It should be no surprise that when Oklahoma and Oklahoma State get together there is no love loss. In fact, athletic competition between these two schools that are separated by just 80 miles is so intense that they have coined a single term to describe all such athletic engagements between the Sooners and the Cowboys. In a word, it’s “Bedlam. ‘
That’s what’s on tap on Monday, when these two 16-win basketball teams go at each other at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman in the first of their two-game series this season. No. 6 Oklahoma State (16-3, 4-2) is hoping to move into second place in the conference standings with a win over its in-state rival, and the 23rd-ranked Sooners (16-4, 5-2) have designs of their own on taking over second place all to their lonesome.
One Big 12 journalist is calling Monday’s matchup between OU and Oklahoma State an elimination game, surmising that the loser will fall three games behind conference leader Kansas. And as well as the sixth-ranked Jayhawks are playing right now, a three-game deficit in the loss column seems almost insurmountable.
The home court has been dominant in this heated rivalry series, which dates back to 1908 and numbers 224 games. The Sooners hold an 81-26 advantage when the game is played in Norman and., similarly, Oklahoma State owns a 62-42 edge in Stillwater. That stat has held firm the last three years. What is telling for tonight’s round one of Bedlam is that Oklahoma has won the last nine games played in Norman and 12 of the last 13.
Nine players on the two teams average double figures in scoring this season (five for Oklahoma and four for Oklahoma State). The Cowboys and Sooners rank two and three in the Big 12 in scoring, both averaging over 80 points a game. One major difference, however in their respective styles of play is that OSU is much better on the defensive end of the court. The Cowboys rank just behind Kansas State in scoring defense and lead the Big 12 in field-goal-percentage defense, holding their 19 opponents this season to 38 percent shooting.
A big reason for Oklahoma’s greater offensive output this season is their efficiency behind the three-point arc. The Sooners are shooting at a 41-percent clip in their 11 home dates this season. Lon Kruger’s squad has three players (Isaiah Cousins, Cameron Clark and Buddy Hield) who are all shooting at above 45-percent efficiency from three-point range.
Oklahoma State is 3-0 in the Big 12 at home in the 2013-14 campaign, but the Cowboys are just 1-2 in conference road games. The OSU attack is led by floor leader and top-scorer Marcus Smart, who is averaging 17.1 points to go with 4.4 assists and nearly three steals a game. Smart’s backcourt mate, senior Markel Brown, is just bwlow Smart in scoring with a 16.5 average. Oklahoma is led in scoring by senior forward Cameron Clark (17.0) and sophomore guard Buddy Hield (16.7) who rank five and six in the Big 12 in scoring.
Neither team has great size in the front court, but Oklahoma has rebounded well this season behind Ryan Spangler’s Big 12-best 9.8 rebounds per game. The OU players have recorded 14 double-digit rebounding games this season. That compares with seven such games all of last season for the Sooners.
The date of tonight’s game has some significance. Jan. 27 is the 13th anniversary of the fatal airplane crash in 2001 that claimed the lives of 10 members of the Oklahoma State basketball team.
Three Keys To Watch For In This Game
- Oklahoma State is holding opponents to 38 percent shooting from the floor. Oklahoma has averaged 45 percent from the field in 20 games. The Sooners are not as strong defensively, so if they don’t shoot well they will have a tough chore keeping pace with the Cowboys in an up-and-down game. Oklahoma State has given up 75 points only twice this season.
- The Sooners preety much ove and die from the three-point line. Only Iowa State has had more three-point attempts than the Sooners this season among Big 12 teams. OU is averaging almost nine made three-point shots per game in league play and, as most teams, generally shoots better from the three-point arc at home.
- Both team have taken advantage of opponents’ mistakes a lot this season and turned them to their advantage on the offensive end. With two teams as well matched as these two rival schools, especially when the game is played at OU, turnovers could play a key role in the outcome of this game. OSU is averaging 10.4 turnovers a game; OU averages 12.1.
Game prediction: Oklahoma 78, Oklahoma State 73 – The big difference in this Bedlam battle is the venue. Expect something different when the scene shifts to Stillwater three weeks from now.