Know Your First Conference Rival: Oklahoma Sooners

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Whether you're ready or not, and I'm pretty sure I've proven I'm not, conference play begins this evening. And really, the first opponent is a pretty good one, both in terms of quality and timing. They are the Big 12 version of Old Dominion, a team that hits the glass hard and leans on effort and coaching savvy to win the day. They will be a damn tough out in what is likely Mizzou's final game at the Lloyd Noble Center for a while, but Mizzou should be able to pull away from them at home.

Oklahoma Sooners (10-2)


OU
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
67.4
Points Per Minute
1.93
1.60
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.14
0.95
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.25
1.11
2-PT FG% 46.9%
45.0%
3-PT FG% 41.0%
30.9%
FT% 73.0%
68.6%
True Shooting % 54.7%
49.2%




OU Opp.
Assists/Gm 14.9
13.7
Steals/Gm 6.6
5.9
Turnovers/Gm 13.3
14.8
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.61
1.32




OU Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 13.0
13.1
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 16.1
11.6
Difference +3.1
-1.5

Oklahoma takes long shots and flies at the glass if they don't go in. They will test both Mizzou's perimeter defense (which has been a hair shaky, but still pretty good, recently), and they will very much test Mizzou's effort level near the basket. They handle the ball reasonably well and shoot well from long range, but in light of Mizzou's last two games, obviously the rebounding numbers are where Oklahoma has to be the biggest concern.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

OU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

OU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 60
52
Push
Effective FG% 111
91
Push
Turnover % 92
32
MU
Off. Reb. % 3
113
OU Big
FTA/FGA 245
11
MU Big
MU Offense vs OU Defense Ranks

MU Offense OU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 2
60
MU
Effective FG% 1
70
MU
Turnover % 2
132
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 149
74
OU
FTA/FGA 99
48
OU

Where the Sooners are weakest

They don't draw fouls at all, primarily because they are shooting quite a bit from the perimeter; plus, they rank 186th in Opp. FT%, which means they foul guards quite a bit too. Obviously Mizzou's penetration ability, then, could be a key. They also don't actually shoot 2-pointers every well, presumably because they are pretty long 2-pointers. (That, and their best offensive rebounder, Romero Osby, only shoots 48% on 2-pointers, which suggests he has little shooting touch. Then again, he does shoot 72% from the line.)

Where they are best

They are third in the country in Offensive Rebound % and 12th in 3-Point %. They do a pretty good job of not fouling on defense, but really, their games will mostly come down to whether they are hitting their outside shots and whether they are cleaning up misses when they aren't hitting outside shots..

Oklahoma's Season to Date

  • Wins Vs. Top 200 Teams (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    No. 62 Oral Roberts, 73-59
    No. 82 Arkansas, 78-63
    vs No. 88 Washington State, 74-59
    vs No. 154 Houston, 79-74
    vs No. 178 Santa Clara, 85-73
  • Losses
    vs No. 14 St. Louis, 63-83
    at No. 45 Cincinnati, 55-56

Like Missouri, Oklahoma has only played one true road game. They lost to an improving Cincinnati squad by one point last Thursday. They got blown out by the one Top 40 opponent they have faced, but that was over a month ago. Since then, they have taken out decent Oral Roberts and Arkansas teams and held off an upset bid from Houston.

