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Gonzaga v. Oklahoma Game Preview: Let’s Meet the Sooners

The Zags take on Oklahoma in the Round of 32.

Missouri v Oklahoma Photo by Jay LaPrete/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Coming off their 43-point takedown of Norfolk State in the opening round, the Zags will have a presumably tougher road in the round of 32 as they take on 8th seed Oklahoma. The Sooners advanced via their narrow 72-68 win over Missouri last night, but are without starting guard De’Vion Harmon for the opening two rounds due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Game Date: Monday, March 22

Game Time: 2:40 p.m. ET/11:40 a.m. PT


Online: NCAA March Madness Live

Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

Meet the Opponent

Oklahoma Sooners, 16-10, KenPom #41

The Sooners are led by coach Lon Kruger, who is in his 10th season at the helm. Kruger has coached the team to seven NCAA tournament appearances during his time in Norman, including a Final Four appearance in 2016.

The current Oklahoma squad finished 7th in the Big 12 at 9-8 this season, with wins over Alabama and Kansas, and a season sweep of West Virginia. They are led by senior guard and All-Big 12 first-team selection Austin Reaves, who was second in the conference with 17.9 points per game and fourth in assists with 4.8 per game. The Sooners have three players averaging double digits in scoring (Reaves, De’Vion Harmon, and Brady Manek), but will have to look to others for points in Harmon’s absence.

What to Watch For

Oklahoma’s execution/turnovers

The Sooners have played, and beaten, some tough competition this season, with numerous quality wins in and out of the Big 12. However, they have lost five of their last seven games, and one of those wins was a narrow 79-73 win over a dreadful Iowa State team. OU ranks near the bottom of Division I in turnovers, giving the ball away nearly 11 times per game (including 18 in the Big 12 tournament against Kansas). They will also be without one of their primary ball handlers in Harmon, so if Gonzaga can apply pressure defensively, force some turnovers, and get into transition offense, things could get ugly pretty quickly for the Sooners.

Maintaining focus

Gonzaga were 33-point favorites against Norfolk State, and while the spread won’t be quite as ridiculous this time around, the Zags are still heavily favored, and the metrics say they should beat Oklahoma pretty handily. However, this is the NCAA tournament and anything can happen, so GU has to stay on the attack and stay focused. They were able to avoid the slow start against NSU, and doing so again tomorrow will be important in order to keep the Sooners at bay.