News, notes and quotes on No. 5 Kansas" matchup at Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Saturday at Gallagher Iba Arena at 8 p.m. as part of ESPN College GameDay while hoping the Jayhawks notch a victory and claim the Big 12 title outright.
After its 83-75 win over Oklahoma on Monday, KU is 22-6 and 13-2 in the Big 12.
SCOUTING OKLAHOMA STATE
After losing seven straight games, including a triple overtime contest to Iowa State on Feb. 3 and an overtime setback at Baylor on Feb. 17, OSU (18-10, 6-9 Big 12) has won two straight over Texas Tech (84-62) and at TCU (76-54) on Feb. 24. Star sophomore guard Marcus Smart played in those two games after serving a three-game suspension.
Smart, whose team is fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives, leads the Cowboys with 17.4 points per game while also pacing OSU with 116 assists and a league-leading 2.6 steals per game. He averages 5.6 rebounds per contest as well. Senior guard Markel Brown is next in scoring (16.8 ppg), followed by junior swingman LeBryan Nash (14.4 ppg), sophomore guard Phil Forte (13.3 ppg, team-best 82 threes), junior guard/forward Brian Williams (6.8 ppg) and sophomore forward Kamari Murphy (6.1 ppg, team-high 6.4 rpg and 35 blocks).
OSU averages 81.1 points and boasts a Big 12-leading +12.2 scoring margin. Oklahoma State also leads the league in steals at 7.4 per game and ranks second in turnover margin (+3.2). The Cowboys shoot 47.0 percent from the field, 36.9 percent from three-point range, and 71.7 percent at the free throw line, while holding foes to 40.4 percent shooting (No. 2 in Big 12) and 33.1 percent from beyond the arc.
The Cowboys average 36.3 rebounds per game while allowing 36.5.
Coach Travis Ford is 122-74 in his sixth season at OSU and 312-220 in his 17th season overall.
"LET'S TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS"
KU coach Bill Self said the Jayhawks did not celebrate Monday after beating OU in Allen Fieldhouse and clinching a share of the Big 12 title. The celebration would come with winning it outright, and KU's first chance to do that is Saturday in Stillwater.
"It's nice being able to go down there knowing that we've clinched a tie, but still, a tie doesn't really mean anything," Self said. "We've got to go finish the job and we've got some opportunities to do that. But why wait? Let's go ahead and take care of business and put ourselves in a favorable position with the (NCAA selection) committee moving forward into the tournament."
SELF ON OSU
"Oh, I think they're good," Self said. "When (Michael) Cobbins went down (the junior forward had a season-ending Achilles injury in late December) that was obviously a big blow. It would be the equivalent of one of our key players going down, so that was a loss. But they're capable of beating anybody, and they're certainly capable of beating anybody at home. ... I do think Oklahoma State is right at the top when talking about raw talent in our league."
Smart has elevated his game in his two contests back from suspension. Smart, who had 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals versus the Horned Frogs, has recorded 17 assists and 11 steals in his two games since returning.
"They're different (with him playing)," Self said. "I know that I was a guy that probably sang his praises as much as anybody since he's been at OSU because I got to know him through the recruiting process. He's good. He can impact the game and not score. He's one of the few guys out there that can control it. His defensive anticipation is probably as good as anybody that we'll ever play against, not just this year. He's a good player, and obviously, he and the OSU team have been through a lot here as of late. He's spinning it (suspension) into a positive; they seem to be playing very, very well, and he's played very well since he's been back, totally dominated the games."
FORTE A WEAPON, TOO.
Forte has been on a roll of late. He led OSU with 23 points against TCU, including 5-of-10 from downtown. It was his third straight outing with 20 points or more and the fourth in a row in double figures.
700 FOR SELF
The OSU showdown marks the 700th career game coached for Self. His 529 career wins ranks eighth on the NCAA Division I all-time win list for coaches in their first 700 games. Self is third among active coaches who have coached 700 games. Former KU coach and current UNC head man Roy Williams is No. 1 among active coaches with 566 victories, while Kentucky coach John Calipari is second with 538 wins.
ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY IN STILLWATER
The KU-OSU game is part of ESPN College GameDay. This will be the ninth time KU has been a part of College GameDay in the 10-year history of the event. KU and Lawrence has hosted the event five times.
Self is looking forward to the challenge of playing OSU with a wild crowd in Gallagher Iba Arena for GameDay.
"I think that kind of hype is good for us," Self said. "I think it'll cause us to get amped up. I also think we've played under duress a lot this year because our schedule has been hard, but there are still certain moments when you need to play well -- when the stage is pretty bright -- and I think (GameDay) that'll give us an opportunity to do that with a bunch of young kids."