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Hoops Preview: Oklahoma stunk against Stanford, but would still be a good win for Missouri

Despite the disappointing showing against Butler, Missouri will still get a shot at notching a good win for the resume.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Stanford Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball gives, and college basketball takes away. Blessed be college basketball.

After a night where Missouri seemingly lost its best chance at grabbing a high quality win from the Hall of Fame Classic, another was dropped into their laps. The Oklahoma Sooners, one of the three teams to enter the tournament in KenPom’s Top 30, suffered a mild upset at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal, who bullied them on the glass and on the ball. The Tigers and Sooners will face off on Tuesday night, both hoping to avoid a disastrous two-loss trip to Kansas City.

Oklahoma may not be the Big 12 powerhouse it used to be, but there’s no casting it aside either. Under Lon Kruger, the Sooners have been a picture of consistency, making six NCAA Tournaments this decade including trips each of the past two years. And while the minutes continuity and experience are low in Norman, KenPom’s formulas still pegged them as a borderline Top 25 team heading into the season.

One Cardinal-shaped boot print later and the Sooners are in the mid-40s and sitting a few spots below Missouri. But numbers don't change the truth: despite a disappointing showing against Butler, Missouri now has another opportunity at a quadrant one win. Given the relative mediocrity of the SEC so far, they’re not in much position to pass it up.

The Scout

The Starters

Position Missouri (4-2) Oklahoma (5-1)
Position Missouri (4-2) Oklahoma (5-1)
PG Dru Smith (Rs. Jr., 6'3", 203) De'Vion Harmon (Fr., 6'1", 201)
CG Mark Smith (Jr., 6'5", 220) Jamal Bieniemy (So., 6'5", 187)
WING Javon Pickett (So., 6'5", 220) Austin Reaves (Jr., 6'5", 202)
PF Kobe Brown (Fr., 6'7", 240) Kristian Doolittle (Sr. 6'7", 232)
POST Jeremiah Tilmon (Jr., 6'10", 260) Brady Manek (Jr., 6'9", 231)

Note: These starting lineups are projected.

As we roll into some of the more premier non-conference matchups, we’ll see lineups shorten as we did against Butler — the Bulldogs only ran out eight bodies the entire game.

Oklahoma still seems to be figuring things out, though Lon Kruger has seemingly settled on his starters. All five play 60 percent or more of the available minutes with junior Alondes Williams and freshman Victor Iwuakor also chipping in 33 to 50 percent. On the far end of the bench, four-star freshman Jalen Hill and South Sudanese big man Kur Kuath will come in for clean up minutes.

Reaves isn't the team’s “biggest” offensive threat per se, but he does boast the highest effective FG and true shooting percentages amongst the starters. Kristian Doolittle gets the most usage of the entire roster and is particularly active at the glass as the Sooners best inside threat. Despite being two inches taller, Manek prefers the long game, splitting his shots between two and three pointers about right down the middle. Neither Harmon or Bieniemy have shown much of an offensive edge thus far and are relegated to more ball-moving roles. However, Harmon isn’t afraid to shoot the three and, like all of the starters, both are nearly automatic at the charity stripe.

When Missouri has the ball...

Missouri Offense vs. Oklahoma Defense

Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Missouri 103.3 (90) 17.8 (234) 49.1 (162) 20.9 (222) 27.5 (185) 32.5 (161) 26 (324) 55.7 (35) 75.9 (51) 6.5 (72) 8 (93)
Oklahoma 89.7 (33) 18.2 (300) 47 (130) 18.5 (221) 23.8 (51) 17.6 (10) 32.7 (176) 45.4 (103) 61.8 (36) 13.8 (46) 8.8 (198)
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 25 Hall of Fame Classic - Butler at Missouri
Dru Smith has been the Tigers’ only consistent offensive threat.
Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What to Watch | At some point Missouri has to make some threes, right?

I promise this won’t become the takeaway during every preview, but it feels like the dam has to break at some point.

Aside from a case of team-wide Markelle Fultz Syndrome, we have to assume that everyone aside from Mark Smith didn’t forget how to shoot a basketball completely. At some point the threes will fall and it will open up the floor for Tilmon and the young power forwards to operate more down low. Until then, though, the offense will be severely limited and often need lockdown defense to compensate. Oklahoma doesn’t defend the arc very well, so a breakout would behoove the Tigers.

When Opponent has the ball...

Oklahoma Offense vs. Missouri Defense

Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Oklahoma 104.6 (67) 14.4 (11) 48.5 (180) 14.4 (12) 22.3 (305) 31.8 (175) 29.2 (265) 50.6 (121) 75.6 (54) 6.9 (87) 8.6 (133)
Missouri 87.7 (13) 17.9 (277) 41.1 (18) 22.8 (61) 23.8 (55) 29.9 (150) 26.2 (28) 42.2 (46) 70.8 (213) 11.1 (87) 10.7 (95)
NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Stanford
Kristian Doolittle is the Sooners biggest threat on the glass. Can Missouri slow him down and create one-and-done possessions?
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

What to Watch | Will Missouri create empty possessions?

Oklahoma wants to run and could challenge Missouri athletically, but they don’t do any one thing particularly well, other than taking good care of the ball. They’re particularly bad on the offensive glass, an area Missouri has been fairly good at controlling. If Cuonzo Martin can clean up some of the defensive breakdowns we saw against Butler, the Sooners won’t have too many good looks and the Tigers will have the opportunity to create a number of one-and-done possessions and, ultimately, slow the pace to their liking.

KenPom predicts...

Missouri 67, Oklahoma 66 | Like the Butler prediction, KenPom believes in Missouri’s defense and home court advantage. And while Oklahoma may not be the Top 30 KP team they were before Stanford kicked them to the pavement, a win over Lon Kruger’s team would certainly qualify as a noteworthy win come March. If Missouri can buy a few more shots and control the boards, they could still walk away from Kansas City with a resume-building win in hand.