For the second time this season, the Frogs hit the road to face the #1 ranked team in all the land. This time, TCU will head to Norman tomorrow night to face the Oklahoma Sooners. To get up to speed before the first meeting between these teams, we caught up with Rich DeCray of Crimson & Cream Machine!
1. Oklahoma is now 18-2 on the year after Saturday's exciting win over LSU. The Sooners are also atop the Big 12 standings with a 6-2 record in league play. With games in Lawrence and Ames already out of the way, do you think this is the year Oklahoma takes home the Big 12 title?
That's tough to say at this point with three rivalry games still on the docket. Behind wins over North Carolina, Iowa State, and West Virginia, Texas has proven they can rise to the occasion when challenged by top tier opponents. On the other hand, Jawun Evans can make things happen for Oklahoma State as the Sooners barely escaped Stillwater with a win.
With that said, I do think OU is the odds on favorite with Kansas and West Virginia lagging a bit behind in that order. There's no denying the Big XII has been insane up to this point of the season. It'll be interesting to watch how the remainder of the year unfolds as upsets sure to follow.
2. Buddy Hield is simply amazing. The senior guard leads the nation in scoring with 26.2 points per game and is the prohibitive favorite to win the John R. Wooden Award for player of the year. After having seen him play over the last couple of seasons, take us through what makes his game so good.
I'll keep this short...Buddy Hield puts in hour after hour at the gym perfecting his game. As a freshman, we saw flashes of potential while Hield relied heavily on his athleticism and drive to get to the rim. But, there's no way I would have labeled Hield as a shooter. As a sophomore, the guard became more of a shooter after correcting his shooting motion. By the time Hield was a junior, he settled into a rhythm utilizing all the tools in his arsenal but still lacked elite ball handling skills. Fast forward to today and we are seeing the quick release, the ball handling skills, and the exceptional defense from Hield. He's a complete player in every regard.
3. It seems like every night the Sooners are led by Hield plus "someone else." Jordan Woodard, Isaiah Cousins, Ryan Spangler, and even Khadeem Lattin have all had fantastic individual games this season. Who do you think steps up against TCU tomorrow night?
If I had to pick just one, it would be Isaiah Cousins. After finding success at the wing, Lon Kruger made the decision to move Cousins back to the point guard position, a role he filled in high school and as a freshman at Oklahoma. Struggling to shoot the ball well for a stretch, the senior has returned to form shooting 63% or better from the floor and 66% or better from three point land in the last four games.
Through those four games, the guard's production has increased to 19 points per outing, an upswing from his season average of 13.3 points. Continuing to gain confidence, Cousins took the game winning shot against LSU and I think he carries that momentum in front of a home crowd.
4. Lon Kruger appears to rely on his starting five quite a bit for production. In fact, the team's sixth man is only averaging 13.3 minutes per game this season, and eight different Sooners average eight minutes or less. Obviously Kruger will play the most talented guys, but is depth a concern for this year's team?
I think there's depth on the roster but it's an extremely young roster with six first year players. Experience remains the biggest concern rather than depth.
5. Finally, what's your prediction for tomorrow night? Is there any way that TCU can hang with OU in Norman?
The Sooners win comfortably at home behind an excellent three point shooting night 83-64. If the Horned Frogs want to keep this one interesting, they'll need to chase shooters off the three point line. Yet, refusing to give up transition points while creating turnovers and putting at least one starter in foul trouble will go a long way as well.
I would like to extend a big thank you to Rich and the team over at Crimson & Cream Machine for their time and perspective. Stay tuned as the Frogs get set to face Oklahoma!