Weekend Homework: OSU back at the Phog

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
9:00
AM ET

Kansas has lost exactly twice in the past 46 games at Allen Fieldhouse, so the Jayhawks and their dedicated fan base tend to remember the L's.

Follow up a road win at the Phog with a celebratory backflip and you’re certain to never be forgotten.

Follow up a road win at the Phog and celebratory backflip with a shot over the bow directed at Kansas’ stud freshman?

Welcome to infamy, Marcus Smart.

The Jayhawks were in need of someone new to hate after Missouri ditched them for the SEC. Thanks to Smart’s perfect 10 and preseason suggestion that perhaps Andrew Wiggins play a game before being considered the greatest college basketball player of all time, Oklahoma State has at least temporarily filled the void.

To which we say, thank you, Mr. Smart.

The truth is, the Oklahoma State sophomore was merely doing what kids do when he turned his flip, and as for his preseason "knock" against Wiggins, he was just speaking the truth. The kid had to prove it.

But there is nothing like a little vitriol, contrived or not, to make a game more fun.

And Allen Fieldhouse will be a whole lot of fun Saturday for the 4 p.m. ET tipoff.

This game lost a little bit of its luster early, as Kansas’ record got a little sideways through growing pains and Oklahoma State regrouped after losing Michael Cobbins. But everything seems back in order.

The Big 12 right now is the best conference in the country, and with apologies to Iowa State, these are the top teams in that league.

Once dogged by questions of what ails them, the Jayhawks are hitting their stride. They have won three in a row, including an absolute drubbing of Kansas State and on the road at Iowa State. Wiggins, who was doing too much alone early in the season, now has plenty of help, much of it coming in the form of fellow lottery pick Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys have a three-game tear of their own to claim, with Smart averaging 22 over that span.

Aside from the sideshow shenanigans, what makes this game intriguing is that one team’s weakness is really the other’s strength. Kansas’ biggest attribute is its frontcourt, Oklahoma State’s the backcourt.

Naadir Tharpe has to find a way to stop Smart from driving the ball while the Cowboys, sans Cobbins, need Le’Bryan Nash and Kamari Murphy to somehow contain Wiggins, Embiid and Perry Ellis.

And then there is the X factor: Allen Fieldhouse, where Oklahoma State knows it can win and Kansas remembers ...

Dana O'Neil | email

College Basketball

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