College Basketball Thunder Stories

Sooners Look for Redemption in the Losers Bracket

The Oklahoma Sooners (2-1) look to redeem their first round loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks yesterday in a consolation matchup against the University of Portland tonight at the PK80 Invitational.

The young Sooners kept it close with the Razorbacks throughout the entire game, but the backcourt for the Razorbacks was too much for the Sooners. Like I said yesterday, the winner of the game would come down to whoever would utilize their strengths the best.

The guard play for the Razorbacks was basically flawless the entire 40 minutes of play. Senior guard Daryl Macon would lead the Razorbacks with 27 points. The Razorbacks backcourt as a whole would total 60 of Arkansas 92 points.

The score (92-83) doesn’t totally reflect how the Sooners were outplayed in just about every aspect of the game. Freshman guard Trae Young would lead the Sooners with 28 points.

Head coach Lon Kruger got sucked into playing into the Razorbacks strength in the backcourt. Instead of using their strength in the post, the Sooners tried to lean on their perimeter shooting which they ended the night making only 27.6 percent of their shots from behind the arc.

Tonight the Sooners have a great opportunity to learn from their mistakes and get back to winning when they take on the University of Portland Pilots. Portland (2-2) has one thing going for them at the PK80 Invitational, and that’s home-court advantage.

The advantage wasn’t quite in their favor against the defending national champion Tar Heels, but it could be more of strength against a less talented team in the Sooners.

The Sooners should be able to grab somewhat of an easy win here against the Pilots. The Sooners are the better team all-around, but the best thing about college basketball is the underdog role.

Kruger needs his team to come out guns blazing for 40 straight minutes. In order for the Pilots to get a win tonight, the Sooners basically have to beat themselves. They can’t shoot 27.6 percent from three and they can’t allow Portland’s size to beat them on the glass. The Razorbacks were the smaller and weaker team in the post overall, but that didn’t stop them from out rebounding the Sooners 41-35.

Keys to Victory

Box Out – the Sooners got worked on the glass against the smaller Razorbacks. Today, the Sooners frontcourt will have their hands full with the 7’2” center from Germany, Philipp Hartwich. Hartwich is averaging an impressive 11 rebounds a game. Forwards Khadeem Lattin and Brady Manek will need to focus on boxing out Hartwich and keep him from getting the Pilots second chance opportunities.

Efficient Shooting – The Sooners were anything but efficient with their shooting performance against the Razorbacks. Yes, the Sooners had the better percentage from the field, but making only 8 of 29 threes is totally unacceptable no matter who you play.  The Sooners look to be a team that’ll rely heavily on their perimeter offense, but it could wind up being their Achilles heel in certain matchups.

Just Win – the Sooners are a promising team. They lost to a really good, experienced Razorback team yesterday. If they just play to their strengths and abilities it should be an easy win for the Sooners tonight. The Sooners still have a great chance here to make a statement in the early season. All they need to do is finish strong in Portland.

Prediction

Sooners 92, Pilots 78

Tip-Off is at 5 p.m. CT Time, on ESPN3

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