Once again, the Oklahoma Sooners are on the road to face an undefeated team — this time Xavier Musketeers in the Big 12-Big East Battle.
Get better.— Oklahoma Basketball (@OU_MBBall) December 9, 2020
Get better. pic.twitter.com/ozMExPhyWk
Oklahoma Sooners (2-0) vs. Xavier Musketeers (6-0): 7 p.m. CT at Cintas Center (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Commentary: Eric Collins and Steve Lavin
Live Stream: FoxSportsGo
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa; Tune In Radio App) with Toby Rowland and Kevin Henry announcing
Line: Oklahoma -2.5 (as of 2 p.m. CT)
- Xavier’s first five wins came against Oakland, Bradley, Toledo, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech, with Toledo having the highest KenPom rating of the five (No. 102). However, the Musketeers picked up a quality win in its sixth game, topping crosstown rival Cincinnati, 77-69, this past Sunday. Both Xavier and Cincy were expecting to have rebuilding years (by their standards) in 2020, so it’s still a bit tough to gauge how good the Musketeers really are at this point.
- The Musketeers are currently No. 59 in KenPom’s team efficiency ratings, sitting at No. 87 offensively and No. 42 defensively. By comparison, Oklahoma is No. 25 (No. 13 offensively, No. 48 defensively) in the same rankings.
- Xavier is led by 6’9” sophomore forward Zach Freemantle, who is averaging 17.2 PPG and 8.5 RPG through six contests. Three guards — Paul Scruggs (13.7), KyKy Tandy (12.7) and Nate Johnson (11.5) — are also averaging double-figures scoring.
- In the last meeting between the two programs, the Sooners topped future NBA mainstay David West and Xavier by a score of 78-65, punching a ticket to the Sweet Sixteen in the process. Kelvin Sampson’s squad would then go on to reach the 2002 Final Four — the OU hoops program’s fourth time to accomplish the feat.
- Austin, the Creator - Lon Kruger’s decision to assign point guard duties to Austin Reaves has proven fruitful through OU’s first two games. In recent history, this program has been prone to long bouts of offensive stagnation, but Reaves’ ability to force the issue has really seemed to open things up for the team as a whole. Even without the three-pointers falling at a high rate against TCU, the half-court offensive possessions frequently felt productive. When considering that this happened against a good defensive team, it bodes well for the future.
- Pick-and-roll Sooners - Speaking of the half-court offense, OU is having some early success with the pick-and-roll — particularly with the combo of Reaves and center Kur Kuath. Again, it’s not something we’ve seen too much of in recent memory (even with Trae Young running the point), so I’m interested to see how much more we’ll see of it as the season progresses.
What a finish by Kur Kuath on the pick and roll. pic.twitter.com/NEUJsd3RSx— OUHoops (@ouhoops) December 6, 2020
- Manek in the paint - With a bit of additional mass to his frame, senior Brady Manek has been calling for the ball down low far more frequently than in seasons past. He also appears to have been working on his interior moves, and his efforts to become a more well-rounded player appear to be paying off. In addition, he appears to generally be more aggressive and confident as a senior, so as First Team All-Big 12 type of season isn’t outside of the realm of possibility for Prairie Bird.
Oklahoma 78, Xavier 74