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These guys again: Sooners enter KU rematch ready to fire

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger reacts to a play against TCU during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. Oklahoma won 95-72. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger reacts to a play against TCU during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. Oklahoma won 95-72. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

As Bill Self’s Jayhawks gear up for Kansas-Oklahoma: The Sequel, on Saturday at OU, they will have to turn much of their focus toward the 3-point line.

That’s not to say KU will rely on the long ball more than usual. It’s just coach Lon Kruger’s Sooners shoot it so well from deep that defending (or failing to defend) those bombs could determine which team leaves Lloyd Noble Center with a claim to first place in the Big 12.

No. 3 Oklahoma (20-3 overall, 8-3 Big 12) is the best 3-point shooting team in the nation (45.1%), just a few spots ahead of the 4th-most successful 3-point shooters, the Jayhawks (42.2%).

The Sooners already set a program record this season by draining 10 or more 3-pointers in 15 games. They lit up KU in the first meeting, connecting on 16 of 33 (48.5%). The Jayhawks fared pretty well, too, making 11 of 22 (50%) in their 109-106, triple-overtime victory at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 4.

OU’s 11.0 successful 3’s a game ranks 4th in the nation (KU’s 8.3 rank 68th), and when you look solely at the percentages being put up by Oklahoma’s five starters, they’re shooting 47% from beyond the arc.

Oh, and have a peek at the top 3-point shooters in Big 12 games this season (minimum of 1.5 made per game):

- 1st. Buddy Hield, OU: 51 of 107, 47.7%

- 2nd. Jordan Woodard, OU: 27 of 57, 47.4%

- 3rd. Isaiah Cousins, OU: 21 of 45, 46.7%

KU’s Devonté Graham comes in 4th at 45.2% (19 of 42), and Wayne Selden Jr. is just percentage points outside of the top 10, at 11th, with a mark of 33.9% (21 of 62).

Of course, many other factors will play into the outcome. Three turnovers in the final minute of the third overtime vs. Kansas prevented OU from winning the remarkable battle of (at the time) No. 1 versus No. 2. You might recall the Sooners took a 106-104 lead with just less than a minute remaining on a Woodard 3-pointer. But after that, things fell apart for OU:

- 0:45 mark: Khadeem Lattin turns the ball over after a defensive rebound

- 0:19 mark: Buddy Hield turns the ball over on a Frank Mason III steal

- 0:12 mark: another Hield turnover and Mason steal

Turnovers on the road — particularly late in games — will cost you wins. The Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3) surely realize that, as they head to Norman, Okla., with a 2-3 record in Big 12 road games and a -1.73 turnover margin in conference games (worst in the league).

Kansas will need to control the boards, as well, at OU to increase its chances of snapping Oklahoma’s 19-game home winning streak. The Sooners have out-rebounded their opponents in 15 of their 23 games this season and are 15-0 when they win the battle of the boards. KU earned a 60-55 edge in the 55-minute battle at Allen Fieldhouse.

With all of those things in mind, now is as good a time as any to reacquaint yourself with the Sooners. Here are the players the Jayhawks will have to keep in check in order to register their best road win of the season.

OKLAHOMA STARTERS

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

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) defends against a three from Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) defends against a three from Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

*- Jan. 4 at KU: 46 points, 13/23 FGs, 8/15 3s, 12/14 FTs, 8 rebounds (2 offensive), 7 assists, 5 turnovers in 54 minutes *

  • OU isn’t joking when it pushes its favorite hashtag: #BuddyBuckets. Hield is the marquee player in college basketball for a reason. The senior guard averages 25.7 points per game and has drained 96 of his 192 3-pointers this year (50%). That’s right. He’s shooting 50% from 3 on the season.

  • Hield has scored 30 or more points 8 times this season, an attainable feat when you make 4.2 3-pointers a game.

  • The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year will reach 300 career 3-pointers if (when) he makes 2 against KU.

  • His 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left on Big Monday this week secured OU’s home win over Texas. Hield scored Oklahoma’s final 12 points.

  • Last year in Norman, Hield tipped in a missed shot in the final seconds for a 75-73 win over Kansas.

  • Currently the only player in the nation shooting at least 50% from the field (51.8%), 50% from 3 and 90% from the free-throw line (90.2%)…

  • … And one last thing. No college basketball player in the last 20 years has gone 50/50/90 and scored at least 20.0 points a game.

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

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) tries to steal the ball from Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured are Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24).

