Oklahoma basketball: OU opens Big 12 season at No. 10 TCU

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 08: Vladimir Brodziansky
KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 08: Vladimir Brodziansky /

Oklahoma basketball opens Big 12 play on Saturday with a tough road test against undefeated and conference-leading TCU.

I don’t know if it’s a good or bad omen, but both the Sooner football team and the men’s basketball squad are riding eight-game winning streaks as they head into a pair of huge games this New Year’s holiday weekend.

Oklahoma and Georgia will meet in the Rose Bowl on Monday in one of the two College Football Playoff semifinal games. Before that, however, the Trae Young Show takes its act to Ft. Worth, Texas, where the Sooners will square off against their third ranked team in as many weeks.

Oklahoma (10-1) has already beaten then-No. 25 USC and No. 3 Wichita State this season, both games away from the Lloyd Noble Center. Those two big wins helped propel the Sooners from being unranked to start the season to their current position at No. 12 in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll.

TCU begins Big 12 play with a 12-0 record, but the Sooners are the first ranked team the Horned Frogs have faced this season.

Sooner super freshman Young is making an early bid for Player of the Year in college basketball, leading the nation in both scoring (28.7) and assists (10.2). Everybody expected the addition of Young to have a positive impact on OU basketball this season and over time he could become a truly great college player, but no one anticipated the level to which the former five-star recruit has risen through just 11 games in his college career.

With Young anchoring and feeding the high-scoring OU offense, the Sooners’ 95.1 scoring average leads the Big 12 and the nation. Young has scored 30 or more points twice this season and has scored at least 20 points in 10 of Oklahoma’s 11 games this season.

Young isn’t the only Sooner freshman who has been on fire offensively in recent games. Fellow Oklahoman Brady Manek has averaged 18.0 points in his last three games, with a career-high 22 against Wichita State. In the last three games, Young and Manek have combined for 140 points, or nearly 47 points per game.

TCU is second in the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 87.5 points a game. The Horned Frogs also lead the conference in field-goal percentage (.527) and are second as a team in rebounding margin (+9.4).

While TCU owns the Big 12’s best shooting percentage, the Frogs are last in the conference in field-goal percentage defense, which should be music to the Sooners’ ears.

All five TCU starters are averaging double digits in the scoring column, led by senior Kenrich Williams (14.5 points a game). Vlad Brodziansky is next with a 13.7 scoring average. The other three Horned Frog starters (Desmond Bane, JD Miller and Jaylen Fisher) all average better than 11.0 points per game.

A statistic to watch in this game: The Sooners are 6-0 when they shoot 50 percent or better as a team, and 6-0 when they dish out 20 or more assists.

Oklahoma is 4-2 in Big 12 openers under head coach Lon Kruger and has won its conference opener in four of the past five seasons.

According to the OU athletic department, a win over TCU on Saturday would make Oklahoma the first team in over 20 years to win two road games against top-10 opponents in the month of December. The Sooners have won three of their past three road games against top-10 teams.