Sooners Illustrated will present three things to watch before every men’s basketball game during the 2014-15 season.
When: 3:10 p.m. CST
TV/Radio: ESPN/107.7 FM(OKC); 1430 AM (Tulsa); Sirius 91; XM 91
Series: Kansas, 142-65
Hield’s big push
The case was being made all over Sooners’ practice on Thursday afternoon: Buddy Hield for Player of the Year.
They might as well have held up signs. TaShawn Thomas pointed to the stats, and that’s all he needed (or wanted) to do.
Ryan Spangler called Hield the best shooter in the league and one of the best scorers: Big-12 leading 17.3 points per game, a number that has increased since play started in the toughest conference in the country. Coach Lon Kruger knows Hield has put himself in the conversation with his all-around play.
“There are a lot of good players in the league,” Kruger said. “Buddy is certainly one of them. He’s been great for us. Great energy. Great enthusiasm. Great personality on the court. He’s an outstanding teammate, in addition to scoring and the intangibles. It would certainly be easy to advocate for him.”
Hield, who might also be playing in his final game as a pending decision on whether to jump to the NBA after his junior season looms, will be on the biggest stage of the day on the final day of the regular season schedule.
Playing against the best team in the conference with a pretty solid chance that the Sooners can pull off the finale upset, Hield has a chance to put a stamp on his season – something a fellow PoY contender won’t be able to do.
Jayhawks come in short-handed
The list grows for Kansas, and it starts at the top. Player of the Year contender forward Perry Ellis won’t play – giving Hield a chance to make a dominating final statement.
The Jayhawks will also be without talented freshman big Cliff Alexander, who is facing NCAA eligibility questions.
“Any time you take a great player off the roster, it’s going to change,” Kruger said. “It doesn’t change what we do in terms of working hard and having to compete and get good shots. We have to do the same things.”
Alexander and Ellis combined to average 21.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Kansas will likely rely on Jamari Traylor (4.7 points per game) and possibly freshmen Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk or Landen Lucas. Both are averaging more than 12 minutes per game.
Kansas could also employ a four-guard line, utilizing the same 3-point mastery that helped the Jayhawks beat the Soonersin January.
James Fraschilla came to Oklahoma despite a few other small Division III offers and other chances to walk on a major Division I programs. He grew up a big fan of the Sooners though.
It still hasn’t hit him yet, that Saturday will be his final day at the Lloyd Noble Center. He is one of three seniors on the roster, but the only four-year Oklahoma player to be honored.
“I’ve had a great four years here,” Fraschilla said. “I’ve met some of my best friends. I’ve had some unbelievable experiences. It’s definitely meant a lot. I’ve been supported so well by the fans here and my coaches and my teammates.”
Thomas and D.J. Bennett will both be playing their final games at Lloyd Noble Center as well.