As always, all of the following statistics are found on Oklahoma's KenPom page, which can be found here. For any further information on Boomer Sooner, check out the SB Nation Oklahoma blog, Crimson and Cream Machine.
The biggest game of the year? Maybe. I still go with KU @ MU, but this certainly is quite a large one.
I want Blake Griffin to play. There, I said it. I understand he won't be 100%, and that it won't be the same, if we win, as if we took down a completely healthy Sooner squad. But, I want Griffin to play. I want the challenge. And, more importantly, I want the practice for our bigs. Sure, he won't be at full strength, but that's even better, really. That way, we can get a partial Blake Griffin, giving the Law Firm (plus Quintrell?) some hope, while still letting them pick up defensive minutes against the best player in the country.
Now, obviously, I want to win. And, as much as I want the young bigs (Cole too, really) to learn and get better, I really want to win even more. I want to win the Big 12, and the easiest way to do that is just to win Monday night. We, just like Missouri and just like Oklahoma, control our own destiny. All three teams do. It's just about who wins the most games, really.
We're going to win. It's going to happen. But, I hope Blake at least sees the floor in our victory.
Rest of the delicious content after the jump...
There is too much background to go back on. Last season, Oklahoma made an early conference trip up to Lawrence. They were young, led by freshman Blake Griffin and a host of other young players. They were up-and-coming, and came to Allen Field House raring to make a name for themselves on the national spotlight of Big Monday. A little more than two hours later, Kansas had just won by 30, 85-55.Oklahoma went on to make the year a successful one, making the NCAA Tournament as a 6 seed and sneaking past St. Joseph's in the first round before getting destroyed, again by 30, against Louisville.
This year, though. This was their year. They had Blake Griffin coming back, bigger-and-better, and a super frosh in Willie Warren to go along with him. They marched through their non-conference schedule with relative ease, including winning the Preseason NIT Tournament by defeating Davidson, UAB and Purdue. They also narrowly beat USC. Then, out of the blue, they got beat in Arkansas. Random, I know.
But, they marched into conference season a little pissed off, and played even better. While some games were closer than they should have been, they didn't lose until last night in Austin, and that was without Blake Griffin for 35 minutes.
They are a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, obviously, and will almost assuredly be a Top 3 seed.
But this game is about a lot more than that. It's about the Big 12 Championship race. It's all this is about. Both teams control their own destiny, but that dissipates with a loss. So, this game is huge. For both teams.
Effective FG% (9th) -- This is the major strength of the Sooner offense. It is pretty incredible, really. Obviously, a large part of this is Blake Griffin's 64.3 eFG%, and all of his dunks, but still. We've got to step out and put hands in faces, or Crocker and Johnson and Warren and Davis will drain them all night long.
- Turnover % (66th) -- This is a place where we could gain an advantage. They aren't Fort Knox, or anything, but they aren't usually giving up too many possessions. So, if we can turn them over, we could be in really good shape. Really good shape. Problem is, we haven't really turned anyone over at a high rate all year long, so it would have to be an abnormal performance. Still, it just might have to happen for us to win. Maybe.
Offensive Rebounding % (57th) -- Again, like turnovers, this isn't a particularly strong suit. However, they certainly aren't bad at it, and can easily torch us with the second-chance points if we don't take extra precautions. So, Law Firm, please box out. Please.
FTA/FGA (9th) -- They do get fouled a bunch, though. A lot of that, again, is Blake, though. So, let Blake get his free throws, don't be shy from going hard after him and using up your allotment of fouls. Particularly the Morris twins, and I bet Quintrell sees some action if it's just to use up his 5 fouls. But, the key is not to pick up stupid fouls.
- Effective FG% (32nd) -- Not absolutely stellar, like their offensive eFG%, but still pretty doggone good. The key, as always, is to make our open shots. That's the thing that has killed us in all of our losses, most notably in Columbia just two weeks ago. If we get open shots, particularly treys, we've gotta knock 'em down. We can't afford to give away points by missing shots we have to make. It's the biggest key of the game, to me. We just absolutely must knock them down.
- Turnover % (284th) -- This is the absolute key. We turn the ball over a bunch, which is understandable given our incredible youth. But, in this game, with these stakes, against such a dominating team, we can't afford them. I mean, obviously, we can afford ten-or-so. But we can't afford to have oodles of give-aways. Please? So, Sherron and Company, just hold on to the ball. It's gotta happen.
