I recently had the opportunity to swap questions with Matt over at Crimson and Cream Machine about tonight's showdown in Norman (8 PM on ESPN2). Below are my questions for him, and his responses. My answers to his questions will be on Crimson and Cream Machine later today.
- Last year, OU seemed to be terribly inconsistent, especially through the Big XII slate. This year, they've been remarkably consistent (a look down the schedule shows that most of their offensive and defensive efforts have been within very tight bands). From what you've seen, what's the biggest difference between last year's team and this year's team?
Guard play! Blake Griffin has improved significantly from last year but the main difference from last year’s team is the play of the guards. Last season Blake Griffin was the most consistent factor in Oklahoma ’s game with the guards often failing to show up. This year that hasn’t been the case as Oklahoma has the inside/outside game working pretty well. There isn’t a team in the country that can play Blake Griffin man to man and Oklahoma ’s guards have been able to make their opponents pay for double teaming him this year.
- Everyone knows all about Blake Griffin, but the rest of OU is a bit of a mystery. Who besides Griffin should everyone really be keeping their eye on?
Guards Willie Warren and Tony Crocker are averaging double figures in scoring with 15.5 and 10.4 points respectively. Blake’s older brother Taylor is averaging 9 points per game and is usually good for a nasty block in each game. Austin Johnson was named the conference player of the week this week after putting up 15 and 19 points against Texas and Texas A&M last week.
- Nebraska loves to press and force turnovers. In fact, they thrive on it, forcing turnovers on 28.9% of opponents' possessions. How will OU handle the pressure defense from the Huskers, and can we expect to see pressure in return?
Turnovers have been a frustrating aspect of Oklahoma ’s game this season, along with poor free throw shooting, so it is definitely a concern going into this game. The Sooners are averaging almost 15 turnovers per game so they’ll have their work cut out for them. The key is going to be trying to capitalize on quickness and using their size advantage to play keep away and then to make Nebraska pay every time Oklahoma breaks the press.