Challe Barton isn’t playing down the importance of playing a basketball game at Kansas.
After all, Kansas is a perennial power and one of the most storied programs in college basketball history.
Barton and his Oregon State teammates will take on the Jayhawks today at Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
“For me, it’s going to be the biggest game of my whole life and I guess for other players it’s going to be the same thing,” Barton said.
“It’s probably the best team I’ve ever played in my whole life and playing in Kansas is also a different experience because you know how their fans are. I just never played that kind of game before.”
Kansas has made 41 NCAA tournament appearances, reached 14 Final Fours and won three titles.
This season the No. 10 Jayhawks are 5-1 with a loss to Michigan State.
“It’s very exciting for our guys to play a team of this caliber. It’s exciting for me to coach against a team of this caliber,” coach Craig Robinson said.
“It’s one of the top two or three programs in wins in the country. Clearly, the culture just screams college basketball.”
The Beavers will get a good dose of that environment. It’s one reason Robinson has made a point to pursue scheduling top programs.
Robinson also wants the Beavers to showcase their talent.
“I think that other teams were reluctant to play us,” Robinson said. “Now that we’re a better team, we kind of help other teams out from an RPI standpoint and provide a real test.”
This will be one and done for the teams.
The Jayhawks won’t be coming to Corvallis anytime soon.
“I thought since they weren’t coming back here, we didn’t want to go play at Allen Fieldhouse and not have a return game here,” Robinson said. “So this was a nice little compromise.”
The Beavers want to use the game as a gauge to see where they stack up with other teams around the country.
Kansas will give them all the information they need.
As usual, the Jayhawks are loaded.
Let’s start with 7-footer Jeff Withey. He leads Kansas with 14.2 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Withey also likes to block shots. He has 37 in six games so far. To put that in perspective for OSU fans, Eric Moreland has 12 in five games.
Withey is coming off a triple-double in KU’s 70-57 win over San Jose State. He had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks.
The Jayhawks like to use the high-low to get the ball to Withey down low.
Kansas also gets plenty of production from 6-5 guard Ben McLemore (13.8 points, 6.2 rebounds), 6-6 guard Travis Releford (12 points) and 6-4 guard Elijah Johnson (10.7 points, 4.2 assists).
“They have good size. Withey’s a really good, mobile big man,” Robinson said. “They probably have three or four pros on that team. They’re very well-coached. They execute their offense extremely well and they’re used to winning every game they play. So it’s a formidable opponent and they won’t give away any games.”
Moreland said the Beavers have to lock in on every possession and take care of the tangibles.
“All the little stuff counts that maybe you can get away with with other teams not ranked in the top 10,” he said.
“This is one of the best teams that we’ve played against in Oregon State’s last few years, so we want to go there and play hard and make sure we give them all we’ve got and everybody’s going to have to be clicking. Each guy’s going to have to do a lot more, now that Angus (Brandt) is gone.”