January 2 | 8 p.m. | Lawrence, Kan.
WEDNESDAY’S GAME BASICS
Winner of seven straight, No. 23 Oklahoma (11-1, 0-0 Big 12) brings its strong start into conference play when it travels to Allen Fieldhouse to face No. 5 Kansas (11-1, 0-0 Big 12) on Wednesday night. The Sooners are 3-0 in true road games this season and aim to end a 25-year winning drought in Lawrence. Oklahoma has won five of the last nine meetings with KU when both the Sooners and Jayhawks are ranked in the AP Top 25 (dating back to 2002).
Both Oklahoma and Kansas have faced plenty of early-season tests. Both the CBS Sports’ RPI and the NCAA NET Rankings list Kansas (No. 1) and Oklahoma (No. 2) in the top two for strength of schedule. The Sooners and Jayhawks are also two of only three teams nationally with at least five wins over major-conference teams in non-league play.
ON THE AIR
Wednesday’s matchup will tip at 8 p.m. CT and air on the Sooner Radio Network (107.7 FM The Franchise in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa; Tune In Radio App) with Toby Rowland and Kevin Henry announcing. Bob Wischusen and Fran Fraschilla will call the action on ESPN2. Fans with proper cable verification can also stream the game on the Watch ESPN App.
When the Sooners return to Norman, three of their next four home games will be played on a Saturday afternoon. OU Athletics is offering fans special holiday savings to take advantage of the big matchups with favorable tip times. For just $30 total, fans will receive a ticket to OU’s home games against Oklahoma State (Jan. 5), TCU (Jan. 12) and Vanderbilt (Jan. 26). Tickets will be general admission for the north end (student section) and can be purchased at SoonerSports.com/Tickets.
• The Sooners enter conference play on a seven-game winning streak and boast an 11-1 record. Playing its first game as a ranked team this season, No. 23 Oklahoma owns eight wins away from Norman while facing the second toughest strength of schedule according to the NCAA NET Rankings. Oklahoma and Gonzaga are the only schools with wins over five different major conferences during non-conference play. OU, Gonzaga and Kansas are also the only programs with at least five wins over major conference teams in non-league play.
• Oklahoma continues to pride itself on the defensive end, boasting the second-best defensive field goal percentage in the Big 12 (11th nationally). OU’s foes are shooting 36.9 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from 3-point range. The Sooners are taking advantage of their opponents’ misses by pulling down a nation-leading 32.8 defensive rebounds per game.
• Graduate guard Miles Reynolds continues to make the most of his lone season with the Sooners, earning Big 12 Newcomer of the Week for games played Dec. 17-25. Reynolds averaged 12.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in Oklahoma’s two most recent wins (Creighton and at Northwestern) to earn the honor for the first time. Reynolds is Oklahoma’s second-leading scorer with season averages of 10.9 points, 2.9 rebound and 1.3 assists. He has reached double-digit scoring in six of his last seven outings.
Ranked at No. 23 in the AP Top 25 Poll, Oklahoma will be playing as a ranked team for the first time this season.
SERIES HISTORY: KANSAS
• Kansas is the only Big 12 team with a winning all-time record against the Sooners, leading the series 147-67. The Jayhawks are 76-16 against the Sooners in Lawrence.
• Oklahoma will be looking for its first win in Allen Fieldhouse since 1993. The Jayhawks have defeated the Sooners in 17 straight games in Lawrence.
• The Sooners were 1-1 against the Jayhawks in 2017-18, claiming the first meeting, 85-80, in Norman before falling 104-74 in Lawrence.
RECAPPING OU’S WIN OVER NORTHWESTERN
• The Sooners overcame an early deficit to fight back and earn an overtime victory over Northwestern. Oklahoma trailed by as many as 11 in the first half, overcoming its largest deficit in a win since beating TCU (also trailed by 11) on Dec. 30, 2017.
• Oklahoma closed the game on a 10-0 run. The Wildcats took a 3-point lead early in overtime, but the Sooners held them without a point the rest of the way. Kristian Doolittle scored six points in overtime and ended the game with a team-high 14 points and nine boards.
• OU distributed a season-high 19 assists. Point guard Aaron Calixte and Jamal Bieniemy combined for 11 dimes and only two turnovers.
• Joining Doolittle in double figures were Rashard Odomes (13 points), Christian James (12) and Miles Reynolds (11).
• The win was Oklahoma’s first victory in a Big Ten venue since 1970.
• OU is 5-2 in Big 12 openers under Kruger and has opened conference play with a win in four of the past five seasons.
• Oklahoma is off to its fourth start of 11-1 (or better) during Kruger’s eight seasons as head coach (also third in the last four seasons). OU began the 2015-16 season 12-0 and saw a 12-1 start to its 2017-18 campaign.
• OU has won its last two games against top-five opponents (both came in 2017-18). The Sooners defeated then-No. 3 Wichita State on the road and then-No. 5 Kansas in Norman.
• Oklahoma is 4-10 against opponents ranked in the top five of the AP Top 25 during the Kruger era (1-4 on the road). The Sooners have at least one road win over a top-10 team in each of the past four seasons.
• Wednesday’s matchup is already OU’s fourth road game of the season. The Sooners lead the conference in road wins with a 3-0 record. Ten of OU’s first 13 games this season are being played outside of Norman. It is the fewest amount of games OU has played in Norman through 13 games since the start of the 1975-76 season when the Sooners only played three home games in their first 14 contests.
