Sooners Illustrated will present three things to watch before every men’s basketball game during the 2015-16 season.
No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (13-1, 2-1) at Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-6, 1-2)
TV/Radio: ESPNU/107.7 FM
Time: 8 p.m.
Series: Oklahoma, 81-64.
Woodard ready for Bedlam
One thousand shots a day was Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard’s summer remedy for a poor shooting career – one that never saw him shoot better than 37 percent from the field or behind the 3-point arc in a single season.
In the past, it was always Bedlam that provided him aid. Against Oklahoma State, Woodard routinely has his best games – averaging 13 points in his first four Bedlam games and shooting 63 percent from behind the arc and 42 percent from the field.
Those are just his normal numbers now – toned down just a hair. He’s shooting 48 percent from the field, 55 percent from behind the arc and averaging more than 15 points per game.
“He’s been playing with a lot of confidence,” said Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler, who is one of only 26 players shooting 60 percent from the field or better. “I’m proud and I’m happy just because I see the work that he’s put in the last two years. Against Oklahoma State, he always has good games. I expect him to keep shooting lights out and get on a roll. We’re gonna have him keep shooting it.”
Before this year, Woodard had tied his career-best shooting performances in previous Bedlam games and three of his Big 12-scoring highs came against Oklahoma State. But now having jumped from 25 percent from behind the arc last year to a Big-12 leading 55.6 percent, Woodard heads back to his best stage.
“I love the Bedlam games, I do,” Woodard said.
Woodard is sixth in the conference in points per game.
“When he wasn’t really making shots, he wasn’t looking for his shots that much,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “Now, he can’t wait to get them. We can’t wait to get him the ball. We expect them to go in.”
The Sooners haven’t exactly watched Oklahoma’s Red River Showdown football loss to Texas to learn a lesson, but like most fans, they haven’t forgotten about it. Watching what happened in Dallas as well as an overwhelming amount of experience, it’s unlikely that Oklahoma will overlook the Cowboys, who are off to the worst 15-game start since the 2011-12 season.
Oklahoma State has lost back-to-back conference games and lost to George Mason, Tulsa and Missouri State in the non-conference season. The Cowboys, who have lost five straight to Oklahoma, are the last in the Big 12 in scoring offense, rebounding margin and offensive rebounds.
“Our approach can’t change,” Kruger said. “We know in this game players on both sides are going to come out and compete really hard, play with great emotion. We’ve got to do that. They will. We will. Our focus can’t change. . . . It really doesn’t change from Monday night to Saturday to this Wednesday.”
Oklahoma State, which has been playing without its star guard Phil Forte, ranks 170th in the nation or worst in shooting percent, 3-point percentage, rebounds, assists, steals and points.
Got their legs back
There was some concern as to how Oklahoma would respond last Saturday against Kansas State. The Sooners had just gone through a pair of grueling games against Iowa State and Kansas and never looked up to full strength in practice leading up to the matchup with the Wildcats.
Oklahoma, which also had to overcome the emotion of losing a triple overtime game to Kansas, opened the game Saturday on a 25-6 run – proving that the Sooners had their legs back under them. When Kansas State made its run, Oklahoma was mentally strong enough to hold on for the victory.
The lead up to Saturday gave Kruger some worry.
“Not just because Kansas State guards you and does a good job and fights you, but it was a trap from that standpoint of just not sure how we'll come out emotionally and physically after Monday's game,” he said. “Obviously, they came out pretty well the way they opened it so that was good to see.”