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Bedlam Basketball Round One: Decision To "Man Up" Has Changed Oklahoma's Identity

With Oklahoma's current four-game winning streak, and being tied with Texas A&M for third place, you'd have to say that once again they're back in the grand scheme of things as far as the Big 12 Conference goes. In that grand scheme of things today's Bedlam match up becomes a must win for the Sooners. Thanks to a coaching decision by Jeff Capel OU is in a much better position to win than they were three weeks ago.


Bedlam Statistical Matchup
 Oklahoma Off vs   Oklahoma St. Def
 68.1 Points For
 66.2 Points Against
 46.6 FG%
 40.9 FG%
 29.3 Reb
 29.3 Reb
 Oklahoma St. Off vs   Oklahoma Def
 70.2 Points For
 66.7 Points Against
 44.0 FG%
 43.9 FG%
 29.3 Reb
 28.9 Reb







With a mid-week match-up against Texas and a road trip to Missouri next Saturday looming a loss in Stillwater could easily turn into a three-game slide the other way. In the 17 games leading up to Oklahoma's current winning streak the Sooners have allowed opponents to score 66 points per game. Over the last four games opponents are scoring at a pace of 69 points per game. So how does a team go on a season long winning streak by giving up three more points per game than the season average?

The difference is turnovers and shooting percentage. Over the current streak Oklahoma has forced more turnovers than they've committed and have had a sizable advantage in shooting percentage. The switch to strictly running a man defense has helped the Sooners force an average of 17 turnovers per game while only allowing them to shoot 41% from the floor. 

Now a week after gaining their first road victory of the season the Sooners are back on the road against an Oklahoma State team that is shooting 40% from the floor in conference play (last in the Big 12) and averaging 13 turnovers per conference game. Going into Stillwater isn't a hopeless situation for Oklahoma but it is a venue in which the Cowboys have only lost once this season. The key question is if OU can keep the same defensive intensity and hot shooting they've shown over the last four games?

Forward Marshall Moses leads OSU in scoring with an average of 15 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounds per game with 8. He'll definitely be a load for Oklahoma's "big men" to deal with and Andrew Fitzgerald is going to have to be careful to stay out of foul trouble. Guard Keiton Page is just behind Moses with an average of 14 points per game and can get hot from three-point range. He leads the team in three-point shots made with 39. 

The dark horse for the Cowboys is going to be Jéan-Paul Olukemi who has been clutch in conference play by averaging 15 points per game. He's a master at making his way to the free-throw line and has shot a team high 132 on the year. He could possibly be the biggest challenge Jeff Capel's man defense has seen to this point. 

Of course Oklahoma has their own players with hot hands recently in sophomore Steven Pledger and freshman Cameron Clark. The best news of all for the Sooners is that the Cowboys are last in the Big 12 in defending the perimeter. OSU opponents are connecting on 40% of their three-point shots and with Oklahoma having an offense that seems to live and die by the three that could open the door for Oklahoma to stay active from long range.

I don't really see either team having a sizable advantage in this game but Gallagher Iba could be the biggest asset of the day. They Cowboys have made a habit of winning there while the Sooners have just now figured out how to win on the road. I guess you could say this is going to be a huge test of Oklahoma's manhood.