It’s been five days since Texas Tech lost a heartbreaker to Kansas. In that game, the Red Raiders shot under 65% from the foul line and a mere 26% from three. Tonight, those numbers will need to be better if Tech wants to leave Norman with a victory. As always, I have a compiled a fair amount of notes for both teams through my film studies and stat observations. Oklahoma is an interesting team this year, because they honestly do not have any one trait that stands out. Their offense is legitimately great, but their defense is quite average compared to the rest of the Big 12. They are firmly in the middle of the conference this year. Let’s take a closer look at this matchup.
Oklahoma Sooners (5-1) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-2)
Location: Lloyd Noble Center (Norman, Oklahoma)
Game time: 6:00 CST
Odds: Texas Tech -2.5
Kenpom Ranking: 40th
Stats and Storylines
- Oklahoma does not have a Trae Young or a Buddy Hield, but they do have an Austin Reaves. People will probably bring up Brady Manek first win discussing the Sooners, but in my opinion Reaves is the most talented player on the team and one of the best offensive players in the conference. He has only been assisted on two of his 26 made field goals this year, yet his true shooting percentage is upwards of 67%, which is really uncommon for a PBH with a usage as high as Reaves’ is. His three point rate is actually down this year, but that is likely a by-product of him taking up more of the ball handling responsibilities with Jamal Bieniemy transferring. His craftiness and ability to get separation right before releasing a shot is very impressive, as is his passing vision. He averages 6.2 assists, but not a lot of those are set-play decisions. If there’s one criticism of Reaves on the offensive end it is his decision making. He can take some really wild shots, and so far this year we have seen some mistakes when facing on-ball pressure, especially when facing notably aggressive defenses in Houston Baptist (while they are terrible, they do play a ton of havoc-style defense in a fast manner), and Xavier, who used Paul Scruggs to lock Reaves up.
- The next guy to look at is the aforementioned Manek, who feels like he has been in Norman forever. Such is the result of being a notable player from day one on campus, where he played with Trae Young and the Sooners squad that fell apart late in 2018. Manek is still a stretch big that has deceptively good post moves, but his lack of true interior presence always surprises people given his build. Manek’s really more of a complementary piece than people realize, and I suspect he will be a player Tech looks to key in on.
- De’Vion Harmon and Kur Kuath have both made improvements to their game this year, as Kuath is a much more grounded team defender than he was at this time last year, and Harmon is a more decisive offensive guard. Kuath is a major shot blocking threat, which could be another issue for Marcus Santos-Silva. Harmon is a good active defender, and his ability to finish contested shots is really impressive.
- Oklahoma plays nine guys consistently, and we might see Elijah Harkless get serious minutes as well. He transferred from Cal St. Northridge, where he was probably their best defender and third best player.
- Lon Kruger is an exceptional coach, but Oklahoma has to figure out how to defend the three better. Their starting lineup features three guys that are below average with their lateral quickness, which usually limits them some with rotations and switching decisions. Because of that, it is not uncommon to see the Sooners trap quite a bit, but it has not worked out so far, given that opponents are shooting over 37% from three against them. Tech has not shot it well from downtown, but they also have not faced a major defense as bad as this one at defending perimeter shots.
About Texas Tech:
Kenpom Ranking: 10th
Stats and Storylines
- I’ll keep this section pretty short tonight, because quite honestly not much has changed since the last time I wrote these notes. McClung is still in a cold stretch shooting the ball, Santos-Silva is in a matchup that could play him off the court, and Tech as a whole has to shoot better. With that said- there are a couple things I want you guys to watch for tonight.
- Terrence Shannon took a lot of on-ball threes last game, and drained four of his seven attempts from range. He also seems to be more decisive as a driver this year, and in a game where he could be matched up with Manek, that will be very important. Shannon being able to attack probably the worst athlete in the Big 12 would be a great way to turn one of OU’s biggest weapons against them.
- Kyler Edwards had a historically bad night offensively against Kansas, which unfortunately means he is no longer playing the best basketball of his career. The mental decisions were there in my opinion, but making shots will always dictate success in a basketball game. Additionally, he did not get as many PBH touches against Kansas. I would expect that to change tonight against a team that he traditionally plays well against.
- Kevin McCullar should play tonight, but probably will not get more than 10-15 minutes. I expect Micah Peavy and Jamarius Burton, who has really struggled lately, to lose minutes as a result.
- Let’s hope for more Tyreek Smith tonight. He had a huge game against Kansas, and his offensive game is much more developed than I anticipated. I could see him matching MSS for minutes depending on how Kuath plays.