With the Oklahoma Sooners sitting at 18-11 and dangerously close to the NCAA Tournament bubble. tonight’s game against the Kansas Jayhawks provides a major opportunity for this team to punch a ticket to the Big Dance.
There's no question about it. #YouBelongHere! Help cheer @OU_MBBall to victory against the Jayhawks tonight at the LNC. Student tickets are free!— Univ. of Oklahoma (@UofOklahoma) March 5, 2019
sights & sounds from last year's game in Norman.
Oklahoma (18-11, 6-10 Big 12) vs. Kansas (22-7, 11-5 Big 12): 8 p.m. CT at Lloyd Noble Center (Norman, Okla.)
Commentary: Jon Sciambi and Fran Fraschilla
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (107.7 FM ‘The Franchise’ in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa; Tune In Radio App) with Toby Rowland and Kevin Henry announcing
Line: Kansas -1 (as of 4 p.m. CT)
- Oklahoma isn’t the only team with a ton on the line tonight. Following last night’s wins by Kansas State and Texas Tech, Kansas needs a win to keep itself in the hunt for a share of its 15th consecutive Big 12 regular season title. The Jayhawks would then need to beat Baylor and hope for Kansas State and Texas Tech to lose to OU and Iowa State, respectively. Tech could very well lose in Ames, but Lon Kruger is seemingly not allowed to win in Manhattan. In short, KU’s chances would still be pretty slim after a win in Norman.
Kansas now needs to win at Oklahoma, needs to beat Baylor, needs Kansas State to lose at home to Oklahoma AND needs Texas Tech to lose at Iowa State.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 5, 2019
Otherwise, The Streak is over.
- Kansas, of course, is without a good chunk of its nucleus at this point in the season, as Udoka Azubuike (season-ending hand surgery) and Lagerald Vick (personal) have been out for some time. In the meantime, junior Dedric Lawson has continued to hold his own as the leading scorer in the conference at 19 PPG. Additionally, freshman guards Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes have had their moments, but the later hasn’t quite lived to to his billing in 2018-19. One bright spot as has been fellow freshman guard Ochai Agbaji, who was forced to come out of redshirt and has contributed 26.3 minutes and 9.5 points per contest.
Bill Self on Lagerald Vick's status for the rest of the season: "We know we won't have him this weekend and it'd be hard to see him helping us early next week. It's still kind of an open ended question."— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 1, 2019
- Kansas is the only Big 12 team with a winning all-time record against the Sooners with an advantage of 148-67. The Jayhawks are 50-43 in Norman, though OU has won three of the last six home meetings.
- Bracketology - At 18-11 overall and 6-10 in Big 12 play, the Sooners are currently — in spite of their conference struggles — considered to be inside of the cut line for the NCAA Tournament. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has OU as a 10-seed as of Tuesday, while CBS’ Jerry Palm has the Sooners in the same spot.
- Tonight’s implications - A win tonight would all but ensure a spot in the field. A loss, on the other hand, would still leave Oklahoma in a decent position to make the field. As weak as the bubble is looking, a 6-12 Big 12 record (assuming OU loses in Manhattan) can be overcome as long as the Sooners can grab a Wednesday win in Kansas City against either Oklahoma State or West Virginia. WVU is in bad shape and would likely provide little true resistance, but shorthanded OSU is another matter. The Cowboys have played people tough all year in spite of their limitations and would love nothing more than to rain on OU’s postseason parade.
- A chance to go out with a bang - The last three season have been a difficult experience for this program, and few are more aware of that than Christian James, Rashard Odomes and Jamuni McNeace. Most of the onus has fallen on Lon Kruger and his staff for their failure to adequately develop some of the recent talent, but these three haven’t exactly been sheltered from blame. After making the Final Four as freshmen, they bore the burden of following in Buddy Hield & Co.’s footsteps and failed to reach the NCAA Tournament. Last year, they heard all of the talk about Trae Young’s supporting cast. Things started off great in 2018-19, but McNeace’s injury issues and the team’s five-game losing streak quickly put a damper on things. The negative energy came to the surface in each instance, but tonight these guys have a chance to make one last positive memory in the Lloyd Noble Center. The season wouldn’t be over, but a win tonight would be about as meaningful as any they’ve experienced since the early stages of their careers. Additionally, it would serve as a great moment for Aaron Calixte and Miles Reynolds, who came to Oklahoma as graduate transfers in hopes of finally getting a taste of team success.