• Oklahoma is 8-1 in games away from Norman this season (includes “home” victories in OKC and Tulsa). The Sooners have won six games on the road or on neutral sites. No other Big 12 team has more than five wins away from home. (Does not count the Oklahoma City or Tulsa games, which are considered home games for RPI/NET purposes).
• The Sooners are seventh in the country in rebounding (43.2 boards per game), including a nation-leading 32.8 defensive rebounds per game.
• With wins away from Norman over Florida, Dayton, Notre Dame, Wichita State, USC, and Creighton, Oklahoma’s strength of schedule and success away from Lloyd Noble Center has caught the attention of various evaluation formulas and rankings. The Sooners’ schedule is ranked the second-toughest in the NCAA NET Ranking (replaces the RPI). Oklahoma’s seven “Quadrant 1” and “Quadrant 2” wins are the most in the country.
• Oklahoma averages 34.6 paint points per game and is averaging 44.0 paint points over its last three games. The Sooners have outscored their opponents in the paint in 11 of their 12 games.
• In Oklahoma’s last two wins (Creighton and Northwestern), the Sooner bench combined for 65 points. Kristian Doolittle and Rashard Odomes reached double figures as reserves in both contests.
• The Sooners saw three players average over 13 points in the month of December in Christian James (16.2), Brady Manek (13.4) and Miles Reynolds (13.4).
• Senior guard Christian James is fourth in the Big 12 scoring race with 17.9 points per game.
• Sophomore forward Brady Manek ranks sixth in the Big 12 in rebounding with 7.5 boards per game. Manek averaged only 5.2 rebounds last season, but put on 20 pounds over the offseason to improve his physical presence in the paint. He has put together three double-doubles this season (had none his freshman year).
• The Sooners almost always have team success on nights that Manek is rolling. During his career, OU is 18-4 when Manek scores in double figures, 11-0 when he scores at least 15 points and 8-0 when he hit four or more 3-pointers.
• Junior forward Matt Freeman has been providing the Sooner bench with a deep threat over the last few weeks. He’s already matched his total of made 3-pointers from last season (14), but has done so on 17 fewer attempts. He’s firing the long ball at a 46.7 percent clip.
• Oklahoma has won 19 of its last 21 games inside Lloyd Noble Center and 21 of its last 23 “home” games (includes victories in OKC and Tulsa).
DIFFERENT GUY EVERY NIGHT
• Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger has said all season that for the Sooners to be successful, they’ll need contributions from different guys each night. The Sooners have seen just that through their first 12 games as their roster features six players averaging at least seven points.
• Eight of the nine Sooners in Kruger’s main rotation have multiple games in double figures, including seven players with at least three games of 10-or-more points.
• The Sooners have had at least three players reach double-digit scoring in all 11 of their wins. Oklahoma is averaging 3.5 players in double figures per game (4.0 over the last five games).
• Four different Sooners have led the team in scoring over OU’s last four games.
IN DEFENSE OF CHANGING STYLES
• For the second straight season, Oklahoma is off to an 11-1 start. Although their record matches last season’s start, the Sooners have completely shifted their style of play from 2017-18 to 2018-19. Head coach Lon Kruger has shown the flexibility to adjust his style of play to the personnel on his roster. Last season, the Sooners played a fast-tempo, high-scoring style through national rookie of the year Trae Young. As the first player to lead the country in scoring and assists, Young drove the Sooners offense to score 84.9 points per game – the fifth most of any team last season and the eighth most in program history. The Sooners’ 2017-18 tempo was the second fastest among major-conference teams with an average possession of only 14.0 seconds. Due to the speed of play and emphasis on free-flowing offense, the Sooners gave up an average of 81.7 points per game on the defensive end.
• This season, the Sooners are focusing much more on the defensive side – using their athleticism and length to force opponents deep into the shot clock and showing improvement in contesting shots. OU opponents are averaging 66.1 points per game and shooting 37.5 percent from the field (ranks second in the Big 12, 11th in the nation).
• Oklahoma’s defense has been especially disruptive late in the game. In OU’s 11 wins, its opponents are shooting a combined 33.5 percent (23.8 percent from 3) in the final 15 minutes of the game.
• OU has held its opponent to 60 or fewer points in four of its last nine games.
• The Sooners have held their opponents to 30 or fewer points in the first half on six occasions this season (did so zero times last season).
• OU opponents have shot under 32 percent in five of OU’s 12 games this season.
UP NEXT: OKLAHOMA STATE
• For the second year in a row, Oklahoma will open its Big 12 home slate with a Bedlam matchup. The Sooners host Oklahoma State on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest. OU is also producing a Spanish-language telecast that will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma Plus.
• Saturday’s game is Oklahoma’s 237th meeting with Oklahoma State, with the Sooners owning a 137-99 all-time advantage in the series. Oklahoma is 85-27 when Bedlam is in Norman and has won 16 of its last 18 games against the Cowboys inside Lloyd Noble Center.
• The Cowboys have won four of the last five meetings, including two of the three last season (OSU won in Stillwater and at the Big 12 Championship in Kansas City). The Sooners had won seven consecutive Bedlam games from 2014-16 and have still won 18 of the last 29 meetings. The Sooners are 10-6 in Bedlam games under Lon Kruger.
•Most lower bowl seats have already been sold for the Big 12 opener. Limited upper-level seats remain available for purchase at SoonerSports.com/Tickets.