With the arrival of March, a basketball group uncertain of its personal identity most probable is a group not headed to the NCAA Event.
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger admits his group experienced issues locating alone at a variety of periods this period.
“We’ve struggled to have a constant identity, fairly frankly, which is not essentially terrific,” Kruger claimed. “We’ve just been so inconsistent night to night, equally separately and as a team.”
But with NCAA Event bids much less than two weeks away, the Sooners look to have recognized on their own.
OU closes its house schedule against Kansas on Tuesday at 8 p.m. CT (ESPN2) inside Lloyd Noble Centre. A victory around the No. 13-rated Jayhawks (22-7 overall 11-5 Massive 12) would give the Sooners (18-11, 6-10) their ninth straight victory in their house finale and their 14th in the past 16 seasons. It also would be OU’s fourth victory in the past 7 conferences in Norman against KU.
This year’s Sooners perform nothing at all like past year’s Sooners, although the final results have been eerily equivalent.
“We know we have to appear out and perform tough, not have a gradual start out. When we are clicking, there is no one thing we have to go to in get to be productive simply because everyone is capable to make a perform for on their own and for other individuals.”
– Kristian Doolittle
Previous period, OU started the period with a 14-2 report and climbed to No. 4 in The Involved Press poll on Jan. 15. The Sooners then misplaced nine of their future 11, which include a stretch of 6 straight, and dropped out of the Top 25 in a span of 5 weeks.
This period, OU started out 13-3 and attained No. 19 in the coaches’ poll on Jan. 14. The Sooners then misplaced 7 of their future nine, which include a stretch of 5 straight.
Junior ahead Kristian Doolittle claimed he and his teammates did not suffer a situation of déjà vu.
“We never carry up past calendar year at all, or any a long time in the past,” Doolittle claimed. “Every group is distinct and has to do distinct points to win.”
Doolittle insists this year’s 5-match skid is in the rearview mirror thanks to “having a search at the grand scheme of points, placing all the online games in the past powering us, shelling out extra awareness to element in follow, extra intensity, generating a extra acutely aware effort to make the correct performs.”
The Sooners ventured down an totally distinct route in the course of this year’s journey.
OU’s design and style of perform past calendar year was a large-scoring (84.9-position typical), up-tempo assault led by freshman position guard Trae Youthful, who grew to become the very first participant at any time to lead Division I in scoring (27.4) and helps (8.7). Youthful is now an NBA Rookie of the Calendar year candidate with the Atlanta Hawks.
In the meantime, this year’s Sooners have downshifted to emphasize defense with their overall duration and athleticism, allowing for opponents 68.1 details and a .402 industry-intention percentage (2nd in the Massive 12 and 21st nationally). OU also qualified prospects the conference in defensive rebounding (28.5) and ranks 2nd in whole rebounds (38.1).
An NCAA Event bid would make the Sooners one of only three Massive 12 groups to make the Bid Dance in 6 of the past 7 seasons.
Although all points went as a result of Youthful offensively past period, this year’s group is extra of an equal prospect venture.
The Massive 12 has 10 gamers averaging double-digits in details and at the very least 6 rebounds, and three perform for the Sooners in senior Christian James (15.4 details, 6.8 rebounds), sophomore Brady Manek (11.6, 6.2) and Doolittle (10.3, 6.8). No other conference group has extra than one participant previously mentioned these plateaus.
“Being capable to have numerous playmakers on the flooring at one time doesn’t make it possible for the defense to crucial on to one participant or choose away specifically one participant,” Doolittle claimed. “Rebounding is enormous. Being capable to distribute the rebounds will take the pressure off specifically one participant. Figuring out if we box out anyone else will be capable to appear clean it up.”
Even when OU was 4-9 in Massive 12 perform three weeks ago, it was however projected to make this year’s NCAA match by popular ESPN “bracketologist” Joe Lunardi.
“Speaking for me personally, I never pay attention to just about anything outside the house this group,” Doolittle claimed of all the conjecture.
Lunardi’s bracketology entering Monday night’s online games has 8 Massive 12 groups acquiring bids, an unprecedented 80 p.c of groups from the similar conference. Kansas and Texas Tech are No. 3 seeds, Iowa Condition is a No. 5, Kansas Condition a No. 6, Baylor a No. 8, Texas a No. 9, OU a No. 10 and TCU a No. 11.
Rely Kruger is between those people who feel in the Massive 12’s overall power.
“Oh, I do. Unquestionably. I never imagine there is any issue,” Kruger claimed. “Plus, (past-location) West Virginia can defeat persons and (coach) Mike Boynton has performed a great career at Oklahoma Condition. There’s 10 groups that can go out and definitely defeat anyone.”
The Sooners went 12-1 in non-conference perform, which incorporated victories around Florida, Notre Dame, USC, Northwestern, Creighton, Wichita Condition, Dayton, Vanderbilt and Wofford (rated No. 22 this week). The lone reduction arrived against No. 21-rated Wisconsin at the Fight 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
“I imagined we were being quite fantastic defensively in non-conference, but a very little inconsistent offensively,” Kruger claimed. “Then I imagined we started worrying a very little bit extra about offense than defense and I imagined that harm us a very little bit for a even though. All over again, we weren’t capturing the ball very nicely. Some evenings, we have distinct men step ahead, which is nice to have, but you’d like to have a very little bit of a core team which is going to be there every single night. And we definitely have not experienced that regularity, which I imagine also contributes to a lack of regularity as a group, way too.”
Of the 10 Massive 12 gamers who are aveaging at the very least 10 details and 6 rebounds, three perform for Oklahoma.
Recent performances have discovered OU receiving off to excellent begins, which have led to greater overall regularity and resulted in success with three victories in the past four begins.
“We’ve shot the ball greater, performed with a large amount extra confidence and gotten fantastic final results, which usually can help,” Kruger claimed. “Good to see, unquestionably, for confident.”
In conference perform, Doolittle is averaging 13.3 details, 7.9 rebounds and 2. helps even though foremost the Sooners in scoring and rebounding. He is the only Massive 12 participant averaging at the very least 13. details, 7. rebounds and 2. helps in league levels of competition.
“We know we have to appear out and perform tough, not have a gradual start out,” Doolittle claimed. “Any match exactly where we appear out clicking, it quite a lot lasts us the entirety of the match. When we are clicking, there is no one thing we have to go to in get to be productive simply because everyone is capable to make a perform for on their own and for other individuals.”
As is generally the situation in basketball, OU’s formulation for success is clear-lower: The Sooners are 18- when they complete with a better capturing percentage than their opponent and -10 when they never (-1 when they shoot the similar).
OU is capturing .474 from the industry (.371 from 3-position assortment) in its 18 victories and .395 (.306 on 3-tips) in its 11 losses.
The Sooners concluded 18-14 past period and have fulfilled or surpassed their win whole from the earlier period in 5 of the past 6 seasons.
OU is the only university this period to defeat a group from every single significant conference (Power 5, plus the Massive East).
With a victory tonight, the Sooners could formally carry an conclude to KU’s 14-calendar year reign as conference champs and seal OU’s sixth journey to the NCAA Event in the past 7 seasons.
“We talked about that briefly in the huddle (Monday),” Doolittle claimed of ending the Jayhawks’ title hopes. “Just realizing what this match usually means as considerably as our group receiving into the match and as considerably as the streak for Kansas, there is a large amount at stake for equally groups.”