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) tries to steal the ball from Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured are Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24). by Nick Krug

- Jan. 4 at KU: 27 points, 9/20 FGs, 6/9 3s, 3/4 FTs, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 block, 2 steals, 5 fouls in 50 minutes

  • Most teams in the country would love to have Woodard as their top guard. The junior just happens to be OU’s second-best. Woodard averages 13.3 points and 3.9 assists, and has connected on 52 of his 107 3-point attempts (48.6%).

  • Woodard can fill it up, just not to the extreme that Hield does. He has seven 20-point games in his career, including one in the triple-OT loss at KU.

  • Much like Hield, Woodard makes foes pay when they send him to the foul line: 59 of 69, 85.5%.

  • The most actively aggressive perimeter defender for OU, Woodard averages 1.8 steals a game.

  • Maybe — but just maybe — Woodard is cooling off on 3-pointers. In OU’s last 4 games, he has hit just 3 of 17 (17.6%). Then again, that could also mean he’s about to explode.

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

Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins (11) shoots between Texas Tech guard Toddrick Gotcher, left, and Oklahoma's Dante Buford, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Oklahoma won 91-67. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins (11) shoots between Texas Tech guard Toddrick Gotcher, left, and Oklahoma's Dante Buford, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Oklahoma won 91-67. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

- Jan. 4 at KU: 4 points, 2/14 FGs, 0/3 3s, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 1 block, 1 steal in 39 minutes

  • Talk about an embarrassment of riches. The second or third player you think of when you talk about the Sooners, Cousins averages 13.6 points and 4.6 assists and has hit 44 of his 94 attempts from 3-point range (46.8%).

  • Cousins has scored in double figures in 8 of the last 9 games for OU and has three double-doubles on the season.

  • Set a career high with 10 assists against Villanova (now ranked No. 1 in the nation) in December.

  • With the Sooners in trouble on the road in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, Cousins nailed a jumper in the final seconds of a 77-75 win at LSU.

  • Put up 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists vs. Texas earlier this week.

  • Over the last 7 games, Cousins is averaging 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals, while shooting 57.5% from the floor and an eye-popping 64.3% (18 of 28) from long range.

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

Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) grimaces after picking up a foul during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) grimaces after picking up a foul during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

- Jan. 4 at KU: 14 points, 6/11 FGs, 2/4 3s, 18 rebounds (3 offensive), 0 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 4 fouls in 51 minutes

  • For the love of all things 3, even OU’s rugged interior forward Ryan Spangler ventures outside occasionally. The senior averages 11.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and has hit 22 of his 62 tries from downtown (35.5%).

  • As you might expect from a veteran bruiser, Spangler is even better inside the arc: 66.1% on 2-point shots. As a result, he has shot at least 50% from the field in 36 of his last 43 games.

  • Nearly averaging a double-double, Spangler has 10 on the season and 27 in his career, including one at KU last month.

  • Spangler has 42 double-digit rebound games in his career.

  • The big man averages 2.5 offensive boards a game and, per hoop-math.com, has 18 put-backs on the season.

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

Kansas State guard Justin Edwards (14) shoots in front of Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (12) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. Oklahoma won 86-76. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Kansas State guard Justin Edwards (14) shoots in front of Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (12) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. Oklahoma won 86-76. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

- Jan. 4 at KU: 10 points, 5/9 FGs, 0/1 FTs, 14 rebounds (5 offensive), 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 6 blocks, 1 steal in 46 minutes

  • Sophomore forward Khadeem Lattin’s numbers (6.0 points, 5.9 rebounds) might not blow anyone away, but his presence inside has proven crucial in OU’s outstanding season.

  • The athletic big man gave KU issues around the rim and that showed up not only with his 6 blocked shots and 5 offensive rebounds, but also in his plus/minus for the triple-OT affair. Lattin registered a +5, best on the team in OU’s 3-point loss.

  • In Big 12 play, no one blocks shots as well as Lattin. The 6-foot-9 rim protector denies 3.4 attempts a game. On the year, he has blocked 6 or more shots 4 times, including against KU.

  • Lattin averages 2.2 offensive boards a game, and has 18 put-backs, including a game-winning tip vs. West Virginia.

  • Went scoreless and block-less in 16 minutes vs. Texas earlier this week. In fact, Lattin didn’t block a shot two days before that, in a loss at K-State, either. Have teams figured out how to avoid him? Or is he due for a big day against KU? It’s hard to imagine him failing to swat away at least a couple with the national spotlight of this rematch.

OKLAHOMA BENCH

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

None by Sooner News Daily

- Jan. 4 at KU: 3 points, 1/5 FGs, 0/1 3s, 1/1 FTs, 4 rebounds (2 offensive), 0 assists, 1 turnover in 16 minutes off the bench

  • Senior OU guard Dinjiyl Walker is the best 3-point shooter off the bench. Walker averages 3.7 points in 13.3 minutes a game and has hit 19 of 53 from deep (35.8%).

