On Saturday, the Sooner basketball team will try do something they haven’t done since 1993. Win a game in Phog Allen Fieldhouse. It’s been nearly 20 years since the Sooners have returned from Lawrence with a win under their belt. But like most times when they travel to take on the Jayhawks, they’ll be big underdogs.
Kansas enters the game with a No. 3 national ranking and a 17-1 record, as well as a perfect 5-0 record in conference play. The Sooners on the other hand, are currently 13-4 overall and 4-1 in conference. They’ve won six of their last seven games.
Is there a chance the Sooners strike an upset in Lawrence? Sure, but the odds are strongly against them.
Not only are the Jayhawks one of the best teams in the nation, but they’ve won 32 consecutive, and 101 of their last 102 at Allen Fieldhouse. Needless to say, that’s pretty impressive.
Kansas is one of the true, “Blue Bloods” of college basketball. On the hardwood, they have it all, from the wins, to the tradition, and of course, the championships. When the Sooners enter Allen Fieldhouse, all of it will be on display. For newcomers making their first trip, it can be overly intimidating.
"It's a big challenge,” said head coach Lon Kruger. “They are a terrific ball club, top three or four team in the country, and deserving of that. Allen Field House is a great place and will be a good challenge for our guys. Again, I think this group continues to grow and learn by every experience. We just need to be even better, hopefully, on Saturday."
Traditionally, Kansas has been a thorn in the side of the Sooners on the hardwood. This year not only marks the 25th anniversary of the Jayhawks win over the Sooners in the 1988 national championship game, but they also hold a 138-64 series lead. They are the only Big 12 team to hold a series lead over the Sooners.
If the Sooners hope to snap the 11-game losing streak in Lawrence, a variety of things must happen. Romero Osby must continue his superb play against the reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year in Jeff Withey, the guards have to take care of the ball and knock down shots early and often, and they have to find a way to slow down freshman guard, Ben McLemore who is second in the Big 12 with 16.1 points per game. Obviously, that will be easier said than done.
The odds are heavily against the Sooners. But, at the same time, this is a much better team than the last few teams that have made the trip up north. There are no moral victories, especially in Big 12 play, but the one thing that would be pleasant for Sooner fans to see, is if they come out and show they can play well in a hostile environment like they’ll see tomorrow.
Tip-off is set for 3:00 CST on ESPN.
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