Oklahoma Sooners look to avenge painful road loss

Sooners Illustrated examines three major points before Oklahoma faces off against the Bluejays

Sooners Illustrated will present three things to watch before every men’s basketball game during the 2015-16 season.

Creighton Bluejays (7-3) vs. No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners (7-0)

When: 1 p.m. CST

TV/Radio: SSTV/107.7 FM

Series: Oklahoma, 2-1.

Chance at revenge

Don’t think that Oklahoma has forgotten last year.

The Sooners have so much more to play for this season: A Big 12 title, a deep run in the NCAA Tournament and a few potential professional careers. There’s much more at stake than avenging a loss, but Saturday afternoon will have a little vengeance to it.

“We remember it because that game hurt us last year,” Oklahoma point guard Jordan Woodard said. “We remember it. We’re definitely going to redeem ourselves from last year.”

Last season, Creighton, which lost nine-straight games at one point last year and finished five games under .500, rallied back from an 18-point, second-half deficit to stun the then-No. 18 ranked Sooners.

The crowd played a big role in throwing Oklahoma off its game but also might have prepared the Sooners for hostile environments – like the road game Oklahoma overcame against Memphis to open this season.

Manyang’s big impact

Oklahoma 7-footer Akolda Manyang is still getting up to speed at this point. Although fully healthy, he’s still finding his way in the Sooners’ offense.

He’s already making a really big impact. Despite averaging a little more than 11 minutes per game, he’s fifth on the team in scoring. Manyang is first on the team in rebounds per minute and has 14 blocks, more than any other three players combined.

If Manyang were playing the minutes of starter Khadeem Lattin, he would be averaging seven points, five rebounds and three blocks per game. That’s just the numbers, though.

Leaders all over the court

Oklahoma tipped this season with a quartet of three-year starters, five seniors and seven upper classmen on scholarship.

While Buddy Hieldand Isaiah Cousins are the obvious leaders, forward Ryan Spangler and Jordan Woodard also play a role. It’s truly a group effort with even a collection of veteran walk-ons helping the cause.

“It’s really pretty much the group,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “They all have their little areas that they maybe step out a little bit in. But overall, it’s a senior group and then of course Jordan Woodard as a junior has been a part of that group as well. As a class, they’ve really done a good job.”

Hield and Cousins are constantly in the gym, and Spangler has shown over the years that he’s willing to battle anyone on the inside. Both Woodard and senior Dinjiyl Walker have proven far more reliable within the offense – possibly bolstering the confidence of players around them.

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