OSU-KU: Showdown In Stillwater

Bill Self has been inside Gallagher-Iba Arena four times as a head coach, and has walked out a winner just once. The former Oklahoma State player is 1-1 as the Kansas head coach inside GIA, and compiled an 0-2 record while leading Oral Roberts University. Self, and his fourth-ranked Jayhawks, return to Gallagher-Iba Arena for the first time in more than two years Saturday.

Tip-off for the nationally televised game (CBS) between Oklahoma State, 13-12 overall and winners of three of its last four games, and Kansas (24-2) is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Self, who played at OSU from 1981-85 and is now in his fifth year as head coach of the Jayhawks, is 4-2 as KU's head coach against his alma mater. In recent weeks, as Oklahoma State has struggled to get above the .500 mark, Self has had to dispel rumors that he may one day replace Sean Sutton as head coach of the Cowboys.

"The only thing that I know about any of that is that people have requested to interview me about it and I haven't. (I) don't get on any blogs, don't care what anybody says," Self said during his weekly press conference. "I really think it is an injustice to their present staff because they deserve every opportunity to do as well as they can possibly do.

"I don't think anybody in the know or anybody that I personally know (even thinks that). They know me, and they know what our situation is here and so that hasn't been anything that has even remotely come up. I've had a couple of newspaper writers call up and want to interview me about it, but it's not something that is even worth talking about. It is a dead issue. It is not going to happen. To be honest with you, it is really a disservice to everybody involved even to call attention to it."

Self's only victory inside Gallagher-Iba Arena as a head coach came two years ago – right after Sean Sutton was named interim head coach – when the Jayhawks won 64-49 on Feb. 13, 2006. His other head coaching experiences inside the historic building have not been as kind: the Cowboys defeated his Jayhawks 80-60 on Feb. 9, 2004, and Self suffered a pair of defeats while head coach at Oral Roberts (114-85 on March 4, 1993, and 73-56 on Jan. 10, 1996).

Self's overall record against his alma mater (during head coaching stops at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas) is 5-5.

If Oklahoma State is going to send Self home with a losing record against his alma mater, the key will be slowing down the Jayhawks' high-powered offense. KU leads the nation in scoring margin (plus 21.2 points), while leading the Big 12 Conference in scoring offense (82.4), field goal percentage (50.8), field goal percentage defense (38.4), rebound defense (31.8), assists (19.04), blocked shots (6.5), steals (9.35), and is tied for first in turnover margin (plus 3.96) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.49).

The Jayhawks used a balanced scoring attack – they've had four different leading scorers in the last five games (Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, Brandon Rush and Darnell Jackson). Arthur leads the Jayhawks with 13.8 points per game, but is followed closely by Jackson (12.4), Chalmers (12.2) and Rush (12.1). Also, Sherron Collins (9.2), Sasha Kaun (7.5) and Russell Robinson (7.2) are scoring threats.

Oklahoma State will face a decided size disadvantage against a KU frontline of the 6-foot-11 Kaun, 6-6-9 Arthur, 6-8 Jackson with Cole Aldrich (6-11) and Matt Kleinmann (6-10) coming off the bench. The Cowboy only have 6-11 Ibrahima Thomas, 6-8 Martavius Adams and 6-9 Marcus Dove.

In addition, Sean Sutton knows that Cowboy point guard Byron Eaton must stay out of foul trouble, and continue playing like he has the last few weeks. The 5-11 point guard was named Big 12 Conference Player of the Week after leading the Cowboys to back-to-back wins over Texas A&M and Baylor.

If Eaton can play like he did in those two victories – in which he averaged 21 points and 6.5 assists while shooting 61.1 percent from the field (11 of 18) – than the Cowboys should have a chance against the favored Jayhawks.

"I think D.J. Augustine (Texas) is the best guy running a team in the country. I think he's terrific," Self said.. "(Byron) Eaton is a little bit different in that he's a scoring point guard. D.J. can score, too, but Byron looks for a shot. He tries to get his shot. I've always thought (Bryon) was very talented. I watched him a lot in high school and it appears to me that he is playing to his talent level, probably the best he has since he's been at Oklahoma State. He can score, he makes you guard him and he's been really good off of ball screens as of late.

"There are a lot of things that concern me (about Oklahoma State). (Marcus) Dove is a perimeter four-man. You've got James Anderson who you can't allow to get on a role because he can really, really score. They can shoot the basketball. They are a scary shooting team even though the numbers aren't as good throughout the season, but they are a scary shooting team.

"Personally, I know all of them can stretch the defense. They are very athletic. They are one of the best teams I've seen in recent memory that are great at altering or blocking shots in transition defense. You don't talk about that much, but they have guys that can just run with you, jump up and make game changing plays."

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