OU on guard in matchup against Ohio
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Saturday, December 29, 2012
12/29/12 at 6:38 AM
NORMAN - The last time the Oklahoma Sooners played, they lost to guard-oriented, defensive-minded, senior-driven Stephen F. Austin. At 7 p.m. Saturday, OU hosts Ohio University. The Bobcats might be considered a more talented version of SFA.
"They're a good team," OU coach Lon Kruger said. "They went to the Sweet 16 last year, and they have most everyone back."
Thirteen-seed Ohio opened the NCAA Tournament last March by upsetting four-seed Michigan. Star point guard D.J. Cooper scored 21 points. Three teammates hit double figures. They all return this season.
In round two, Ohio knocked out South Florida behind Walter Offutt's 21 points. He's back.
Offutt scored another 26 as the Bobcats took top-seeded North Carolina to overtime in the Sweet Sixteen.
Afterward, Tar Heels big man John Henson said: "They don't play like a 13-seed."
They don't play like a mid-major from the Mid-American Conference. Not in March, anyhow. Ohio opened the 2010 NCAA Tournament by blitzing 3-seed Georgetown 97-83. Cooper, then a freshman, poured in 23 points.
Now he's a senior, just like starters Offutt, Ivo Baltic and Reggie Keely, and he'll be the best guard the 7-3 Sooners have faced to this point.
"I appreciate all point guards that are doing well in whatever system they're in, but especially guards that appreciate where they're at," OU guard Sam Grooms said. "You can tell (Cooper) appreciates the system that he's in. He understands what he's supposed to do. I like his game, and I like his understanding. Not to mention he can score. He's a good guard."
With Cooper carrying the torch, Ohio began the year with six straight home wins.
That fell off when Ohio started traveling. The Bobcats lost at Robert Morris and Massachusetts. Ohio was outclassed at Memphis, and also dropped a 50-49 home game to notoriously pesky Winthrop.
Still, the Bobcats come to Norman with an 8-4 record, and with a defense that forces an average of 20 turnovers a game.
It's not an ideal opponent for an OU team struggling to score, and with three turnover-prone freshmen in its backcourt.
Original Print Headline: Sooners will be on guard against Ohio
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355