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Old 01-19-2024, 07:52 AM   #1
Queens_NYC
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Oklahoma

Saturday, January 20th, 2024
1:00 PM
Fifth Third Arena
ESPN+

The Bearcats (13-4, 2-2 Big 12, NET #28, KenPom #26) take on their fifth consecutive ranked opponent this weekend as they welcome #15 Oklahoma (14-3, 2-2 Big 12, NET #26, KenPom #20) to town.

The Sooners are looking to ride a hot start to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 4 years under 3rd-year head coach Porter Moser.

They are led by 3rd-year 6'1 point guard Javian McCollum (14.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.0 apg) and 2nd-year 6'5 wing Otega Oweh (14.1 ppg, 4.4 ppg).

The Sooners generally play smaller line-ups with only one player above 6'6 on the floor, but are still a strong defensive team - especially on the perimeter as they've limited opponents to 27.8% shooting from 3 on the season.

They are a strong rebounding team too that limited West Virginia to 19 total boards during Wednesday night's 77-63 home win.

Similar to TCU, they are an average 3-point shooting team (34.9%) but are exceptional inside the arch (57.9% 2FGs) - particularly when they are close to the rim (they make 89% of dunks and 64.6% of close 2s).

In their 3 losses (@TCU, @Kansas, and against UNC in Charlotte), on top of poorer shooting numbers, what stands out most is a -25 turnover margin.

The Sooners mark the first of 4 Big 12 opponents that the Bearcats will play home/away this season with the others being Houston, UCF, and West Virginia.
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Old 01-19-2024, 02:34 PM   #2
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We get a break from elite offenses, but have to face Oklahoma's elite defense. They are one of the best in the country at defending the three point line, holding opponents under 28%. And they are also a top 30 defensive rebounding team. This is not a game to chuck up threes and hope for the rebound. They also don't allow many assists, which tells me they emphasize staying out on shooters instead of double teaming.

The stats say Oklahoma's defensive scheme is similar to ours, so it's unsurprising they have been hurt by individual scorers like we have. In their three losses they gave up over 1.08 points per possession and at least 23 points to one player. RJ Davis scored 23 for UNC, Hunter Dickinson scored 24 for Kansas, and Emanuel Miller scored 27 for TCU. So it seems they will allow us to iso, and we don't have to do it with just one player. We have several guys who are capable of scoring. Our gameplan should overload one side to open the floor for iso or two-man action on the other.

On the offensive end, Porter Moser brings the modern basketball approach over that served him well at Loyola. Oklahoma takes less than 19% of their shots from midrange. Their guards are big so they can play mostly positionless. They are very good from the free throw line, converting over 75% And they share the ball - no one has a usage rate over 24. But they have one glaring weakness, which is turnovers. Most of their rotations players are susceptible to coughing it up. They have two pure shooters - McCollum and Darthard. McCollum is hitting 39%, so we have to guard him tightly. Darthard (who we faced at Utah Valley last year) is only hitting 32% from deep this year but is a 36% career shooter. He has yet to attempt a shot from inside the arc in conference play and has only attempted a couple since December 9.

This is a game I'd like to see our guards leave the perimeter to dig down on bigs and go for steals. Wes doesn't like to do that though. We're not very good at forcing turnovers, but it's critical to do that in this game. Oklahoma has a top 25 effective field goal percentage - turnovers is what pushes their overall efficiency outside the top 50. We could use a repeat of Day Day and Newman's TCU performance.
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Old 01-20-2024, 02:00 PM   #3
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Great first half defense. Our offense has been ok, just missing a lot of good looks (and free throws). I think we need more iso. This is the one thing Cronin was good at. Get a guard and rim running big on one side and clear everyone else out. We're struggling with a congested lane.
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Old 01-20-2024, 03:33 PM   #4
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Easily the most frustrating game of the year for me. Felt like we played with a lack of poise for much of the 2nd half, and by the time we really started to lock in, the hole was just too big to overcome for a team with so little offensive rhythm.

