First Time Out
Oklahoma (18-8, 9-5 Big 12) claimed a 73-67 win in Norman, with the Sooners claiming a comfortable lead up until late. Texas (12-15, 4-10) led 19-15 when Jonathan Holmes went out with a broken bone in his hand. Holmes was in charge of defending Romero Osby, and Osby had just five points when Holmes left. He finished with 29 points and eight rebounds, spoiling a 25-point effort from Sheldon McClellan.
Osby's cause was aided by Amath M'Baye, who scored 15, meaning that the Sooners' starting post players outscored Texas's starting posts 44-2.
With Buddy Hield out, the Sooners figured to lose some of his backcourt scoring, but point guard Sam Grooms (6-1 203) has stepped up in that area, to the surprise of, well, just about everybody. Grooms is such a pass-first point guard that — even with his recent scoring outburst — he uses such a paltry number of possessions (15.4 percent of the possessions when he's in the game that KenPom files him under the heading "limited roles." But that hasn't been the case of late. Grooms is averaging 17.7 points and 4.3 assists per game over his last three, twice setting career highs. In Oklahoma's too-easy win over Baylor on Saturday, Grooms got to the line 17 times, making 15, and going for 23 points and four assists.
Steven Pledger (6-4 219) scores 11.6 points per game and is capable of taking over a contest with his scoring. He hasn't shot as well this year as he did last year (particularly from distance), but that potential is still there. He's joined in the backcourt by freshman guard Je'lon Hornbeak (6-3 190), one of a talented freshman guard trio inked by Lon Kruger.
But probably the biggest part of the reason the Sooners are so deadly is the frontcourt duo of Osby and M'Baye. Osby (6-8 232) is one of the most difficult matchups in the Big 12, a stretch-five who can extend a defense, take defenders off the dribble if they try to contest his shot, but also somebody with the bulk and strength to not get taken advantage of down low. Osby averages 14.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. M'Baye (6-9 208) is a dynamic athlete that you have to watch intently on the break. He scores 10.3 points and grabs 5.7 rebounds per contest.
Isaiah Cousins (6-3 182) has started multiple games this season and is the third of the freshman guards with Hield and Hornbeak. Cameron Clark (6-6 208) is an athletic slasher who started a year ago. Andrew Fitzgerald (6-8 238) is the big off the bench.
How Does Texas Match Up?
The Longhorns' biggest advantage for most of this season — their defense — has fallen off of late. That's not a good sign heading into a game against one of the tougher Big 12 teams to defend. Oklahoma is a top-50 offense in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. If Texas wants to win, the Longhorns are going to have to knock down open looks — which have come with more frequency since Kabongo's entrance back onto the team — and they'll have to put together a better defensive effort than in recent games.