The Oklahoma Sooners are looking to bounce back from their annual loss to Kansas State in Manhattan, and they’ll have to do so against an Oklahoma State Cowboys team that is beginning to hit its stride. Due to previous postponements, this will also be the first of two Bedlam games in three days, as the OU travels to Stillwater for the second leg of Bedlam on Monday.
No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (14-6, 9-5 Big 12) vs. Oklahoma State (15-6, 8-6 Big 12): 2 p.m. CT at the Lloyd Noble Center
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Commentary: Bob Wischusen and Dick Vitale
Radio: Sooner Sports 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 -5 (as of 12 p.m. CT)
About Oklahoma State
- The Cowboys have won four of their last five games, picking up top-24 victories over Texas and Texas Tech in the process. The latter came in OT this past Monday, with fab frosh Cade Cunningham contributing 20 points on 8/13 shooting.
- Speaking of Cunningham, the potential (and perhaps presumptive) No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft currently leads the Big 12 in scoring at 18.7 PPG. His turnover numbers are high (four per contest), but that’s to be expected of a freshman with so much of the offensive weight on his shoulders. OU basketball fans can certainly relate to that. At any rate, the 6’8” do-it-all standout has been superb for the Cowboys and presents a matchup nightmare for any team he faces.
- Cunningham is obviously the straw that stirs the drink, his supporting cast is solid and doesn’t lack for athleticism. While none of these teammates are currently averaging double-figures, five of them are averaging at least 9 PPG. 6’5”, 215-pound point guard Isaac Likekele has been a strong contributor across the board, efficiently averaging 9.8 PPG while shooting 50 percent from the field. He also leads the team with 6.9 RPG and 3.7 APG.
- OSU is currently 40th in KenPom’s team efficiency ratings, sitting at No. 92 in adjusted offensive efficiency and No. 18 in adjusted defensive efficiency.
- Defending Cunningham - A simple solution doesn’t exist in this scenario, as OU doesn’t really have a player who ideally fits this matchup from a defensive standpoint. To be fair, few teams do. Elijah Harkless is an expert at pestering a team’s best offensive player at all levels of the court, and he’ll likely be called upon for a good chunk of the afternoon in spite of the fact that OU gives up four inches in that battle. Another candidate to guard him in certain situations is Jalen Hill, as his size and athleticism are a bit (A BIT) more comparable.
- Bracketology - In spite of the bad loss to Lon Kruger’s alma mater, OU stayed put as a No. 3 seed in Joe Lunardi’s updated bracket (as of Friday). However, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm knocked the Sooners down to a No. 4 seed in his most recent entry. With its first loss outside of Quad 1, OU also fell to No. 28 in the NCAA’s NET Rankings.
- Reaves lighting it up - While Cunningham is the Big 12’s overall leading scorer, Austin Reaves leads the league in scoring during Big 12 games with 18.8 PPG. He’s also scored at least 20 points in four of his last five games, including three of four since returning from COVID-19 protocol.
I think OU will get out to a quick start in this one, but each of these matchups will end up being a grind, as each of these teams are particularly efficient on the defensive end. With this one being in Norman, I’ll take OU in a close one.
Oklahoma 71, Oklahoma State 68