Oklahoma won both of its games last week against UTSA and TCU. Meanwhile, the Musketeers are riding a six-game winning streak, topped off by a win over rival Cincinnati. They’ll look to add to their streak against the Sooners.
How To watch, listen, and stream
Game Time: Wednesday, December 9, 2020, at 8 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Eric Collins, Steve Lavin)
RADIO: 55KRC-AM (Xavier), KRKO 107.7 FM/KTBZ 1430 AM (Oklahoma)
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go (where available)
According to Oddsshark.com, Xavier is a 1.5-point favorite to win.
KenPom lists Oklahoma as a 56 percent favorite to win and predicts a final score of 74-73.
The Sooners lead the all-time series, 2-0.
They previously beat the Musketeers in the round of 32 during the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
What to Watch For
Both teams enter Wednesday’s matchup undefeated.
Xavier skirted by close games against Bradley, Toledo, and an overtime bout with Eastern Kentucky, but recently picked up a solid win over crosstown rival Cincinnati. The Musketeers have managed to find a way through those close calls and upset bids, and should prepare for another close one on Wednesday night. Granted, most of Xavier’s games so far were spent experimenting between different lineups and defensive sets, which clearly showed varying results. Things seemed a bit more set and structured against Cincinnati.
As for Oklahoma, it beat UTSA in lopsided fashion, then took down TCU by four points. The jury is still out for the Sooners, who had a COVID-related delay to the season. They’ll get a glimpse of where they stand early in the year on the road.
Although there’s a small sample size to evaluate Oklahoma, three Sooners stand out — seniors Austin Reaves and Brady Manek, as well as sophomore De’Vion Harmon.
Reaves impressed against TCU, racking up 32 points, six rebounds, and nine assists. Meanwhile, Manek is averaging 21.5 points and 5.5 boards between both games. As for Harmon, he’s averaging 17.5 points per game and has been pretty efficient, going a combined 13-of-20 (65.0 percent) to start the year.
While those three are the main catalysts to begin the season, the Sooners have been performing well on the offensive end of the court so far.
As a team, they struggled from beyond the arc last year, shooting only 31.8 percent from deep. With the hot shooting of that leading trio, the Sooners are showing improvement, cashing in on 44.2 percent of three-pointers through two games. They also take solid care of the ball, only turning it over on 14.9 percent of their possessions.
All For One
Unlike the two guard-dominant opponents that Oklahoma has faced, Xavier provides much more balance and depth. It’s been a strength for the Musketeers early on.
This will be the first time that the Sooners are tested up front, with double-double threat Zach Freemantle leading the way with 17.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Senior forward Jason Carter might not score as much, but he’s proficient when it comes to rebounding and adding a defensive presence. He enters Wednesday night with 7.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
In the backcourt, Paul Scruggs has been a solid all-around point guard. He hasn’t been as lucky at the three-point line, but he’s been superb nearly everywhere else, averaging 13.7 points, 4.2 boards, 7.0 assists, and 1.8 steals per game.
Kyky Tandy and Nate Johnson are scoring in double figures, but they also add a perimeter scoring threat, which was something the Musketeers lacked last year. With their ability to shoot, Xavier is a lot less one-dimensional offensively.