Oklahoma State and Kansas are on a collision course and yours truly couldn’t be happier about it.
The two Big 12 programs don’t actually meet until January 18, yet both continue to decimate everything in their warpath. On Turkey Day, while most of the country fixated itself on football and couches to sleep on, No. 5 Oklahoma State improved to 6-0 following a 97-87 win over Purdue. The Cowboys went into halftime with a 52-29 lead, but saw it evaporate to as close as four in the second half.
And while Marcus Smart receives the brunt of the attention, Okie State is more of a three-headed monster with Markel Brown (25 points, six boards) and Le’Bryan Nash (16 points, five rebounds). With athletes and ballhawks like that, understanding why State is the second highest scoring team in the country isn’t much of a shock.
Despite sitting a significant chunk of the second half due to foul trouble, it was Smart who finished with 30 points (4-6 from three), four rebounds and four assists. The beautiful aspect of his repertoire thus far this season is that he’s doing it potluck-style. By that, he’s getting buckets in transition, off-the-ball, to the rim and pulling up from just about anywhere inside 25 feet. And for those in search of a deeper read on Smart, Grantland’s Brian Phillips profile on the presumptive 2014 top five draft pick is worth the five minutes.
Meanwhile, the Jayhawks remain undefeated after a wire-to-wire victory over Wake Forest. Admittedly, I’ve followed Kansas more than I ever have this year because Frank Mason and Andrew White III are both from my hometown. It was Andrew Wiggins, however, who led the charge in the 87-78 win with another well-rounded game posting 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals, including 12 points in the second half.
The thing about Wiggins’ game is that while his jumper needs work, buddy not only plays remarkable defense for a talent his age, but he can get to basket almost at will (evident by the fact he’s shooting 58.5% on the season) while exploding off the ground quicker than probably anyone in America. And just when it appears he’s proving his critics right by “disappearing,” he’ll string together 8-10 possessions in succession appropriately reflecting why he became something of a cult legend coming out of Huntington Prep.
So, yes, America, January 18 at 4:00 p.m. on CBS. For perspective purposes, that’s day before the AFC and NFC Championships. Perhaps addressing the magnitude of the game in longer form at a later day is in the works, but for now put a reminder in that smart phone of yours. I’ll be in somebody’s bar. You should, too.
Bonus: Since we’re discussing big-time college programs led by big-time players, Duke’s Jabari Parker continues to impress. Like I was telling a friend watching Duke/Alabama at the bar Wednesday night, between Parker, Rod Hood and Quinn Cook, it’s taking everything in my power to figure out ways to hate this Duke squad.
They’re just fun as hell to watch with the latest example coming as Parker led the charge with 27 points and eight rebounds. Not only is Jabari already in Blue Devil record books for most consecutive 20-point games to start a career, but now all of my friends from Chicago are banding together to start the #BringJabariHome initiative.
Rose, Parker, Butler, Boozer and Noah as a potential starting five in 2014-2015? Not bad. Not bad at all. Chicago’s always needed a second scorer alongside Derrick Rose. Might as well make it an all-Simeon one.