  • In Big 12 play, Walker has been more accurate on 3’s: 9 of 22 (40.9%).

*No. 21 — F Dante Buford | 6-7, 221, RS-fr.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) tips a rebound out over Oklahoma forward Dante Buford (21) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured are Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) and guard Jordan Woodard, right.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) tips a rebound out over Oklahoma forward Dante Buford (21) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured are Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) and guard Jordan Woodard, right. by Nick Krug

- Jan. 4 at KU: 1 point, 0/4 FGs, 0/1 3s, 1/2 FTs, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 0 turnovers, 2 blocks in 10 minutes off the bench

  • A reserve freshman forward, Dante Buford averages 3.6 points and 1.8 rebounds in 11.5 minutes.

  • Buford’s biggest game to date came at Iowa State, when he scored 14 points. Wouldn’t you know it with this team, it was the 3-ball that got him to that total. Buford went 4-for-4 from long distance at Hilton Coliseum, but OU lost 82-77.

  • In the rest of OU’s games combined, though, Buford is 5 of 19 on 3-pointers (26.3%).

Reply 2 comments from Surrealku Leikness

Getting to know Oklahoma before KU’s mega Monday showdown

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.

Reply 7 comments from Steve Grimm Zabudda Fred Whitehead Jr. Eddie Ham Tony Mishler

Big 12 notebook: Niang’s role won’t change under new ISU coach

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Kansas City, Missouri — When new Iowa State coach Steve Prohm arrived in Ames, Iowa, he inherited a top-10 quality roster with loads of potential.

In order to maximize the Cyclones’ success in 2015-16, Prohm knew he’d have to completely understand how best to utilize multi-talented senior forward Georges Niang. So the former Murray State coach watched a lot of video from the past few seasons, and figured he might as well call up a Niang expert: his ISU predecessor, Fred Hoiberg.

Given Niang’s success under Hoiberg — 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 40-percent three-point shooting last season — Prohm said Tuesday at Big 12 Basketball Media Day, at Sprint Center, he doesn’t want to wreck a good thing.

“He knows how important he is to this team,” Prohm said of Niang. “I do want to challenge him on the defensive end to become a better rebounder, to rebound out of his area and do some things defensively that we need. But offensively, I don't see it changing at all. I just hope he can even excel it even more.”

Learning the league

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First-year Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart hasn’t spent too much time considering detailed game plans for the rest of the Big 12. Smart said with the non-conference schedule getting things started, he has focused more on that and establishing a new culture in the first couple weeks of practice.

The former VCU coach admitted, though, there will me an adjustment period for him once league play begins.

“Obviously, the stakes are higher, the crowds are more loud, they're more into the game,” Smart said of road venues he said of conference venues he’ll visit for the first time in 2016. “And certainly, as a new coach in the Big 12, I'm going to have to get to know what this league's all about, particularly on the road.”

Sooners matching experience with youth

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Lon Kruger enters this season with the luxury of returning some of the most talented senior guards in the Big 12 — preseason player of the year Buddy Hield and running mate Isaiah Cousins. But the OU coach won’t hesitate to rely on some freshmen in spots, too.

On the wing, Kruger likes promising, versatile rookies Rashard Odomes (6-foot-6) and Christian James (6-4).

“They're very aggressive, physical on the boards,” the OU coach said of the duo. “They rebound the ball well from the wing. They can score. For incoming freshmen, they've been well-coached. They have a good feel for the game, great enthusiasm for working every day, and the real benefit, too, from having Buddy and Isaiah, from a work ethic standpoint, in the gym all the time. And those guys come in and see what they do and fall in line and they'll benefit from that a great deal, too.”

Don’t poke the Bear

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As if Baylor forward Rico Gathers wasn’t already enough of an imposing presence on the court, Bears head coach Scott Drew said the 6-foot-8, 275-pound senior has refined his offensive skill set since last season.

Gathers averaged 9.6 points and 10.6 rebounds as a junior, but only made 42.7 percent of his field goals and 57.8 percent of his free throws. As a result, Drew said the big man spent a lot of the offseason in the gymnasium.

“So first and foremost, if he can become a 75-, 80-percent free-throw shooter, his production is going to go way up,” Baylor’s coach said.

“Second thing,” Drew added, “because we have a lot of length in practice, him finishing over length every day is something that will help. His jump shot has improved. It's a lot softer, a lot better rotation.”

Who are these Wildcats?

