Full-court press: Oral Roberts

Sooners prepare for second in-state match-up in four days

SoonersIllustrated.com will present three things to watch before every men’s basketball game during the 2014-15 season.

Oral Roberts (3-4) at No. 15 Oklahoma (6-2)

When: 6:02 p.m. CST

TV/Radio: ESPNU/107.7 FM(OKC); 1430 AM (Tulsa); Sirius 93; XM 199

Oklahoma backcourt hitting the boards

It would be expected that Sooners’ forward Ryan Spangler would lead the team in rebounding after leading the Big 12 Conference last season.

He might not lead the league again this year. He joked earlier that transfer forward TaShawn Thomas is taking away a few of his rebounds, but the Oklahoma backcourt is taking its share as well.

Isaiah Cousins is actually second on the team with 6.5 rebounds per game, and Buddy Hield is even ahead of Thomas with 5.9 rebounds per game. Thomas is averaging 5.4.

"Our guards have rebounded the ball pretty well all year," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. ". . . They've helped Tay and Ryan do a good job rebounding. Our guards rebounding the ball is probably going to make the difference for us. It's big when Jordan and Isaiah rebound the ball like that."

Point guard Jordan Woodard is grabbing 4.3 rebounds for the Sooners, who currently rank 13th in the country in rebounds per game.

Passing the oral exam

Oklahoma hasn’t had much trouble with Oral Roberts – outside of last year’s one-point victory. That game actually snapped a 24-game, regular-season home winning streak for the Eagles.

The Sooners have won the past 12 straight games and have lost only twice in school history to the Eagles.

Back at home, Oklahoma will rely on a strong defense that has held its opponents to 62.1 points per game.

“Everybody has to understand who we are playing against and we have to come together as a team to make great team defense,” Cousins said, “One person playing D is not going to help the team. You saw what happened last year. In order for us to move on, everybody has to be on the same page on defense.”

Facing a former teammate

Coming off a game against his older brother, point guard Jordan Woodard will play a pair of former teammates.

Oral Roberts’ Obi Emegano, who is averaging a team-high 17.6 points per game, and Aaron Young both played with Woodard when Edmond Memorial won the 6A state championship in 2011.

Young and Woodard combined as seniors to lead Edmond Memorial back to the state title in 2013.

“They’ve having a good season as well,” Woodard said. “. . . They can beat good teams. ORU is gonna be a tough challenge for us.”

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