Oklahoma wasn't supposed to get past Washington State in their opening game of the 76 Classic and Santa Clara wasn't supposed to upend New Mexico. With both teams advancing to tonight's semifinal game, with one of the guaranteed to make an appearance in Sunday's championship, the underdog story is alive and well in Anaheim, California. So what do we need to know about Santa Clara?
The 3-1 Broncos play in the West Coast Conference with the likes of Gonzaga and BYU among others. Their lone loss on the season was an 89-56 blowout on the road at UC Santa Barbara. Guards Kevin Foster and Evan Roquemore are sixth and seventh in their conference in scoring with 17.5 and 15.5 points per game respectively. Forward Niyi Harrison is the other player on the roster to score in double figures with an average of 14 points per game.
Roquemore is the guy who you don't want to send to the free throw line because he's been 100% so far this season. Forward John McArthur is shooting 93% from the charity stripe but beyond those two guys everyone else is shooting in the 60's or below.
Guard Brandon Clark is who Oklahoma will want to pay attention to from three-point range where he's shooting 66.7%. He's the best long range shooter the Broncos have but Roquemore is pretty solid as well with a 50% average.
Oklahoma was outworked on the boards Thursday night against Washington State and will have to get busy in order to gain an advantage on Santa Clara. Harrison and forward Yannick Atanga lead the Broncos in rebounding with 6.5 per game each. As a team Santa Clara is pulling down nearly 40 boards per game.
The chink in the armor for Santa Clara may be in ball security. The Broncos are turning the ball over an average of 15 times per game while only collecting 4 steals per game. Turnovers were a huge factor in last night's win over Washington State and could be another key tonight.
Santa Clara advanced to the semifinals with a 79-76 overtime win against New Mexico. Tip off tonight is scheduled for 11:00 (CST).