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With eight players gone form last season’s roster and seniors Justin Edwards and Stephen Hurt, along with junior Wesley Iwundu, the only readily recognizable players left, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber hasn’t lost all hope.

In fact, Weber, whose Wildcats finished 15-17 a year ago, is having fun coaching the mostly overhauled Wildcats.

“They haven't been perfect by any means, but I'd say nine out of the first ten days we just coached them,” Weber said. “We didn't have to beg them to go hard or get after them to go hard, so that makes it a lot easier.

“Now you can worry about the stuff you're supposed to worry about, you know, setting up the angle on the screen, the defense, getting in the right position or how you're going to guard something and you're not wasting as much time.”

No defensive adjustments necessary at WVU

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College basketball rules changes dominated much of the discussion at media day, and Bob Huggins — whose West Virginia teams have become known for their assertive defense and pressure — isn’t quite sure yet what to make of the removal of the five-second closely guarded rule.

“I’d like to sit here and give you a very intelligent answer, but obviously I can't. So I don't know,” the WVU said, with a wry grin.

Huggins, whose pants decorated with WVU logos were a hit, said he’ll still ask his guards to defend on the ball with pressure, like always.

“Everybody's going to run a quick-hitter into a ball screen anyways, and that's what everybody did against us for the last 30 years, because we tried to not let people run offense,” Huggins said. “So we ended up guarding ball screens or sprints, and that's what's going to happen. I don't think that changes much.”

Forte can’t do everything

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There is no question which Cowboy’s name will appear on the proverbial marquee every time Oklahoma State plays this season. However, OSU coach Travis Ford said senior guard Phil Forte III, admittedly a “leading man,” can’t be expected to do it all.

“I think last year we relied way too much on just (LeBryan) Nash and Forte, and that was my fault,” Ford said.

Ultimately, the lack of balance made the Cowboys a less effective team.

“We had a lot of big wins and probably overachieved in a lot of areas,” the OSU coach added of the 18-14 season, “but it caught up to us at the end of the year. It caught up to us.”

Shooters and scorers?

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Often sarcastic in entertaining dealings with the media, TCU coach Trent Johnson didn’t disappoint Tuesday morning at Sprint Center.

When a reporter began a question by referencing Johnson’s team full of shooters and scorers, the coach had to stop him right there.

“My team’s full of good shooters and good scorers this year? I don’t know about that,” Johnson said, straight-faced. “Depends on what practice you’re watching.”

Eventually, the coach admitted the Horned Frogs have some experience — juniors Karviar Shepherd and Chris Washburn enter their third year of contributing — and some nights “the ball goes in.”

He said TCU’s ability to get back on defense and limit opponents’ good scorers and shooters would probably determine how successful a season 2015-16 turns out to be.

Rebuilding Red Raiders

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Texas Tech hasn’t finished a season with a winning record since 2009-10. So third-year coach Tubby Smith realizes rebuilding the program won’t be easy in the Big 12.

Smith said the Red Raiders’ annual struggles mean they have to change the culture.

“Although we have great fans and great student support on our campus, and in Lubbock in general, there are a lot of great fans, we still have to continue to grow the program when it comes to recruiting to keep improving,” Smith said, “whether it's facilities or other areas. We know that the competition is stiff no matter where in trying to influence or persuade down the middle to attend the university.”

Reply 3 comments from Zabudda Table_rock_jayhawk Koolkeithfreeze

These guys again: No. 15 Oklahoma

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12), forward Perry Ellis, and Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr., right, battle for a rebound with Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins (11) and Oklahoma TaShawn Thomas (35) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12), forward Perry Ellis, and Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr., right, battle for a rebound with Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins (11) and Oklahoma TaShawn Thomas (35) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Lon Kruger’s Oklahoma Sooners hoped Saturday’s regular-season finale at home against perennial power Kansas would decide the 2015 Big 12 championship.

However, two road losses in OU’s previous five games destroyed the Sooners’ chances of becoming the team that ended KU’s run of regular-season dominance.

Oklahoma lost at Kansas State by 3 on Valentine’s Day, and fell victim to a massive Iowa State comeback on Big Monday earlier this week.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dB8QSWcR-n4

Now, it’s not as if the No. 15 Sooners (20-9 overall, 11-6 Big 12) have nothing left to play for against the No. 9 Jayhawks (24-6, 13-4). There is the matter of closing down Lloyd Noble Center for the season in style, not to mention the feather in the cap a win over KU brings to a team’s résumé just before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Frankly, OU should feel pretty good about winning this rematch with Kansas. The Sooners recovered from a 20-point deficit at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 19 and took a four-point lead in the second half before Kansas won, 85-78.