Opp Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/
Gm
GmSc/
Min
Line
Steven Pledger (6'4, 222, Jr.)
18.7
0.61
30.6 MPG, 18.8 PPG (62% 2PT, 48% 3PT, 85% FT), 4.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.8 TOPG
Romero Osby (6'8, 232, Jr.)
12.5
0.46
27.2 MPG, 10.8 PPG (48% 2PT, 33% 3PT, 72% FT), 8.8 RPG (3.2 Off.), 1.0 BPG, 1.1 TOPG
Andrew Fitzgerald (6'8, 247, Jr.)
10.8
0.43
24.8 MPG, 12.3 PPG (49% 2PT, 69% FT), 5.3 RPG (2.5 Off.)
Sam Grooms (6'1, 203, Jr.)
8.3
0.29
28.8 MPG, 7.3 PPG (39% 2PT, 27% 3PT, 69% FT), 5.4 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 2.2 TOPG
Tyler Neal (6'7, 227, So.)
5.9
0.33
17.6 MPG, 6.5 PPG (50% 2PT, 41% 3PT, 85% FT), 3.4 RPG, 1.2 TOPG
Cameron Clark (6'6, 198, So.)
5.6
0.23
24.8 MPG, 8.5 PPG (39% 2PT, 39% 3PT, 60% FT), 3.7 RPG, 1.7 TOPG
C.J. Washington (6'7, 230, Sr.)
4.7
0.46
10.3 MPG, 2.8 PPG (52% 2PT, 75% FT), 4.0 RPG (1.5 Off.)
Carl Blair (6'2, 205, Jr.)
3.0
0.20
15.1 MPG, 3.2 PPG (11% 2PT, 44% 3PT, 67% FT), 2.8 APG, 1.8 RPG, 2.3 TOPG
Barry Honore (6'7, 270, Sr.)
1.7
0.33
5.3 MPG, 1.2 PPG (50% FG), 1.2 RPG
Casey Arent (6'10, 227, Jr.)
1.4
0.14
9.8 MPG, 2.2 PPG (38% FG), 3.1 RPG, 1.2 TOPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: Pledger (24%), Fitzgerald (24%), Clark (22%), Osby (20%).
  • Highest Floor%: Pledger (47%), Washington (46%), Osby (41%, Fitzgerald (41%).
  • Highest %Pass: Blair (74%), Grooms (73%), Washington (47%), Clark (43%).
  • Highest %Shoot: Fitzgerald (65%), Osby (48%), Washington (43%), Pledger (41%).
  • Highest %Fouled: Fitzgerald (18%), Osby (17%), Neal (13%), Pledger (12%).
  • Highest %T/O: Neal (10%), Blair (10%), Clark (8%), Pledger/Osby/Fitzgerald (6%).
  • So basically, Pledger is the scorer, Osby is the rebounder, Fitzgerald is a little of both, and Grooms and Blair are the ball-handlers. Their bench will neither embarrass them nor win games for them, but on the bright side, they actually have a bench. Unlike other teams I could name, ahem.

Keys to the Game

  1. The Glass. Oh God, The Glass. This probably needs no elaboration, eh? Mizzou got torched on the glass against Old Dominion, and Oklahoma is capable of doing the same. Break even in terms of expected offensive rebounds, and Oklahoma will probably need to shoot about 55% from 3-point range to have a chance.

  2. From Way Downtown. Mizzou opponents have made more than 33 percent of their 3's only three times in the last 11 games, and Mizzou's 3-point % defense has improved from 164th last year to 67th this year. And while Old Dominion made some key 3's in Norfolk last week, they still missed most of them, going 6-for-20 overall. Oklahoma wins by making 3's and eating glass; if they cannot get hot from long range, they probably won't grab enough offensive rebounds to win. And at the same tiime, if Mizzou shoots pretty well themselves (Oklahoma is a solid 65th in 3-point % defense), they will always be tough to beat, especially at Mizzou Arena.

  3. Which Flip? Last year, I included Kim English's name in the Keys portion of previews about two-thirds of the time. I get the feeling it will be the same with Phil Pressey this year. Like alcohol to Homer Simpson, Flip seems to be the cause of, and solution to, most of Missouri's problems. Against two solid, if unspectacular point guards in Sam Grooms and Carl Blair, Flip will own enough of a quickness advantage that he can probably penetrate pretty well. But if he's turning the ball over after penetrating, or if he's launching more than one or two quick 3's, his head is out of the game, and Oklahoma could be ready to make a run.

Prediction

Ken Pomeroy predicts an 82-70 Mizzou win. I'll be thrilled if the pace is good enough to get to the 80-point range, but I'm not incredibly optimistic about that. I like the margin, though. We'll say something in the neighborhood of 74-62 is in the cards. Like I said at the top, Oklahoma should be a really tough out at Lloyd Noble this year, but Mizzou should still be too much at home.

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