Getting to know OU
You know all about Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden, Naadir Tharpe and the rest of Bill Self’s No. 18 Kansas Jayhawks (9-4).
So let us take a few moments to learn a little bit about the Oklahoma Sooners (12-2 overall, 1-0 Big 12), coached by Lon Kruger, before today’s 6 p.m. clash at Norman, Okla.
KU is the only Big 12 program with a winning record against OU (the Jayhawks have won 10 of the last 11 meetings and hold a 139-65 all-time record in the series), but the Sooners might have the fire power (87.3 points a game, first in Big 12, fourth nationally) to give Kansas (77.7 points, seventh in Big 12, 74th nationally) another difficult game away from Allen Fieldhouse. Keep in mind, the Sooners beat the Jayhawks, 72-66, last season on their home court at Lloyd Noble Center.
Here’s a glance at Oklahoma’s starting five. Why just those five? Well, OU is the only Big 12 team to utilize the same starting lineup in every game, the Sooners’ top five has produced 78 percent of the team’s points and all five average double figures in scoring, another attribute no other Big 12 team can boast.
Cameron Clark, No. 21
6-7, 211, sr. forward
Clark’s 17.7 points per game average ranks third in the Big 12. And if you have any doubt about the validity of those numbers due to them coming mostly in non-conference play, you should know Clark scored a career-high 32 points in an 87-76 loss to Michigan State (then ranked No. 1) on Nov. 23, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
After making just one three-pointer all season as a junior, Clark added range to his offensive prowess, and has connected on 18 of 38 from downtown this season.
If Kansas fouls him, Clark is one of the Big 12’s top free-throw shooters: 82.9 percent (fourth in the league).
He’s not too shabby in transition, either.
Buddy Hield, No. 24
6-4, 208, so. guard
The Sooners have made 109 three-pointers this season, and Hield leads the way, with 27 makes on 74 attempts.
He averages 16.3 points a game (seventh in the Big 12), and though he plays on the perimeter, has made 81 of his 181 shot attempts (44.8 percent).
In Oklahoma’s Big 12 opener Saturday at Texas, Hield contributed 22 points, four rebounds and three assists in an 88-85 Sooners victory.
Here’s a look at what he’s capable of, in this clip from last season, against Texas Tech:
Jordan Woodard, No. 10
6-0, 185, fr. guard
We know the freshman can come through in the clutch. Woodard proved that even before he arrived in Norman. He finished his high school career at Edmond Memorial (Okla.) by stealing an in-bound pass, and eventually tipping in the game-winner in Oklahoma’s Class 6A state championship game.
KU’s guards and bigs better beware of his play-making ability (12.2 points, 4.8 assists, .357 three-point shooting) everywhere on the floor.
Though small in stature, he gets to the foul line more than any other Sooner, and has racked up 85 easy points on 111 free throws.
Ryan Spangler, No. 00
6-8, 232, so. forward
A transfer from Gonzaga, Spangler has won Big 12 Newcomer of the Week twice already this season, and posted five double-doubles. Not only does he boast a 65.6 field-goal percentage, but he has shot 50 percent or better in all 14 OU games while averaging 11.0 points and 9.2 rebounds.
As highlighted in a December story by Ryan Gerbosi for The Oklahoma Daily, Spangler played high school hoops just outside of Norman, but never caught the eye of former OU coach Jeff Capel. When things didn’t work out at Gonzaga, Kruger happily welcomed the big man back to The Sooner State.
Isaiah Cousins, No. 11
6-4, 186, so. guard
In his second season at OU, Cousins has made the kind of progress every coach hopes to see between a player’s freshman and sophomore seasons. In fact, as Ryan Aber wrote for The Oklahoman, Cousins points to the Sooners’ summer trip to Europe as the jumping-off point for this season’s success.
In Oklahoma’s last 11 games, Cousins produced his top eight scoring performances of his career. He only put up 85 points in 32 games as a freshman, but Cousins scored between 10 and 19 points in his eight nights of stepping up this season. The guard has averaged 10.9 points, and has made 15 of his 33 three-point tries (45.5 percent).