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OU Basketball: Previewing the Sooners and Flyers

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After a solid opening-round win over Albany, Oklahoma has its sights set on a berth in the Sweet 16. To get there, the Sooners will have to take down spunky Dayton in the Flyers' backyard.

Here's a quick preview of Sunday's game.

Projected Dayton Starters

G Kyle Davis- 7.2 ppg, 50 steals, 2.5 apg

G Jordan Sibert- 16.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 35.1 3-pt. FG %

G Scoochie Smith- 9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 36.8 3-pt FG %

F Kendall Pollard- 12.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 32 blocks

F Dyshawn Pierre – 12.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.9 apg


Projected OU Starters

G Jordan Woodard- 9.2 ppg, 3.9 apg, 1.5 spg, 84.1 FT %

G Isaiah Cousins- 12.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 45.4 3-pt FG %

G Buddy Hield- 17.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 37.1 3-pt FG %, 82.2 FT %

F Ryan Spangler- 10 ppg, 8 rpg, 58.6 FG %, 30.3 3-pt FG %

F TaShawn Thomas- 11.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 51.6 FG %, 45 blocks


How the Flyers got to Columbus: Dayton lost in the Atlantic 10 tournament final and was sent to the play-in games at their home arena (egregiously underseeded). The Flyers beat Boise State there before defeating Providence on Friday night.

Key stat for Dayton: The Flyers shoot 35.1 percent from 3-point range and have a lot of guys who can shoot it. Five players have attempted at least 75 3-pointers this season, and a sixth is 11-of-23 as a key rotation member. Dayton hits 6.5 3-pointers per game and with everyone being a threat to step outside, it will be a big challenge for the OU bigs to cover.

Key stat for Oklahoma: Oklahoma shoots 74 percent from the free throw line, with three players shooting above 80 percent. Dayton shoots just 68.3 percent, which could be a big factor if Sunday's game is tight late. Just ask LSU about that one. With Oklahoma almost guaranteed to pound the ball inside against the undersized Flyers, the Sooners will have to hit their free throws.

Why Oklahoma will win: On paper, this looks like a mismatch. The Sooners are deeper, bigger and better than Dayton. They're getting contributions from everyone and its best players played well in a win over Albany. And yet, the Sooners haven't played their best basketball in some time, despite winning most of their games. Perhaps with a Sweet 16 trip on the line, OU will bust out a big game.

Why Oklahoma will suffer an upset: The crowd will be completely for Dayton and the Flyers are very athletic and talented. The Sooners can't afford to dig themselves a hole or make mistakes that will ignite the pro-Dayton crowd. It's possible the great play OU displayed earlier in the season was an aberration, and the team we've seen the last three weeks is the real OU team. If that's the case, the Sooners could be in trouble.

Key battle: Jordan Sibert vs. Buddy Hield

Sibert is Mr. Everything for Dayton, averaging 16.3 points per game. He's fourth on the team in assists, first in steals and also grabs three rebounds a game. The Flyers are pretty balanced, but they need Sibert to play well to have success. The Sooners aren't as dependent on Hield, but he does everything for them, something that's very important when he's not shooting well. But both of these guys are special to watch and whoever wins this individual matchup will give their team a leg up on winning on Sunday.

Key factor: Homecourt advantage

Sunday's game will not be anything close to a neutral site. Columbus is less than two hours from Dayton and the Flyers faithful turned out on Friday against Providence. With four less teams playing in Columbus on Sunday, the Dayton fans probably snapped up a lot of those spare tickets. It's unfortunate, but that sometimes happens based on the draw. However, this was very easily preventable if the committee had seeded Dayton properly. So Oklahoma will be battling the crowd, along with a solid opponent.

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