GameNight: American at Oklahoma

November 14th, 2008
Nov 14 2008 - 8:00pm

 

 

Preview & Prediction: By Raphielle Johnson

The preseason favorite to win the Big 12 hosts the defending Patriot League champions in the season opener for both, and the Sooners may get more of a challenge in this one than they will in their NIT Season Tip-Off opener against Mississippi Valley State. Derrick Mercer and Garrison Carr start in the backcourt for the Eagles, who gave Tennessee all they wanted and then some in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. But can they really match up with Preseason All-American Blake Griffin in the frontcourt? That’s the concern for Jeff Jones’ Eagles, but it’s not like the Sooners lack talent outside of the younger Griffin.

 

Tony Crocker is the notable returnee in the backcourt, but many eyes will be on highly-touted freshman Willie Warren and how he adjusts to the college game. And don’t forget about Taylor Griffin inside as well, a player who can hurt you if you devote too much of your attention to his little brother. Oklahoma will win this game due in large part to their strength inside, but this game will help out American’s big men as the season progresses. They won’t play a big man as talented as Blake Griffin until (possibly) the NCAA Tournament. Winner: Oklahoma

 

Preview & Prediction: By Blake Hofstad

Oklahoma better be ready for this one. The Eagles return 3 starters from a team that stayed competitive with Tennessee last year. That includes star guards Garrison Carr and Derrick Mercer. Carr is the most talented player in the Patriot League, and is a deadeye from 3-point land. Mercer is one of the best passers to go through the Patriot League. Jeff Capel’s Sooners are looking to improve on last year’s 2nd round Tourney appearance. The loss of forward Longar Longar will sting, but they have one of the nation’s best to help pick up Longar’s production. Blake Griffin is an early candidate for Player of the Year, and he should average a double-double. Guards Willie Warren and Tony Crocker should contribute in all sorts of ways. In the team scrimmage, the freshman Warren developed a connection with Griffin, finding him 4 times on the lob. Crocker will likely be second on the team in scoring. If Oklahoma can get a win here, it solidifies their position as a frontrunner in the Big 12. But if American swings the upset, it’s a huge blow to the Sooners as well as an influential victory for the Eagles.

 

The game within the game can be found in the backcourt, where the American tandem of Carr and Mercer square off against the Sooner’s Warren and Crocker. If the Eagles can outperform Oklahoma here, their chances of an upset increase a whole lot more, because I just don’t see American getting the best of Blake Griffin and his older brother Taylor on the boards. Their leading returning rebounder is 6’6”, and they will play a more up-tempo style of play to minimize Griffin’s impact. The Sooners should outrebound American by a large margin. If this game was being played in DC, the Eagles would have a prime chance at an upset. This game being played in Norman, my money’s on Oklahoma, 78-71. Winner: Oklahoma