So, they won the Sugar Bowl by embarrassing Nick Saban and the rest of the SEC, who cares? I'm over it. It's basketball season now and the Sooners have a pretty big game tomorrow night in the Frank Erwin Center to open up conference play.
The Big 12 conference schedule, which has been compared to the World Cup "Group of Death", will be a massive test for the young Longhorns. There is a real possibility that Texas and Oklahoma could be competing for the same at-large NCAA tournament bid, which makes head to head games against the Sooners that much more important.
I asked my friend and current OU point guard, James Fraschilla, to answer some questions about the 2013 Sooners. He kindly obliged. Here is the #exclusive basketball intel you won't find behind the paywall:
What is the biggest difference between this year's Sooner team and the one that earned an at large bid to the NCAA tournament last season?
"The biggest difference, probably, is that we are a lot younger. We lost basically five starters, and an NBA player in Romero Osby. We also lost two other guys who are playing pro basketball overseas right now. So, we are starting freshmen and sophomores. Luckily, our three sophomores all have played in the tournament. Even though we are young, we definitely have some NCAA tournament experience which is good for us.
Another difference is that we are a lot faster. I think we are averaging-and you can fact check this-88 points per game. We are getting more possessions because of how fast we are playing. We've placed a big emphasis on transitions and we've been working a lot on pushing the ball and trying to get it up quick."
OU has played 13 games, but most have been in Norman. How different is the preparation when you're playing a true road game especially when it is the start of conference play?
"We are kind of separating it into two different seasons. Now, we are starting the second season. We have 18 games left, so, we're 0-0. We are preparing for Texas like it is the first game of the season. We'll prepare the same way for each of the next 18. Once you get into conference play, it gets to become pretty routine, you know, like a pattern. Get introduced to a team three or four days before a game, watch film, go over there stuff, and then you play.
[With Texas] we didn't have as much time to prepare. But they have had the same amount of time to prepare for us. Preparing for a road game is not that much different. You just do what you need to do to win. It's not that much different."
Last year, your buddy Amath M'Baye flashed the horns upside down in Austin which sparked an unbelievable comeback from a relatively putrid Longhorn team. How much has that game been discussed going into tomorrow night?
"That hasn't really been discussed too much. The comeback last year and giving up that lead has come up, but as far as Amath [flashing the horns down] it hasn't been discussed. It wasn't smart. He probably should not have done that. But at the same time, people blaming the 18 or 20 point comeback on that isn't right. I don't think it was the real reason. We kind of stopped playing defense and allowed them to make that run. It was obviously a turning point, but to blame the whole comeback on Amath isn't accurate. We haven't really discussed it."
What is your impression when watching film on this year's Longhorn team compared to last? What does OU coach Lon Kruger think of the 2013 Longhorns?
"Coming into the season, I know Texas didn't have high expectations with their team. They're really young, so the first impression you get from the roster is how many underclassmen they have. But on film, they look really good. Isaiah Taylor is a player. The bigs inside, Prince Ibeh and Cameron Ridley, are real good, so we've been working a lot on post defense and knowing who we are going to double and take away. Between Felix, Taylor, Ibeh, and Ridley, it's just a really good core group of young guys. Kind of like what we have right now. They are really impressive on film. Really quick. Really sound on defense. You can't make too many mistakes against them if you are trying to win."
OU is coming off of a loss to Louisiana Tech in which the defense allowed 102 points (but scored 98). Was this game a bit of a fluke and is it being used as a motivation tactic for Saturday?
"I wouldn't call it a fluke, we just didn't play a very good defensive game. Obviously, we've only played 13 games this season with a relatively young team. The emphasis this whole time has been on transition, pushing the ball, scoring, and getting more possessions. So sometimes when that is your emphasis, the defense is going to lack. We are still in the process of finding that balance between pushing the ball, getting more possessions, and scoring, as well as defending teams. We just didn't do a very good job of that against Louisiana Tech. Now we are working on getting defensive stops and getting things to translate from practice into the games."
Fill in the blank: "Texas fight! Texas fight! For it's Texas that we love best! Give em hell! Give em hell! OU ______."
"...is really talented."
OU leads the series 48-35.
TV: Longhorn Network
Time: 7 pm CST