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2016 NCAA Tournament: Texas A&M / Oklahoma preview - Q&A with Crimson and Cream Machine

We linked up with the OU SBNation site Crimson and Cream Machine to preview tomorrow's opponent

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

With tomorrow's massive Sweet Sixteen battle on the horizon, we sat down with Crimson and Cream Machine contributor Rich DeCray to talk Oklahoma Sooner basketball.



Good Bull Hunting: First, we're jealous that you guys get to support Buddy Hield on a daily basis. How much fun has it been to watch him develop for four years?

Crimson and Cream Machine: Coming in as a 3-star recruit snubbed by Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Buddy as a collegiate athlete. As a freshman Hield was explosive with the ability to get to the rim with relative ease.However, his ball handling skills and range were average at best in my opinion. Entering his sophomore season, Hield certainly put the work in on the court to become a better shooter and it showed throughout the season. But, it was painstakingly obvious, Hield was not a complete player.

By the time his junior year rolled around, Buddy put everything together leading to his first Conference Player of the Year award. Now, he continues to thrive by improving the on the little things until we have the product we see today. His progression has certainly been a testament to what Coach Lon Kruger can do with talent.

But to answer your question more directly, Oklahoma's resurrection can be attributed to Hield's progression. What could be more fun than to watch your team rise to the No. 1 ranking?

GBH: We'll try our best to contain Hield, obviously, but teams have been saying that for years with little to no success. When Hield does struggle, what common pain points do you see from the opposing defense?

CCM: In the Big XII Tournament, the West Virginia Mountaineers found plenty of success by running an extra defender at Hield. The move produced a win for the 'Eers while holding Buddy to a mere six point outing. Why? Simply put, it forces the ball out of his hands and as a byproduct, means another player must shoulder the offensive load.

Secondarily, the Big XII Player of the Year has struggled against a face guarding technique this year. Oklahoma fails to run off-ball screens at Buddy consistently in order to get the ball into his hands. There's clearly a pattern here as Hield has continuously improved aspects of his game over the course of four years. The idea is deny the senior as much as possible.

GBH: Enough about Hield. Who else should we be worried about?

CCM: One of the most underrated players on this Oklahoma roster may very well be Isaiah Cousins. Time and time again, OU fans have witnessed the senior pick up the slack and/or take over a game. The guard averaged 15.5 points per game over the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and is an above average three-point shooter. Frequently been labeled a "stat stuffer" Cousins added 4.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds each outing throughout the season.

GBH: If we're being honest, we miss Big XII basketball a little bit. We had legitimate basketball hate for 80% of the conference, and we've struggled to replicate that in our new home. How does life in the brutal Big XII prepare you for tournament play?

CCM: I'm not sure that playing in the Big XII prepares you for the Big Dance at all...look at where West Virginia, the conference runner-up, is sitting right now.

GBH: Finally, on a scale from 1 to "Texas falling behind 50-0 at TCU," how enjoyable was Northern Iowa's buzzer beater on Friday night?

CCM: There's one thing we have in common, a hatred of all things doused in burnt orange. While the buzzer beater may not have been enjoyable for some people's brackets, the shock and disappoint from Texas fans will always bring a smile to my face. The round one loss was no different.

GBH: Final score prediction?

CCM: These are two teams that can score in bunches. Yet, I think the Sooners have an edge when it comes to one aspect that has often decided games in March...guard play.

Oklahoma 82, Texas A&M 75