Getting to know: Oklahoma basketball
After a much-hyped matchup between Oklahoma and Kansas at the end of January, the Sooners have moved in the wrong direction. Trae Young is having a harder time producing his unimaginable numbers. The Sooners have lost five straight games and winless in their last seven road games.
Once a Top 5 team in the nation, Oklahoma will likely drop out of the Top 25 polls entering Monday’s game (8 p.m., TV: ESPN) at Allen Fieldhouse. Since Oklahoma’s win over KU, when Hack-a-Dok was introduced, the Sooners own a 1-6 record.
“We are going to play a team that obviously beat us the first time we played them and we need to figure out a way to guard their guys,” KU coach Bill Self said. “If we do that, we will set up a big game Saturday (vs. Texas Tech).”
Once in the conversation of teams to compete for a Big 12 title, Oklahoma (16-10, 6-8 in conference) is tied for sixth place in the Big 12 standings alongside TCU and Texas. KenPom has the Sooners ranked 38th, sixth among conference teams.
“We need to do things better, make shots and get our spirits back up a little bit,” OU coach Lon Kruger told the Oklahoman. “When you're not making shots, it changes a lot of what you can do — what you want to do. You just keep trying to promote confidence, promote aggressiveness, keep promoting good basketball plays.”
Fun fact: Since Bill Self became the head coach at Kansas, the Jayhawks have never been swept by a Big 12 opponent in the regular season.
Series history: Kansas leads 146-67. The Sooners haven’t won in Allen Fieldhouse since 1993. Bill Self owns an 17-4 record vs. the Sooners while at Kansas.
BREAKING DOWN OKLAHOMA
No. 11 — PG Trae Young | 6-2, 180, fr.
In a funk from the 3-point line, Young is still averaging 30.1 points and 8.4 assists per game in Big 12 play. He’s shooting 15 percent from deep in his last three games combined. He’s committed 90 turnovers in 14 conference games, adding 4.5 rebounds each outing.
Even if the Norman native has started to touch a freshman wall, he’s still on pace to shatter several records. With 100 made 3-pointers this year, he’s only 22 behind the NCAA freshman record, set by Steph Curry in 2006-07. He’s four made free throws from breaking the Oklahoma program record in a season (211, Stacey King in 1988-89).
Against KU this season: Scored 26 points on 7 of 9 shooting (10 of 12 at the free-throw line) with nine assists, four rebounds, two steals and five turnovers.
- "I'm getting guarded like nobody else in the country is being guarded, scouted on like no one else in the country is," Young said. "It's a mystery coming out each and every game to try and figure out how a team is going to guard me and how I'm going to dictate how my team wins."
No. 35 — F Brady Manek | 6-9, 210, fr.
When Manek plays well, the Sooners usually are at their best. An efficient shooter, he’s connected on 41.4 percent of his triples in Big 12 play, averaging 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds. From Harrah, Okla., he’s made three-or-more 3-pointers in nine games this season.
Against KU this season: Made 4 of his 6 shots from the 3-point arc, finishing with 14 points and seven defensive rebounds in 31 minutes.
No. 0 — G Christian James | 6-4, 211, jr.
Scoring 20-plus points in two of the team’s last three games, James is averaging 11.8 points and 5.1 rebounds against Big 12 opponents. James is shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from the 3-point arc.
Against KU this season: Shooting 5 of 14 from the floor, he had 15 points, four rebounds and three turnovers.
No. 3 — F Khadeem Lattin | 6-9, 220, sr.
The only senior on Oklahoma’s roster, Lattin is one block shy of tying the program’s career record. With 229 swatted shots, Lattin ranks eighth in Big 12 history. Lattin, who has a 7-foot-2 wingspan, is averaging 5.7 points and 5.4 rebounds in Big 12 play, leading the Sooners with 34 blocks. His mother, Monica Lamb, played for the WNBA’s Houston Comets.
Against KU this season: Only playing 20 minutes, he recorded eight points, three rebounds and two turnovers.
No. 1 — G Rashard Odomes | 6-6, 217, jr.
Odomes takes 73 percent of his shots at the rim, according to hoop-math.com. Known as a strong defender, Odomes is averaging 8.8 points during Big 12 play while shooting 52 percent from the field. He leads the Sooners in conference play with 26 offensive rebounds.
Against KU this season: He found his way to the free-throw line, making 7 of his 8 attempts on his way to nine points. He added three assists and three rebounds in 27 minutes.
ONE THING OKLAHOMA DOES WELL
Looking to run out in transition as much as possible, the Sooners remain a strong rebounding team. The Sooners are rebounding 69.9 percent of their opponents’ missed shots, which ranks third in the Big 12. They lead the conference with 27.9 defensive rebounds per game.
ONE AREA OKLAHOMA STRUGGLES
Starting to play teams for the second time in Big 12 play, the Sooners have been unable to register stops on the defensive end. Opposing teams have shot at least 45 percent from the floor in six of their last seven games. During that seven-game stretch, opposing schools are averaging more than 35 points in the paint per game.
MEET THE NEW RECRUITING CLASS
The Sooners signed Jamal Bieniemy, a 6-foot-4 combo guard, during the early signing period. The Katy, Texas native is ranked 126th in the nation by Rivals.
Oklahoma added a commitment from Kur Kuath, a 6-foot-9 forward with a 7-5 wingspan from Salt Lake Community College. He was averaging 11 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks at the beginning of February.
Kansas by 8.5. The biggest question with Oklahoma is whether its defense can regain its footing and pick up key stops. The Sooners’ offense looks a little worn down which was probably expected in the grind of a conference season. Desperate to end the losing streak, I expect Trae Young to have a big game, in the 35-point range, for his first game in Allen Fieldhouse. I just don’t think that’ll be enough to beat KU.
My prediction: Kansas 79, Oklahoma 74. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 14-12.