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Getting to know Oklahoma before KU's mega Monday showdown

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Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger talks to his team during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the BB&T Classic against George Mason, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Washington. Oklahoma won 81-66. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger talks to his team during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the BB&T Classic against George Mason, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Washington. Oklahoma won 81-66. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

It’s only the first week of January, so there just might be plenty of mega college basketball matchups to devour in the months ahead. But for now, there is no bigger game in the nation than the coming Big Monday showdown between one-loss Kansas and undefeated Oklahoma.

By the time opening tip-off comes at 8 p.m., KU (12-1 overall, 1-0 Big 12) and OU (12-0, 1-0) figure to be the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams in the country, and Kansas will have a chance to pick up its first marquee victory of 2016.

Of course, knocking off the Sooners won’t be easy. Oklahoma is one of the three teams in the nation without a loss — SMU and South Carolina are the others.

Whichever team leaves Allen Fieldhouse on top, the 40-minute battle should feature plenty of points and a barrage of 3-pointers. OU ranks 3rd in the nation in 3-point shooting (45.3%), behind only Kansas (46%) and St. Mary’s California (46.006%).

Four different Sooners are shooting 42.5% or better from 3-point range, with at least 25 attempts.

What’s more, Oklahoma has defended the arc well, and ranks 20th in the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage defense (29%). Overall, OU has limited opponents to 37% shooting, No. 9 in the nation. KU’s foes have shot 31% from 3-point range (66th) and 39.1% from the field (45th).

The last group of Sooners with a better start to the season was the 1987-88 team (14-0), which advanced to the national title game and lost to Kansas.

As the Jayhawks attempt to become the first team to knock off OU this year, here are the Sooners they will have to find a way to keep in check.

OKLAHOMA STARTERS

No. 24 — G Buddy Hield | 6-4, 214, sr.

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) and the Oklahoma Sooner celebrate after he scored late in the Jayhawks' 75-73 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday, March 7, 2105 in Norman.

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) and the Oklahoma Sooner celebrate after he scored late in the Jayhawks' 75-73 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday, March 7, 2105 in Norman. by Mike Yoder

  • As you might expect, no Sooner makes more 3-pointers than national player of the year candidate Buddy Hield. The Big 12’s best player this season is shooting 49.4% from long distance (39 of 79).

  • Four times already this year (and in 3 of his last 6), Hield has produced a 30-point game.

  • If Hield’s numbers (24.7 points per game, 5.3 rebounds) hold up, he’d become just the third player in Big 12 history to average at least 24 points and 5 rebounds, joining Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant.

  • Hield put up 22 points to help Oklahoma beat Iowa State in its Big 12 opener, extending his current streak of 20-point outings to six games.

  • Along with teammates Isaiah Cousins, Ryan Spangler and Jordan Woodard, Hield has started every game (80 total) for OU since the start of the 2013-14 season.

  • Difficult to guard, Hield makes opponents pay when they foul him. He’s hitting 90.5% of his free throws (67 of 74).

  • If Hield has a weakness, it’s in his mid-range game. He has made just 4 of 29 jumpers (13.8%) from 2-point range this season.

No. 10 — G Jordan Woodard | 6-0, 187, jr.

Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham (4) and Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) race to a loose ball in the Jayhawks 75-73 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday in Norman.

Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham (4) and Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) race to a loose ball in the Jayhawks 75-73 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday in Norman. by Mike Yoder

  • He doesn’t take as many 3-pointers as Hield, but junior guard Jordan Woodard actually holds the title of OU’s best percentage 3-point shooter. Woodard comes in making 53.1% from downtown (26 of 49) — not too far off from Wayne Selden Jr.’s 55.4% (36 of 65).

  • In the holiday mood of late, Woodard scored a career-high 28 points against Harvard on Christmas Day.

  • Averaging 13.9 points and 3.7 assists, Woodard also grabs 4.0 rebounds a game.

  • Woodard’s 3-point shooting is particularly impressive when comparing it to how he fared last season: 17 of 67 (25.4%). He has already made 9 more 3-pointers than he did all of 2014-15.

  • Ranks 10th in the Big 12 in steals (1.7) and is a very effective free-throw shooter (89.2%).

No. 11 — G Isaiah Cousins | 6-4, 200, sr.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. reaches through for a steal against Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins (11) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. reaches through for a steal against Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins (11) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

  • OU’s No. 3 scorer happens to be its third-best 3-point option, as well. Senior guard Isaiah Cousins has made 24 of 52 from behind the arc (46.2%).

  • Often, when Cousins isn’t spotting up for a 3, he’s dishing an assist. His 4.8 helpers a game lead Oklahoma.

  • After trailing much of the game Saturday vs. Iowa State, Cousins gave the Sooners a 76-75 lead with 5:53 left in the second half.

