Oklahoma basketball: It’s not football, but it’s still Top-25 OU vs. Bama

Jan 23, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lon Kruger coaches his team against the Kansas Jayhawks during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 23, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lon Kruger coaches his team against the Kansas Jayhawks during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s a top-25 matchup between Oklahoma and Alabama, only it’s not football. The No. 24 Oklahoma basketball Sooners host No. 9 Alabama on Saturday.

This is one of nine games being played on Saturday between the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference as part of the eighth annual Big 12/SEC Challenge. The scheduled battle between Texas and Kentucky has been cancelled because of COVID concerns within the Texas program.

This will be the ninth meeting all-time between Oklahoma and Alabama. The Sooners own a 5-3 record against the Crimson Tide. The two teams have met once before as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. In 2018, OU lost to Alabama in Tuscaloosa, 80-73.

The Sooners are coming off a huge road win at Texas on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Alabama was taking care of business in a midweek 11-point win over Kentucky.

OU head coach Lon Kruger was a guest this week on the Jim Rome radio sports-talk program and spoke about the Sooners’ win over Texas.

Oklahoma and Alabama have met twice before in Norman, with Oklahoma prevailing in both games.

Some are calling Saturday’s interconference matchup between the Sooners and Alabama the “Clash of the Crimsons,” in reference to the respective school colors.

The Crimson Tide are 14-3 and have moved up 17 spots in the past two weeks to their current No. 9 position in the AP Top 25. Three weeks ago, Alabama was not ranked. The Tide has one win over a ranked team this season, a 71-63 win over then-No. 7 Tennessee.

The Sooners come into the game with a 10-4 record, including wins over three teams ranked in the top 10. In the past two games OU has beaten No. 9 Kansas at home and No. 5 Texas on the road.

This is the eighth season of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Oklahoma is 5-2 against SEC opponents during the Challenge era. OU’s two losses were to Alabama in 2018 and to Florida in 2017.

The Big 12 owns a 40-30 record in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The two conferences split the 10 interconference games a year ago.

What fans need to know about No. 24 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 Alabama

  • Alabama has four starters averaging in double figures, led by senior guard John Petty, Jr., who averages 13.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.
  • The Crimson Tide averages 81.1 points a game, third best in the SEC.
  • Alabama is a dangerous three-point-shooting team. Bama ranks second in NCAA Division I in three-point attempts (514 in 17 games) and fourth in made threes (185). Two players on the Alabama roster (Petty and Herbert Jones) average better than 40 percent behind the three- point line.
  • The Crimson Tide have won 10 games in a row and 11 of 12. Alabama’s nine straight wins over SEC opponents ties the second-best in program history.
  • Alabama is the third No. 9-ranked team Oklahoma has faced this month (West Virginia, Kansas and now the Crimson Tide).
  • Austin Reaves’ 15.8 scoring average leads the Sooners and ranks sixth in the Big 12, but sophomore guard De’Vion Harmon has averaged 18.3 points in OU’s four consecutive wins..
  • Oklahoma is 21-9 at home in the Lon Kruger era at OU when both teams are ranked.
  • The Sooners are 3-2 this season against top-10 teams.
  • Oklahoma has played six games this month against top-10 teams. The Sooners are the first team since at least 1996 (according to Stats Inc.) to face six top-10 teams in the same month. This includes March postseason play.
  • Lon Kruger’s team has averaged 82.3 points a game in its 10 wins and is 7-0 when it scores at least 78 points.
  • OU ranks second in the Big 12 in both assists (15.1 per game) and steals (7.8 per game) and leads the conference in fewest turnovers (10.3).
  • The Sooners have won 19 consecutive games at the Lloyd Noble Center against nonconference opponents and are 53-4 in that regard with Lon Kruger as head coach.


Oklahoma is a two-point underdog against Alabama, but I believe the Sooners have played a more difficult schedule than the Crimson Tide. Unless OU has a truly poor-shooting game, which every team encounters over the course of the season, their depth and versatility on both ends of the floor, as well as the confidence they’ve gained in winning some really big games this month, will be enough to give the hometown Crimson team a fourth top-10 win in January.

Oklahoma +4