GameNight: Oklahoma vs Kansas

February 23rd, 2009
Feb 23 2009 - 9:00pm

Preview & Prediction: By Blake Hofstad



#2 Oklahoma (11-1, 25-2) suffered its first Big XII loss as well as first loss of the new year at Texas on Saturday. Throughout most of that game, they were without perhaps the nation’s best player, Blake Griffin, and when #18 Kansas (11-1, 22-5) rolls into Norman, they may have to play without him for a full 40 minutes. Fortunately, the Sooners haven’t lost at home in over a full calendar year. Life without the younger Griffin won’t be easy, but there is hope. He is questionable for Monday night’s game. Kansas will gain a distinct advantage if Griffin doesn’t play. Cole Aldrich is one of the best big men in the Big XII, and he will be freed up to roam the interior. Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor can scoot into the lane more easily. Certainly Bill Self will breathe easier on the sidelines without the dominant Griffin in.


The Jayhawks are led by one of the best inside-outside tandems in the country. Sherron Collins patrols the perimeter, slicing into the low post, dishing to teammates and shooting the long ball. Cole Aldrich is often overlooked when discussing the nation’s best big men. He shoots a great percentage from the field, has a nice mid range jumper, can rebound well and is a premier shot blocker. Complementing the duo is a quartet of freshmen, led by two guard Tyshawn Taylor. He has developed into a good third option and an adept passer. The Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, are beasts on the boards, and despite playing the least amount of minutes of the freshmen, they still contribute a significant amount of points and rebounds per minute. Brady Morningstar leads the team in assist/turnover ratio. He is also an incredible three point shooter and scrappy defender. Coming into the season there was speculation as to whether Kansas would suffer a Florida-like season after losing all five of their starters from the national championship team. Much of the credit to Kansas being a contender can be given to the emergence of Collins and Aldrich and the strong performance of the freshman class. Tyrel Reed, another shooting guard is not a freshman, however contributes almost seven points a game as a starter. He is in the game strictly to shoot. Not a particularly versatile player, 99 of his 130 shots have been threes. After missing the first half of the season, Mario Little has turned into a good scoring option off the bench, as well as rebounder.


Without Blake Griffin at Texas, the Sooners still proved to be a tough team to beat. Willie Warren went off for 27 points and 6 assists and Tony Crocker chipped in 14. The freshman Warren is one of the frontrunners for Freshman of the Year. He pours in 15.4 a game, is second on the team in steals and can score from anywhere. Against Texas, he proved he can take over and be the guy for Oklahoma. Crocker is a jump shooter, but also contributes on the boards and on defense. If Blake Griffin is out, his older brother Taylor will have to be the lone true post player for Oklahoma. Not as tall or versatile down low as Blake, Taylor played well in close wins over Purdue, Davidson and USC. He needs to duplicate those performances against Kansas. Much maligned point guard Austin Johnson has a 3/1 assist/turnover ratio, can score pretty well and plays stellar defense. Likely starting in the place of Griffin if his concussion proves to be too bad to play will be Juan Patillo. Patillo has averaged 8.7 points a game when he plays more than two minutes, which has only been eight times this season. Expect Patillo to have a good game against Kansas. Cade Davis has taken 110 shots this year, 97 of which have been threes. Davis will have to play well for a shorthanded Sooners squad.


If Blake Griffin plays, Oklahoma will win. They do not lose at home, and that wouldn’t change if Griffin takes to the floor. However, without him, Oklahoma will have a game on their hands. Kansas is just the team to take advantage of the injured All-American, with Aldrich and the Morris twins commanding the low block.


Winner (with Griffin): Oklahoma Margin: 8-12 points

Winner (without Griffin): Kansas Margin: 2-6 points




Editor's Early Preview

*Made on 02/06. Full preview by the GameNight staff coming soon!


Kansas will be next year's Oklahoma, the team that dominates the rest of the pack, but for now Blake Griffin and crew will be too much to handle.

Early Prediction: Oklahoma