Oklahoma Preview

When Texas (18-11, 8-8) and Oklahoma (14-14, 4-12) meet up Wednesday, the game will represent a must-win for the Longhorns' NCAA Tournament opportunities.

Offensively, the Sooners have emerged with a primary trio of weapons, and a nice inside-out game. Both Romero Osby and Andrew Fitzgerald average 12.3 points per game and are capable of getting the job done on the offensive end. Osby is the Big 12's second-best offensive rebounder, and is a serious danger on the offensive glass.

While Fitzgerald is somewhat of a disappointing rebounder for his size — grabbing 5.0 boards per contest — Osby is the exact opposite. The Mississippi State transfer is averaging 7.7 rebounds, third-best in the Big 12 behind Kansas's Thomas Robinson and Iowa State's Royce White. He's also the team's top shot-blocker, blocking about a shot per game.

But focus too much on the inside duo, and the Sooners are capable of beating you over the top. Steven Pledger is not only one of the Big 12's top scorers at 17 points per game, he also is one of the league's top marksmen, hitting 41.6 percent of his three-point attempts. He's the second-best shooting guard in the league in terms of field goal percentage with 47.1 percent, and he's also a top-notch free throw shooter, hitting .837 percent of his freebies.

Sam Grooms does an excellent job of feeding the Sooners' threats, averaging a Big 12 second-best 6.11 assists per game. And Cameron Clark, who has spent time as a high-caliber sixth man, is starting to emerge as well. Clark might be the most talented player out of the starters, but must become more assertive.

Tyler Neal and Carl Blair give the Sooners some options off the bench, with Blair serving as a play-making guard and Neal knocking down shots from deep.

Those guys give Oklahoma a strong top-seven that is capable of pulling an upset. Just ask Kansas State, which found itself swept by the Sooners this season. But the best part likely lies ahead. Each of the top seven players is due back next season, with four juniors in the starting lineup (Clark is the lone non junior, and he's a sophomore), and a junior (Blair) and a sophomore (Neal) off the bench. Oklahoma also adds Amath M'Baye, a 6-9 Wyoming transfer who has earned great reviews in practices.

So while Wednesday's game has major bearing on Texas's chances to make the NCAA Tournament, next year's contest (with the Longhorns also boasting such a young team) could have a lot more to play for, on both sides.

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