Two very winnable home wins blown now. I really hope these losses don't bite us in the butt as we linger on the tournament bubble for the rest of the season.

57.1% from the FT line over the past 4 games now with 3 of those games being at home. Completely unacceptable.
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Old 01-20-2024, 09:18 PM   #5
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This was a disappointing game in many ways. We played two bigs for most of the game (Vik, Aziz, and Jamille totalled 68 minutes, so for 28 minutes one of them was playing the 4). That's the first time we've done that in conference play, and our defense suffered. The worst part is that we got outrebounded and outscored at the rim. None of our bigs are comfortable at the 4, which I thought we had learned at the end of the nonconference slate. Not sure why we decided to return to the big lineups today.

Oklahoma made a great halftime adjustment and started to downscreen our bigs, pinning them on the baseline and giving their bigger wings plenty of space to operate. Oweh and Moore were getting into the lane at will. We should not be giving up 28 rim looks. Day Day did a nice job again - McCollum led the Sooners in scoring with 12 points from the field but needed 16 shots to do it.

Rebounding numbers are particularly alarming. Their big man Hugley didn't have a single rebound but Oklahoma still beat us on the boards by 6. We took quickness and athleticism off the court and they were beating us to the ball repeatedly. Going with size in this game was a strange choice and it didn't work. We shouldn't have stuck with it for so long.

This game only had 65 possessions. We scored exactly a point per possession, which is in line with how we've been performing in conference. But we gave up 1.07, our worst showing so far.
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Old 01-20-2024, 09:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sedziobs View Post
This is not a game to chuck up threes and hope for the rebound.
...
This is a game I'd like to see our guards leave the perimeter to dig down on bigs and go for steals. Wes doesn't like to do that though. We're not very good at forcing turnovers, but it's critical to do that in this game. Oklahoma has a top 25 effective field goal percentage - turnovers is what pushes their overall efficiency outside the top 50. We could use a repeat of Day Day and Newman's TCU performance.
We put up 26 threes, by far our highest total in conference.

Day Day had a dig down steal early and I thought we would keep that up. But playing two bigs prevented us from being aggressive for most of the game. We only forced 10 turnovers, or 15.5% of possessions. That's more than 2 turnovers less than Oklahoma's season average, which easily could have been the difference in the game.

I'd been happy with our coaching in Big12 play until this game. I think strategy choices doomed us.
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Old 01-20-2024, 10:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Queens_NYC View Post
57.1% from the FT line over the past 4 games now with 3 of those games being at home. Completely unacceptable.
I think the only way to change that is to get our better shooters to the line more often. Vik and Aziz are terrible free throw shooters. They were 2 for 5 in this game. The rest of the team made 71%.

I don't think we can say free throw shooting is the reason we lost this game because it wasn't out of ordinary for us. It's a fact of life with our roster.
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Old 01-21-2024, 09:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sedziobs View Post
I think the only way to change that is to get our better shooters to the line more often. Vik and Aziz are terrible free throw shooters. They were 2 for 5 in this game. The rest of the team made 71%.

I don't think we can say free throw shooting is the reason we lost this game because it wasn't out of ordinary for us. It's a fact of life with our roster.
Not too much to argue with here, but I guess my next question is why has Vik not improved at the line at all over the course of 3 seasons?

If he can hit 34% of 3s at 2.4 attempts/game (albeit this number will likely go down over time), there's surely little excuse for why his FT conversion rate can't improve by 10-15 percentage points.

Aziz and Jamille don't have any offensive game outside of 8-10 feet from the basket so I can accept their touch declining sharply at the charity stripe.
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Old 01-21-2024, 04:16 PM   #9
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I don't know, but players generally don't improve from the free throw line. Vik has consistently been around 55% his entire career. Set shots are just different for some guys I guess. Maybe he should try Rick Barry's form.
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