Kansas vs. Oklahoma State: Cowboys Will Easily Sweep Jayhawks

Nick JuskewyczContributor IIIFebruary 20, 2013

February 02, 2013; Lawrence, KS, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard/forward Le'Bryan Nash (2) shoots as Kansas Jayhawks center Jeff Withey (5) defends in the second half at Allen Fieldhouse. Oklahmoa State won 85-80. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It's a tight race in the Big 12, but Oklahoma State will make a statement tonight at Gallagher-Iba Arena. 

Both teams are 9-3 in the conference, and the winner of tonight's showdown will join Kansas State at the top of the standings. 

The Cowboys are on fire having won their last seven contests, including an 85-80 victory over the Jayhawks in their first meeting in Lawrence.

Kansas has won its last two games after a three-game skid, but conference road games haven't been kind to the Jayhawks recently. Their last road win came on January 28 at a struggling West Virginia by only five points. 

That doesn't help Kansas, considering that Oklahoma State is 13-1 at home this season. 

The scoring trend doesn't help Kansas either. Kansas hasn't scored more than 66 points on the road in Big 12 play. That's a significant difference from the 73.4 average they have on the season.

During Oklahoma State's seven-game winning streak, the Cowboys average just under 80 points a game.

If this game is fast-paced like the first one, Oklahoma State will run Kansas out of the gym.

Outstanding freshman Marcus Smart is the key for the Cowboys. He does a little bit of everything.

Smart is shooting 45.2 percent from the field in the Big 12 and has come close to a triple-double on multiple occasions.

Furthermore, Smart was the biggest difference-maker against Kansas in the first game. Not only did he score 25 points and pull down nine rebounds (eight of the nine boards were on the offensive end), he also forced five steals.

For the Jayahwks to have a chance tonight, they need Travis Releford to step up.

During Kansas' three-game losing streak, Releford only posted 17 points combined and played at least 35 minutes in each contest. He needs to help out Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey more consistently.

Either way, it won't be enough for Kansas to pull off a significant road win. The Cowboys are too hot and too good at home.