College Basketball: Why Kansas at Oklahoma State Is the Game to Watch This Week

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2013

February 02, 2013; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Jeff Withey (5) tries to pass as Oklahoma State Cowboys center Philip Jurick (44) and forward Michael Cobbins (20) defend in the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Oklahmoa State won 85-80. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With just three weeks left in the college basketball season, the regular season title races in many conferences are beginning to heat up.

This week, the Big 12 title is up for grabs in Stillwater as one team looks to avenge an upset they suffered at home earlier this season.


Kansas at Oklahoma State: Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET, TV: ESPN2

The Kansas Jayhawks and Oklahoma State Cowboys will square off at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday night to decide who the front-runner will be for the Big 12 regular season title.

Back on February 2, the Cowboys went into Allen Fieldhouse and upset the Jayhawks, who were then ranked second in the nation. 

The Jayhawks will be looking to go into Stillwater and not only break the Cowboys' six-game home winning streak but knock them out of the Big 12 title race.

After the loss to Oklahoma State, Bill Self's team went on a downward spiral that included road losses to TCU and Oklahoma.

Since they returned home last week, the Jayhawks easily took care of Kansas State and Texas, and in the process they got their confidence back. 

Naadir Tharpe emerged as a valuable option off of the bench against Kansas State as he recorded eight assists.

The distribution skills of Tharpe add to the already lively skill set that each player on the Kansas roster possesses.

Freshman guard Ben McLemore has taken over the role of main scorer while center Jeff Withey has developed into one of the best centers in the nation.

Another player whose actions on the court do not go unnoticed is Travis Releford, who is the defensive guru in the Jayhawks' starting lineup.

In the first game against the Cowboys, all of these attributes were on display except for the strong defense.

The Jayhawks allowed the dangerous duo of Markel Brown and Marcus Smart to combine for 53 points in the first meeting.

For the Cowboys to come out on top on Wednesday night, they will need those two players as well as a few other role players to step up.

While Brown and Smart get much of the attention that is given to the Cowboys, they are more than just a two-man team.

Le'Bryan Nash and Phil Forte round out the list of four players who are averaging double figures this season in the paint. Michael Cobbins and Philip Jurick have taken up the rebounding responsibilities for Travis Ford's team. 

Jurick averages only 18 minutes per game, but when he is on the court he gets the job done. He is the team's leading rebounder with 6.7 boards per game. 

While it is a common fact that both teams possess plenty of depth, the deciding factor to Wednesday's Big 12 showdown could be the crowd in Stillwater.

Gallagher-Iba Arena may not be the obnoxiously loud venue that Allen Fieldhouse is, but it ranks up there as one of the best venues in college basketball. 

The Cowboys are unbeaten at home and they have relied on the crowd to help get them through their last two home games against Baylor and Oklahoma, as both of those games went to overtime. 

Another positive for the Cowboys is that they will go into the game with plenty of confidence that they can defeat Kansas for a second time.

Kansas has a lot to prove in this game. During its three-game losing streak, the team shot horribly on the road. Its poor shooting continued in the first half against Texas on Saturday. 

The Jayhawks need a performance from everyone on their roster to come out of Stillwater with a lead in the standings.

Whether or not they get that ideal performance remains to be seen, but Kansas has to expect that the Cowboys will be prepared and ready to go as they look to knock the Jayhawks off of their Big 12 throne. 

This should be an exciting game throughout, but in the end, the experienced Jayhawks should come out on top by a small margin. 

Who do you think will win this Big 12 showdown?

Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter, @JTansey90.