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Preview: Hogs And Sooners Meet in a Nike Wonderland

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The Hogs start Phil Knight’s birthday bash with their biggest test yet.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

After a trio of mid-major wins, Arkansas has their first real test of the season. Arkansas takes on Oklahoma in their first games of the PK80 tournament. The Hogs have looked pretty good against solid mid-major opposition while the Sooners have blown the doors of weaker teams. Which will win out?

Where: Moda Center; Portland, Ore.

When: Thursday, Nov. 20th, 4 p.m. CT

TV Info: ESPN2

More On The Sooners

Oklahoma has looked outstanding in their first two games, scoring 108 in each and winning by 19 and 39 points. The difference is Oklahoma hasn’t exactly played great competition, Nebraska-Omaha and Ball State aren’t going to help you any on Selection Sunday. Still after a poor year last year Lon Kruger has restocked his team with some excellent young talent and they look like they will be a handful for the Hogs.

Projected Starting 5

Dustin Thomas should be back for the Hogs, and even though he started plenty of games last year, I don’t expect him to jump right back in with the starters. Mike Anderson has shown in the past he’ll ease guys coming off injury or suspension in. Plus Adrio Bailey has done a very good job in that starting role and has earned that spot.

For the Sooners, watch Trae Young. He has only played in two games in his collegiate career but he’s averaging over 18 points per game and is third in the country with an assist rate of 55.2. That means that over half of his teammates’ field goals have been assisted by Young while he’s on the court. It’s a small sample size but still an insane number. His teammates have benefitted too. our of the five Sooners starters are averaging double figures.

3 Key Stats

All three stats point to where the game is going to be won or lost, in the paint. Both teams make a point to attack the paint and score there effectively. Both teams are in the top-40 (of of 351 teams for reference) of scoring two point shots with at least 59%.

Both teams also put a huge emphasis in defending the paint as well. With Daniel Gafford, Arkansas’ block percentage is still over 15%, but Oklahoma has been elite with their defense and block percentage led by Jamuni McNeace who has come off the bench and has 8 blocks on the year.

Both teams want to push the tempo and attack the rim. Whoever can do that more effectively will have a great shot at winning. For Arkansas, staying out of foul trouble, especially Gafford, will be key. They have some added help with Thomas returning, but Arkansas will need a big game from their star freshman to get that rematch with North Carolina.