Oklahoma basketball: Sooners face biggest challenge to their undefeated record vs. No. 9 UNC

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Porter Moser's rebuilt 2023-24 Oklahoma basketball team stands 10-0 and has beaten four teams in the NCAA Division I NET rankings, but none below the top 50.

The Sooners, ranked No. 7 this week in the Associated Press poll, will face their stiffest test thus far when they go up against No. 11 North Carolina on Wednesday in the Jumpman Invitational. It will be Oklahoma's first 2023-24 matchup against a team ranked in the top 25.

The Tar Heels (7-3) are one of college basketball's blue-blood programs with the third-most wins (2,350) and the second-best winning percentage (.733) in the history of the sport. In contrast, Oklahoma ranks 33rd on the all-time wins list with 1,766.

North Carolina has played three top-10 teams this season (Connecticut, Tennessee and Kentucky), winning one of the three (100-92 over then-No. 10 Tennessee in Chapel Hill).

OU and North Carolina have one common opponent this season. Both games were played on neutral courts. The Sooners defeated the Razorbacks 79-70 in Tulsa, while UNC prevailed over Arkansas 87-72 in the Bahamas over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Oklahoma becomes the Tar Heels' fourth ranked team in their last five games. North Carolina is coming off a hard-fought 87-82 loss to then-No, 14 Kentucky on Saturday, while OU was cruising to an 81-47 victory over Wisconsin to remain one of just four unbeaten teams in Division I basketball.

The game on Wednesday will be only the third meeting all-time between Oklahoma and North Carolina. The Sooners are looking for their first win in the series. This is the first meeting since the 2009 season, when the two teams met in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. The No. 2 Tar Heels won that game 72-60 over a No. 7 OU team led by Blake Griffin. North Carolina went on to win the national championship that season.

Interestingly, neither Oklahoma nor North Carolina has played a true road game this season. Wednesday's game will be played at the Spectrum Center, home of the NBA Charolotte Hornets. The Sooners are 3-0 this season playing on a neutral floor; the Tar Heels are a perfect 5-0 under these circumstances.

Key players to watch

North Carolina

Senior guard R.J. Davis: 21.6 points per game, 3.6 rebounds, 44% from the field, 36% from three.

Graduate forward/center Andrew Bacot: 15.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 52% from field.

Junior forward Harrison Ingram: 14.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 47.7% from field, 43.2 from three.


Sophomore guard Otega Oweh: 14.9 points per game, 67% from field, 75 percent from three, 2.4 steals.

Junior guard Javian McCollum: 14.3 points, 46% from field, 36% from three, 95% free throws.

Redshirt-junior Forward/center John Hugley IV: 10.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 63% from field, 54% from three.

Betting odds

North Carolina is a consensus 2.5-point favorite in the game.

Statistical comparisons

(National rankings in parentheses)

Oklahoma UNC

Scoring offense 84.4 (29) 84.9 (26)

Scoring defense 61.3 (15) 75.0 (274)

FG percentage offense 51.0% (11) 45.9% (136)

FG percentage defense 37.5% (13) 42.8% (189)

3-point percentage 34.8% (120) 35.6% (99T)

Opponents; 3-point percentage 25.6% (6) 32.8% (188T)

Free-throw percentage 77.9% (15) 76.0% (37)

Rebounds/margin 40/+10 (19) 38/+3 (129)

Turnovers per game 13.1 (232T) 10.8 (61T)


Statistically, Oklahoma has the edge in this contest, but North Carolina has played the tougher schedule, and although the game is being played on a neutral court, it is virtually a home game for the Tar Heels. OU is playing very well together despite having so many newcomers to the roster. I think the game will be close, but North Carolina pulls out a five-point win, handing the Sooners their first defeat of the season.