North Texas hits the road for its toughest test of the season as they take on the Oklahoma Sooners.
- Thursday, Nov 30 2017
- 7 p.m. CT
- Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, OK
- TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
- Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM
What You Need to Know About Oklahoma
Conference: Big XII
Coach: Lon Kruger (7th season at OU. 126-78 at OU. )
Last Game: Oregon W 90-80
There aren’t many weaknesses in the OU defense on paper. They do a great job forcing turnovers, and blocking shots. The Sooners don’t allow a high shooting percentage inside the arch and they do a good job of rebounding. One area they haven’t been great at is 3pt shooting defense, but against Oregon they only allowed 30.8% from downtown.
So how exactly can North Texas find success against OU? Well for one getting out on the fast break. If OU wants to run then NT can run it right back. I’ve let you know plenty of times this year that the Mean Green can run well. Secondly North Texas can find success if they PROTECT THE BALL. Look if they limit OU’s ability to run by protecting the ball that will in turn make this a closer game. If North Texas is turning the ball over on 30% of its possessions again then OU is going to be up by more than 20 points at halftime.
Ryan Woolridge has to be great in this game. When NT wins he averaging close to 6 assists. In the the Mean Green defeats he is averaging 1.67 assists. For Ryan its important to get his teammates involved, but he also has to get his. He struggled in the first half against Grambling, the second half was a different story. North Texas is a completely different team when Woolridge is playing well.
Smart and Duffy have to be able to knock down open looks tonight. I think Duffy will get more open looks than Smart. OU is going to do their best to take Smart away. Also Smart has yet to put back to back good games together.
AJ Lawson needs to stay in attack mode. I cringed when he had an open driving lane vs Grambling, but instead opted for the 3. Its okay for Lawson to take a few 3’s, but the strength of his game is finishing at the rim, not shooting 3’s.
Lon Kruger is well known for his offensive genius. He routinely schemes up dynamic sets that put tremendous pressure on the opponent. North Texas is going to learn a lot about their ability to defend tonight against these Sooners. There is a reason that OU shoots such a good percentage, and that’s because Kruger gets them great looks with his sets. OU is shooting 62.4% from the inside the arch.
First off OU wants to run. Against D1 competition they avg 13.1 seconds per possession. That is the 3rd fastest. Kruger always stresses to his team that the easiest way to score is to beat your opponent down the floor. One of the staples of their fast break scoring is a lot of back cut action. North Texas has to really pay attention to who their guarding when getting back on defense. Communication will be key tonight.
Once OU gets into their half court offense expect to see a lot of high pick and roll action. FR PG Trae Young lit up Oregon last game out for 43 points off those pick and roll sets. Young is a great player and is their go to guy right now. He is a tough guard for Woolridge. Ryan has the quicks to stay in front of him, but Young is a savy player for his age. He gets a to the free throw line a ton and knocks those down.
Young isn’t the whole OU offense. Christian James and Khadeem Lattin are the other two key parts of this offense. Both James and Lattin are averaging 12.4 points per game. Lattin is a 6-9 SR F and is effective on both sides of the floor. He is a great rebounder and defender. Lattin earned all-defensive honors in the Big XII as a sophomore. James wasnt a huge part of the OU offense last year, but this year he is shooting the ball really well.
Other guys to be on the look out include Kameron McGusty and Brady Manek. McGusty played a large role as FR. In conference play last year McGusty took 27.6% of their shots. With the addition of Trae Young and the improvement of James, McGusty’s role has diminished some. That doesn’t mean he cant still hurt NT. Manek is a 6-9 FR F that is a stretch 4. He is very capable of hitting 3’s if NT leaves him uncovered. Manek is also a capable defender, he has pretty good defensive instincts.
Projected Starting Lineups
|Ryan Woolridge 6-3||G||4 A/pg|
|Roosevelt Smart 6-3||G||17.4 PT/pg|
|A.J. Lawson 6-5||G||10.4 PT/pg|
|Zachary Simmons 6-9||F||5.1 PT/pg|
|Shane Temara 6-9||F||6 REB/pg|
|Trae Young 6-2||G||28.2 PT/pg|
|Christian James 6-4||G||12.4 PT/pg|
|Rashard Odomes 6-6||G||7.3 PT/pg|
|Khadeem Lattin 6-9||F||8.8 REB/pg|
|Brady Manek 6-9||F||6 REB/pg|
Go To Guys
- Can North Texas survive the initial OU run?
- Will Ryan Woolridge be able to stay out of foul trouble and on the court?
- Shane Temara will lead the team in points tonight.
Inside the Advanced Stat Match-up
This is as tough a game as North Texas will have this year. OU is playing really well right now. Its hard to see NT going into Norman and pulling off an upset of a top 25 program. What I’d like to see is North Texas keeping it at around 15 points. Even that will be tough. OU just has too much fire power. I think OU will dominate the first 28 mins of this game, but NT may make a little run late to make the score look better.
TeamRankings – OU by 29
My Pick – OU by 20