Analysis: Withey ranks among the nation's top centers and is a projected first-round draft pick. He can dominate games in the post, particularly on defense, where he's already the KU and Big 12 all-time blocked shots leader with 265. He's tied for second in the conference with nine double-doubles. Jurick isn't flashy, but he's fundamentally sound and has given other traditional big men troubles. And he helped contain Withey in the first meeting, when the KU center managed 11 points and eight boards.
OSU's Phil Forte vs. KU's Naadir Tharpe
Analysis: Tharpe's role has increased, and he's been a calming influence, handing out 13 assists with just two turnovers in the past three games. As a scorer, however, he's unreliable, shooting just 33.8 percent in conference play. Forte averages 11.4 points off the bench, mostly as a perimeter threat who stresses defenses and opens up opportunities for teammates. He was clutch down the stretch in Allen Fieldhouse, making critical free throws to keep the Cowboys ahead.
OSU's Kamari Murphy, Brian Williams and Kirby Gardner vs. KU's Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor
Analysis: Williams didn't play in the first game. He was held out as he was still gaining comfort in the system following offseason wrist surgery. He's progressing and should be more of a factor this time. Murphy is again providing quality minutes, and Gardner is good for giving Smart a rest. The Jayhawks are uncharacteristically thin. Beyond Tharpe, Ellis is the only KU reserve who averages double-digit minutes. An elite recruit, Ellis hasn't made a major impact as a freshman, averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds. Traylor is a bit player, but a bulky body at 6-8 and 220 pounds.
OSU's Travis Ford vs. KU's Bill Self
Analysis: Ford is in the conversation for Big 12 Coach of the Year, having guided a young team through some early conference rough patches to a seven-game winning streak and contention for the conference crown. Self, a five-time Big 12 Coach of the Year, has led the Jayhawks to eight straight Big 12 regular-season championships, a 290-57 record and the 2008 national championship.
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