The Big 12 Tournament is live and in full throttle. The Oklahoma State Cowboys defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 71-60 to put the Cowboys in a 2nd round battle against the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks.
In the regular season, Oklahoma State swept the Jayhawks, making them the first team to ever sweep Kansas under head coach, Bill Self.
In the last battle between Oklahoma State and the Jayhawks, the Cowboys throttled Kansas 82-64, giving Oklahoma State a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. The Cowboys are on the bubble and could use the Big 12 Tournament to secure their place in the NCAA Tournament.
For Kansas, they will likely be either a 1 or 2-seed after winning a 14th consecutive Big 12 Title and could resort to resting, rather than trying to win the Big 12 Tournament.
Oklahoma State will likely need to defeat the Jayhawks for a third consecutive time if they hope to participate in the madness of March. The last time Oklahoma State won the Big 12 Tournament was back in 2005.
The Jayhawks will also be without starting center, Udoka Azubuike as he injured his MCL in practice on Tuesday. Azubuike will not participate in the Big 12 Tournament at all and could be questionable for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
It is unsure of who will take over the starting position for Azubuike, but signs are indicating freshman big-man Silvio De Sousa will take the reign. De Sousa has flashed high potential and in the last game against Oklahoma State he dropped seven points in only 13 minutes of action.
However, Bill Self could go with experience and resort to Mitch Lightfoot, who has made huge strides this season. Lightfoot is not a stat-sheet filler, but he will get physical and do the little things a team needs to win a game.
Oklahoma State has everything to play for in this game, while Kansas is simply trying to secure a 1-seed.
Players to watch:
In his lone season at Oklahoma State, Smith has averaged 12.9 points but mightily stepped up his game when he faced against the Jayhawks in Stillwater. Smith dropped 25 points in a mere 29 minutes to lead his Cowboys to a victory.
During his time at Oklahoma State, Solomon has stepped up his game against the Jayhawks. Solomon can use his big-body to shred Kansas’ defense and get to the rim. Now that the Jayhawks are without Azubuike, Solomon should be able to get to the rim with absolute ease.
Devonte’ Graham just became the unanimous Big 12 Player of the Year to go along with a record-breaking 14th consecutive conference title. He has stepped up in big moments for Kansas and seemingly played every single minute during conference play. Graham, who has already won one Big 12 Tournament MVP, could continue making his case for National Player of the Year.
Silvio De Sousa
De Sousa has not been the biggest impact for Kansas, but lately he has made his time on the court count. Now with Azubuike out of the lineup, De Sousa could potentially show what he is truly capable of. De Sousa has an opportunity to stop Mitchell Solomon, something no Kansas player can seemingly do, while also over-powering the Cowboys defense.
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featured image courtesy of KUSports.com