A pair of unbeaten teams go head-to-head in a marquee matchup when Arkansas and Oklahoma square off Thursday in the first round of the PK80 tournament in Portland, Ore. The tournament honoring Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday features two eight-team brackets.
The scoreboard should get a workout in this matchup, as the Sooners lead the nation with an average of 108 points per game while Arkansas is 18th at 93 points. Oklahoma has been dominant in its first two games, outscoring Omaha and Ball State by an average of 29 points while shooting 56.3 percent. The Razorbacks also have a pair of lopsided wins to their credit, and they’re coming off an 83-75 home triumph over Fresno State on Friday that ran their record to 3-0. Oklahoma has won seven of the last 10 meetings, but Arkansas leads the all-time series 15-12 and is 4-0 in neutral-site games against the Sooners.
TV: 5 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT ARKANSAS (3-0): The Razorbacks have a quartet of players who average double digits in points, with Jaylen Barford (20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists) leading the way. Barford, Daryl Macon (16 points, 4.3 assists) and Anton Beard (13.3 points) give the team a trio of seniors who start in the backcourt, while 6-11 freshman Daniel Gafford (16.7 points, five rebounds) has made an impact coming off the bench. Coach Mike Anderson’s teams also wreak havoc on defense, and this season has been no different thus far as the Razorbacks are forcing 17.7 turnovers per contest.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA (2-0): The Sooners have one of the nation’s best freshmen in home-grown point guard Trae Young, who leads the team with 18.5 points per game and tops the nation with an average of 11.5 assists. Fellow freshman Brady Manek (13.5 points) and senior forward Khadeem Lattin (14, 7.5 rebounds) give the team a pair of capable post players to complement Young. Junior guard Christian James (13.5 points) also is off to a great start after averaging 7.9 points last season.
1. Young is the first Sooner to record consecutive point-assist double-doubles since John Ontjes in the 1994-95 season.
2. Arkansas has outscored its first three opponents by 64 points in the first half.
3. Macon is 8-for-8 from the foul line this season and has made 15 straight free throws dating to last campaign’s NCAA Tournament.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma 85, Arkansas 82