Know the Big 12 Basketball Foe: BYU to face dangerous Sooners squad

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The Oklahoma Sooners fell out of the A.P Top 25 with their recent road loss to UCF in Orlando. With losses in 3 of their last 4 games this drop in the polls makes sense. However, the realty is that Oklahoma is a likely tournament team with a roster capable of beating almost any team in the country. A win in Norman for the BYU Basketball team would be of the Quad 1 variety and would certainly give them boost in not only the polls, but also on their NCAA Tournament resume. With their own NCAA Tournament hopes in potential danger the Sooner’s are in a must win situation prior Tuesday’s clash. Here is what Cougar fans can look for in the matchup.

More solid defense

Surprise, Surprise another tough defensive squad. Coming into the contest Oklahoma ranks in the nations top 50 when it comes to team defense. On the season the Sooner’s are surrendering and average of only 66.3 points per game. This impressive number has helped them to achieve a point differential of of +11.3 per game. All 6 of their losses have come when opponents have scored 74 points or more, so it is obvious what Oklahoma has been hanging its hat on this season.

As they face the conferences top offensive team this will be a likely key to victory. In their last 4 games the Sooner’s have allowed for an average of 71.75 points per game. Their one win in this stretch was after an incredible defensive performance where they held Kansas State to only 53 points. That means that in their 3 losses teams averaged 78 points per game against an Oklahoma squad that is fighting to compete in the nation premier conference.

Middle of the pack numbers

When it comes to the Sooner’s offensive production they rank in the middle of the Big 12 Conference almost across the board. They are 6th in points per contest with an average of 73.6 points per game. They are 7th in field goal percentage, points differential, and rebounds. After a tough stretch of games they sit at No. 10 in the logjam that is the Big 12 Conference standings. In fact, despite their current standing Oklahoma only sits 2 games behind the conference leader and a win against one of the countries top metric teams would put them in a position to compete for the conference crown.

Oklahoma has also struggles in games where they have faced large deficits. Four of their six losses on the year have been by double digits. Against a BYU team that has made lighting up the scoreboard a habit the Sooner’s will likely need to score over 80 points in Tuesday’s matchup, something that they have only been able to do once in their last 10 games. BYU in contrast has achieved 80 points in 5 of their last 10 games. All of these were wins for the Cougars.

It is worth noting that the Sooner’s have found success from the free throw line shooting 74.4% from the charity stripe. However, they rank 10th in free throws attempted with an average attempts of 18.5 per game.

Another tough test

The Big 12 has no bad teams. If you haven’t learned this by now then you likely never will. Oklahoma is sitting in the middle of an elite coalition of NCAA Basketball teams. Right now Oklahoma sits at No. 31 in the NET rankings and 25 in KenPom. These metrics are especially important when it comes to predicting the NCAA Tournament field. In Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology last week the Sooner’s were a projected 5 seed. While this projection is likely to change Oklahoma’s NCAA Tournament aspirations will not.

The Sooner’s are led by the talented guard duo of Javian McCollum and Otega Oweh. The two stars are averaging 14.3 and 13.0 points per game to lead Oklahoma. The talented Jalon Moore is third on the team in scoring with 10.2 points a game and he also leads the Sooner’s in rebounding and blocked shots.

Conclusion

This is a pivotal game for Oklahoma as they look to get back on track at home against the No.20 ranked Cougars. With 9 games remaining on the conference schedule their is potential for mobility within the Big 12 standings. The Sooners hope to get back on track in a point of the season where losing streaks are disastrous. Cougar fans can expect a battle of epic proportions in Norman.

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