Jayhawks set sights on conference crown against Cowboys

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Updated: 3/01 10:10 am

Stillwater, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - Having grabbed a share of their 10th straight Big 12 title, the fifth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks look to make it all theirs, as they take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys in conference action at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The Jayhawks have now won an NCAA record 57 regular-season titles. The team has won four straight games and six of the last seven, including Monday's 83-75 victory over Oklahoma. With the win, Kansas moved to 22-6 overall and 13-2 in-conference.

Travis Ford's Cowboys are simply looking for some momentum heading into the postseason. Once a lock for the NCAA Tournament, a seven-game losing streak over the span of a month has left the Cowboys highly susceptible. OSU has righted the ship a bit of late however, with two straight wins, including Monday's 76-54 blasting of TCU.

The Jayhawks own a 108-54 advantage in the series with the Cowboys and Kansas has won six of the last seven meetings, including an 80-78 nail biter in Lawrence back on Jan. 18.

With three freshmen and one sophomore among the starting five, Kansas remains one of the nation's youngest squads. That youth has played well beyond its years, especially in terms of efficiency, with KU ranked second in the nation in field-goal percentage (.501), leading to a healthy 79.8 ppg. In addition, the team enjoys a +7.4 rebounding margin. Freshman star Andrew Wiggins leads a quartet of double-figure scorers for Kansas with 16.3 ppg. Sophomore Perry Ellis (13.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and freshman Joel Embiid (11.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 71 blocks) give the team a pair of solid frontcourt options. Freshman Wayne Selden Jr. (10.3 ppg) and junior Naadir Tharpe (9.0 ppg, 5.1 apg) round out the starting five.

The Jayhawks had yet another balanced effort in their win over the Sooners, as all five starters notched double figures in the win. Tharpe led the way with 19 points and five assists. Wiggins and Selden added 15 points apiece. Embiid recorded a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Ellis finished with 11 points.

The Cowboys jumped all over a struggling TCU squad and took full advantage of the Horned Frogs, taking a 15-point lead into intermission (37-22). The lead just expanded over the final 20 minutes. Phil Forte hit five 3-pointers and led all scorers with 23 points. Marcus Smart added 17 points and doled out seven assists. Leyton Hammonds added 13 points off the bench for OSU.

Smart has had his issues this season, but in terms of star power, he has delivered. The sophomore guard makes his presence felt in a number of areas, averaging 17.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.6 steals per game. Markel Brown has also shown the ability to fill up the basket at 16.8 ppg. Le'Bryan Nash (14.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Forte (13.3 ppg) add plenty of depth. The variety of weapons for OSU has led to an inflated scoring average of 81.1 ppg.

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