1 Kansas Jayhawks (12-1) v. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (12-0)
Allen Fieldhouse, 9:00 ET, ESPN
“Case of the Mondays?”
What a way to kick off the first Big Monday of the season! A meeting between #1 v. #2, Kansas v. Oklahoma will be highlighted by fun matchups from across the board:
Buddy Hield v. Wayne Selden, 10th-year senior Perry Ellis v. Ryan Spangler, and Frank Mason v. Isaiah Cousins/Jordan Woodard all have tremendous intrigue.
After knocking off Iowa State over the weekend, Hield and the Sooners are riding high, with confidence, against their conference rival. They key difference factor of this year’s group is a more consistent attack to complement, Hield’s scoring prowess.
On any given night, Spangler, Cousins or Woodard can beat you, something that couldn’t be said with certainty a year ago.
In this one, it’ll likely come down to guard play as Wayne Selden Jr. is playing at a different level this season – he’s finally starting to use his strong frame to attack the rim and make plays, while improving his consistency from deep (39%). He should draw the defensive assignment on Hield (4th in the nation at 24.7 ppg), so there’s a matchup worth watching.
Buddy makes a living from the outside but has shown ability as a playmaker and “tone-setter.” Look for Woodard (can ignite just as quickly as Hield; season-high 28 points v. Harvard on Christmas) and Cousins to provide their usual punch, though Mason and Devonte’ Graham will try to get out and run in transition.
The Sooners haven’t won in Kansas since 1993 but tonight, it’ll change. In the national spotlight, Buddy Hield will cash trey balls and provide clutch scoring in the waning moments.
Buddy Hield: Projected Top DOG
G Brannen Greene (KU) & F Khadeem Lattin (OU)
Pegged as a potential first-rounder a couple of season ago, Greene is continuing to provide while doing damage with his long-range stroke (42% from downtown). Hitting threes off penetration and Ellis’s inside play could end up making the difference.
Lattin has earned a place in the starting five by staying active on the glass and as a help-side defender. He’s not the strongest player around but Lattin will make an impact if he maintains verticality in the paint v. the likes of Ellis and Hunter Mickelson.