consecutive victory.

In addition to gunning to keep their winning streak alive, the Jayhawks are staring at another potential milestone, as head coach Bill Self currently sits on 399 victories in his 14 seasons as the leader of the Jayhawks.

Whenever KU records its next victory, it will make Self just the third coach in KU history to reach the 400-win mark.

Probable Starters

No. 2 Kansas

G – Frank Mason III, 5-11, 190, Sr.

G – Devonte’ Graham, 6-2, 185, Jr.

G – Josh Jackson, 6-8, 207, Fr.

G – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, 6-8, 205, Jr.

F – Landen Lucas, 6-10, 250, Sr.

Oklahoma

G – Darrion Strong-Moore, 6-1, 180, Jr.

G – Rashard Odomes, 6-6, 212, Soph.

G – Christian James, 6-4, 218, Soph.

F – Kristian Doolittle, 6-7, 236, Fr.

F – Khadeem Lattin, 6-9, 212, Jr.

Comments

Chris Shaw 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Those stats are insane for Mason. Field Goal percentage was mentioned twice (52.3 percent and 53 percent). I think you met to say that Mason leads the Big 12 in 3 point FG percentage st 52.3.

Good stuff by Mason! What's crazy is that he's shooting 61 percent from the 3 point line Big 12 games (8-13).

Matt Tait 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Good catch. Too many numbers! It's fixed now. Thanks!!!

Chris Shaw 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Mason also has 1431 career points. He sits just two points behind the great Wilt Chamberlain (1433 career points) for 24th on the All-Time Scoring list.

Here is a mind blowing fact. Wilt Chamberlain has 1433 career points in just 48 career Jayhawk games (29.3 ppg). Not to take anything away from Mason but tonight will be Mason's 125th career game. Can we please have 4 more years of Frank Mason?

Jay Scott 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Those games had no shot clock. Imagine Wilt's numbers if teams had twice the possessions.

Jay Scott 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Lattin is a good matchup for Bragg. This could be a chance for him to find his mojo.

Mike Greer 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Lattin has put on about 22 lbs since his freshman year and has improved his free throw shooting from just above 50% to just under 80%, so he's probably going to be tougher to neutralize this season than in the past. However, Lucas and Bragg still have a size advantage of 20 to 30 lbs. Bragg should be more comfortable with this matchup than some of the others he's had.

Robert Brock 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Latin is a good matchup for Landen Lucas. Lucas will have to be extra careful to avoid getting into foul trouble. Will we see some zone?

Jay Scott 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Robert, you make no sense. If Lucas can handle "Latin", why will he need to be extra careful? With OU having less front court depth than KU, why a zone? If you hate Kansas, and love zone D, you must be a 'Cuse troll, right?

Jonathan Allison 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree, Lattin is strong and athletic. Lucas is bigger.

Lucas will have to try to match Lattin's energy. Could be a recipe for foul trouble. Lattin could have a field day if guarded half of the game by Bragg and/or Lightfoot.

We could see Jackson and Mykhailiuk switch onto Lattin at times to attempt to offset the athleticism.

Harlan Hobbs 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Good observation about Wilt's statistics. I still maintain that he was the greatest individual basketball player of all time.

Tony Bandle 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Harlan, I agree. No one in the history of basketball decided what stats to lead the league in before the season started [scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, etc.] except for Wilt. The amazing thing is then he did it ....time after time!!!

One on one, no one, not Jordan, Russell, James, Magic, etc. would have beaten Wilt in his prime. Maybe Magic would have come closest but even he would have failed.

John Randall 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Wilt and The Big O were definitely the class players of their era, while the Celtics were definitely the best and most complete team.

For individuals, I say Wilt was more dominant and Oscar Robinson more impressive: averaging triple-doubles over several seasons will never be equalled.

Marius Rowlanski 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Can't forget Bill Russell, Jerry West, Walt Frazier, Bob Cousy, Earl Monroe etc.

Every era had its stars. I think trying to compare players from different eras to be an extremely difficult task.

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