KU is 5-5 in true road games. Plus, the Jayhawks, have neither Allen Fieldhouse, Perry Ellis nor Cliff Alexander to help them this time.

At home this season, OU has defeated Baylor, Iowa State, West Virginia and Oklahoma State (all ranked at the time).

OU visitors this season have been out-shot:

  • 48.3% to 36.6%, from the field

  • 40.6% to 29.2%, from 3-point land

With that in mind, here is a refresher on the Sooners KU will have to hold back to have a shot at entering the postseason on a three-game winning streak.

SOONERS STARTERS

No. 24 — Buddy Hield, 6-4, junior G

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) celebrates during the Sooners' comeback against Kansas during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) celebrates during the Sooners' comeback against Kansas during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 19 at KU: 26 points, 7/19 FGs, 4/13 3s, 8/9 FTs, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 TOs, 2 steals in 37 minutes

The Big 12’s leading scorer — his 18.5 points per game in conference are even better than his 17.3 average for the season — is a gunner. Hield already has taken 206 3-pointers, and has made 79 (2.7 makes a game).

In the league, the dynamic junior shoots 44.9% from the floor and 38.3% from 3-point land.

Hield and fellow starting guards, Jordan Woodard and Isaiah Cousins, are active defenders, too. Hield has 26 steals in the Big 12, and the trio of guards all rank in the top eight in the conference in that category.

A strong candidate to be named conference player of the year, Hield torched KU in the first meeting, and now has two fewer interior defenders to worry about when he attacks off the dribble.

In eight league games, he has scored 20 points or more, and did so in each of his last two outings — 21 vs. TCU, 26 at Iowa State.

hoop-math.com update: Good luck coaxing Hield into taking 2-point jump shots, a range at which he only makes 32.9% of his attempts. He takes 2.5 of those a game and only 18.4% of his 397 shots this season have been 2-point jumpers. Hield basically lives downtown (51.9% of his shots are taken there), and at the rim. … Oh, yeah. Hield also has 20 put-backs on the offensive glass this year.

No. 11 — Isaiah Cousins, 6-4, junior G

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

— Jan. 19 at KU: 18 points, 7/15 FGs, 3/8 3s, 1/1 FTs, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 TOs, 2 steals in 38 minutes

KU didn’t have much success checking Cousins in the first game, either.

On the season, Cousins is the conference’s top 3-point shooter at 44.7%. Wouldn’t you know it, he’s even better in the Big 12: 30-for-65, 46.2%.

Basically, never leave that guy open. Especially at home, where he makes 51% of his 3-pointers.

Cousins averages 11.4 points and 3.9 boards in the conference, and he has 24 steals so far.

He has made 3 or more 3-pointers in 7 Big 12 games this season.

— hoop-math.com update: When he’s not taking 3-pointers, 38.2% of Cousins’ shots have been 2-point jumpers. He has made 39 of 113 (34.5%), and they primarily come one-on-one. Only 9 of his 2-point jumpers have been assisted.

No. 35 — Tashawn Thomas, 6-8, senior F

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) puts up a shot over Oklahoma forward TaShawn Thomas (35) and guard Jordan Woodard (10) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) puts up a shot over Oklahoma forward TaShawn Thomas (35) and guard Jordan Woodard (10) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 19 at KU: 4 points, 1/7 FGs, 2/2 FTs, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 6 TOs, 3 blocks in 25 minutes

The only OU starter who failed to reach double figures in the first meeting with KU, Thomas might not have a problem doing so this time around, what with the Jayhawks’ frontcourt looking so thin right now.

The big man averages 11.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in the league, and makes 47.5% of his shot attempts.

While Thomas has swatted away 24 shots in the Big 12, he also has drawn 8 charges in his last 9 games.

He had 4 offensive rebounds, and 8 total, in each of his last 2 games.

Thomas’s 24 points vs. BU and 22 vs. ISU this season keyed big home wins.

— hoop-math.com update: As you likely know by now, Thomas mostly operates inside, with 51.8% of his shots coming at the rim. He shoots 35.3% (41-for-116) on 2-point jumpers.

No. 00 — Ryan Spangler, 6-8, junior F

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) pulls back for an attempted dunk against Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) pulls back for an attempted dunk against Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler (00) during the second half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 19 at KU: 13 points, 6/10 FGs, 0/1 3s, 1/1 FTs, 10 rebounds (4 offensive), 3 assists, 1 TO, 1 block in 37 minutes

Just about every KU opponent this season has had at least one guy hurt the Jayhawks on the offensive glass. For Oklahoma, that man was Spangler.

