Oklahoma will try to avoid getting caught looking ahead to the weekend when the Sooners host Northern Colorado in a nonconference game Tuesday night. Oklahoma is scheduled to play at No. 17 Wisconsin on Saturday, but can’t afford another listless effort against the Bears like the one it had in a 72-64 win Friday against visiting Abilene Christian.
Jordan Woodard is one of two returning starters that helped the Sooners advance to the Final Four last season, and his experience should be enough to prevent Oklahoma from having a major letdown against Northern Colorado. The 6-foot point guard started every game in his previous three seasons with the Sooners and he’s been on a roll so far this year, averaging 17.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.6 steals through the first five games. Khadeem Lattin is the other returning starter for Oklahoma and the 6-9 junior forward has, so far, doubled his scoring average from last season to 11.8, but shot-blocking and interior defense remain his specialty. The Bears have already played two ranked teams this season, No. 18 Butler and No. 15 Arizona, and feature a big-time scorer in Jordan Davis, who came into the week tied for seventh in the nation at 24 points a game.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Oklahoma
ABOUT NORTHERN COLORADO (2-4): Davis, a 6-2 sophomore guard from Las Vegas, has been an incredibly consistent scorer this season, producing from 20 to 28 points in every game while shooting 51.5 percent from the floor. He scored 25 points against Butler and 20 against Arizona, but does have some weaknesses, particularly when it comes to turnovers and free-throw shooting. Davis has seven turnovers or more in four of six games after not committing more than five in 31 games last season, and is shooting 66 percent from the foul line.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA (4-1): Christian James has taken advantage of the mass departures from last season to move up the contribution ladder. He was eighth on the team in minutes (9.7) and scoring (3.0) last season, but the 6-4 sophomore shooting guard is fifth in minutes (23.0) and third in scoring (10.8) in 2016-17, and has made 10-of-16 from 3-point range, a percentage that was tied for 19th in the nation at the start of the week. He was 5-for-5 from long distance in a 70-64 win against Clemson on Nov. 20, including three in the final 6:06 to help hold off the Tigers.
1. Woodard’s 110 consecutive starts is tied with Alec Peters of Valparaiso for the most among current NCAA Division I players.
2. Woodard and Kristian Doolittle were the first former high school teammates to start a game for the Sooners since brothers Blake and Taylor Griffin in 2008-09.
3. Davis was coached in high school by former UNLV star Freddie Banks, who still owns the NCAA Tournament record with 10 3-pointers in the 1987 Final Four against Indiana.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma 76, Northern Colorado 68