Oklahoma at Cincinnati Preview

Cincinnati basketball is back in action Saturday afternoon as the 15th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners visit Fifth Third Arena for a 1 pm tip off.

(Photo: Oklahoma Athletics)

Following an 81-77 overtime win over 19th-ranked TCU, Wes Miller mentioned how important it was for his team to finally win a close game and re-gain their confidence.

"It's important when you've lost a couple close games that you felt you had real chances to win, it's important to win one. You gotta learn how to win in one and two possession games which it seems like this whole dang league is. That should give our team some confidence." Said Miller following the win over TCU.

Cincinnati had dropped back-to-back one possession games to Texas at home and Baylor on the road, prior to defeating TCU.

"We're in the best league in college basketball and we don't have the ability to put our heads down or feel sorry for ourselves," Miller told the media following a second consecutive one possession loss.

This is life in the Big 12. Every night is going to be a grind, regardless of who the opponent is.

Oklahoma (14-3 2-2) will be the fifth consecutive ranked opponent that Cincinnati will play prior to Monday night's match up against 3rd-ranked Kansas.

Key Stats and Notes:

Oklahoma is ranked 26th overall and sixth in the Big 12 in the NET. Nine Big 12 teams are in the top 40. The Bearcats rank 29th overall. In the Kenpom rankings, Oklahoma is 20th and come in ranked 20th in adjusted defense (95.4) and 48th in adjusted offense (115.0)

- Oklahoma ranks in the top 50 nationally in nine categories. The Sooners are 12th in three-point percentage defense (27.8%), 19th in scoring margin (14.8 PPG), 23rd in field goal percentage (48.9%), 25th in rebound margin (7.6 RPG), 27th in effective field goal percentage (55.6%), 34th in field goal percentage defense (39.9%),  35th in scoring defense (65.1 PPG), 39th in free throw percentage (75.7%) and 50th in fouls per game (15.2 FPG).

- Oklahoma ranks fifth in the Big 12 in points per game (79.9) and fourth in defense (65.1)

- The Sooners are 2-3 in quad one, 2-0 in quad two, 1-0 in quad three and 9-0 in quad four games this season. All three Oklahoma losses have come either on the road or at a neutral site.

- Cincinnati's win over TCU marked UC's 12th-straight in overtime over a ranked opponent, the longest nationally (per ESPN Stats and Info).

- UC is shooting 39.1 percent from three-point range at home, including 39.4 percent in the two-home Big 12 games. The Bearcats are 10-1 when getting more foul shots than its opponent, despite shooting 67 percent from the free throw line.

Players to know:

6'2 Junior G Javian McCollum (14.9 ppg, 4 apg, 2.8 rpg)

At almost 31 minutes per game, McCollum leads the team in points per game, as well as minutes per game. McCollum is a three-level scorer that has shown an ability from both inside the perimeter (45.9 FG%) as well as from 3-point range (39%). 

McCollum spent the past two seasons at Siena, prior to transferring to Oklahoma. The strength of his game is his ability to get to the free-throw line and convert at a 92 percent clip. He is 14-of-15 from the charity stripe over the past two games and ranks sixth among NCAA DI active career leaders in free throw percentage (88.7%). In 68 career games, McCollum has made 173 free throws in 195 attempts

McCollum has 16 turnovers over the past three games. It will be important for UC to get pressure on him and force mistakes.

6'5 Sophomore G Otega Oweh (14.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 55.6 FG%, 60% 3FG%)

Oweh has scored in double figures in 14-of-17 games this season. His best game came against North Carolina when he went 10-of-11 from the free throw line and finished with 23 points, 5 rebounds. 

Oweh doesn't take many shots from the perimeter, but when he does, he is converting at a 60% clip. His ability to hit shots from the outside forces opponents to play out on him and really stretches the defense. He currently ranks third in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage (55.6) and notched his first career double-double in the win over West Virginia, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

6'7 Junior F Jalon Moore (9.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 54.5 FG%, 40 3FG%)

Moore spent his first two season at Georgia Tech. Since coming to Oklahoma, he has seen his 3-point field goal percent jump from 11 percent to 40 percent. While not a volume shooter or someone that will consistently beat you from deep, he is someone that you at least have to respect out on the perimeter. 

His best game this season was a 21-point, 6 rebound performance against Monmouth.

6'4 Sophomore G Milos Uzan (9.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.5 apg, 41 FG%)

Uzan's is a game manager and someone who is at his best when he is setting his teammates up for shots. His best game of the season came against TCU, 13 points, 10 assists. 

Uzan is also someone that you have to account for at both ends on the glass. He pulled down 12 rebounds against Providence, while scoring 17 points. The Las Vegas product was a part of the 2023 Big 12 All-Freshman team.

6'10 Redshirt Junior C John Hugley (9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 57.6 FG%)

At 6'10 275-pounds, Hugley is a large human. Surprisingly, his size hasn't translated to a dominant rebounder or gifted offensive player around the rim.

Hugley has pulled down more than five rebounds just three times this season and has scored in double digits just two times over the last 10 games. At 78.4 percent, Hugley has nice touch from the free throw line for a big guy.

6'10 Senior F Sam Goodwin (7.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 68.2 FG%)

Goodwin spent his first two seasons at Wofford but is now in his second season with the Sooners. Goodwin has not attempted a three-pointer this season but is very active on the glass at both ends, having 10 games of five or more rebounds. His season high was 12 against Texas State. 

6'4 Senior G Le'Tre Darthard (6.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg)

Darthard spent the past three season at Utah Valley and averaged 13.6 ppg while teamed up with Aziz Bandaogo last season.

Not a great shooter (36.9 FG%, 31.6 3FG% , 66.7 FT%) but has eight games this season with multiple 3-point attempts and makes. His best game of the season was when he made 5-of-9 shots for 14 points against Texas State. Darthard is 1-for-11 over the past three games from 3 and from the field. 

6'6 Senior G Rivaldo Soares (6.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg)

 Soares had 13 points in the 77-64 win over West Virginia and made 5-of-6 free throws. He also had 13 points, 7 rebounds against Arkansas. The capability is there but consistency has been the issue. Prior to the game against West Virginia, Soares had gone six straight games with five or less points.

Keys to Cincinnati winning:

Oklahoma is 69th in total rebounding this year. They are not great at offensive rebounding, but sit 48th in the nation in defensive rebounding, while being 48th in defensive rebounding rate. Cincinnati was out-rebounded by TCU (42-36) but dominated the paint, outscoring TCU 50-30. 

 Rebounding will once again be the key factor in this game as it is the one area UC can really exploit the Sooners and get extra possessions. Five of Oklahoma's top eight in the rotation are guards, with Jalon Moore being more of a wing than a front court guy. Cincinnati should have an advantage inside with Reynolds, Bandaogo, and Lakhin.

As long as the Bearcats limit their turnover number, they should improve to 3-2 in Big 12 play with a hard fought win. 

How to Watch:

1:00 pm ESPN+

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