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UW vs.Oklahoma Hoops Q&A With Crimson And Cream Machine

Rich DeCray from Crimson and Cream Machine stops by to answer some questions about Saturday's matchup between UW and Oklahoma at the MGM Showcase in Las Vegas

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

It's gameday! Rich DeCray from Crimson and Cream Machine stopped by to answer some questions regarding the UW hoops matchup with Oklahoma at the MGM Showcase in Las Vegas. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. and the game airs on ESPNU. Thanks again to Rich for doing this.

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1. Last year the Sooners finished 23-10 but were upset in the first round of the NCAA tourny. What kind of expectations did most fans have heading into this season?

Rich: Before the start of the young season, many pegged this program to earn their first post-season win under the direction of Lon Kruger. However, expectations skyrocketed after the NCAA granted Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas immediate eligibility hours before the first game of the regular season. Thomas brings something the Sooners have lacked...consistent inside scoring. Buddy Hield provides the vocal leadership and scoring output but now possesses more than just a complimentary player in the blocks. In the blink of an eye, Oklahoma went from "top half of the conference" to "competing for the conference crown" in 2014-15.

2. Both of the Sooner's leading scorers are guards, do you think this team is guard oriented or are they a balanced scoring team?

At the beginning of the season, it was clear this team relied heavily on the play of the guards. In a post-game interview, the media noted that the guards were not tossing the ball inside simply because the bigs were not calling for the rock. From that point forward, Coach Kruger has continued to work with the post players on their communication skills. As a result, fans have witness a resurgence of the inside-out game leading to an 18 point performance out of forward Ryan Spangler and a 25 point performance from forward TaShawn Thomas within the past three games. To answer your question, the Sooners are moving towards balanced scoring but I wouldn't say they have fully arrived yet.

3. The UW's biggest improvement this season has been the post play, led by Robert Upshaw, do you think the Sooners have enough size to slow down the Huskies in the paint, specifically Upshaw?

The size, no, but the physicality, yes. Oklahoma remains undersized when compared to a majority of the opponents on their schedule. Both starting forwards stand 6-8 in stature but play much bigger than they truly are. Regardless, there are two scenarios I can see playing out here. First, the Sooners play actively on defense and could simply clog the area inside the three point line while daring the Huskies to make buckets from outside. Second, assuming the entry pass into a player like Upshaw becomes frequent, Oklahoma could double down if Ryan Spangler fails to hold his own. The best outcome produces a steal and OU gets into transition. On the other side of the coin, the worst outcome puts Upshaw, a poor free throw shooter on the line.

4. How have the Sooners done against zone this season? Lorenzo Romar likes to mix up his looks and the Sooners could see 2-3 zone when they face off on Saturday.

The only program to play a zone for extended periods of time this season against Oklahoma has been UCLA in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The result? A 75-65 win over the Bruins in with the Sooners shot a school-record 38 three-pointers connecting on 10 of those. The real difference though against the zone has been a quality high-post player in TaShawn Thomas. That alone makes the offense run with a higher efficiency rate. With great court vision and the ability to create for himself off the dribble, Thomas poses a real threat when the ball comes to him in the middle. From there, he is able to find wide open shooters on the perimeter or make a shot from the elbow. However, if the zone keeps Oklahoma off the offensive glass and the squad goes cold from range, it could be a long night.

5. Who is one player outside of the main scorers who Husky fans should be keeping their eyes on during Saturday's contest?

Frank Booker comes off the bench with a reputation as a sharp shooter. With his feet underneath him and shoulders square to the basket, Booker can hit from literally anywhere on the floor. Recently, the sophomore picked up a trick to earn a trip the charity stripe while the close out defender picks up an unnecessary foul. If UW deploys a zone for a majority of the game, Booker could easily be the player to watch with his shooting prowess.

6.If the Sooners are to beat the Huskies on Saturday, what will be the key to victory? Give us your score prediction.

I think this game comes down to rebounds. One aspect of the game Oklahoma thrives on is transition baskets whether it be off a defensive rebound or a turnover. But let's be honest, there are far more rebounds to go around than turnovers in a single game. While Ryan Spangler, an elite rebounder, provides much of the production, the Sooners are still giving up substantial size to a player like Robert Upshaw, a 7-footer. If OU wants to play to their strength, they must find a way to secure rebounds over taller opponents in Las Vegas.

Rich's prediction: Oklahoma 78, UW 73

Thanks again to Rich! Leave your thoughts and predictions for today's game in the comments section below, and don't forget to follow Erik on Twitter.