Here is everything you need to know about the Oklahoma Sooners and the Kansas Jayhawks in our Oklahoma vs. Kansas Big 12 Tournament women’s basketball preview.
Game 3: No. 4 Oklahoma (23-7, 12-6) vs. No. 5 Kansas (20-8, 11-7), 11 a.m. CT, Friday
Season series (1-1): Oklahoma def. Kansas, 82-68, in Lawrence, Kansas, on Jan. 8; Kansas def. Oklahoma, 73-67, in Norman, Okla., on March 5.
Winner gets: the winner of Game 4 in the semifinals at noon on Saturday.
Projected starting lineups
Oklahoma: G Taylor Robertson, F Madi Williams, G Nevaeh Tot, G Kennady Tucker, F Liz Scott.
Kansas: F Ioanna Chatzileonti, C Taiyanna Jackson, G Holly Kersgieter, G Zakiyah Franklin, G Julie Brousseau.
Player to watch
Oklahoma F Madi Williams: She’s a finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award, given to the nation’s best small forward. Williams has had a Big 12 First-Team worthy season and she was part of the Heartland College Sports First Team. She led the Sooners with 17.7 points and 7.7 rebounds this season. She’s also the only player in the country to average 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists on the year while playing less than 30 minutes a game. The only other players to do that since 2009 are UConn’s Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore. Williams has eight double-doubles this season, which is seventh best in OU history and is one of 14 Sooners with at 1,500 career points (No. 9 all-time).
Kansas G Holly Kersgieter: She was an All-Big 12 First Team selection by the coaches and an All-Big 12 Second Team selection by Heartland College Sports after helping the Jayhawks to a 20-win season, which included a season-ending win over Oklahoma. Kersgieter leads the Jayhawks with 13.6 points per game and is No. 2 in the Big 12 with 51 steals. By the end of the regular season she cleared 1,000 points for her KU career (1,068, No. 27 all-time) and has 139 career 3-point field goals. With her selection by the coaches, she became the first KU player to earn First-Team honors since 2015 (Chelsea Gardner).
Oklahoma: Head coach Jennie Baranczyk is one of the semifinalists for the Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year award, and it’s easy to see why. With players like Williams, Taylor Robertson and Big 12 Sixth Player of the Year Taylor Vann, OU increased its win total by 11 games from last year to this year. Oklahoma reached AP Top 25 for the first time since 2017 as the Sooners rose as high as No. 12. The Sooners are the only team in the Big 12 to beat Baylor twice this season, and they also have a win over Texas to their credit.
Kansas: At the start of the season, per the Kansas City Star’s Jesse Newell, Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider took the league’s predicted order of finish — with Kansas at No. 10 — and burned it in a trash can in front of his players. The message? It’s meaningless. Then the Jayhawks went out and proved it. Kansas beat Texas on the road for the first time in nearly a decade, beat Oklahoma in the season finale and secured a fifth-place finish in the Big 12. With that, Schneider was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year, just earned a long-term extension and has KU positioned to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since he arrived from Stephen F. Austin. He finally has the Jayhawks where he wants them.
Oklahoma is No. 3 in the country in points per game with 83.7, behind on No. 1 DePaul (88.3) and No. 2 Iowa (84.5).
Oklahoma 78, Kansas 73. I’m going to trust that the Sooners’ offense has enough firepower to get past Kansas’ better-than-given-credit-for defense.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.