Defensive Battle To Ensue As Stephen F. Austin Takes On Oklahoma

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

While much of the talk has centered around the Sooners defense lately, some of that focus will shift today as the Lumberjacks have been a defensive mainstay nationally for the past five seasons. In those five seasons, Stephen F. Austin has found themselves ranked inside the top ten on defense.

The Oklahoma Sooners take to the hardwood once again. This time it will be against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks marking only the third time this season Oklahoma has played at home. However, the Sooners will be without backup point guard Sam Grooms this go around.

While much of the talk has centered around the Sooners defense lately, some of that focus will shift today as the Lumberjacks have been a defensive mainstay nationally for the past five seasons. In those five seasons, Stephen F. Austin has found themselves ranked inside the top ten on defense. However, coming into this matchup, they will boast a number one ranking while allowing a mere 49.5 points per game this season. Much of the success on defense that SFA has had comes from the ability to rebound. The Lumberjacks have not been outrebounded in their last 18 games and have a 7.5+ margin. Could Oklahoma be the squad that snaps the current 40 game streak of holding opponents under 70 points?

On the flip side of the coin, the Lumberjacks average 68.6 points per game on offense behind 47.4% shooting. A weak spot for this squad comes at the line. If it is a close game, look for Lon Kruger to send SFA to the free throw line frequently seeing as they shoot 59.2% from the charity stripe.

Leading the way for Stephen F. Austin is senior forward Taylor Smith, a player the Lumberjacks will feed the ball to. He averages 14.3 points per game to along with 7.3 rebounds while ranking second nationally with a 68.9 field goal percentage.

To compliment Smith is another senior in guard Antonio Bostic, who averages 10 points per game as well as Jacob Parker who adds 9.4 points per game. Bostic is an up and down type player in the fact that you never know what he will contribute offensively. This season alone, he has games of 15 points as well as 2 points. It is Parker who also exemplifies great shot selection as he hits on 56.6% of his attempts.

However, it is all made possible by none other than Hal Bateman. This is a kid who ranks 11th in the nation in assists per game at 6.9. Bateman has posted double digit assits twice this season and could become a factor today as well.

The one common opponent that Oklahoma and Stephen F. Austin have this season is the Texas A&M Aggies. After winning the first five games of the season, the Lumberjacks fell to the Aggies 62-54 on the road. Oklahoma on the other hand, played Texas A&M at a neutral site and come out with a 64-54 win and the All-College Classic Trophy.

Tip-off is at 7 PM (CST) and can be caught on Sooner Sports TV.

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