In a loaded Feast Week of action, several Big 12 schools will head to a neutral site to take on all comers and hopefully build their resumes. Let’s take a look at each, this time with Oklahoma in the Bahamas.
Catching Up: Oklahoma opened its season led by an impressive performance from junior Buddy Hield. Hield, a likely All-Big 12 first teamer, scored 25 points and hit seven 3-pointers in the Sooners’ 25 point win over Southeastern Louisiana. However, Oklahoma stumbled on the road against Creighton in their second game when they gave up an 18 point lead in the second half and fell to the Bluejays in Omaha. OU bounced back against Northwestern State behind 20 points from junior Isaiah Cousins. The addition of TaShawn Thomas gave the Sooners one of the best starting fives in the Big 12 and although Thomas hasn’t lived up to the expectations yet (averaging just 8.0 points 4.3 rebounds per game), expect him to get acclimated to coach Lon Kruger’s system in the near future.
Opening Round Preview: Oklahoma opens the tournament on Wednesday afternoon when they square off with Steve Alford’s UCLA squad. Alford has his team playing well and ranked in both of the top 25 polls. The Bruins have started the season with one of the top 10 offenses in the country according to KenPom with five players averaging double figure points through four games. Two of those players, Bryce Alford and Norman Powell, are scoring over 20 points per game. The good news for Oklahoma is that the Bruins have played one of the worst schedules in Division I so far. UCLA’s first four games rank 328th in strength of schedule according to KenPom. On the other side of the ball, Oklahoma should be able to challenge the perimeter players of UCLA with the likes of Hield, Cousins, and Jordan Woodard. The Sooners possess the outside shooting (40.9 percent on 3-pointers) to challenge the Bruins should Steve Alford choose to play zone and are balanced enough with the addition of Thomas against a man-to-man defense. With two high powered offenses, this contest will likely be a fan-pleasing, high-scoring affair. A win would bolster the resume of either team and, in particular, would be a great way for the Sooners to bounce back from their defeat at Creighton.