After opening the season with a 6-1 record and some quality wins, the Oklahoma Sooners enter a tough stretch on Tuesday as they face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Jimmy V Classic. The game will take place at historic Madison Square Garden in New York, where the Sooners will unfortunately be without starting center Jamuni McNeace.
The #Sooners and Irish in the World’s Most Famous Arena. @TRowOU & Kevin Henry preview tonight’s matchup, including how OU will adjust without Jamuni McNeace (ankle injury). pic.twitter.com/cF9bwkE1iF— Oklahoma Basketball (@OU_MBBall) December 4, 2018
Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame: 6 p.m. at Madison Square Garden
Commentary: Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas and Allison Williams
Live Stream: FOX Sports Go
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa), Toby Rowland and Kevin Henry announcing
Line: Oklahoma -2 (as of 1 p.m. CT)
About Notre Dame
- The Irish are 6-1 on the season with wins over UIC, Chicago State, William & Mary, Duquesne, DePaul and Illinois. Notre Dame’s lone loss came at the hands of Radford, who also defeated Texas in its most recent game.
- Notre Dame is currently 54th in the KenPom rankings, currently standing at No. 51 in adjusted offensive efficiency, No. 70 in adjusted defensive efficiency and No. 93 in adjusted tempo. Ironically, the Irish rank 195th in KenPom’s “luck” rating.
- The Irish are led by junior guard TJ Gibbs, who is averaging 13.7 PPG but has struggled from the field (.344, .244 from three).
- Life without Jamuni - Oklahoma’s starting center is out tonight with an ankle injury, which couldn’t come at a worse time. The Sooners are entering a non-conference stretch that includes the Irish, Wichita State, USC, Creighton and Northwestern, and missing the guy who is arguably the team’s x-factor really hurts — even if it only ends up being one game. His physicality, rim protection and improved offensive play have been some of the biggest keys to OU’s early success in 2018-19, and missing that is absolutely crushing. It’ll be interesting to see what Lon Kruger does with his rotations, but I imagine we’ll see a bit of the Doolittle-Manek frontcourt combo as opposed to seeing too much of centers Kur Kuath or Hannes Pölla — although I’m sure they’ll get their fair share of minutes. CORRECTION: Kur Kuath is still out with a back issue.
- Rashard Odomes - Operating under the assumption that we’ll see more of Kristian Doolittle down low, that’ll likely equal more minutes for Rashard Odomes at the three. As much as he brings to the table with his defense, general effort and ability to attack the basket, look for him to have a significant impact on this one.
- Christian James - James had a quiet evening against North Texas by his standards, finishing with nine points on 3-7 shooting (2-4 from deep) in 20 minutes. With McNeace out, he’ll need to shoulder even more of the offensive load than usual. He will also probably need to create his own shot on a more frequent basis due to the likely decrease in inside-out ball movement tonight.
Notre Dame is far from an elite team, but the frontcourt (led by John Mooney, very Notre Dame name) is good enough to take advantage of McNeace’s absence. I’d favor the Sooners with him in the lineup, but I just don’t think they’ll quite be able to overcome this development tonight. He’s just too important.
Notre Dame 76, Oklahoma 70