Happy Monday, friends and fans!
Riding an impressive three-game win streak, the Oklahoma Sooners men’s basketball team checks in at No. 24 in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll. Most recently, OU defeated the Kansas Jayhawks, 75-68 on Saturday.
After an up-and-down start to conference play, Oklahoma has seemingly found its footing on both ends of the court in the last couple weeks. Now sitting alone in third place in the Big 12 while boasting a 9-4 overall record, the Sooners will look to continue their current run of success against top-rated competition.
Also around the Big 12, the Baylor Bears remain undefeated and ranked No. 2 in this week’s AP Poll. Additionally, the Texas Longhorns stay at No. 5, Texas Tech rises to No. 10 and West Virginia climbs to No. 11. Meanwhile, KU falls to No. 15 amid a rare three-game skid.
Up next for OU comes a tough three-game stretch featuring a trio of top 10 teams. First is a trip to fifth-ranked UT, followed by a home game against Alabama. Finally, Lon Kruger’s squad will travel to Lubbock for the second part of their 2020-21 series.
Following a bit of a reprieve against Iowa State, the Sooners then have road games against No. 2 Baylor and No. 11 West Virginia before hosting No. 5 Texas. It’s a challenging road ahead, but with the challenge comes a great opportunity to make a statement to the NCAA Tournament committee. For what it’s worth at this stage in the game, OU currently sits as a No. 6 seed in Jerry Palm’s updated bracketology. Additionally, the Sooners are No. 25 in the NCAA’s NET Rankings, which is one of the committee’s primary tools utilized to seed the field.
Now onto this week’s Monday edition of Hot Links! A Sooner signee earns five-star status for one recruiting service, K1 will flex his Madden prowess against other pros and celebs, dogs trained to sniff out COVID-19 will be used to screen fans at NBA games and more!
- Junior guard Elijah Harkless has earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors after playing a pivotal role on both ends of the court for Oklahoma during its current winning streak, including an impressive performance against a vaunted Kansas squad over the weekend.
Elijah Harkless helped lead @OU_MBBall to wins over Kansas State and No. 9 Kansas while serving as a defensive catalyst. The guard led #Big12MBB in steals with 6⃣ & rebounds with 2⃣0⃣. He also shot 5⃣0⃣ percent from the field.@ejay_hoops2 is the #Big12MBB Newcomer of the Week. pic.twitter.com/yRakZD0Qw3— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) January 25, 2021
- Former Sooner long snapper James Winchester has a chance to repeat as the Super Bowl champion now that his Kansas City Chiefs have officially punched their ticket to the big game.
- In his final blog entry for SI’s ‘All on the Line’ series, five-star 2021 QB signee Caleb Williams promised OU fans that he would win “a few Nattys” during his time as a Sooner. Even if he wins just one, he’ll forever be a legend at Oklahoma.
- The start of the 2021 college baseball season is right around the corner, and according to Baseball America, OU will open the campaign ranked No. 23 in the nation. Boomer!
- 2021 LB signee Clayton Smith has earned his fifth star from Rivals. The Texarkana, Texas product boasts an impressive frame at 6’4, 220 pounds, and explodes off the screen with his elite pass rushing ability.
FIVE-STAR COUNTDOWN— Rivals (@Rivals) January 25, 2021
Coming in at No. 23 is new five-star and Oklahoma (@SoonerScoop) LB signee Clayton Smith @claytonsmith_10
“He’s a raw, physical force coming off the edge.”
See the full list of updating five-stars here: https://t.co/YA38S2TFkc pic.twitter.com/RWfaQ5PAPh
- Kyler Murray will take part in this year’s NFL Pro Bowl festivities by picking up the sticks and competing in a virtual version of the All-Star game, courtesy of Madden NFL ‘21. Due to COVID-19, the actual Pro Bowl has been canceled this year. Tune in on Sunday, Jan. 31 to watch K1 and others go head-to-head like never before. The fun kicks-off at 4 p.m. CT on NFL Network and other social platforms.
The #ProBowl: Madden NFL 21 Edition presented by @Verizon kicks off this Sunday (1/31) at 5PM ET— Madden NFL 21 (@EAMaddenNFL) January 25, 2021
Watch your favorite NFL athletes & Celebs battle it out on the virtual gridiron‼️ https://t.co/erDn0PF8AU #Madden21 pic.twitter.com/ZNL1wbXAtr
Around the Sports World
- On Monday, Texas Longhorns men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19. It’s currently undetermined if he will miss Tuesday’s game against Oklahoma or if the game will be postponed to a later date.
- Kansas City Chiefs starting left tackle Eric Fisher reportedly suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon injury during Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the Buffalo Bills. He will not be available for the upcoming Super Bowl LV matchup versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- In an extremely rare deal, the New York Yankees have agreed to trade right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino to the Boston Red Sox. See, bitter rivals can share, too.
- The Miami Heat are expected to employ the use of trained dogs to screen and detect fans for potential COVID-19 positives at future home games.
- This Super Bowl season, Anheuser-Busch will not spend money on Budweiser or Bud Light ads. Instead, the major beer company will donate the money it would have normally spent on its commercials to promote COVID-19 vaccination awareness efforts.
Follow Crimson & Cream Machine on Twitter!