Sooner Hoops: Previewing OU's First Round Game Against CSU-Bakersfield


Thursday, March 17th 2016, 8:23 pm
By: Brett Coppenbarger


Friday marks the start of the 2016 NCAA Tournament for No. 2 Oklahoma as the Sooners will take on No. 15 Cal State Bakersfield inside of Chesapeake Energy Arena at 2:50 p.m. This time of the year brings a lot of excitement and an occasional upset, so the Sooners will need to be dialed in against the Roadrunners if they want to keep the March Madness alive.

Here are a few things to know about Friday afternoon’s must-win matchup:

Breaking down CSU-Bakersfield

The roadrunners are fresh off a 24-8 season and ride a six game winning streak into their matchup against OU. CSU-Bakersfield head coach, Rod Barnes, is plenty familiar with the state of Oklahoma after his time as an OU assistant coach back in 2006 under Jeff Capel.

Aly Ahmed is the Roadrunners’ leading scorer at 12.9 ppg, but the senior is one of five CSU-Bakersfield players who average double-digit scoring as they have the luxury of not depending on just one player. Kevin Mays (12.5), Dedrick Basile (12.0), Damiyne Durham (11.8) and Jaylin Airington (10.3) are all capable of putting the ball in the basket, so Oklahoma will have to be able to defend at all five positions in order to slow down the Roadrunners.

Related: Buddy Takes Roadrunner Comment As Disrespectful

CSU-Bakersfield is a scrappy team that takes a lot of pride in its defense, so it would be smart to assume Coach Barnes has concocted some type of plan in an attempt to slow down OU’s Buddy Hield. The Roadrunners rank No. 14 in the nation in points given up by only allowing their opponents to score an average of 63.2 ppg, so expect to see a very aggressive CSU-Bakersfield team when they square off with the Sooners.

Cinderella Story in the making

There’s little doubt that Oklahoma bolsters a better roster than CSU-Bakersfield, but it’s all about riding the momentum this time of the year, and it looks like the Roadrunners kicked off March the right way by winning the WAC Championship. Not only did they win their conference tourney, but the Roadrunners won in style with a Dedrick Basile buzzer beating 3-pointer that sent his team dancing for the first time in school history.  

That being said, 15 seeds have a 7-117 record against No. 2 seeds in the Tournament, so hopefully no one back in Bakersfield is ordering their Final Four shirts just yet. One thing’s for sure, Oklahoma will do everything in its power to assure the Sooners don’t end up on the wrong side of a Cinderella Story.

Roadrunners aren’t intimidated

It doesn’t look like Cal State Bakersfield is scared of the Sooners, and Ahmed’s comments at Thursday’s practice were proof of that.

“I think they are a good team, but they are not great. They are beatable,” Ahmed responded when asked what he had to do to beat Oklahoma. “We play very good defense… We just keep proving things every year. If we play very good defense tomorrow, we’ll have a good chance.”

As the back-to-back Big 12 player of the year, Hield didn’t like Ahmed’s comments very much, and his response can be seen here.

All this talk just adds some extra juice to this matchup, and could be used as extra motivation for a Sooners’ team that’s heavily favored to win.

Plane problems

While the Sooners just have to make the short drive up I-35 for their first round game, the Roadrunners had a slightly different experience while making the trip to OKC. Not only did Cal State Bakersfield have to travel halfway across the country, but the chartered plane the Roadrunners were riding had to land 30 minutes after taking off due to a medical emergency.

An ambulance was called to tend to the needing person on the plane and the flight was delayed for about an hour.

That being said, 15 seeds have a 7-117 record against No. 2 seeds in the Tournament, so hopefully no one back in Bakersfield is ordering their Final Four shirts just yet. One thing’s for sure, Oklahoma will do everything in its power to assure the Sooners don’t end up on the wrong side of a Cinderella Story.

Roadrunners aren’t intimidated

It doesn’t look like Cal State Bakersfield is scared of the Sooners, and Ahmed’s comments at Thursday’s practice were proof of that.

“I think they are a good team, but they are not great. They are beatable,” Ahmed responded when asked what he had to do to beat Oklahoma. “We play very good defense… We just keep proving things every year. If we play very good defense tomorrow, we’ll have a good chance.”

As the back-to-back Big 12 player of the year, Hield didn’t like Ahmed’s comments very much, and his response can be seen here.

All this talk just adds some extra juice to this matchup, and could be used as extra motivation for a Sooners’ team that’s heavily favored to win.

Plane problems

While the Sooners just have to make the short drive up I-35 for their first round game, the Roadrunners had a slightly different experience while making the trip to OKC. Not only did Cal State Bakersfield have to travel halfway across the country, but the chartered plane the Roadrunners were riding had to land 30 minutes after taking off due to a medical emergency.

An ambulance was called to tend to the needing person on the plane and the flight was delayed for about an hour.

Landed in OKC. All is well, thanks for everyone's concern, now time for hoops. #allrunners @… https://t.co/mesnpRO13S

— CSUB Athletics (@CSUBAthletics) March 16, 2016

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Oklahoma begins tournament play on Friday at 2:50 p.m. when they take on Cal State Bakersfield. Here's everything you need to know about the matchup. 

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