  • Cousins starred in OU’s victory over the Cyclones, hitting 5 of 8 shots in the second half, including 3 of 4 from long range, on his way to 15 points.

  • The PG had 19 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists in perhaps OU’s best win to date, against Villanova.

No. 00 — F Ryan Spangler | 6-8, 234, sr.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) turns for a shot over Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) and forward Khadeem Lattin (12) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) turns for a shot over Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) and forward Khadeem Lattin (12) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

  • The interior presence to compliments OU’s perimeter attack, senior forward Ryan Spangler averages a double-double: 11.1 points and 10.2 rebounds.

  • Inside, Spangler is hard to stop: he hits 68.4% of his 2-point field-goal attempts.

  • Outside, Spangler isn’t too bad, either: 13 of 29 from 3-point range (44.8%).

  • Spangler has shot 50% or better from the field in 29 of his last 32 games.

  • The 6-foot-8 big man had one of his best showings of the season against Iowa State, with 20 points and 12 boards. It marked his second time this season putting up 20 and 10.

  • Spangler is OU’s best offensive rebounder (2.75 per game).

No. 12 — F Khadeem Lattin | 6-9, 208, soph.

Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (12) dunks against Mid-America Christian during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (12) dunks against Mid-America Christian during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

  • With such a talented top 4, OU doesn’t need every player to score. Sophomore forward Khadeem Lattin averages 5.8 points and doesn’t take 3-pointers.

  • His career high of 17 points came in late December against Hawaii.

  • A guy who battles inside, Lattin averages 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.

  • Swatted away 6 shots a few weeks back, against Creighton.

  • Lattin doesn’t take many shots, but when he does they tend to be makable: 56.9% shooter.

OKLAHOMA BENCH

No. 2 — G Dinjiyl Walker | 6-1, 203, sr.

None by Sooner News Daily

  • It’s hard to get minutes when you play behind Hield, Woodard and Cousins, but senior guard Dinjiyl Walker picks his spots and contributes 4.8 points in 14.6 minutes.

  • Walker is the least effective of OU’s regular 3-point shooters: 12 of 33 (36.4%).

  • With more than half of his shots coming from long range, Walker only makes 37% of his field goals, overall (8 of 21 inside the arc, 38%).

No. 30 — C Akolda Manyang | 7-0, 243, jr.

None by OUHoops

  • Another inside-only option, junior 7-foot center Akolda Manyang averages 4.3 points a game.

  • But Manyang is OU’s biggest and best rim protector (1.9 blocks). Twice this season, he has blocked 4 shots in a game.

  • The backup big averages 3.1 rebounds in just 10.4 minutes.

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 9 months ago

Great article. I am a Sooner fan.

In what universe, on which planet is Kansas, who has one loss, rated above Oklahoma who is undefeated?

Oh, in the local rag. I guess the manufacturers of newsprint ink benefit from this inconsistency. The local media likes to aggrandize the "local boys" above others, no question here.

But who does these polls? The same dorks who think Donald Trump would make a good presidential candidate??

I have to laugh at all this "polling" stuff, it is such a pointless waste of time. The only thing that really counts is the final numbers in the election and on the scoreboard. Tonight.

Until then, well, keep on polling. You really need something creative to do to occupy your time.

Tony Mishler 6 years, 9 months ago

The people who do these polls are just sports journos all over the country. Whether or not the polls mean anything is up to the observer. Polls are a waste of time in the same way watching young men play a game is a waste of time. It's another stat to keep track of. None of it means anything but it's fun.

Eddie Ham 6 years, 9 months ago

have you seen our lineup? these polls are not just based on your record, they are based on the team make up and where they should be ranked in the polls. AP is a more official ranking as opposed to the USA Today poll

Kent Richardson 6 years, 9 months ago

The same dorks who said "Superfly" was a good movie when only the soundtrack was any good.

Steve Grimm 6 years, 9 months ago

Tell you what, Fred: I, as a KU Jayhawk fan, bequeath the #1 spot - the top dog distinction - to Oklahoma.

Feel better?

As you say, it is just a number until the final game.

To be honest: both teams are capable of going the distance this year. However, given that it has been such a long time since Oklahoma has been in this rarified air, go ahead and enjoy the number.

We will just wait to see what numbers are finally assigned to our respective teams at the end of the year.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 9 months ago

Well, Eddie I do see some reason in your statement. I guess it makes good news reporting.

But I really get steamed at the take that so many folks seem to get from all this "polling". The only thing that really matters are the numbers on the scoreboard at the end of the game, and not the wish list of sports reporters. What have you actually done lately, this year??

But it sells newspapers.(I guess) (?)

Kent Richardson 6 years, 9 months ago

What is the other reason for a newspaper's existence?

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