Offensive Rebounding % (154th) -- Again, this is something we have to capitalize on. They allow you to have some free second-chance points, and we have to take advantage. They're going to score, and score a bunch, so to keep up, we have to do two things. One, hold on to the ball. And two, the Law Firm + Cole needs to get second-chancers. It absolutely needs to happen.
FTA/FGA (33rd) -- They don't foul you too often, but whatever.
- The worst part of their defense, by far, is giving up the three. They aren't godawful, but it is something we can take advantage of. Again, the key is hitting the open three. They give you open looks, and it's up to you to knock them down.
These will be short, just highlighting the best of the bunch. Obviously, it all starts with one person, no matter how concussed he happens to be...
Blake Griffin (F) -- I'm sure you know plenty about Blake by now, but we'll try and provide some extra insight. He knocks down an incredible array of shots, although plenty are of the dunk variety, and is one of the best rebounders in the country. In fact, he's the third-best defensive rebounder in the entire country. Fabulous. He also draws an incredible amount of fouls (second most in the country, after Leo Lyons), so we have to be careful. Particularly Cole. I'm fine if the Law Firm (plus Quintrell?) use up their fouls on Blake, but we need Cole in there as much as possible.
Willie Warren (G) -- Absolute. Stud. He's incredible. Brady, please shut him down. Please. Most of our defensive gameplan is going to be centered around the Concussed One, so we'll have to stick Brady on Willie and hope he doesn't explode, again. We simply can't afford a performance similar to Saturday's from Warren and possibly win. Oh, and the stats. He's another great shooter, and doesn't turn it over too much. He's virtually non-existent on the glass, though, so that's nice, I suppose.
Austin Johnson (G) -- He's a much-improved player, but he still isn't terribly impressive to me. He's an assist guy who can also knock down the three, but that's about it. He's a really good defender, too, and I'd imagine he gets stuck on Sherron. Collins has been awesome for two straight games, and it'd be sick if he could have another awesome performance tomorrow night. We could really, really use it.
Tony Crocker (G) -- Another spot-up shooter. 38% from outside, on over 140ish attempts. Another player that really isn't active on the glass, and isn't really relevant in any other statistical category. Just stay out on him on the perimeter, and there isn't too much to worry about.
Taylor Griffin (F) -- He isn't nearly as good as his brother, and really only a "dirty-work" kinda player. He is decent on the rebounds, and is mainly just an inside player, despite being only 6'7". He doesn't have too much of an outside game, and I imagine we'll make him beat us, while we double-team Blake.
Bench -- There are a couple of other quite significant players, but we'll just go through all of them right here, boom-boom-boom. You have Cade Davis, who is another three-point shooter (34% on nearly 100 attempts). Then there's Ryan Wright, who is actually a really strong rebounder. He is practically invisible on offense, though, so leave him open, too. And, lastly, we've got Juan Pattillo. Similar to Mario Little, he was initially going to redshirt, before switching prior to the UT-OU game a couple of weeks ago. He is a really intriguing player, who is another really good rebounder, and is slightly more of an offensive threat than Wright. Still, not so great.
1) HIt the Open Threes -- We already went over this, but this is the key. We lost to Missouri because we were like 2-14 from three, and the same thing will happen if we can't hit 'emMonday night. Brady, Tyrel: I'm looking at you two. Everyone needs to knock 'em down, but you two are the two main culprits. Drain the three consistently, and we're in good shape.
2) Win the Turnover Battle -- OU doesn't turn the ball over very much, but they don't force any, really, either. So, at the very least, we have to keep the status quo. No 27 turnover games, or anything. If we can force a bunch, though, that'd be just awesome. We could win by double digits, if that happens.
3) Work the Offensive Glass -- Like we pointed out, they aren't completely awesome at limiting second chance points. So, in order to keep up with their beast of an offense, we'll have to capitalize on the offensive glass. Marcus and Markieff, the chance is there for you to explode on the national scene. While, sure, you both played awesome against Baylor, that wasn't the same game as tomorrow night. And sure, Marcus, you dominated life against K-State, but that was on a Saturday afternoon with a host of other games. Tomorrow night, we're the main show. So, just put all of the senseless Morris-twins-to-D-2-rumors to rest and outplay the Sooners' frontline. Yes, even including Blake.
I can't wait. I'm in jump up-and-down mood, already. Just wait until tomorrow.