Thanks in part to his work on the boards when OU puts up a shot, he shoots 57.6% from the floor in the Big 12 — which easily makes him the league leader. Only ISU’s Monté Morris (51%) and Ellis (50%) are in the same neighborhood.

In league games, he averages 10.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and has denied 24 shots.

For some reason, Spangler has taken 18 3-pointers this season in the league. He has made just 3 — 16.7%.

— hoop-math.com update: Even though most of Spangler’s boards come on defense, he averages 2.3 a game on offense, and has a team-leading 25 put-backs this season. 19% of his shots at the rim have been on the offensive glass. Spangler shoots 71.9% at the rim (87 of 121).

No. 10 — Jordan Woodard, 6-0, sophomore G

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) puts up a three from the corner as he is defended by Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) puts up a three from the corner as he is defended by Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 19 at KU: 10 points, 2/5 FGs, 6/7 FTs, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 TO, 1 block, 1 steal in 38 minutes

OU’s point guard averages 3.6 assists in the Big 12, to go with his 9.6 points and 2.9 rebounds.

Woodard isn’t quite the shooter — 11-for-32 from 3-point distance in the league — that Hield and Cousins are but he gets easy points at the free-throw line, where he connects 84.9% of the time (62 makes on team-leading 73 attempts).

His 1.59 steals a game also lead OU, and rank him tied for fourth in the league.

— hoop-math.com update: The point guard can get to the rim on his own. Of his 31 field goals at the rim this season, only six came via a teammate’s assist.

SOONERS BENCH

No. 1 — Frank Booker, 6-4, sophomore G

— Jan. 19 at KU: 3 points, 1/1 FGs, 1/1 3s, 0 TOs in 3 minutes

Booker’s role has increased significantly since the first matchup with Kansas.

He barely played back in January at the fieldhouse, but since then he has registered 15 minutes or more in 9 of the last 11 games (including each of the last 6). Booker now averages 14.4 minutes in Big 12 games, contributing 5.6 points off the bench.

Outside of Hield and Cousins, he is OU’s best 3-point shooter. In conference games, Booker has made 20 of 58 3-pointers (34.5%).

Though he went 0-for-5 at ISU on Monday, he made 4 of 8 recently — Feb. 21 at Texas Tech.

— hoop-math.com nugget: Some players take a lot of 3-pointers. And then there is Booker. This season, 79% of his shots have come behind the arc. (For comparison’s sake: Brannen Greene takes 71.8% of his shots from downtown.) Look for him to catch and shoot. 24 of his 28 makes from 3-point land have been assisted.

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Bill Self: Big 12 champion Jayhawks going to OU to win

Kansas coach Bill Self hugs Devonte Graham (4) after a 76-69 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers Tuesday, March 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse..

Kansas coach Bill Self hugs Devonte Graham (4) after a 76-69 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers Tuesday, March 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse..

Just one game remains in the regular season for Bill Self’s Kansas basketball team, and his Jayhawks (24-6 overall, 13-4 Big 12) already have sole possession of a conference championship sealed up.

Plus, two guys that started for KU just less than two weeks ago — forwards Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander — don’t figure in the plans.

That makes Saturday’s game at Oklahoma (20-9, 11-6) unique, but Self still plans on going down to Norman to win.

He talked about that and more Thursday afternoon at his weekly press conference. Here are some of the highlights:

On monumental rallies in the Big 12 this past week: They’ve always happened, based on Self’s knowledge, and they happen at home, where the crowd plays such a part of it. The Iowa State rally vs. OU was different. The Cyclones went off. KU didn’t really hit shots vs. West Virginia; the Jayhawks just rebounded. At Allen Fieldhouse, the crowd gives KU players so much confidence.

The perception of the Big 12 nationally is it’s a great league, and not a top-heavy league, which Self thinks is fair. There is parity in the Big 12. There are only 10 teams in the conference, which is different from the other major conferences. ESPN has promoted the league favorably but the Big 12 still operates in the fly-over states and doesn’t get quite the attention that the ACC gets, for example.

Sometimes the regular season gets overlooked, and sometimes that’s unfair. KU has had a good season, but the Jayhawks have to play well in the postseason to make it special.

Everybody in the league has done well at some point or another in the postseason in the Big 12 since Self has been here, too, he said.

If you have good enough players to win the league, you have a good enough team to make a run in the postseason.

Perry Ellis is responding well to treatment. But he’s definitely not going to play at Oklahoma. Hopefully by next week they will know if he can get out there and play in the Big 12 Tournament.

It’s a sprained knee.

