Oklahoma will be playing St. Louis in tonight's championship game of the 76 Classic. The Billikens surprised Villanova to reach the championship game and are a team that relies heavily on three-point shooting for success. Its not the championship game that was expected for the tournament but it should make for an exciting and possibly high scoring finale.
Forward Brian Conklin leads the team in scoring with 15.4 points per game. He's shooting 59% from the floor and 79% from the charity stripe. Conklin is joined by Kwamain Mitchell and Cody Ellis in double digit averages with 13 and 10.4 respectively. Mitchell along with Rob Loe (No, not that one. Different spelling) and Kyle Cassity are all shooting above 40% from three-point range with Cassity topping out at 55%. Saint Louis averages 20 three-point attempts per game.
The Billikens aren't particularly strong on the boards which is an area the Sooners can possibly gain an advantage. At just 27 rebounds per game they're entering the contest almost 20 behind Oklahoma's average of 46 per game. Conklin also leads the team in rebounding with 4.8 per game but forwards Dwayne Evans and Cody Ellis also average 4.2 and 4.0 rebounds each.
SLU does a pretty good job at taking care of the ball with just 11 turnovers per game and they also average 9 steals per contest. That's a pretty good average and Oklahoma will definitely need to come ahead in the turnover margin to gain an advantage.
The game plan against St. Louis actually sounds easier than it is but the Sooners really need to emphasize two key aspects. First, they must defend the perimeter. The Billikens have lived by the three and good defensive rotation with hands in faces can lead to them dying by the three. The second thing Oklahoma must do is crash the boards. St. Louis ranks 331st nationally in rebounding and Oklahoma is 2nd. That has to be a key advantage that the Sooners exploit. We've talked about second chance points before and a team that likes to shoot from the perimeter as much as St. Louis does can rack up the second chance points pretty quickly. One and done has to be the key for Oklahoma on the defensive glass while second chance points rule the day on the offensive boards.