Oklahoma vs. Washington State
Spread: Wash St -3
Moneyline: Was St -155, Okl +135
Tip off: 11:30 PM EST from Anaheim, CAL
Last season wasn’t the greatest for Oklahoma, but all indications so far are that things may get significantly better. Though Idaho State and Coppin State don’t exactly represent juggernauts, they disposed of both teams impressively, though only by 4 over Indiana State. Calvin Newell Jr. had a career high 19 points, while shooting 11 threes (hitting 4), and three other Sooners players were in double fighres (Romero Osby, Carl Blair, and Sam Grooms).
But so far the story has been 6’4″ junior guard Steven Pledger. Pledger is a shooting specialist who attempted three times as many two point shots last year than he did in his freshman sesaon. He also attempted 5.5 threes per game, which is going to increase only further this season (he is at 8 attempts per game through 2 games). He needs to expand his game beyond just shooting but he should prove to be a key, if not the key, in the Sooners offense.
The 6’8″ Romero Osby has been effective so far, as well. The Sooners lead the nation in rebounding and Osby is a big reason why at 10.0 boards per game. In addition to the solid rebounding, he has scored 17 & 11 in the first two games, while blocking 3 shots in total, as well. On the interior, Osby needs to continue to put up double doubles to make the Sooners a threat to the better teams in the Big 12.
Former UNLV coach Lon Kruger should help, as well. He took the Rebels to 4 NCAA tournament berths while winning over 20 games in a season 5 times in 7 years. While losing the best scorer in Cade Davis, they do have some solid transfer students and they sport a 10 man rotation. So far, there are 10 different Sooners seeing double figure minutes, and no one is seeing more than 30 minutes per game (Grooms, 30.0).
Last season, Washington State finished 22-13 with a 9-9 Record in Pac-12 play. They lost to Wichita State in the NIT semis by a score of 75-44. The blowout was a sad end to what could have been considered a pretty successful season in a lot of respects. They took care of business against non-conference opponents, and they started the season 10-1, which signaled high expectations for the Cougars.
After that strong start, which included victories over Gonzaga, Mississippi State, and Baylor, they disappointed once conference play began in January. They suffered bad losses to both Arizona State and Stanford at home and then lost by only 2 to Washington in the Pac-10 tournament. Klay Thompson, who defected for the NBA, put up 43 points in that game. Not having Thompson’s offense is going to hurt the Cougars a lot this season.
Brock Motum has added some bulk this season and has replaced Casto in the middle. He hit 66% of his two point shots last season and is shooting 66.7% from the floor this season, as well. His 17.7 points per game lead the Cougars and he is also pulling down 6.7 boards per game, a figure which must increase given his 6’10” frame.
6’4″ senior guard Faisal Aden is also having a great year so far for the Cougars. He put up his season high of 21 against Portland, as the Cougars won 83-73 on Sunday evening. Despite only playing 24 minutes, Aden got up 14 shots, hitting 7 of them, while also getting 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and swiping three steals. His 6 turnovers aren’t exactly comforting, and he is averaging 4.7 turnoers per game this year. Last year he was at 2.0, so he isn’t known to be a low turnover player at any rate, with that many turnovers in only 25 minutes of play per night.
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