Kansas State women’s basketball (18-9, 8-7 Big 12) has one more opportunity to significantly improve its post-season standing before the end of the regular season when the Wildcats visit No. 20 Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma.
The Wildcats are fairly well blocked into a sixth-place finish in Big 12 play. There’s a tie at first between Baylor and Iowa State at 12-3. Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas sit in a three-way tie for third at 10-5. K-State sits two games back of that group and three games up on seventh-place West Virginia with three games to play.
K-State technically has a chance to move up before the Big 12 Tournament if things break its way, and a win against Oklahoma would go a long way towards that.
A road win over a ranked team would also go a long way toward helping K-State’s seeding come NCAA Tournament time.
The Wildcats are nearly a lock for the tournament barring an absolute collapse. ESPN’s Charlie Creme has them as an eight seed. They are 35 in RPI and 33 in NET at the time of publishing.
During this past meeting against Oklahoma, junior center Ayoka Lee set an NCAA record for points in a game with 61, and K-State beat the Sooners 94-65. Since then, the two teams have gone in separate directions. Both teams have played eight games since — OU is 5-3 and K-State is 3-5.
The Wildcat offense has been mostly held in check since blowing up against OU. They have been held under 60 points in six of those eight games. The 60-point threshold seems like a predictor for K-State this season. The Wildcats have only won twice when scoring fewer than 60 points, and seven of their nine losses have come when they scored fewer than 60 points.
The issue for Oklahoma in the first game is that they simply do not match up with K-State well physically. The Wildcats are bigger and longer at the guard spot, and OU does not have the right mix of size down low to be physical with Lee the way they need to.
Oklahoma also failed from a schematic perspective to limit Lee, mostly trying to guard her one-on-one. The teams that are most successful against K-State defensively use multiple players in the paint and try to prevent entry passes to Lee.
Expect Oklahoma head coach Jennie Baranczyk to dial up more defensive pressure across the board to keep the ball out of Lee’s hands.
K-State’s defense will have its work cut out for it, facing by far the best offense in the league. OU averages nearly seven more points per game than second-place Iowa State.
A lot of that offense comes from the three-point ball. Oklahoma takes — and makes — the second-most three-pointers in the Big 12, led by Taylor Robertson’s 45.5 percent shooting from outside. She makes 3.7 threes per game.
The Sooners have three regular contributors averaging double-figure scoring outputs. All three are guards.
Oklahoma likes to get out and run on offense and score in transition. While high possession numbers have been an indicator of success for K-State as well this season, they will need to force Oklahoma to run offense and go head-to-head with K-State’s defense.
The game tips off at 4:00 p.m. Saturday from Norman, Oklahoma, airing on Bally Sports Oklahoma.