Taking a quick break from conference play, teams take part in the Big XII/SEC Challenge over the weekend. The Kansas Jayhawks host the Kentucky Wildcats in the marquee pairing of two heavy weights. However, a big individual match up takes place at another location. All eyes will be on Buddy Hield, the National Player of the Year frontrunner, and Ben Simmons, the projected No. 1 Overall NBA Draft Pick, when the Oklahoma Sooners and LSU Tigers take to the hardwood.
Taking their talents and No. 1 ranking on the road, the Sooners hope to secure a third consecutive win in the Big XII/SEC Challenge. Stopping OU's back court becomes a daunting task knowing the team shoots a nation leading and school record 46.7% from behind the arc. Jordan Woodard has solidified himself in a new role as the two guard behind a stellar shooting year. Taking over the point, Isaiah Cousins continues to facilitate play while creating for others.
Defensively, Oklahoma sets the tone with the physicality of Ryan Spangler and athleticism of Khadeem Lattin. The two forward contribute in a major fashion to the conference leading 39% field goal defense. As a whole, the Sooners hold opponents to 71.4 points per game while averaging 85.5 themselves. If these trends continue, Lon Kruger will secure his 100th win as the head coach at Oklahoma on Saturday.
But, what do the Tigers bring to the table?
For starters, Ben Simmons is a force to reckon with in the paint with the potential to explode for an enormous amount of points. Averaging 19.8 points and 12.7 rebounds, Simmons and the rest of the Tigers are playing with confidence after downing a ranked Kentucky program earlier this month. Yet, Simmons is not a lone ranger receiving help from three others who average double-digits in scoring for LSU.
Behind the effort, the Tigers average 81.3 points per outing, a number that ranks 30th in the nation. Knowing that the offensive production is there, it comes down to defense where LSU holds opponents to 75.6 points each night. Hoping to break the tie (2-2 all-time record against Oklahoma), Baton Rouge will be rocking.
Who will come out ahead and potentially take an overwhelming lead for Player of the Year?