The Oklahoma Sooners have not won a basketball game in over a month. In fact, this seven-game losing streak is the longest losing streak since Kruger has arrived. The last time the Sooners have lost this many games in a row was back to 2011 with Jeff Capel, a season in which OU accumulated eight consecutive losses. After a positive historical season for Oklahoma, the Sooners are making history for the wrong reasons. Can they end their drought against the Red Raiders?
How to watch
The Sooners and Red Raiders tip off at 7:30 PM CT at Lloyd Noble Center, and the game will be televised on ESPNU. You can also watch the live stream of the contest on WatchESPN. The comment section below will serve as the game thread, so make sure to comment on the action as it unfolds.
So far this season, Oklahoma and Texas Tech have matched up against three common opponents. Two of these teams were conference foes (Kansas, Kansas State), while another was out of conference (Auburn). How did these two teams fare against these opponents?
Oklahoma has the disadvantage in this category, as they have not managed to beat any of these teams. Going 0-3 against these opponents, the Sooners were outscored 230-204. On the other hand, Texas Tech managed to walk away with one win out of these three games against Kansas State Wildcats. Texas Tech was outscored 217-199 against these teams. The biggest point differential for OU in these games came against both KU and KSU, losing by 11 points in each matchup. The Red Raiders suffered a lopsided loss to KU when they traveled to Lawrence, losing by 18 points. Both TTU and OU faced Auburn on a neutral site, with the Sooners playing them in Uncasville, Connecticut and the Red Raiders meeting them in Cancun, Mexico.
How they play
Although Texas Tech has had a decent start to the season at 13-3, that record is a bit deceptive. Texas Tech has only one true road win so far this year, and two wins total away from their home court. The Red Raiders have two ranked wins at home against Kansas State and West Virginia, which is very impressive. But having a 2-3 record away from Lubbock is not intimidating, and their 1-2 record in true road games is even worse. However, let's not act like Lloyd Noble is anything like entering "The Phog”. We will be lucky if the LNC is half full for this game, as the Sooner fans couldn't even pack out the arena against the No. 2 Jayhawks. OU's 4-3 home record this season also does not pose any threat to a road team.
The Red Raiders have been an efficient shooting team this season, as they are currently 10th in the nation in shooting percentage (50.3 percent). They are also 23rd in the country for 3-point shooting percentage, which would be much more impressive if they were shooting more than 17 3-pointers a game. Where they beat teams is inside the arch, making 55.3 percent of their 2-pointers. Their defense is also no joke, as they are 2nd in the country in opponent total rebounds and 11th in the country in opponent assists per game. This Red Raider team could provide problems for the Sooners, who seem to create their own problems anyway.
Oklahoma's fast shooting start to begin the season has quickly faded. OU is currently 179th in the country in shooting percentage (43.6 percent), 280th in 2-point shooting percentage (45.8 percent) and 191st in shooting efficiency. Clearly what was the Sooners' crutch all throughout last season has been ripped away, and now OU feels lost. However, there are a couple categories in which the Sooners have been able to excel -- blocks and steals. Oklahoma is 44th in the country in blocks per game (5 BPG) and 29th in the country in steals per game (7.9 SPG). The Sooners have improved in steals this season compared to last year, as the 2015-2016 team only averaged 6.7 steals per game throughout the season. The problem for OU is that Texas Tech is statistically strong in both of these categories. The Red Raiders are 42nd in opponent steals per game and 6th in opponent blocks per game.
Who to watch
12 of Texas Tech's 15 players are upperclassmen, with only one freshman on the roster. Conversely, 11 of OU’s 16 players are underclassmen, and they sometimes start four of them. These two teams collide on opposite spectrums, with TTU's veterans carrying their squad and OU ushering in a multitude of young faces. The four leading scorers for the Red Raiders are all upperclassmen, and all four are averaging double digits.
Zach Smith and Keenan Evans may be a problem for Oklahoma. Evans is leading the team in scoring (13.9 PPG), but Smith is putting up 12.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. This physical and aggressive team may be too much for the weak interior of the Sooners.
Trying to find a consistent player has been quite the task for Kruger this season. Jordan Woodard was the best hope for this team, but he’s had to sit out multiple games. His return in the last matchup resulted in more confidence in this team, but a familiar result followed. Rashard Odomes and Kameron McGusty have really stepped up in recent games and helped OU fans look forward to seasons to come. However, second-half slumps continue to plague this team.
It is difficult at this point to find a reason to say why the Sooners will win, as they have given us every reason to believe they won't. However, the fight that this team provided against KU was enough to get me to believe in this team once more. Expect Woodard to look more settled in and help end the drought this evening.
Oklahoma 75, Texas Tech 70