The Oklahoma Sooners come into the this current season without a ton of experience. Relying heavily on underclassmen and transfers are not the only obstacles Lon Kruger and his squad look to overcome during conference play. A glance at the roster reveals no player over the height of 6-8. Sure, the Sooners possess two 6-8 players on the roster, but it is a rarity to see Ryan Spangler and D.J. Bennett on the floor at the same time. While this program is headed in the right direction, a glaring issue has manifested itself: can OU compete with the elite programs? Here are three stat lines to watch against the top tier teams of the Big XII moving forward.
As I have alluded to previously, this is a team that often finds themselves outsized in the post against elite caliber programs. In an effort to gain an edge, Cameron Clark has been permanently moved to the forward spot. Undoubtedly, it is a role he has thrived in evidenced by the conference leading 18.7 points per outing. With an improving shot and the ability to create of the bounce, Clark is a force to be reckoned with yet, nearly unstoppable against bigger defenders. However, it regularly leaves Spangler to fight for boards alone.
The Sooners have been out-rebounded three times this season (against Michigan St., Louisiana Tech, and most recently Kansas) each resulting in a loss. It is crucial that Oklahoma win the battle on the boards with a team effort as one man cannot do it alone. As we all know, rebounds frequently spring teams into the transition game or allow a second chance at points. With the size differential unlikely to change soon, Kruger and his squad need to find an answer in a hurry if they hope to earn a spot in the Big Dance.
Being undersized, OU has found success by the playing the perimeter. Against a hated rival in the Texas Longhorns, the Sooners once again found themselves with a tall task ahead, literally. The answer? Knocking down shots from three point land as Oklahoma hit on 10-of-16 in the first half while taking a lead into the break.
Currently, the group of players on the hardwood at any given moment are connecting from range at an average rate of 38% ranking them 59th nationally. Regardless, made 3-point attempts stretch the floor allowing for players like Jordan Woodard to attack the rim. Without the long ball finding the bottom of the net, teams will be able to clog the lane all but eliminating the strengths of two of the best players Oklahoma has in Woodard and Clark.
There is no hiding it anymore...OU has a single true point guard on the roster as well as a single scoring threat on the blocks. Needless to say, Woodard and Spangler are two of the most irreplaceable players on this roster. We have already mentioned the importance of rebounding and how crucial Spangler is in aiding that effort. Fans have previously played witness the defensive lapses as well as a lack of productivity on the glass in Spangler's absence due to injury or foul trouble.
In Woodard's case, being the only true point guard on this roster instantly makes him vital to the success of this program. However, it is his attack mentality that has Woodard attempting a team high 121 free throws on the season. Often times, those trips to the charity stripe can be the difference in the game. Without him on the floor players are shifted and can be found playing out of their natural positions. It creates havoc leading to more turnovers and less point yielding trips down the floor.