It is no secret to both of these teams just how tough conference play is going to be considering the first three match-ups each has had. The Oklahoma Sooners have had a brutal conference schedule facing the likes of Kansas and Missouri. However, it isn't going to get any easier Monday night as the Sooners will play host to the #18 Kansas St. Wildcats. On the flip side of the coing, it hasn't been much easier for the Kansas St. Wildcats as they have faced Baylor, Kansas, and Missouri. The Wildcats will be looking to get back on track in Norman after boasting a losing record in conference play.
The Kansas St. Wildcats are known for their physicality and are possibly one of the most physical teams in all aspects in the nation. They are well coached, however they will have their blips here and there opening things up for easy scores for the opponent.
Rebounding seems to be a key thing everyone talking about Oklahoma wants to bring up. While the Sooners have excelled in the area, given the fact that they are undersized, they will meet their match in KSU. There is a single rebound separating these two teams on the season average. The main concern will be if the physicality of the Wildcats leads some of the Sooners to shy away from crashing the boards as Romero Osby and Andrew Fitzgerald are not giving up size in this one.
Outside of rebounding will be close out defense. Kansas St. is not afraid of sharing the ball shown by their 15.2 assists per game. There are two players who have solid court vision in Will Spradling and Shane Southwell. Both pose a threat while handling the ball as both have just around a 2 assist to turnover ratio. This could cause all sorts of headaches for Oklahoma's defense.
Every team has a chink in the armor that is waiting to be exposed. The Wildcats were exposed earlier than they might have wanted to be and that is in this: turnovers and defensive rebounding. The Sooners will need to stay agressive on the offensive boards and collect a few turnovers to rattle this Kansas St. team. This is where watching film is going to be key.
Currently coming off a career high is leading scorer Rodney McGruder who averages 14.3 points per game. The offense will need to put the ball in his hands and hope that Steven Pledger doesn't catch fire. It could turn into a one up type match up if these two players get it going early. Yet it remains vital that Pledger touch the ball every time down the court as Sooner fans never know what the rest of the team is going to produce outside of Fitzgerald. A team simply cannot have a bench player as leading scorer and hope to pull out a win, it simply isn't going to happen.
This match up is going to be a tough one for Oklahoma. While they is not a sizable difference in talent level, there will be in aggressiveness. The Wildcats will try to exploit that and gain the upper hand tonight.