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3-Point Shooting Could Cause First Loss of the Season

Photo: Icon Sportswire

With the nation’s fourth-best scoring margin of 25 points per game, the Oklahoma Sooners have made a strong case to be voted as the No. 1 team in the nation — only Kansas and Michigan State sit above them in the rankings.

A great deal for the Buddy Hield led Sooners’ success is their three-point efficiency. They’re shooting the living daylight out of teams. The Creighton Bluejays may be the first team to challenge that status, however.

Through its first seven games, Oklahoma is shooting 48.7 percent from behind the arc. The only players shooting les than 50 percent from range are the ones riding the pine. The four players averaging more than 25 minutes per game are shooting at least .500 from 3-point range — guards Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodward are both shooting 54.8 percent from distance.

In total, the Sooners are making about 11 points threes per game, giving them a 33-point advantage. One off night could send the Sooners packing their bags considering how much their offense has thrived on the deep shot.

Aside from shooting from the perimeter the Sooners offense has struggled to find their footing. Oklahoma has shot just 48.8 percent from two-point range — 148th in the nation. There’s not much to rely on once the Sooners move inside as they are also shooting 69.3 percent from the free throw line.

Conversely, Creighton is a team much more effective in the paint, splitting time fairly equal among seven players rather than Oklahoma’s top-heavy approach. The Jays are among the top two-point teams in the nation, sinking nearly 60 percent from short distance, making up for their pedestrian three-point accuracy.

But overall, the two teams match up well considering their true shooting percentage that accounts for all shooting efficiency. Both teams rank in the Top 25 nationally with Creighton scoring 119.4 percent and Oklahoma standing at 118.7 percent — their efficiency just climbs at different rates. Creighton’s success has come much more gradually; it could be the best defense to slow down Oklahoma. It’s no surprise both teams are scoring more than 85 points per game.

Just as Oklahoma’s offense has lit a fire from outside, its perimeter defense has been just as effective, allowing just 24 percent of opponent three-pointers. Creighton shouldn’t have to worry about that. It’s not their style to shoot from outside, as it attempts just 23.5 threes per game, 2.5 fewer than Oklahoma’s opponent average.

The Jays rely on five players averaging more than 10 points per game and shooting at least 50 percent from inside. But should the game turn into a catch-up, hot-handed freshman Khyri Thomas — shooting 67 percent from the arc — will likely be the one coach Greg McDermott relies on to pull the trigger. He doesn’t shoot often, but he’s done enough to prove this worth as one of the lone perimeter threats on the team.

With the game in front of an Oklahoma crowd, it’s likely the Sooners keep rolling as they did against the first Big East team, Villanova. But with the efficiency and patience to work the scoreboard Creighton has shown, the Bluejays could bring this streaky offense to the brink and possibly give the first loss of the season if just a few perimeter shots take an unlucky bounce.

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