Oklahoma has struggled to an 0-2 start in Big 12 Conference play but tonight's Bedlam game could be exactly what the Sooners need to break their slump. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are sitting at 8-7 on the season and 1-1 in Big 12 play with a win over Texas Tech and a loss at Texas. After dropping a home game to the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday the Sooners need to pick one up on the road and Gallagher Iba Arena provides the perfect opportunity to do just that.
The Cowboys have lost five of their last seven games which certainly doesn't prove to make them an intimidating foe going into tonight's game. They are led in scoring by Keiton Page who drops in a average of 14.1 points per game. Le'Bryan Nash may be the most explosive player on the team and is scoring an average of 12.3 points per game. They are the only two players on the team averaging double figures in scoring.
Oklahoma has three players scoring in double figures led by Steven Pledger's 17.8 points per game. Behind him are forwards Andrew Fitzgerald and Romero Osby who are contributing 12.6 and 10.4 points per game. The Sooners rank 78th nationally in scoring with 73.9 points per game while OSU is 222nd at 66 points per game. The scoring advantage is in Oklahoma's favor.
Rebounds are going Oklahoma's way as well. Led by Osby's 8.4 boards per game the Sooners rank 13th nationally in rebounding with an average of 40.2 each night. Conversely the Cowboys rank 137th nationally in rebounding with their leading man on the boards being Philip Jurick who grabs 5.8 rebounds per game. Another advantage to Oklahoma.
Neither team is going to kill you at the free throw line but both leading scorers are the two best free throw shooters on each team. Steven Pledger is good on 87% of his free throws while OSU's Keiton Page hits 77.6% of his. Oklahoma State makes it to the free throw line around 23 times per game while the Sooners are only there 21 times. However, Oklahoma is going to make more of them so there's another OU advantage.
Here's possibly the biggest advantage between the two schools. Oklahoma State averages 10 assists per game (324th nationally) while OU dishes out 14 dimes per game. That's a eight point difference right there but when you consider that both teams turn the ball over 13 times per game the assists advantage becomes even greater.
Games aren't played on paper but if they were the Sooners would be in control early and not look back. Oklahoma has to play their tempo and not allow the Cowboys to dictate the pace. The Sooners must also crash the boards and limit OSU to just one shot per offensive possession while gaining second chance points themselves. OU also has the better athletes inside with Osby and Fitzgerald who have to be scorers both inside and outside.
A major part of Oklahoma's losses has been the inability to make shots. That's the only thing that can really kill the Sooners tonight. Against Missouri the Sooners couldn't hit and the Tigers couldn't miss. That made for just the right ingredients for a blowout. Fortunately for Oklahoma the Cowboys aren't as dangerous on the offensive side of the ball as the Tigers so that could but OU some time if the shots aren't falling early.