Oklahoma Sooners vs. Providence Friars Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 5th 2023

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Off to its best start in eight seasons, No. 19 Oklahoma begins a tough stretch in nonconference play Tuesday when Providence comes to Norman, Okla., as part of the Big East/Big 12 Battle.

The Sooners’ 7-0 start is their best since 2015-16, when they opened 12-0 en route to a Final Four appearance.

The terrific start has been fueled by hot shooting and lockdown defense.

Oklahoma is among the nation’s best in field-goal percentage, shooting 51.5 percent from the floor.

The Sooners are coming off their best shooting game of the season, going 40 of 70 from the floor (57.1 percent) in Thursday’s 107-86 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Oklahoma is also holding opponents to just 37.8 percent from the floor.

In that win over UAPB, Jalon Moore scored a season-high 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

“I would say he kind of sets the tone,” teammate Otega Oweh said of Moore. “He’s always on go, so when you have someone on the team who’s always on go, you’ve got to follow. You can’t just have one guy be out there. It’s a team, so it kind of trickles down.”

While the Sooners are looking to continue their perfect start, the Friars are trying to continue their own surge.

Since dropping an overtime decision to Kansas State on Nov. 17, Providence has won four consecutive games.

The Friars (7-1) are coming off an 84-69 win over Rhode Island on Saturday in a game where they had a season-low nine turnovers.

Tuesday’s game will be Providence’s first true road game of the season.

A big piece of Providence’s recent surge has been junior forward Bryce Hopkins, who has scored at least 20 points in each of the last three games.

In the first four games of the season, Hopkins shot just 28 percent from the field and averaged 13.5 points per game. During the Friars’ winning streak, Hopkins is shooting 56.1 percent from the floor and averaging 21.0 points per game.

“Bryce is great,” teammate Jayden Pierre said. “Once he gets to his spots and gets to where he wants to go and plays under control, it’s hard to stop him and contain him.”

Providence’s defense figures to be a challenge for the Sooners as well.

The Friars are holding opponents to just 36.5 percent shooting, helped by their 6.4 blocks per game, which ranks in the top 10 nationally.

Providence has four players averaging a block per game or more, led by Josh Oduro, who is averaging 1.4.

The Friars haven’t beaten a ranked nonconference opponent in a true road game since December 1975.

For Oklahoma, the game starts a four-game stretch that also includes neutral-site games against Arkansas and North Carolina. The Sooners will also host Green Bay during the four-game stretch before Christmas.

Tuesday’s game is just the second between the programs.

Oklahoma beat Providence 83-74 in March 1991 in the NIT. Tuesday’s game is the first between the teams in Norman.

–Field Level Media

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