After an almost fairytale start to the season, things have gotten a bit more difficult for Oklahoma since Conference play started. The Sooners haven’t won an easy Game in a few weeks and needed bad coaching to win at home against Baylor on Tuesday. They’ve lost three of their past five and a trip to Texas is far from easy, considering what the Longhorns have done at home this season.
The Longhorns may sit on the bubble without Andrew Jones, but they’ve won their last Four at home without him, including against TCU and Texas Tech. To go with that, they should’ve had a win at Texas Tech on Wednesday, but couldn’t grab one in overtime. On the other end of that, Oklahoma has lost its last Four road Games with its only win coming by one point at TCU. A lot of people will be on the Sooners simply because of Trae Young, but diving into the numbers, the Longhorns may be the better bet.
But the biggest thing going in OU’s favor is three-point percentage and that starts with Young. The Sooners lead the Conference shooting 42 percent from deep, while the Longhorns are one of the worst giving up 38.5 percent. If that stat plays out, Oklahoma will have the edge, although that may be the only chance for the Sooners to win on the road. The other stat outlier is that Texas leads the Conference in two-point field goal defense and that could be a big problem for when Young drives to the paint against the tower that is Mo Bamba. When Texas is on offense, nothing stands out since the Longhorns have struggled in that area most of the season, although the same can be said for Oklahoma’s defense that just gave up 96 points at home to Baylor.
Finding a player that can at least keep Young in front of him is the main goal for Texas, whether it’s freshman point guard Matt Coleman, or someone with more size like Eric Davis or Kerwin Roach. That said, Roach is needed for Texas on offense as he’s become the team’s best option to score, and his 11.5 points per Game average doesn’t show how involved he’s been since the Jones injury. In fact, Roach has had at least 16 points in Four of the last five Games.
The main advantage for the Longhorns in this Game is the presence of Dylan Osetowkski and Bamba in the frontcOurt. Osetkowski has the ability to defend Brady Manek on the perimeter, but he also has the size to post up Manek down low. The same goes for Bamba against Khadeem LAttin, who has slightly disappointed in his senior season. On the other end of that, if LAttin can hold his own against Bamba that would be huge. Bamba has taken over in the last couple home Games going for huge double doubles in wins against Ole Miss and Iowa State. If LAttin can stop that from happening, Oklahoma will be in business.
Anything can happen when Trae Young is on the cOurt and that will have plenty people betting on Oklahoma. But if he can’t get easy shots in the paint and has to rely on his shooting, that could be troublesome for the Sooners and that’s why they’ve been losing on the road. As long as the Texas backcOurt can keep Young in front of them and Bamba and Osetkowski can continue to win down low, the home team will walk away victorious.
Our Pick – Oklahoma +3