There is nothing new on Cliff Alexander, so to Self’s estimation, the chances of him playing Saturday are almost non-existent.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) hangs for a shot against Texas center Cameron Ridley (55) and forward Connor Lammert during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is Kansas forward Perry Ellis.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) hangs for a shot against Texas center Cameron Ridley (55) and forward Connor Lammert during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is Kansas forward Perry Ellis. by Nick Krug

This altered lineup impacts how KU will play at OU, when they should be fine-tuning things. Wayne Selden Jr. has an ankle injury, too. The Jayhawks might tweak some things and “have some fun with it.”

Depending on Selden’s situation, there won’t be anyone who has played a ton of minutes except for Frank Mason III. And Mason wants to play. He doesn’t want to rest. Besides, Self says KU is going down to OU to win the game.

There are probably a lot of things that would have to happen for KU to get in position to be considered for a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs.

If things went in the other direction, the Jayhawks could fall to a 3-seed line.

Self hopes KU has its full complement of players for the Big 12 Tournament, because right now it feels like they are in limbo.

Oklahoma has a tremendous lineup, and Self thought this game would probably mean a lot more in terms of the league title race.

But now KU is playing for seed lines, that sort of thing, as is OU.

Now with 11 Big 12 titles in a row, Self can remember certain portions of specific seasons when things sort of clicked or things fell apart.

Self will probably remember this one more than others because it was such a grind to get the championship. This might have been the most difficult season to win the league, in large part because the differential in talent is so small.

Kansas center Hunter Mickelson (42) knocks the ball loose to create a steal against the West Virginia Mountaineers Tuesday, March 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Hunter Mickelson (42) knocks the ball loose to create a steal against the West Virginia Mountaineers Tuesday, March 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

When guys like Hunter Mickelson and Landen Lucas come in ready to play like they did against West Virginia, that is a credit to them more than the coaches.

Mickelson just wants a chance to play, which is a good thing. Self said he, Lucas and Svi Mykhailiuk have as good an attitude as anybody in the program.

Mickelson can shoot and blocks some shots. He busted his butt against WVU. And Lucas made a “stud play” at the end of regulation to block a shot that could’ve won it for WVU.

It’s kind of a next man up situation, as the football saying goes. Those guys should play well and Self thinks they will.

KU hit nine 3-pointers in the first half against OU at Allen Fieldhouse earlier this season, but the Jayhawks aren’t going to Norman expecting to make that many.

Still, without Ellis, it will behoove Kansas to hit some perimeter shots on Saturday.

Self doesn’t talk about missing shots with the team, just with the media.

ISU and OU are the best shot-making teams in the league, so Kansas doesn’t want to go down there and get in a game of HORSE. You have to have some shot-makers. But mainly KU needs to get quality shots more than anything else.

In the race for Big 12 Player of the Year, Ellis might be hurt by missing time at the end. To Self, Ellis putting KU on his back speaks volume. Buddy Hield has been great for Oklahoma, too.

Ellis certainly has played himself onto the first team without question.

— Listen to the entire press conference: Bill Self talks quality of Big 12, seed lines and more

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Getting to know No. 18 Oklahoma

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger pleads to an official during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger pleads to an official during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

As Bill Self mentioned following Kansas University’s Saturday night loss at Iowa State, the Jayhawks don’t have much time to recover and prepare for another solid offensive team in Oklahoma.

The Sooners (12-5 overall, 3-2 Big 12) head to Allen Fieldhouse for Big Monday coming off an 82-65 dismantling of rival Oklahoma State. It was just what OU needed, having lost in overtime to Kansas State and by 21 at West Virginia in its previous two league games.

Only two opponents this season — Butler and Wisconsin — have held Oklahoma below 60 points. The Sooners average 73 points a game (third in the Big 12) and have shot 44.6% from the field (fourth in Big 12).

But Lon Kruger’s team knows how to defend, too. OU has held its competition to 36.9% shooting (third in the Big 12).

Meet the six Sooners KU (14-3, 3-1) has to worry about on Big Monday.

SOONERS STARTERS

No. 24 — Buddy Hield, 6-4, junior G

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins collides with Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield as the two vie for a loose ball during the second half on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured are KU forward Jamari Traylor, left, and guard Brannen Greene.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins collides with Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield as the two vie for a loose ball during the second half on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictured are KU forward Jamari Traylor, left, and guard Brannen Greene. by Nick Krug

Just a fraction of a point behind Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash (17.7 points) for Big 12 leading scorer honors, Hield averages 17.6 points. Unlike his rival from OSU, he can torch opponents from long range.

His 40.8% 3-point shooting ranks fifth in the conference, and he is always ready to fire. HIeld already has made 51 3’s this season — to lead the Big 12 — on 125 hoists.

