Sooners Illustrated will present three things to watch before every men’s basketball game during the 2015-16 season.
TV/Radio: ESPN2/107.7 FM
Time: 6 p.m.
Series: Oklahoma, 34-21
The perfect offensive game?
When asked if he modeled the Oklahoma Sooners after any particular NBA styles, Sooners’ coach Lon Kruger picked out two teams: The San Antonio Spurs for their unselfishness and defensive tenacity and the Golden State Warriors for their ability to shoot the ball and enjoy the game.
Against Baylor, Kruger got nearly a perfect blend of the two.
Oklahoma had 29 assists on 31 made baskets, which was one shy of the Big 12 Conference record. The Sooners shot 57.1 percent from behind the 3-point arc – taking six more 3s than 2s in the victory and setting a two-game program record with 33 made 3-pointers.
Then were was the season-high 13 steals and 28 points off turnovers.
“It kind of sent a statement to everybody and let them know that we are for real,” Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield said. “. . . . We just have to be locked in and focused.”
All of this happened in Waco, where Baylor had a 15-game winning streak before Saturday afternoon. Oklahoma did it all without its All-American for much of the first half, when the Sooners erased a deficit and extend a double-digit lead even with Hield on the bench.
Jordan Woodard and Isaiah Cousins stepped in with major games, combining for a 16:3 assist-to-turnover ratio. The game proved that even with a loss earlier in the week, Oklahoma deserved to remain as the top team in the country.
“When the guys are playing at the top of their game, that makes us a lot better,” Kruger said. “When Buddy was out with foul trouble, guys made some good plays right there during that time, during that stretch. That was significant because just from a confidence standpoint as much as anything else.”
Oklahoma is on pace for the best 3-point percentage (46.4) in the nation since the 1991-92 season and have the top two 3-pointer shooters in the country – Woodard and Hield respectively.
“I know I get all the headlines, but I have some really good players and scorers and guys who are unselfish,” Hield said. “We make plays for each other.”
Coming back home for a run
After back-to-back games on the road and four road trips in the first seven games of the Big 12 schedule, Oklahoma finally gets to come back home for a significant stretch.
The Sooners will play four of the next five Big 12 Conference games at home with the lone road trip a short drive to Kansas State, where Oklahoma has lost three straight.
Red Raiders on the verge of a breakthrough
Despite just two conference wins, Texas Tech isn’t a team that Oklahoma can overlook. The Red Raiders have a home win against Texas and a road victory over TCU but have come close to knocking off the upper echelon in the Big 12.
Texas Tech, which will play its fifth ranked team in seven games Tuesday night, has lost to West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas and Iowa State but was within 10 points in each game, losing by just seven at Hilton Coliseum and three at home against Baylor. The Red Raiders lost by just four points against West Virginia.
In fact, Texas Tech’s biggest loss of the season was a 13-point road defeat against Kansas State.
“They’re tough. They guard you,” Kruger said. “They’ve got a lot of different guys that can score on different nights. They’ll miss Norense Odiase of course. He’s a real good player, and yet a lot of other guys around that do things really well.”
Odiase, Texas Tech’s 6-foot-9 center, is expected to be out six weeks with a broken foot.