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February 16, 2007
Oklahoma set to host Texas A&M
Jeff Capel's Oklahoma Sooners 15-9, 6-5 Big 12) return home for the first time in almost two weeks after a two-game road trip which ended in a disappointing loss to Iowa State.
The NCAA Tournament looks like less of a possibility following the loss in Ames, but Texas A&M (21-4, 9-2 Big 12) could provide a much-needed boost for the rest of the conference schedule.
The Aggies will enter Norman a bit grumpy following their first home loss of the season to Texas Tech. Acie Law's three-point basket with just seconds remaining signaled a remarkable comeback against Tech. But Jarrius Jackson's pull-up jumper gave the Red Raiders a 77-75 buzzer-beating victory.
This will be the second meeting between OU and A&M. The Sooners led the Aggies 29-28 at halftime in College Station, but Law was too much for the Sooners to handle down the stretch as Oklahoma finally fell 70-61.
The Sooners will look to re-establish Nate Carter after he accounted for only two points against Iowa State earlier this week. Longar Longar had his most dominating performance of the season as he scored 20 points in the second half of the Sooners' game with ISU.
Oklahoma had problems containing A&M's Antanas Kavaliauskas in their first meeting as he scored 20 points in College Station.
Austin Johnson was pulled for most of the second half against Iowa State as Bobby Maze and Chris Walker took over the bulk of playing time against Iowa State.
The defensive challenges for Oklahoma's guards will only increase with Acie Law coming to town. Law took over during the final minutes of A&M's win at Reed Arena as he ended the day with 19 points.
It's a difficult matchup on the interior for Oklahoma but the Aggies also had a tough time defending Carter as he scored 19 points in their first meeting.
Foul problems are likely to be a problem for both teams but the Aggies have the depth to overcome foul situations.
KEYS TO THE GAME
PERIMETER DEFENSE - Acie Law torched the Oklahoma defense down the stretch in College Station. Austin Johnson was a non-factor defensively against Iowa State but he's a better defender than he showed on Tuesday night. Bobby Maze isn't a good matchup against Law even though he gives the Sooners an added dimension on offense.
Chris Walker might be the best man for the job, but can the Sooners overcome his offensive shortcomings? This matchup will be one of the biggest things to watch on Saturday
NATE BACK TO GREAT - Nate Carter was non-existent this week in Ames. The Sooners have to start focusing more of their offensive efforts on the OU playmaker. Carter isn't going to pour in bucket after bucket, but the Sooners have to get him in position to get to the free throw line.
Carter has hit 55 of his last 56 free throws. That's an amazing stat and the Sooners have to ride Carter all the way to the free throw line.
KALLING THE KAVALRY - Antanas Kavaliauskas really hurt Oklahoma in College Station. He matches up better against Oklahoma than Joseph Jones because he can make shots away from the basket. The Sooners didn't have any answers for Kavaliauskas in their first matchup.
Oklahoma has to guard him away from the basket as well as force him to shoot the ball further away from the basket. He does have a nice inside game. But he's not big enough to fight his way inside if Oklahoma doesn't allow him to setup under the basket.
LNC MAGIC - Oklahoma has been outstanding at home this season and they have shot the ball much better in Lloyd Noble than anywhere else. Mike Neal has been playing solidly on the road but he's played even better on the road. The Sooners will need to hit some big shots from behind the three-point line if they hope to pull out the win against the Aggies.
David Godbold and Austin Johnson have been good shooters in the friendly confines of the LNC. They'll need to step up and knock down some shots when the opportunities arise.
TEXAS A&M PROJECTED STARTERS
F 44 Antanas Kavaliauskas (6-9, 250, Sr., 12.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
C 30 Joseph Jones (6-9, 250, Jr., 13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
G 1 Acie Law (6-3, 195, Sr., 16.8 ppg 5.4 apg)
G 22 Dominique Kirk (6-3, 180, Jr., 6.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
G 23 Josh Carter (6-7, 195, So., 12.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 24 Nate Carter (6-6, 220, Sr., 11.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
C 30 Longar Longar (6-11, 228, Jr., 12.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 10.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 9.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 7.6 ppg, 3.3 apg)