He’s no one-trick Sooner, either. Hield leads OU with 22 steals, averages 5.6 rebounds and makes 81.8% of his free throws (sixth in the Big 12).

Hield destroyed Oklahoma State on Saturday, nailing all 10 of his field-goal attempts, including four 3-pointers, on his way to 27 points.

He scored 31 in a loss to Kansas State and is averaging a Big 12-best 22.4 points in conference games.

hoop-math.com nugget: Good luck coaxing Hield into taking 2-point jump shots, a range at which he only makes 25.8% of his attempts. He takes less than two of those a game and only 13.6% of his 228 shots have been on 2-point jumpers. Hield basically lives downtown, and at the rim.

No. 11 — Isaiah Cousins, 6-4, junior G

Kansas guard Wayne Selden defends a drive by Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins during the first half on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden defends a drive by Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins during the first half on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Though he doesn’t jack as many 3-pointers as backcourt mate Hield, Cousins actually shoots the deep ball at a higher percentage. He has nailed 32 of 72 3-pointers (44.4%, third in the Big 12).

Cousins hit 4 of 8 3-pointers against Baylor, 3 of 5 at Texas and 3 of 5 at West Virginia.

He averages 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds, but does turn the ball over more than any of his teammates (2.4 a game). His carelessness has picked up since the start of Big 12 play, too. Cousins has averaged 4.3 giveaways in the past three games.

— hoop-math.com nugget: 34.1% of Cousins’ shots have been 2-point jumpers. He has made 20 of 59, and they primarily come one-on-one. Only three of his 2-point jumpers have been assisted.

No. 35 — Tashawn Thomas, 6-8, senior F

None by CBS Sports Radio

The former Houston big man has added some power to the Sooners’ rotation after learning 17 hours before the season opener the NCAA had granted him a waiver to play.

He entered the season with 34 career double-doubles on his resume and has averaged 11.5 points and 5.9 boards as a Sooner, while leading OU with 1.5 blocks.

Both of Thomas’ double-doubles this season have come in Big 12 play: 12 points/11 boards at Texas, 14 points/11 boards vs. K-State.

He blocked three shots at West Virginia and two vs. OSU in his last two games. In the non-conference, he swatted five shots against Missouri.

To open conference play, Thomas lit up Baylor, making 11 of 17 shots and scoring 24 points.

— hoop-math.com nugget: As you might’ve guessed, Thomas mostly operates inside, with 57.2% of his shots coming at the rim. He’s not too bad in short- to mid-range, either. His 40% shooting (24-for-60) on 2-point jumpers leads OU’s rotation players.

No. 00 — Ryan Spangler, 6-8, junior F

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E2r9lrqdg8

Again one of the top rebounders in the conference, Spangler averages 8.2 boards a game (second to Rico Gathers’ 11.2).

When the OU defense gets stops, he’s usually the guy finishing them off. He leads the Big 12 with 6.2 defensive boards a game.

Spangler contributes 9.5 points a game, too, and makes 55.4% of his shots. Since he transferred to Oklahoma from Gonzaga, he has hit 50% or better in 38 of his 50 games, all of which he has started.

The rugged forward went for 11 points and 11 rebounds against OSU, his fifth double-double of the season.

— hoop-math.com nugget: Even though most of Spangler’s boards come on defense, he averages 2.0 a game on offense and has 15 put-backs this season. 25% of his shots at the rim have been on the offensive glass. Spangler shoots 73.3% at the rim (44 of 60).

No. 10 — Jordan Woodard, 6-0, sophomore G

None by Ryan Aber

The least likely scorer in OU’s starting five, the second-year guard scores 7.9 a game.

The Sooners need Woodard to set things up on offense, and he averages 4.5 assists a game (second in the Big 12 to Monté Morris’ 5.9).

He has started all 50 games of his OU career and has shot 82.4% at the foul line this season.

Woodard shot 5-for-7 vs. OSU, scored 13 points and dished four assists.

— hoop-math.com nugget: The point guard can get to the rim on his own. Of his 19 field goals at the rim this season, only one came via a teammate’s assist.

SOONERS BENCH

No. 2 — Dinjiyl Walker, 6-1, junior G

None by Justin Hite

Kruger barely uses his bench, with OU’s five starters all playing 28 minutes a game or more. Walker is the one Sooner backup earning consistent minutes (13.7 a game).

The former junior-college guard averages 5.4 points a game on 39.8% shooting.

Walker’s season-high is 13 points, against Northwestern State, but he also scored 10 points against both Wisconsin and Texas.

— hoop-math.com nugget: Walker hasn’t been great from 3-point range (25%), but 43.4% of his 83 shot attempts have come from deep.

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