Oklahoma vs. #25 Wisconsin
Tip: 12:30 PM (Central)
Location: Paradise Island, Bahamas
By way of Wednesday’s 65-60 win over Florida the Oklahoma Sooners moved to 4-0 on the season but will now face their toughest test yet in the semifinals at the Battle 4 Atlantis. The 25th ranked Wisconsin Badgers are up next for OU after dismantling Stanford 62-46 in their opener.
Led by senior forward Ethan Happ (18.3 points, 12 rebounds, 7.7 assists) and sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice (18.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists) the Badgers are averaging 86 points per game while holding their opponents to just 63.3.
Oklahoma will look to Christian James (21.5 points per game) to pace them in scoring once more, but it’ll need to be an “all hands on deck” type performance from James’ teammates to pull the upset.
Sophomore forward Brady Manek was held shy of a double-double for the first time this season in Wednesday’s opener. Finishing with six points and eleven boards, he still found a way to be a key contributor on a day when shots weren’t falling. He’ll need to pick it back up on Thursday though as rebounding will take center stage once more.
OU held a 48-34 edge over Florida in Wednesday’s opener and that was crucial to the Sooners’ success in their 5-point win.
“From the start I thought we were aggressive to the boards,” Lon Kruger said after the game. “We got some big rebounds (inside), and our perimeter guys rebounded pretty well, too. That was a big key in the game. Limiting them to generally one shot was huge for us.”
Another good sign for Oklahoma was the play of Rashard Odomes who came off the bench to score a season-high 11 points. He and Jamuni McNeace, who also scored 11 points, rounded out OU’s double-digit scorers behind James. McNeace also flashed his shot-blocking presence with 4 swats.
Today will mark Oklahoma’s fourth meeting with Wisconsin in the past five seasons. Wisconsin defeated OU in the championship game of the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis followed by a home-and-home series where the home club won on both occasions (OU in 2015, UW in 2016). The Badgers lead the all-time series 5-4 and are 2-0 against the Sooners on neutral courts.