Oklahoma’s Scorching Offense Ready for Texas Tech’s Stifling Defense

The Big 12 Conference has arguably been the most exciting conference in college basketball this year. It’s almost guaranteed to have a ranked team play another ranked team every night the conference is in action. That will hold true tonight as #9 Oklahoma hosts #8 Texas Tech.

This will be the second straight game Oklahoma has taken on a Top 10 team. The Sooners traveled to West Virginia over the weekend and lost to Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers, nothing to hang your head on. Trae Young and company will now need to bounce back against the Big 12’s best defense. Not an easy task.

Numbers Don’t Lie

While West Virginia fans may have something to say about that last line, Texas Tech is in fact leading the conference in scoring defense. The Red Raiders allow just 59.2 points per game in 15 games so far this year. They are very legit; their only loss is to a talented and experienced Seton Hall team. They’re 3-0 in the Big 12 and have won all those games by double digits, including a 12 point win at Kansas where they led wire-to-wire.

Chris Beard has done a phenomenal job with this team. As seasoned as they are, they’ve gotten a huge boost from freshman Zhaire Smith, who is second on the team in scoring and fourth in the Big 12 in field goal percentage. The Red Raiders have also had strong play at the most crucial position, point guard, with Keenan Evans returning to lead the team in scoring and assists.

The moral of the Texas Tech story however, is defense. They are not a team that will run up and down with you. Despite Evans’ 17 points a game and Smith’s 11, they know they will not outscore their opponents. Instead they will contest every shot, limit transition chances and wear you down for 40 minutes. Ask the teams they’ve played, it’s not fun.

Different Story For The Sooners

On the other side, the Oklahoma Sooners are a tad different. Instead of suffocating their opponents defensively, the Sooners have been piling on the points, leading the conference with 94.4 points per game. Everyone knows about Trae Young and his insane 29 points per game, but the Sooners have more than just the freshman phenom.

They have a total of four players averaging 10 points a game, including Christian James and Brady Manek, both of whom have showed an ability to score in bunches in games this season. While the OU offense starts and ends with Young, Texas Tech will need to contain the entire Sooner offense.

Against West Virginia, Young had his worst game as a collegiate athlete. On paper he finished with 29 points, but that came on 8-22 shooting, his lowest shooting percentage since his first game of the year. He also had a negative assist-to-turnover ratio for the first time all season, finishing with 5 assists to 8 turnovers. If you watched the game you could see Young did not look as comfortable as he has most of the year. He has a chance to get back on track at home.

Despite the tremendous defense of Texas Tech, I like Young and Oklahoma to bounce back tonight with a home win and move to 3-1 in the Big 12. I know the numbers favor Tech, with them leading the conference in both defensive field goal percentage and three-point defensive percentage, but I don’t believe Young can have two poor games in a row. They will no doubt run Young off the three point line any chance they get, but that’s where I expect Young to take what they give him and become a distributor when necessary. I don’t think he will have a negative turnover-assist ratio again and I think that will be the difference.

It’s the conference’s number one offense versus the conference’s number one defense. Something has to give. Don’t miss this game tonight, 7PM on ESPN

Where Does Trae Young Stack Up in the 2018 NBA Draft

A freshman is taking college basketball by storm, and his name is not Marvin Bagley or Michael Porter Jr. In case you have missed it, Trae Young has taken over college basketball this season. Young is leading the country in points and assists per game right now. He is fresh off an absurd 26 point, 22 assist outing in only 29 minutes on Wednesday night. Plain and simple, Trae Young and Oklahoma is must watch basketball.

Dominating college is one thing, but not all players translate to the NBA game. Freshman phenoms like OJ Mayo, Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams are all examples of players who dominated college for a year, but did not live up to the hype in the NBA. They don’t necessarily deserve the bust label, but they are also not Kevin Durant, James Harden or Anthony Davis. So with that in mind, where does the best player in college basketball (yes, he’s been the best so far) net out in next year’s NBA Draft?

When it comes to way to early mock drafts, the names Bagley, Porter, Ayton, Doncic and even Bridges are the first ones written down. Not many people talk about the 6’2, 180 pound freshman from Oklahoma. Young is making the case though, to be drafted ahead of some of those names. For one, look at some of the teams projected in the Top 5. Chicago and Atlanta both took big men in last year’s draft. Taking another center could interfere in their development. Young’s ability to get his teammates involved and drop dimes would help Markkanen and Collins more than adding another big body next to them.

Secondly look at the body of work. I know it’s early, but Young has been superb. Porter has been out with injury. Bridges has been solid, but hasn’t taken the leap we expected; granted Michigan State is loaded with weapons. Bagley and Ayton have been great. Young has been better. He has had the highest scoring game this season (43) and tied the NCAA record for assists in a game (22). How does a team turn that down?

The biggest knack on Young is his size. He does not have the NBA ready body that Bagley, Ayton and Bridges do. Neither did the guy everyone is comparing him to, Steph Curry. Young may not be ready now physically, but he has the potential to put on strength and size once he is drafted. In a league where we now draft on potential, how can you turn down a player for his current body at 18/19 years old.

So where would I put Trae Young if I had an incredibly early 2018 NBA Mock Draft? I’m buying the hype, because the hype is real. I’m putting Young as the second best prospect on the board right behind Bagley. If I’m Chicago or Atlanta, I am absolutely taking him and giving myself a point guard and forward for the future. I would expect Young’s numbers to drop slightly once Big 12 play starts, but I think he will still put up crazy numbers that will make him near impossible to pass up come June.

Do yourself a favor, if you haven’t seen Oklahoma yet, check them out.