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Oklahoma Sooners Basketball vs. Arkansas at the PK80 Invitational: Preview & Game Thread

Trae Young and Jaylen Barford lead Oklahoma and Arkansas into one of this season’s biggest winter tournaments — the PK80 Invitational in Portland.

Oklahoma v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

The Oklahoma Sooners will face a somewhat familiar foe in the first round of the PK80 Invitational in Portland on Saturday afternoon as Jaylen Barford and the 3-0 Arkansas Razorbacks will look to snuff out OU’s early momentum. PK80 — an early-season tournament honoring the 80th birthday of Nike co-founder Phil Knight — will also feature schools such as North Carolina, Michigan State and Oregon in the Victory Bracket. The other bracket — the Motion Bracket — will feature Duke, Texas, Florida, Gonzaga and others. Unfortunately, the two brackets never meet, so there’s no possibility of a Red River Shootout in the Pacific Northwest. The Sooners will almost certainly face the North Carolina Tar Heels if they grab a victory on Thursday.

Oklahoma (2-0) vs. Arkansas (3-0): 4 p.m. CT

TV: ESPN2

Crew: Roxy Bernstein (PXP), Bill Walton (An

alyst/Grateful Dead references)

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa)

About Arkansas

  • The Razorbacks are led by Jaylen Barford, one of the best guards in the country who is averaging 20.3 PPG and is 6-12 from beyond the arc through three games. Fellow senior guard Daryl Macon, who averages 16 PPG himself, joins Barford to help form one of the best overall backcourts in the country.
  • Daniel Gafford, a highly-touted 6’11” freshman from El Dorado, Ark., is an exceptionally versatile reserve who has tallied double-figure scoring totals in each of his first three collegiate games. His length and athleticism have also allowed him to record three blocks on two separate occasions.
  • Arkansas has recorded 23 dunks in only three games. That may seem like a trivial statistic, but plays such as that can build confidence and swing momentum.
  • Arkansas leads the overall series 15-12, but Oklahoma has won seven of the last 10 meetings dating back to its 1998 win in Norman. Arkansas won the most recent meeting (2012-13) by a score of 81-78 in Fayetteville. This marks the first time since that the two programs have met on a neutral court since the 1994 Rainbow Classic in Honolulu.

3 Things to Watch

  • Trae Young vs. physical defense - Mike Anderson’s teams are known for their physicality, so this will definitely be a nice early test for the freshman point guard. His IQ as a distributor will come in handy against a team that likes to jump passes, and ball movement as a whole will be of utmost importance against a teams such as this.
  • Backcourt/perimeter defense - As mentioned earlier, the Razorbacks have an exceptional backcourt. These players also have a knack for getting to the rim, so Young and his backcourt mates could have their hands full.
  • Frontcourt battle - If Arkansas has one weak link, it’s its frontcourt. Khadeem Lattin and Jamuni McNeace should definitely be up to the task defensively, but we’ll have to see how Brady Manek does on that end. He should be able to use length and athleticism to his advantage, so things are promising.

Prediction

This will likely be a close one, but the improvement we’ve seen in this team’s ball movement is a really encouraging sign. This weekend as a whole will likely serve as a coming-out party of sorts for Trae Young as far as the national college basketball stage is concerned. Also, Bill Walton is will either make you laugh or drive you insane.

Oklahoma 88, Arkansas 84