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2 p.m. Thursday at the Sprint Center
ESPN2; KCSP (610 AM)
•ABOUT KANSAS (23-8):
Kansas has won six of the last eight Big 12 Tournaments, but the Jayhawks probably haven’t faced a tougher quarterfinal matchup than the one they’ll face on Thursday. According to the efficiency ratings at KenPom.com, Oklahoma State is the 18th-best team in the country, 10 slots behind Kansas. In their last game, the Jayhawks fell behind 25 points on the road at West Virginia before losing 92-86. Andrew Wiggins finished with 41 points, but junior guard Naadir Tharpe continued his erratic ways, finishing with zero points on three shots. With freshman center Joel Embiid out for the Big 12 Tournament, Kansas will need more offense from Tharpe. But Kansas will also need more consistent perimeter defense, especially against Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart.
•ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (21-11):
The Cowboys have righted the ship after a seven-game skid during the Big 12 season. One reason: Senior guard Markel Brown, who continued his torrid offensive season with 20 points (and one impressive reverse jam) in Wednesday’s blowout victory against Texas Tech. After Kansas’ loss to Oklahoma State on March 1, KU coach Bill Self called Brown a “Jayhawk killer.” Oklahoma State is the only school to notch victories over KU during the last two seasons. Now the Cowboys can make it three of five against Kansas on Thursday. Oklahoma State sophomore Phil Forte, who hit four threes on Wednesday, was recruited by Kansas. The Cowboys also get to see KU without a healthy Embiid, which could open up driving lanes for sophomore Marcus Smart. “I think in four or five years he might be one of the best players in the world,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said of Embiid. “But they have other options.”
Kansas has won nine straight games at the Sprint Center. The Jayhawks can make it 10 straight, but they’ll need a strong defensive effort in front of a pro-KU crowd.