After a week’s rest following their slim four point victory over Idaho State last Friday, Lon Kruger and the Oklahoma Sooners (1-0) will hit the court again this Friday at 7:00 PM CST as they take on Ron “Fang” Mitchell and the Coppin State Eagles (1-1). The Sooners will look to add another win before heading off to Anaheim for the 76 Classic Tournament. Here’s a preview of the game, including a breakdown of the opponent, historical facts, and keys to a Sooner victory.
- Oklahoma is 14-0 all-time against Coppin State.
- Fang Mitchell is entering the 26th season of his coaching career, all have been at CSU, he has also been head coach in each of the games from this series.
- The Sooners have won by an average of 22.1 points over the course of the series
Previewing Coppin State:
Sr. PG Tony Gallo 5’11”- Despite his position as floor general, Gallo has shown thus far he is more of a scorer than a distributor. He dropped 23 points on 47% shooting against Loyola (MD) Monday evening, and added 17 in the season opener against Division II Cheyney. A lot of his damage is done from beyond the arc, but he has also proven to be very effective at getting to the line for some freebies. The Sooners will need to keep a close eye on him, as he is very capable of another 20-point performance.
Soph. SG Mike Simpson 6’6”- Simpson shot 3-4 from the field to chip in seven points in the Cheyney victory, yet was held scoreless the following game for just 13 minutes of action. For the most part, he doesn’t look to be a huge issue for the Sooners, though his size could cause a few mismatches on the perimeter.
Sr. F Akeem Ellis 6’6”- Ellis is the most well rounded player on this Eagles team. In the season opener he posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The next game he established himself as a distributor as well, and was one assist shy of another double-double. Main point is, no matter where he is at on the floor, Ellis has the skills to do whatever he can to lead his team to a victory. He and Gallo form a dynamic duo for Coppin State.
Sr. F Antonio Williams 6’6”- Williams won’t score much, but he can be a factor on the glass with 11 rebounds over the course of two games thus far. He will definitely be on the Sooners radar heading into Friday’s game.
Sr. PF Logan Wiens 6’8”- The tallest player in the starting lineup standing 6-foot-8, Wiens had a decent opener scoring nine points and grabbing eight boards. In the very next game however, he was almost non existent, with only one turnover and three fouls to show for 11 minutes of play. It’s tough to tell which of the two performances he will most resemble Friday however.
6th man: Sr. SG Michael Harper 6’4”- Harper will provide a scoring spark off the bench for the Eagles. He can hit the deep ball consistently and is coming off of an 18 point game against Loyola. He will look to supply the same goods as a reserve Friday.
Keys to a Sooner Victory:
- Rebounding: This will likely be a recurring theme for an undersized Sooners team this season. Luckily, Coppin State is also a small squad, so the Sooners should win the rebounding here. It will be interesting to see how they fare over the course of the season however, with additions of Romero Osby and Casey Arent down low.
- Steven Pledger: Pledger sat out the season opener due to a suspension, but will be back in action for this game. It’s obviously going to be a major upgrade for the Sooners, in depth, with Calvin Newell, who scored 19 last week, likely to log minutes off the bench. It will be intriguing to see the impact of Pledger and how it affects the team, which is why Pledger is the Player to Watch for this game.
- Shooting: In the opener the Sooners shot just 24% from the field in the first half, and had trouble with the zone thrown out by Idaho State. If Coppin was able to realize this they may very well come out in a zone themselves. It’s up to the Sooners to be prepared for this and hit their jumpers with accuracy and consistency.
- Protect the Paint: Coppin State is just 33% from three thus far. If the Sooners can stop penetration and force jumpers from the Eagles, it should be a Sooner W.
Final Prediction: With Pledger back the Sooners roll to their 2nd straight before prepping for the 76 Classic. OU wins 85-66.