Updated Thu, Dec 27, 2012 7:31 pm
The Ohio men’s basketball team returns to the court this Saturday against Oklahoma (7-3, 0-0 Big 12), their first game since last Saturday’s victory over the winless Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks.
The Bobcats (8-4, 0-0 MAC) turned their fortunes around against the Hawks, scoring a season-high 93 points and tying the Ohio single-season record of 29 assists. They’ll have a more difficult task this week, as they travel to Norman, Ok. to take on the 7-3 Sooners for the first time in program history.
Oklahoma entered the season with an experienced squad, returning all five starters and a solid base of recruits and transfers added to the roster. After going 15-16 last season, second-year head coach Lon Kruger had high expectations for his team.
The team has started strong, going 7-3 with their only losses to Gonzaga, Arkansas and Stephen F. Austin. Outside of their 72-47 loss to the Bulldogs, who’s now ranked 13th in the nation, Oklahoma has lost their other two games by a combined four points.
Oklahoma is ranked 96th in the nation with 37.3 rebounds a game and have two players averaging above six rebounds a game. Three of their top players are taller than 6-foot-8.
Leading the Sooners in scoring (12.7) and rebounding (6.5) this season is 6-foot-8 Romero Osby. In games where the Mississippi State transfer plays more than 20 minutes, he averages 14.6 points and 7.0 rebounds a game. As long as he stays out of foul trouble – four-plus fouls in four games this season, the senior’s production is key for the Sooners.
Amath M’Baye, a 6-foot-9 Wyoming transfer, became eligible this season and has averaged 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds down low. He and Andrew Fitzgerald, one of Oklahoma’s top big men last season, have provided solid minutes in the paint for the Sooners this season.
While Oklahoma’s strength is in the paint, they returned the Big 12 leading scorer in Steven Pledger this season, but his production has dropped from a season ago. After averaging 16.2 points a game and shooting 41.6% from beyond the arc, the 6-foot-4 guard has averaged 10.3 points and is shooting 37.0% from three this season.
Pledger’s low shooting percentage varies, though. He went through a four-game skid where he shot 25% (4/16) from the three. He’s also capable of going off from deep at anytime. He was 5-of-9 against La-Monroe in the season opener and recently went 4-of-7 against Arkansas.
Oklahoma has started the season 6-2 at home and lost their most recent game on Dec. 18 to Stephen F. Austin, 56-55. The Bobcats have given up 84.3 points a game and are shooting 41.2% from the field on their opponents’ courts.
The game will tipoff at 8 p.m. in the Lloyd Noble Center. Ohio is looking for their first road victory after starting the season 0-3 away from the Convocation Center.