The last time Oklahoma's men's basketball team played a true road game was November 21st when they were run out of the gym at VCU. At the time we thought the Sooners just ran into a buzz saw as Jeff Capel went back to the school that launched him to Oklahoma and it was the biggest game to be hosted there. Then OU traveled to Alaska and the team fell on their face against San Diego and Houston to produce a three game losing streak. Since then they've won four in a row to boost their record back up to 6-3 but still the fact remains that they win by an average of 16 at home and have a 1-3 record away from Norman with an average margin of loss at 11 points.
The Sooners are on the road again today at Utah and the Utes are coming off a home win over Michigan which, along with a win at Illinois, provides some legitimacy to their five wins this season. However, as impressive as those victories may be they still have home losses to Idaho and Seattle which leaves the impression that this is a winnable game for Oklahoma.
Like Wednesday night's game this contest could very well be determined by the battle of the boards. Utah's top to scorers are guards Carlon Brown (12.7ppg) and Marshall Henderson (10.7) who average a shooting percentage of 38.2% and 38.8% respectively from the floor. It won't stop them from shooting though as they'll average a combined 20 shots from the floor during the game which means that they're be about 14 shots coming off the rim to be rebounded.
Doing the work on the glass for Utah is Kim Tillie who grabs around seven boards per game which is a team high. He also scores nearly 10 points per game to become Utah's best player in the post. Sophomore David Foster is the Utes' biggest body at 7-3/255 but somehow only manages to grab 5 boards and score six points per game.
Utah isn't going to light it up from outside either. They are a below average long-range shooting team which means that they'll try to work the ball into the paint as well as drive and dish to someone for a mid-range jumper, Luka Drca averages four points per game.
This could wind up being the toughest test of the young season for Tiny Gallon as he'll be charged with shutting down the paint on defense, rebound on both ends of the floor and trying to draw Utah's big men into foul trouble. That isn't too much to ask from a freshman, is it?