MEN'S BB: Sooners Travel to No. 3 Kansas

Oklahoma faces one of the hottest teams in the country Monday night when it travels to No. 3 Kansas as part of ESPN's Big Monday. The Sooners are coming off a last-second loss to Kansas State while the Jayhawks are unbeaten and off to their best start in over 10 years.

There's no time for Oklahoma to fret over a last-second loss to Kansas State in its Big XII opener last Saturday.

That's because the best team in Kansas still awaits the Sooners – tonight.

Oklahoma (12-4, 0-1) plays its first conference road game at 8 p.m. when it takes on No. 3 Kansas (16-0, 1-0) at Allen Fieldhouse.

"We have to be ready to play because we're playing against arguably the best team in the country right now," Sooner coach Jeff Capel said after his team's disappointing loss to K-State. "We have to move past this."

But that won't be easy considering the quick turnaround, the travel and Oklahoma's newfound lack of depth with the departure of Keith Clark due to academic reasons.

Five Sooners played at least 35 minutes in the 84-82 loss to Kansas State. Only seven saw time on the court.

Capel was asked if a quick turnaround was "a good thing" in forcing his team to quickly get over the disappointing loss. "I don't know how good it is right now because you look at the minutes our guys played and we're playing against one of the most athletic and fastest teams (in Kansas)," Capel said. "But it is what it is. You can't do anything about it."

As is annually the case, Kansas isn't just fast and athletic, but deep and balanced.

The Jayhawks average 83.7 points, but no player averages more than 13.4. Seven score at least seven points a game and eight Jayhawks average 16 or more minutes a game.

Oklahoma City product Darnell Jackson is one of Kansas' most consistent producers. The 6-foot-8 senior forward is second on the team with 12.7 points and first with 6.9 rebounds.

Forward Darrell Arthur, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, pours in a team-high 13.4 points and adds 5.7 rebounds.

Guards Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush, two of the best in the conference, add 12.1 and 11.4 points a game, respectively. Chalmers adds 4.9 assists and 2.9 steals an outing. Rush gets nearly two steals a game.

Of course, the Jayhawks can throw any number of talented players on the court against the Sooners, who are attempting to avoid an 0-2 start in conference play.

Kansas, meanwhile, is attempting to continue one of the most impressive runs in the country.

The Jayhawks are off to their best start since 1996-97 and has won 24 straight regular season games. The Jayhawks have won 30 of their last 31 overall, with the only loss coming to UCLA in last year's NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.

How good are the Jayhawks? They lead the Big XII in scoring, scoring margin (+25.1), field goal percentage (.522), assists (19.9 apg), steals (11.1 spg), blocked shots (6.6 bpg), turnover margin (+6.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5).

No matter how you look at it, it will be a tall task for the Sooners in front of a packed Allen Fieldhouse and an ESPN national audience for "Big Monday."

"We'll be excited to play. We'll be ready to play," Capel said. "We'll be prepared and we'll go up there and give it everything we have."


• Kansas is the only Big 12 school that owns a winning record against Oklahoma. The Jayhawks are 132-64 against OU and boast a 67-16 mark in Lawrence.

• OU had won four of seven against Kansas before losing twice to the Jayhawks last year.

• OU is 4-11 against Kansas since the formation of the Big 12 Conference. The Sooners have lost eight straight in Lawrence (their last win was an 80-77 victory in the 1992-93 season).

• OU is shooting .482 from the field on the year. The last Oklahoma team to shoot a higher percentage for an entire season was the 1988-89 squad (.491).

• OU's three leading scorers (Blake Griffin, Longar Longar and Tony Crocker) are shooting a combined .552 from the field on the year.

• The Sooners are holding opponents to a .390 season field goal mark. The last time opponents shot worse for an entire campaign was 47 years ago (.377 in 1960-61).

• Over Oklahoma's last six games, Blake Griffin (.641) and Longar Longar (.620) are shooting a combined .632 from the field. They are averaging a combined 34.2 points per game over the stretch.

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