Sooner basketball men hit road for another tough road test at Cincinnati


Oklahoma men's basketball is having its best season since 2015-16. The Sooners are 14-3 and ranked 15th in the most recent Associated Press poll.

The 2015-16 Sooner team was 15-2 at this stage of the season and went on to finish with a 29-8 overall record and 12-6 in the Big 12. That Oklahoma team followed a formula that is pivotal for all great basketball teams: Win all of your home conference games and win as many as you can away from home. OU was 8-1 that season at home in the conference and 4-5 on the road.

The Sooners are a perfect 11-0 at home this season (2-0 against Big 12 opponents), but are 0-2 in their first two true road games in the Big 12. With eight of 14 Big 12 teams currently ranked in the nation's top 25, virtually every game in the conference is against a very good opponent, and that opponent becomes even better when playing at home.

OU is on the road again this weekend and faced with another enormous hurdle. The opponent is Cincinnati, a newcomer to the Big 12 this season, but a program with a strong historical resume. The Bearcats are 13-4 overall and 11-1 at home. Cincinnati's only home loss was by one point, 74-73, to Texas a week ago.

Former OU head coach Kelvin Sampson, how heading the program at Houston, underscored how incredibly tough the Big 12 is this season in a radio interview this week.

"Good teams (in the Big 12) win their games at home. Good teams (in this league) lose on the road."

Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson

Sampson knows this all too well. Houston, which a week ago was ranked No. 2 in the country and undefeated at 14-0, lost back-to-back games on the road in the Big 12.

The bottom line is, you have to at least break even in Big 12 road games if you are going to finish in the upper half of the conference standings. The Sooners are in danger of falling to 0-3 in the conference in away game if they can't find a way to get by Cincinnati this weekend.

Oklahoma and Cincinnati have faced each other just six times in basketball. The Bearcats have won four of them, including each of the last four meetings.

Both teams are coming off wins: Oklahoma defeated West Virginia 77-63 earlier in the week. Cincinnati upset No. 19 TCU 71-67 in overtime.

Oklahoma and Cincinnati feature a contrast in styles. The Bearcats are bigger in size and like to play physical; they want to crash the boards and beat you down low. The Sooners, on the other hand, want to play an up-tempo style, turn you over on the defensive end and create offense with their defense.

The Sooners rank in the top 50 nationally in seven different categories: 12th in three-point percentage defense (27.8), 19th in scoring margin (14.8 points), 23rd in field goal percentage (48.9), 25th in rebound margin (7.6), 34th in field goal percentage defense (35.9), 35th in scoring defense (65.1) and 39th in free-throw percentage (75.7).

Cincinnati is one of the best rebounding teams in the Big 12 and utilizes its size to advantage on the offensive glass, which has been an issue for the Sooners, especially when playing teams with good, physical size in the frontcourt. The Bearcats are not a great three-point shooting team, but when at home they shoot nearly 40 percent from three.

This should be a good matchup to watch, but it won't be available on commercial or cable TV. The game is scheduled for a 12 noon CT tip off and will be streamed on ESPN+.

Key impact players


G Javian McCollum: 14.9 ppg, 39.0 3-pt %, 923 FT %, 2.8 rpg, 4.4 apg

G Otega Oweh: 14.1 ppg, 60.0 3-pt %, 4.4 rpg

F Jalon Moore: 9.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg

G Milos Uzan: 9.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.1 apg

F John Hugely IV: 9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg


F Viktor Lakhin: 13.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg

Dan Skillings Jr.: 11.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg

G Day Day Thomas: 11.2 ppg, 81.0 FT %

F John Newman II: 9.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg

F Aziz Bandoogo: 8.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg


Cincinnati is a 2.5-point home favorite over the Sooners. To win this game, Oklahoma is going to have to shoot well, limit turnovers while forcing double digit turnovers and limit giving up second-chance points. The popular pick would be the Bearcats, but I believe OU can pull off the upset and steal one on the road. Sooners win by three.