I'm going to go ahead and say that this Saturday's game at Texas A&M is the most crucial game that the Sooners have faced yet. The reason why is because moving to 4-2 going into a stretch that includes games against Texas, at Colorado, Iowa State, at Texas Tech and then Baylor give Oklahoma the potential to lock into a top four finish in the conference. Should they lose in College Station on Saturday then we are looking at a possible two game skid with Texas coming to Norman on Wednesday night
Obviously this isn't last season's A&M team but none the less winning in College Station is no simple task. To help us get more acquainted with this Aggie squad is our good friend Ryan from TAMBINPO. Welcome aboard, Ryan. Thanks for your time!
Ryan: I think that in those three losses we saw bits of different things. The tech game was our first true road game of the season and with 9 of 12 scholarship players being underclassmen it was an adjustment and it was magnified by tech's pure hatred of us. KSU was another road game and at the time no one realized how good they actually are. Baylor lit us up with their myriad of guards, which has been something that has plagued us for a couple of years. We're still not exactly sure what to make of this team, but when our upperclassmen (Jones, Kirk, & Carter) bring their game we seem to play better. We've also given Bryan Davis more minutes as he has come alive for us, and sparks us with his intensity and hustle.
Texas A&M only has two players averaging double digits in scoring but there are 6 averaging 8 or more. Is this a team that lacks a consistent scoring threat or are they a truly balanced team?
Ryan: I do think we are much more balanced than we have been in the past couple of years. Last year it was Acie, Jones, & Kavaulaskas putting up just about all our points but we've had more contributors this year. Personally, I think Josh Carter is the key, and I'd like to see him start piling up more points. He is a gifted 3 point shooter (led the nation last season) but when he is aggressive and starts to make plays inside the paint our offense tends to go better.
How big was the Texas win for new head coach Mark Turgeon?
Ryan: It was huge. It gave him a marquee win but more-so than that it got the fans off his back. He made a comment earlier in the season which rang fairly true. "I got no chance this year," Turgeon said. "If we win, it's because of Gillispie. If we lose, it's because of Mark Turgeon. So I can't win." During that 3 game skid fans were all over him. At the end of the texas game it was really nice to hear the student body, and then the rest of the arena, start to chant his name. I think that 9 out of 10 fans are behind him, but that 1 that isn't is just more vocal.
Tell us about the watermelon yell used for the Texas game.
Ryan: Watermelon Yell. Classic. Last season Rick "Used Car Salesman" Barnes said "[Reed Arena] wasn't the loudest place I've ever been. [Yells] went out in junior high," he said. "What's next? 'Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon rind. Look at the score board to see who's behind'?" As the clock was ticking down and we were up by 20 the students broke out with it. Nothing like sticking it the horns when they're down.
Is this team stronger on offense or defense?
Ryan:I'm not sure. Going into conference play I thought we were going to be a juggernaut offensively, but after the Colorado game we sputtered. During that 3 game skid we had difficulty creating shots, but that seems to have been righted somewhat in the two games since then. We are not as strong defensively as we were under The Kentucky Coach but Dominique Kirk is probably the best defensive guard in the conference and Derrick Roland and Bryan Davis have really stepped their defense up since last season.