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Creighton @ Oklahoma - Preview

Oooooooooklahoma!

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

How to Watch, Stream, Listen, Follow

Game Time: 8pm CT

Location: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, OK

TV: ESPNU

Stream: WatchESPN

Radio: 1620AM the Zone in Omaha / 1400AM & 99.3FM in Norman

Other Blogs:

White & Blue Review - Creighton

Crimson & Cream Machine - Oklahoma

Tweeters:

Creighton - Rob Anderson / Creighton MBB / Tom Nemitz / “Patrick Marshall” / Matt DeMarinis / Corey Lathrop / Jon Nyatawa


Odds & Ends

Oklahoma is favored by 6 points according to Odds Shark.

Over/under set at 159.9.

Kenpom has this one slated as an Oklahoma win at 82-77.

You’re stealing from your loved ones and small children if you decide to gamble on sports. Just don't do it.


Series History

Oklahoma leads the overall series against the Bluejays 3-2. The last meeting between the two occurred on 12/19/15 with the Sooners walloping the Jays by 13 points.

The year previous to that the Jays won in dramatic fashion on the home end of the series, coming back from 18 points down, mounting a 24-4 run, and ultimately winning the ballgame on a tip-in by Zach Hanson with 51 seconds left.


Verba de Ludis

Oklahoma’s defense can give their opposition fits. They have the ability to play an array of different styles depending on what personnel happens to be on the floor. They peddled out a match-up zone against USC which gave the Trojans a lot of looks from three, but that was clearly by design since USC relies on dribble drives to the tin.

By all measures this defense is salty. In their ten games they’ve given up 80 points once - to Notre Dame on a neutral court. In their loss to Wisconsin they allowed D’Mitrik Trice to destroy them from beyond the arc, allowing him to go 7-8 from three for a total of 25 points.

The Sooners rank third in the nation in terms of allowing two point buckets. They rarely foul, giving up the sixth least freebies per game, and when their opposition gets to the line they miss. In terms of adjusted efficiency the Sooners are 13th best in the country. They held Wichita State to 48 points, got into a rock fight with Florida - who boasts the 6th best defense in the country in terms of efficiency - and pulled out a win, and clamped down on a pretty decent Wofford squad.

Calixte is small and shifty, perhaps a little Mo Watson lite, and can drive the lane and put up tough shots. He shoots it well from beyond the arc, but his biggest strength is when he’s dishing the ball. Though averaging just three assists per game, it’s clear he’s the guy to run the offense, and on an off night, Jamal Bienemy can take over where he’s lacking. This gives the Sooners a huge boost off the bench.

Christian James and Mike Freeman are their primary shooters, with James being the headlining scorer. Freeman, however, is the guy that can destroy opponents from off the bench, a hired gun that can destroy the morale of his opposition. James went 0-6 from three against USC. Freeman went 2-3. One of the two is going to shoot lights out. If they both are, it’s game over.

Brady Manek is a match-up nightmare for both teams as he’s their guy in the middle. At 6’9 220lbs, Manek is athletic enough to run the court and offensively skilled with the three and a sweet mid-range shot. He hits trailer shots, gets his opposing big men off balance to get an easy jump shot, and has the ability to finish at the rim.

There aren’t a lot of glaring holes to this Sooner squad. They’ve only been challenged in three games this season; two of those ended in wins against Florida and Notre Dame, and the other was an absolute blowout loss to the Badgers of Wisconsin.

They’re a great first half team. They’re at their weakest offensively in the first ten minutes of the second half, an achilles heel that Lon Kruger has been desperately trying to shake for a good majority of his career. They play with good pace and tempo, averaging about 73 possessions per game while milking, on average, just 15 seconds per possession.

If Creighton plans on winning this game they’ll need Tyshon Alexander and Mitch Ballock to do the lion’s share of work from the perimeter. Having somewhat trustworthy shooters in Kaleb Joseph and Marcus Zegarowski waiting on the bench will help stem the tide of the onslaught they’ll face with Oklahoma’s blitzkrieg first half performance.

With so much of Oklahoma’s defense dependent upon stopping easy buckets from around the rim it won’t be surprising to see the three bigs the Bluejays offer have quiet nights. Most of their energy should be utilized guarding Manek and Freeman.

Davion Mintz will need to be the straw that stirs the drink. If the Sooners smell panic they’ll become all too comfortable in their home gym. If Mintz can run the offense without forcing low percentage shots, the Jays will have a dog in this fight.


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