Oklahoma-Oklahoma St. Preview
The only time Oklahoma has lost to Oklahoma State during senior Buddy Hield's time in Norman, Hield never took the court because of a broken foot. That was in his freshman season, and the Sooners have won five straight since.
Hield won't just be on the court Wednesday night in Stillwater as No. 2 Oklahoma tries to extend its winning streak in the Bedlam Series. He'll be entering feeling like everything he puts up is going to splash, while the Cowboys are well aware of their own offensive shortcomings.
Hield followed a career-high 46-point effort in a 109-106 triple-overtime loss at No. 1 Kansas on Jan. 4 with 31 on 11-of-14 shooting and 6 of 8 from 3-point range in Saturday's 86-76 home win over Kansas State.
"Everything I shoot now, I just feel like, is going in," said Hield, who is averaging 18.7 points in six wins over the Cowboys.
Three of those came last season with Hield scoring 21.3 points and shooting 60.6 percent while hitting 8 of 12 from 3-point range. That's about the level of efficiency his coach is seeing now with Hield averaging 33.3 points and shooting 58.1 percent in his last four games. His 51.3 percent from long range in that time is actually down from the first 10 games (52.3).
"It's hard to imagine anyone playing more efficiently than Buddy is, in terms of making shots, attacking, making good plays for his teammates," said Lon Kruger, whose team retained its No. 2 ranking despite the heartbreaker in Lawrence.
But there's been more to the Sooners than Hield. Oklahoma (13-1, 2-1 Big 12) hit 11 of 19 from 3-point range against Kansas State and is shooting a Division I-leading 46.4 percent from deep. Jordan Woodard had 19 points and is averaging 22.0 in his last four on 54.4 percent overall shooting and 62.5 from long range.
Oklahoma State, meanwhile, doesn't have a single-game outside-shooting effort on the level of the Sooners' season average. The Cowboys (9-6, 1-2) return home after losing consecutive road games by 17 points each, including a 77-60 defeat at then-No. 17 West Virginia on Saturday. Over a 4-5 span, Oklahoma State has averaged 64.0 points and shot 41.0 percent.
"We struggle to score no matter who we play," said coach Travis Ford, who lost top returning scorer Phil Forte to what will likely be a season-ending elbow injury in November.
Jeff Newberry has taken on the greatest offensive load and shown some positive signs in Big 12 play. After averaging 7.3 points and shooting 28.6 percent in the last four nonconference games, he's scored 15.0 per game and shot 57.1 percent in his last three.
But that doesn't matter if Oklahoma State isn't getting much in the way of attempts. The Cowboys have been dominated on the glass in the losses by a 42.0-25.5 margin while allowing their opponents 20.5 offensive rebounds.
"We obviously have been disappointed in our rebounds last game," Ford said. "We talked a lot about it, did drills and did a lot of other stuff. Sometimes it just boils down to desire. Sometimes it just boils down to toughness."
Oklahoma has won 17 straight against unranked opponents, but Oklahoma State has taken three of its last four against the top two teams in the country. The Sooners have won the last two in Stillwater, though the past five meetings there have been decided by single digits.
"It will be extremely difficult and challenging," Kruger said. "Guys on both teams will play very hard and compete against each other. We have to maintain composure and poise and go up to Stillwater and play better."